Obituaries

Obituary: Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)

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When he died last month, Eric Hobsbawm left behind a superb body of work explaining and criticising the development of capitalism - but his Stalinist-influenced politics nonetheless affected his history. Paul Blackledge looks back at the complex life of this important Marxist historian

Eric Hobsbawm, who died last month, was the last, and arguably the greatest, of an incredibly influential generation of British Marxist historians who cut their teeth in the Communist Party Historians' Group (CPHG) after the Second World War. This group, which included Christopher Hill, Rodney Hilton, Victor Kiernan, George Rudé, Raphael Samuel, John Saville, and Dorothy and EP Thompson, was an intellectual powerhouse whose members went on to make a frankly stunning collective contribution to the study of history.

Richard Hamilton, 1922-2011

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Richard Hamilton, who died last month, was one of the most important British artists of the 20th century. His work could be deeply subversive, was of great influence and was instrumental in changing both how we view and make art. He helped to revolutionise and democratise art in this country.

His work essentially covers the period of the post Second World War boom to the living nightmare of today's neoliberal global economy.

Joe Bageant (1946-2011) Redneck revolutionary

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It was difficult not to take an instant liking to Joe Bageant.

Soon after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential elections, Socialist Review called him up for his opinion on the matter: "I always say that if Obama was delivered to the White House with Jesus Christ, a five-piece band and six gilded seraphims holding up his fucking balls he still won't be able to do anything because the country's broke and Congress is bought and sold."

It was with that one long, angry sentence, I became an admirer of this "redneck revolutionary".

Death of an internationalist

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Jean-René Chauvin was a French Trotskyist who lived through, and participated in, some of the 20th century's most dramatic events. Ian Birchall looks at his life


On 17 February death finally claimed Jean-René Chauvin. It seems almost miraculous that he has died now, aged 92, and not much earlier. His memoirs contain an unbelievable sentence where he states that, after his incarceration in the Mauthausen and Auschwitz concentration camps, he found the atmosphere in Buchenwald "much more relaxed".

Dorothy Thompson (1923-2011) - Groundbreaking historian of Chartism

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Dorothy Thompson was a socialist and feminist historian who transformed the study of the Chartist movement. Keith Flett considers her life and achievements

Dorothy Thompson, who has died aged 87, was one of the post-1945 era's leading socialist and feminist historians and a political activist of considerable note and impact.

She was married for many years to the socialist historian E P Thompson, who died in 1993, and her work and activity were in some ways complementary to, and at least equal to, his own. Edward studied Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, for example, while Dorothy focused on the period immediately afterwards - that of Chartism, the first great working class movement.

Long distance running: Alan Sillitoe (1928-2010)

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The novels of Alan Sillitoe rejoice in working class defiance. John Newsinger writes about a brilliant writer with a sad political trajectory.

(Photo: Monire Childs)

Author Alan Sillitoe died on 25 April 2010. He will be best remembered for his powerful novels and stories of working class life, such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Key to the Door, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, and a ferocious work of family biography, Raw Material.

Howard Zinn: Bridging generations

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Howard Zinn inspired generations of radicals. Ambre Ivol worked closely with him for the past few years at Boston University and his home

Howard Zinn's book A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present (1980) reached a mass audience by the beginning of the 21st century with over 2 million copies sold by 2009. It actually became part of US popular culture. Only a couple of months before Zinn's sudden death, a documentary film based on the book was released, The People Speak.

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