The Age of Empire 1875 - 1914

Hobsbawm, E.J.
Publisher:  Abacus, London, United Kingdom
Year Published:  1996   First Published:  1987
Pages:  404pp   Price:  $24.95   ISBN:  0-349-10598-7
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6664

Covers the rise of bourgeois society, the growth of free market capitalism and the expansion of European colonialism abroad.

Abstract:  E.J Hobsbawm's The Age of Empire 1875-1914 is the final installment of the author's historical survey of the 'long nineteenth century'. Hobsbawm's two previous works, The Age of Revolution 1789-1848 and The Age of Capital 1848-1875 discussed the rise of bourgeois society, the growth of free market capitalism and the expansion of European colonialism abroad. The Age of Empire 1875-1914 focuses on several important features of the era discussing the new roles of women, social movements, labour organizations, imperial grandeur and the various causes leading to the outbreak of the First World War. Intended as a survey of historical events over the latter decades of the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth century, The Age of Empire covers a wide array of themes ranging from nationalism, artistic rebellion, scientific breakthroughs and expanding global hostilities.

The years after 1875 pushed the boundaries of scientific, technological and social advancements. Hobsbawm illustrates how these developments brought the world closer together while dividing it as never before. The telegraph, ocean liners and railways reduced traveling and communication times immensely but also provided 'The Great Powers' with the ability to conquer and colonize distant areas of the world faster and more effectively. European nations carved up Africa and other regions of the world, consolidated their imperial control and laid the groundwork leading to the cataclysmic events of the First World War.

Aside from focusing on global conflicts, many of Hobsbawm's chapters deal with social realities and aspirations. Hobsbawm believes "This book surveys the moment in history when it became clear that the society and civilization created by and for the western liberal bourgeoisie represented not the permanent form of the modern industrial world, but only one phase of its early development". The author explains how this period brought forth immense changes and played a vital role shaping the outcome of the twentieth century. Hobsbawm's work captures the essence of the pre-war generation, characterizing it as an era filled with unlimited possibilities, lived on the frontier of social and scientific progress, only to be cut short by the very expansive and ambitious nature of its own epoch.

[Abstract by William Stevenson]

Table of Contents


1 - The Centenarian Revolution
2 - An Economy Changes Gear
3 - The Age of Empire
4 - The Politics of Democracy
5 - Workers of the World
6 - Waving Flags: Nations and Nationalism
7 - Who's Who or the Uncertainties of the Bourgeoisie
8 - The New Woman
9 - The Arts Transformed
10 - Certainties Undermined: The Sciences
11 - Reason and Society
12 - Towards Revolution
13 - From Peace to War

Further Reading

Subject Headings

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