By Eric J. Hobsbawm

ISBN-10: 0679721754

ISBN-13: 9780679721758

A grasp historian's account of the middle-class international of our grandparents and the way its unexpected cave in in global conflict I laid the root for the catastrophes of the 20 th century. fifty four images, maps, charts.

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Vast networks of shining rails, running along embankments, across bridges and viaducts, through cuttings, through tunnels up to ten miles long, across mountain passes as high as the major Alpine peaks, the railways collectively constituted the most massive effort of public building as yet undertaken by man. They employed more men than any other industrial undertakings. They reached into the centres of great cities, where their triumphal achievements were celebrated in equally triumphal and gigantic railway stations, and into the remotest stretches of the countryside, where no other trace of nineteenth-century civilization penetrated.

Legal serfdom no longer existed anywhere in Europe. Legal slavery, abolished almost everywhere in the western and western-dominated world, was in its very last years even in its final refuges, Brazil and Cuba: it did not survive the 1880s. Legal freedom and equality were far from incompatible with real inequality. ' Still, in the 'developed' world it was now essentially money or the lack of it, rather than birth or differences in legal freedom or status, which determined the distribution of all but the privileges of social exclusiveness.

However, the two commonest non-governmental responses were mass emigration and co-operation, the former mainly by the landless and land-poor, the latter mainly by peasants with potentially viable holdings. * This was the safety valve which kept social pressure below the point of rebellion or revolution. As for co-operation, it provided modest loans for the small peasant - by igo8 more than half of all independent agriculturalists in Germany belonged to such rural minibanks (pioneered by the Catholic Raiffeisen in the 1870s).

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Age of Empire: 1875-1914 by Eric J. Hobsbawm


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