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The book The Age of Empire Essay


The book The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 by Eric Hobsbawm gives a detailed analysis of the late 19th century history. During the time, there were rapid changes towards the idea of imperialism. In the text, the author describes the period as important because it led to the establishment of new empires and political structures.

The book also describes some of the roles played by historians and great thinkers at the time. Hobsbawm identifies two groups of historians during this period. We have some historians who looked forward for ideas and explanations in order to understand much about the present and the future (Hobsbawm 23). The other group of historians looked backward with great nostalgia.

The author considers them as less optimistic and only looks backward with nostalgia. These historians only consider the events that have taken place in the past. The other group looks forward in order to foretell the events that might take place in our world.

This group also examines certain thoughts such as those of religion, imperialism and capitalism thereby understanding what might take place in the coming days. These historians want to be prepared and address any issue as faced in the future (Hobsbawm 87).

However, it is agreeable that the two groups of historians helped a lot towards shaping the world as it is today. Those who looked backwards with nostalgia helped conserve some ideas relating to religion, culture and traditions.

I personally argue that Hobsbawm belongs to the group that is anxious about the present and the future. The author has examined the present situation as faced in the 19th century and offered possible explanations about what would happen in the future.

He examines the progression and optimism of some nations about the future. Hobsbawm belongs to the group that wants to remain prepared in the event of war and conflict. This gives the author an upper hand to understand how future political foundations might look like (Hobsbawm 78). This includes how to promote the idea of capitalism in the future days.

The other important discussion is that of liberal bourgeois capitalism. In the 19th century, capitalism became a strong force and thereby it led to the establishment of aristocracy in Europe and the West. As the aristocrats considered themselves powerful, the author addresses the issue of the bourgeois class.

This class was becoming powerful day by day. They benefited from the industrial revolution and cheap labor from the peasants. As a result, the class became powerful and eventually resulted in revolutions.

The liberal class overthrew the aristocrats from power through massive revolutions (Hobsbawm 98). The wave of capitalism would become stronger than ever before. The countries were now ready to become powerful than ever before.

It is also acknowledgeable that the author has presented a convincing argument about the foundation of tradition. At the time when the idea of mass politics was becoming evident, different nations were competing for global attention and power. They combined their quest with culture and tradition.( Hobsbawm 102) The nations wanted to get their own colonies while maintaining their unique traditions and culture.

Very soon, there was the global mass politics with more countries trying hard to portray their powers to the world. The nations established different empires while maintaining their unique identity and culture. This would eventually result in global conflicts as prophesized by some historians earlier.

Works Cited

Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Empire: 1875-1914. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Print.

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