[update below] [2nd update below]
There have been numerous tributes to him over the past two days. As he was still going strong intellectually at age 95, one can say that he led a full life—as for someone like Eric Hobsbawm, if one can read, write and discuss ideas, one is living fully. He was one of my references during my college-graduate school years and, like just about every political science-history inclined major of my generation, I read several of his books, including his famous trilogy of the long 19th century (1789-1914). And I saw him speak once, back in ’77 or ’78, at the Karl Marx Library in London (or maybe it was at one of the other lefty meeting places in town; can’t remember precisely). More recently I read his memoir, Interesting Times, along with the other members of my reading group, which we greatly enjoyed. One of his more noteworthy books that I have not read, though, is his history of the 20th century, The Age of Extremes. TNR has posted Eugene Genovese’s review essay of the book from 1995 (as it happens, Genovese died on September 26th). The essay is particularly interesting, as Genovese, like Hobsbawm, was a Marxist but, very much unlike Hobsbawm, became a conservative. I also dug up this review essay on the book—which is rather more critical—by Brad DeLong.
UPDATE: Age of Extremes and Interesting Times were reviewed by Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books here and here. Interesting Times was reviewed by Perry Anderson in the London Review of Books here and here.
2nd UPDATE: Julia Hobsbawm has a lengthy article in the FT (April 19, 2013) on “Remembering Dad.” The concluding paragraphs
Despite being a secular Jew all of his life, he had requested that his friend the American academic Ira Katznelson from Columbia University recite Kaddish at his funeral. His mother, he told me, “always said to me: never deny you are Jewish”. So at the very end when Ira, fresh off the red-eye from Manhattan, read the most important prayer of the Jews, I knew that my Dad – unobservant of the Jewish faith in any way during his life – was keeping true to her wish and her memory now, possibly when it mattered most.
Our final goodbye as a family at Highgate Cemetery was marked mainly in silence. It was cold, but autumn was still flaming away in the trees in Waterlow Park next door. Earlier, as I was buying a small bunch of flowers to lay on the grave, I had an overwhelming sentimental urge to give my father one last thing to read: it seemed impossible that he would never breathe in ideas again. I bought the London Review of Books, which he had regularly contributed to in life and which featured, as it happened, his friend Karl Miller’s obituary of him. We laid the copy, fresh and folded, on top, and then the gravedigger finished his work.