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How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxismby Eric Hobsbawm
Synopses & Reviews
The phrase “Cold War” was coined by George Orwell in 1945 to describe the impact of the atomic bomb on world politics: “We may be heading not for a general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity.” The Soviet Union, he wrote, was “at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war with its neighbors.” But as a leading historian of Soviet foreign policy, Jonathan Haslam, makes clear in this groundbreaking book, the epoch was anything but stable, with constant wars, near-wars, and political upheavals on both sides.
Whereas the Western perspective on the Cold War has been well documented by journalists and historians, the Soviet side has remained for the most part shrouded in secrecyuntil now. Drawing on a vast range of recently released archives in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and Eastern Europe, Russias Cold War offers a thorough and fascinating analysis of East-West relations from 1917 to 1989.
Far more than merely a straightforward history of the Cold War, this book presents the first account of politics and decision making at the highest levels of Soviet power: how Soviet leaders saw political and military events, what they were trying to accomplish, their miscalculations, and the ways they took advantage of Western ignorance. Russias Cold War fills a significant gap in our understanding of the most important geopolitical rivalry of the twentieth century.
A penetrating reassessment of Marxist thought and its relevance today, by a world-renowned historian of Marxism
"We need to take account of Marx today," argues Eric Hobsbawm in this persuasive and highly readable book. The ideas of capitalism's most vigorous and eloquent enemy have been enlightening in every era, the author contends, and our current historical situation of free-market extremes suggests that reading Marx may be more important now than ever.
Hobsbawm begins with a consideration of how we should think about Marxism in the post-communist era, observing that the features we most associate with Soviet and related regimes—command economies, intrusive bureaucratic structures, and an economic and political condition of permanent war—are neither derived from Marx's ideas nor unique to socialist states. Further chapters discuss pre-Marxian socialists and Marx's radical break with them, Marx's political milieu, and the influence of his writings on the anti-fascist decades, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War period. Sweeping, provocative, and full of brilliant insights, How to Change the World challenges us to reconsider Marx and reassess his significance in the history of ideas.
Timothy Garton Ash is well known as an astute and penetrating observer of a dazzling array of subjects, not least through his many contributions to the New York Review of Books. This collection of his essays from the last decade reveals his knack for ferreting out exceptional insights into a troubled world, often on the basis of firsthand experience. Whether he is writing about how “liberalism” has become a dirty word in American political discourse, the problems of Muslim assimilation in Europe, Ukraines Orange Revolution, Günter Grasss membership in the Waffen-SS, or the angry youth of Iran, Garton Ash combines a gimlet eye for detail with deep knowledge of the history of his chosen subjects.
Running through this book is the authors insistence that, whatever some postmodernists might claim, there are indeed facts--and we have both a political and a moral duty to establish them. By practicing what it preaches, Facts Are Subversive shows why Timothy Garton Ash is one of the worlds leading political writers.
About the Author
Jack F. Matlock, Jr. served thirty-five years in the American Foreign Service, from 1956 to 1991, and was U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union from March 1987 to August 1991. He has held academic posts since 1991, including that of George F. Kennan Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, 1996-2001. He lives in Princeton, NJ.
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