Review- "The Age of Revolution" by Eric Hobsbawm

866 Words4 Pages
While numerous events have reshaped the political and economic spheres throughout modern history, none have been more influential than the “dual revolutions”: the industrial revolution in Britain and the French Revolution. In The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848, Eric Hobsbawm analyzes the social, political, and economic climates of these two nations, and Europe as a whole, prior to these cataclysmic events. With great detail, he creates a backdrop for the uprisings that would alter the course of human history. He states that the underprivileged masses had three options when faced with bourgeois society: allow themselves to be dominated, to become a member of the upper class, or to revolt. He analyzes each revolution as well as its direct impacts on a variety of topics, including science, the arts, and religion. Hobsbawm asserts that the events that took place were only the natural progression of the conditions that existed, that the revolts were the next logical step. He goes as far to claim that “rebellion was not merely possible, but virtually compulsory.” Though an exact date is difficult to pinpoint, Hobsbawm states that the industrial revolution in Britain can be traced back to the 1780s, just prior to the French Revolution. He argues that in order for an industrial revolution to be successful, there are two criteria that need to be met. First, there needed to exist an industry that proved to be very lucrative for the manufacturers involved. The cotton industry would become such an industry, compounded by the technological innovations that were taking place during this time. Second, a world market would need to be monopolized by the producing nation; this was created by Britain’s military, through war, revolutions in other nations, and imperialism. As these advances took place, the divide between the working class and the upper class became wider;
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