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

By Eric J. Hobsbawm

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

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Extra info for Age of Empire: 1875-1914

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16 The average expectation of life at birth was still modest enough in the 1880s: 43-45 years in the main 'developed' zones*, though below 40 in Germany, and 48-50 in Scandinavia. ) Still, life expectation had pretty certainly risen over the century, though the major fall in infantile mortality, which chiefly affects this figure, was only just beginning. In short, the highest hope among the poor, even in the 'developed' parts of Europe, was probably still to earn enough to keep body and soul together, a roof over one's head and enough clothes, especially at the most vulnerable ages of their life-cycle, when couples had children below the earning age, and when men and women grew old.

It was about to enter upon a period of crisis, anxiously monitored by German scholars, faced with the competition of factories and modern distribution. But, on the whole, it still survived in considerable strength. Nevertheless, it is roughly correct to make industry into a criterion of modernity. In the 1880s no country outside the 'developed' world (and Japan, which had joined it) could be described as industrial or even on the way to industrialization. Even those 'developed' countries which were still primarily agrarian, or at any rate not immediately associated in the public mind with factories and forges, were, one might say, already tuned to the wavelength of industrial society and high technology.

Moreover, such an economy recognized no frontiers, for it functioned best where nothing interfered with the free movement of the factors of production. Capitalism was thus not merely international in practice, but internationalist in theory. The ideal of its theorists was an international division of labour which ensured the maximum growth of the economy. Its criteria were global: it was senseless to try to produce bananas in Norway, because they could be produced much more cheaply in Honduras.

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