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Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz
     

Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion and Jazz

by Eric Hobsbawm
 

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Highlighting Eric Hobsbawm's passionate concern for the lives and struggles of ordinary men and women, Uncommon People brings back into print his classic works on labor history, working people, and social protest, pairing them with more recent, previously unpublished pieces on everything from the villainy of Roy Cohen to the genius of Count Basie, Duke

Overview

Highlighting Eric Hobsbawm's passionate concern for the lives and struggles of ordinary men and women, Uncommon People brings back into print his classic works on labor history, working people, and social protest, pairing them with more recent, previously unpublished pieces on everything from the villainy of Roy Cohen to the genius of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holliday. Uncommon People offers both an exciting introduction for the uninitiated as well as a broad-ranging retrospective of the work of "the best-known living historian in the world" (The Times, London).

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hobsbawm writes with authority and elegance, commanding subject, form and language.... A dazzling mosaic.... Marvelous."
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Philadelphia Inquirer
One of the truly great synthesizers of the last few centuries of European history, Hobsbawm writes with clarity, grace, irony, and an astonishing range of knowledge.
Uncommon People: Resistance, Rebellion, and Jazz
Eric Hobsbawm
The New Press
With the morass of deep-seated cynicism and shallow scandal-mongering found throughout politics and culture today, this new collection of essays by historian Hobsbawm is particularly welcome. Many of the 26 essays in the book appeared as articles and papers that were originally published in various periodicals from the '50s through the '70s. What makes Hobsbawm's observations germane are his unique insights into a surprising range of political figures (from Tom Paine to Roy Cohn) and his ability to persuasively discuss the continuing relevance of such movements as Luddism and the France's May '68 student rebellions. He also conjures newfound respect for such widely forgotten figures as British Labour politician Harold Laski. When Hobsbawm turns his attention to music, he's equally passionate and almost as informative. A major jazz fan, he writes fervently about such legends as Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Billie Holiday in profiles that could stand on their own alongside many of the prominent essays by full-time jazz critics. In some ways his overview of jazz after 1950 is a tad reactionary, but Hobsbawm is never one to hedge his emotions. All power to the spirit of his convictions, though-there aren't many guys like this left.
-Aaron Cohen
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These 26 essays reveal the intellectual girders the late historian used in four decades of publishing social and political analyses in support of common, working people. He shows a sometimes puckish appetite for shattering facile definitions with deadly buckshot, as in his 1952 "The Machine-Breakers," in which he takes aim at the image of the Luddites as visionless machine haters, instead calling their actions "collective bargaining by riot." In "Birth of a Holiday," he cites May Day as an "entirely unofficial movement of poor men and women" celebrated in 107 countries; in an interesting aside he notes that the first May Day in Germany was commemorated by a plaque with Karl Marx on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other, thereby uniting the socialist labor movement with democracy. With the same combination of insight and trenchant factual digression, Hobsbawm (Age of Extremes 1914-1991) faces the cosmic questions ("Revolution and Sex," "Peasants and Politics") as well as powerful individuals such as the mafioso Salvatore Giuliano and Roy Cohn, who he says was "a crook because he liked to be one." Hobsbawm concludes with seven deft and delicious chapters on jazz, linking the symbol of "New Orleans" to an anti-commercial, anti-racist phenomenon "located on the borders between the New Deal and the Communist Party." Jazz lovers will savor his essays on Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and other greats. But whatever the subject matter, Hobsbawm offers energetic, convincing intellectual adventures. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Now in his 80s, Hobsbawm has had a distinguished career as a historian of working classes and revolution. His latest work is a collection of previously published essays and lectures that highlight the role of the laboring class--"the uncommon people"--in social development. It is an odd combination of material that may seem disjointed to those unfamiliar with his writings. He links Luddism with other labor protests concerning working conditions rather than as a singular instance of antiprogressive irrationality. He speculates on the use of male and female figures in leftist iconography and wonders at the connection between leaders of revolutions and the shoemaking trade. And in his most interesting pieces, he analyzes the relationship of jazz to leftist ideology. Public libraries may prefer Hobsbawm's "Age of..." histories as a more popular choice for their collections, but academic libraries will welcome this "uncommon" work.--Rose M. Cichy, Osterhout Free Lib., Wilkes-Barre, PA
Booknews
British labor and social historian Hobsbawn collects 26 essays, 11 published between the middle 1950s and 1990s, and the others appearing here for the first time. The Radical Tradition section examines the working class and ideologies associated with its movements from the 18th to the 20th centuries, Country People considers traditional peasantries, Contemporary History explores situations that are conventionally described in terms of individual intentions but that are in fact much larger, and Jazz looks at one of the few developments in the major arts entirely rooted in the lives of poor people. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of occasional pieces, journal articles, and reviews by one of our great historians (The Age of Extremes, 1995, etc.), showing off his catholicity of interests. Hobsbawm's recurring concern in this new volume (15 of the 26 essays are previously uncollected in book form) is the forgotten men and women, the poor, the working class, who would have slipped through the cracks of macro-history were it not for his own work and that of others who write "history from below." Even his jazz criticism is informed by this impulse, jazz, he writes, is "one of the few developments in the major arts entirely rooted in the lives of poor people," a premise that is debatable but not uninformed. The book falls neatly into sections: a series of essays on questions of English working-class history, another on peasantry and social banditry (a Hobsbawm specialty), reflections on recent history, most of it American; several jazz pieces; and a closing meditation on the Columbus quincentenary. An economic historian by training and persuasion, Hobsbawm is at his best when using a seemingly irrelevant detail to elucidate larger trends, as in an aside on the simultaneous rise of the cloth worker's cap, the school tie, and the private golf club in Victorian England, signs of emerging class stratification. It is hard to imagine any other historian who could make such fruitful use of the class implications of the rise of the fish-and-chip shop from the increase of purchases of industrial fish fryers. As a jazz critic, Hobsbawm brings a similarly astute sense of the interrelationship of social and economic history; regrettably, his sense of the music itself is not nearly as artistic. A collectionof Hobsbawm's writing is always welcome, and this one unearths some buried gems.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565845596
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
09/01/1999
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Hobsbawm was born in Alexandria in 1917 and educated in Austria, Germany and England. He taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, and then at the New School for Social Research in New York. In addition to The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, The Age of Empire and The Age of Extremes, his books include Bandits, Revolutionaries, Uncommon People, and his memoir Interesting Times. Eric Hobsbawm died in 2012.

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