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New Left Review I/214, November-December 1995

Göran Therborn

The Autobiography of the Twentieth Century

How will we and our times be remembered by our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren? What will they, the next century’s historians, and the media of their times, make of us, of our ideas, hopes, fears, efforts and illusions—of our victories and defeats? Will these last even matter? Of this we know nothing, but of two things we can be certain: that future remembrances and historiography will differ from ours, and that the future will have its history, too, of changes, revisions, and reinterpretations. A key document, that future historians of our times will certainly read, sift, critically evaluate, and use for their own purposes still not even adumbrated, is Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes. [1] E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes. The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991, Michael Joseph, London 1994, £20, isbn 0-7181–3307–2. A good bet is that they will read it as an auto-biography of the twentieth century, not perhaps the only one but probably the most comprehensive and the best written.

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