| E.P. THOMPSON: A TWENTIETH CENTURY ROMANTIC|
by Christos Efstathiou
Thompson began his political life, as a member of the Communist Party, when the Party was making its greatest electoral impact. After the events in Hungary in 1956 he came into conflict with others in the New Left over issues of theory, orthodoxy and politics. He was at the forefront of the movement opposing nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, becoming an extremely well known political figure. He supported the efforts of Soviet and American dissenters seeking an end to the Cold War through the European Nuclear Disarmament campaign. He helped redirect the focus of historical study; through his classic: The Making of the English Working Class, and was a pioneer in the field of social history
Throughout much of his life he focused on the promotion of a Popular Front agenda. He saw the re-emergence of national radical culture and the first non-aligned movements in the late '70s as the first signs of opposition to the Cold War and a rehabilitation of the Popular Front spirit:
'In a sense that insurgent, popular-front-type political moment reached its peak between '43 and '46. It was destroyed by both British and American reaction and inwardly destroyed by Stalinism. One of the things that makes me feel excited is that, in a curious kind of way, I think Europe is beginning cautiously to resume a kind of advance that was interrupted by the cold war.'
'In this important, carefully researched and eminently readable book, Christos Efstathiou seeks to modify but not overturn the orthodox account of 1956 and its aftermath. He focuses primarily on the career of E.P. Thompson, but he also ranges widely across the history of the modern left. While recognising that Thompson entered a new phase of his intellectual evolution after leaving the British Communist Party, Efstathiou argues that his break with communist thinking was never quite as decisive as some people believe.' Key Words
'At first sight, it's not easy to find a guiding thread of continuity in such a varied public and intellectual life, but Christos Efstathiou makes a brave stab at it in E.P. Thompson: A Twentieth-Century Romantic, his careful and thoroughly documented study. Thompson's personal papers are closed to researchers, but Efstathiou's book draws on a wider range of other archival sources than any previous work on Thompson's life and thought and, as a result, throws fresh light on his intellectual and political trajectory.'The Nation.
'By identifying the core of Thompson's political pronouncements, Efstathiou demonstrates the inner unity and development of his work.' Protoview.
Contents: Foreword, Part 1: Thompson and the CPGB, Formative moments, 'Premature Revisionism', The Communist Party Historians' Group, Adult education. Part 2: Thompson and the New Left, The Reasoner, The New Reasoner, The Making of Thompson's historiography, The Breaking of Thompson's strategy. Part 3: Thompson and the Peace Movement, Thompson and CND. Part 4: Leaving Babylon. Appendices, Timeline, Biographical Notes. Index.
Christos Efstathiou holds a doctorate from the University of London. He is currently Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Warwick.
248 pages, hardback
Published October 2015
Related item available from the Merlin Press: Customs in Common by E.P. Thompson