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The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848

The Age of Revolution Book CoverBy Eric Hobsbawm
Review by Chloe (History and Politics)

A book I thoroughly enjoyed before arriving at Univ was The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm. I read this book when I was trying to decide between studying Law or History and Politics and, coincidentally, it was one of the books on my summer reading list for my current European and World History module which goes from 1814-1914. This clearly indicates that my favourite period of history is modern history, as I love to learn about more recent events, and both their short-term and long-term impacts on our society but also on our political system.

Hobsbawm is an amazing historian and I thoroughly enjoy reading his work as he provides very good overview summaries for lengthy periods of time, but this book particularly caught my interest. Rather than focusing on the French Revolution of 1789 and the revolutions of 1848 as most historians tend to do, Hobsbawm focused on what caused a society to go from a revolution that led to the complete upheaval of the French political system and the spread of Enlightenment and liberal values across Europe, to a period where the revolutionary agenda moved from liberal to communist.

He explores the emergence of a variety of political systems, from the French Republic to Napoleon’s Empire, to the role of the Chartist movement in England, with reference to the autocratic reign of Nicholas I of Russia. Hobsbawm attempts to find links between the emerging ideologies of this period of time caused by the introduction of industrialisation, particularly in Britain, and the political and socio-economic systems that developed as a response.

The reason this book in particular caught my interest out of Hobsbawm’s trilogy was because it was the first history book that I had read that didn’t focus on the defining events of an era but rather the outcome of these events on society, examining the religious, economic, political and social aspects. At the time of reading I hadn’t studied History or Politics before A-Level and I was having to pick a degree that would define a career path with just over a year’s experience in the subject, which was a lot of pressure. However, the interest I found myself having in this book in contrast to some of the Law books I read emphasised to me how History and Politics was the right degree for me. I was completely taken aback by the book’s content and it caused me to question my subjects and encouraged me to do further reading about modern history, which was the sign I needed to finally make a decision.

The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm
ISBN-10 : 9780349104843
ISBN-13 : 978-0349104843

Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.

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