Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) wrote that Latin America was the only region of the world outside Europe which he felt he knew well and where he felt entirely at home. He claimed this was because it was the only part of the Third World whose two principal languages, Spanish and Portuguese, were within his reach. But he was also, of course, attracted by the potential for social revolution in Latin America. After the triumph of Fidel Castro in Cuba in January 1959, and even more after the defeat of the American attempt to overthrow him at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, 'there was not an intellectual in Europe or the USA', he wrote, 'who was not under the spell of Latin America, a continent apparently bubbling with the lava of social revolutions'. 'The Third World brought the hope of revolution back to the First in the 1960s'. The two great international inspirations were Cuba and Vietnam, 'triumphs not only of revolution, but of Davids against Goliaths, of the weak against the all-powerful'.
Throughout, Hobsbawm writes with unrivalled clarity, making his historical arguments and political commentary compelling and urgent even at a distance of decades Guardian
Eric Hobsbawm was a Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Before retirement he taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, and after retirement at the New School for Social Research in New York. His previous books include The Age of Extremes, The Age of Revolution and The Age of Empire. He died at the age of ninety-five in October 2012 .