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New Left Review I/214, November-December 1995

Michael Mann

As the Twentieth Century Ages

Age of Extremes

Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Extremes deserves to repeat the success of its predecessors, The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital and The Age of Empire. In what is presumably his final volume in this series, Hobsbawm’s vivid style and humanist vision again illuminate an enormous range of empirical material. Is there anyone alive who wields so much material with such a light, subtle touch? Again the reader emerges considerably wiser—and, in the case of the atrocity-strewn twentieth century, rather sadder too. Hobsbawm writes as a disillusioned Marxian historian. Since I am none of these, I some-times disagree. Nonetheless, I have immense respect for what he here achieves. Other general histories of the twentieth century appear plodding, bitty or ideological by comparison.

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Michael Mann, ‘As the Twentieth Century Ages’, NLR I/214: £3

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