Second Part

0:09:07 I thought of myself as a Communist from 1932 when I declared myself as such in my German school; a master said that I clearly did not know what I was talking about and that I should go to the school library; there I found the 'Communist Manifesto' and was converted both to Marxism and history, essentially asking the great evolutionary questions; I joined the Party when I got to Cambridge IN 1936;  I found the Marxist approach to history important as because of its evolutionary approach: How did human beings to form societies and how did these change to turn us from hunter-gatherers to where we are today? There is no way of understanding history without asking these questions; the other which at that time preoccupied me much more was the relationship between what Marx would have called base and superstructure, namely culture and what is it in a particular society which explains the particular formation of cultural events, how does this relate to the rest; I rejected the usual Central European things like zeitgeist, but basically that was the one historic question that I first posed to myself; but it was the fact that I couldn't think of anything else which offered an equally fertile framework; this not only applied to history but with all manner of other things; I grew up believing that Marxism was something that covers everything; it is not where history theory can be isolated either from natural science on one hand or from other disciplines or other areas of interest. That doesn't mean that I actually pursued this as systematic project in history; this is a curious situation as almost all the things I have done in history have been occasioned from outside, and the thing that has given them unity is a the coherent picture of historical change and historical development which is what I got from Marxism

6:30:10 My work on social banditry emerged accidentally; I was going around Italy and Spain at the time and was curious about it; at that time the anthropologists in Cambridge and Manchester were interested in problems concerning Mau Mau; Max Gluckman asked me if there was anything like Mau Mau in earlier history, and could I come and talk to a seminar; he then asked me to give some lectures at Manchester; Norman Cohn was there among others; after the lectures, Gluckman asked whether I would write a book on the subject if he could get a contract from Manchester University Press, and that is how it happened; certainly all my books came about in this manner, even my choice of research subjects; my original research subject would have been the agrarian problem in North Africa because I got a travel grant in 1938 for that and was absolutely fascinated by it; I couldn't do anything very much as I was called up in February 1940; during the course of the War I married and felt I would not be able to go to Algeria afterwards. I looked around for something else that I could work on before the war ended; I hit upon the Fabian Society, but eventually felt that it wasn't interesting enough; in the course of doing it I had been hunting around the LSE and discovered the Webb collection; they showed how trade unions actually worked; 'Industrial Democracy', the book they wrote about it is in my view the best book ever written on the subject; I realised that it was the angle on labour history that I wanted to take - not the history of events but of the structures at the bottom; George Weidenfeld thought he might risk 'The Nineteenth Century' trilogy; the first volume worked out quite well and was mostly based on what I was lecturing on; I was then at Birkbeck; I had five years at Cambridge before that but couldn't get a job there; 'The Invention of Tradition' was an idea of my own; I organised a conference for Past and Present where we discussed it; after the conference it was suggested that I collaborated with Terence Ranger on a book; I have had ideas on books but would not normally set about writing on my own; so, on the one hand my books are accidental and unplanned, on the other hand there is an intuitive element; I think I am to some respect in my choice of interests led by intuition rather than planning which may explain why I have managed with luck to hit on the right moment; at the time of 'Primitive Rebels', lots of people were working around the subject; when it came out, somewhat to my surprise, it had quite a lot of influence in social science in America; such phrases as "social banditry" were taken up; another example is 'The Seventeenth Century Crisis' which began as a

problem that I ran into in my European History lectures to Birkbeck students; I felt it needed to be thought about, got it published, and again it had a surprisingly wide and lasting effect; it isn't dead yet as only two or three issues ago, 'The American Review' had an article on the seventeenth century crisis; the phrase was mine though the idea was implicit in work of  Braudel and other French writers; 'Invention of Tradition' is similar - something I had vaguely thought around but at a certain stage people took it up; 'Nationalism' - I was not the only person working on the subject in the 1980s; I gave the Wiles  lectures in Belfast and it was an obvious subject to pick; I think my main contribution has been pushing and pioneering ideas, and partly working out syntheses, inspired essentially by Marx

18:18:02 On work methods - I did a bit of card-indexing but not a lot; I use to work mostly with notebooks which would then be indexed to some extent, but relying on a good memory which is now unfortunately no longer the case; I wrote on a typewriter almost from the start, then for twenty year on a computer; it is not perfect but the trouble is that it is too easy to revise on a computer; mostly I have been lucky enough that my editors have not interfered too much, on the other hand with the autobiography I had Stuart Proffitt of Allen Lane, a prince among editors; he read it and was very helpful as I had to cut it down very severely; I enjoy writing if it goes well. Music probably gets in the way of writing; it is a very personal business; my friend Chuck Tilly wrote to persistent, constant music; I couldn't possibly do that as I would stop and listen; I specifically try to write in a communicable fashion; the basic test that one is doing in a lifetime of teaching, particularly when teaching people who spend most of the day working and are not very lively, is that you have got to keep them awake during an 8 to 9 o'clock lecture at night; the same thing goes for the writing. Having had some journalistic experience is useful though I am not a natural journalist, but ever since I was on 'Granta' in Cambridge, which I edited at one time, I have been writing bits and pieces; the idea of writing to length and deadline, particularly length, has been very useful

23:39:07 My eureka moments come mostly when I am writing; I sometimes think about what I am going to write when walking; one of the big problems of talking to people is that you want to acknowledge them, but for practical purposes it is not easy; it is easy enough if I acquire some information that I didn't know, say from a student; it is easy enough to say that this point was made to me by X, but it does so much depend on interchanges, possibly in the past, that one is always afraid; one's right to one's own ideas is also important in our trade; I don't think I have been accused of copying too much; I used to be very good at lecturing, I am not so sure about supervising; I have got a feeling as far as students are concerned they might get a lot from hearing me talk, developing ideas, but I don't think I have been particularly good at actually getting them to do it themselves; when I have supervised PhDs I can sometimes give them ideas, but I find that a lot of the time I have to give them technical advice which is a pedagogic but not intellectual contribution; I enjoy talking

28:32:04 They would not let me leave England during the War; I suspect that I had an MI5 file although my attempts to get at it have been a total failure; there has certainly been one but the question is when it started; I suspect it was there during the War, but before that I had been a very prominent Communist Party person in Cambridge; I could only have got out of the country by a bureaucratic mix-up, as happened with James Klugmann who was already on the troop ship when MI5 realized and they couldn't get him back; I came back to Cambridge after the War; in early 1946 having had a really boring and unnecessary war, of which I naturally approved, I was supposed to have been sent to Palestine; I figured it was too complicated to send a Jewish Communist at that stage to Palestine, so I wrote to King's, where I had a studentship, and they got me back; I started a fellowship dissertation but within a year I got the job at Birkbeck and stayed there, although when my first marriage broke up I moved back to Cambridge for a few years on a Fellowship; Meyer Fortes was there by that time, Jack Gallagher was back at Trinity; my dealings were mostly with the economists because I supervised and examined economic history for the economics tripos; I didn't get a job, but had more contact then with Nicky Kaldor, Sraffa, Joan Robinson, and Richard Kahn; it was politics that prevented my getting a job in Cambridge; to the best of my knowledge I have never suffered any discrimination as a Jew; it may even have been local politics because of a curious division within the Cambridge economics faculty; whatever it is it was lucky for me that I got the job as the cut-off point for Reds during the Cold War was roughly speaking in May 1948, the Berlin airlift; if you had an academic job before then you were OK, though you couldn't expect to get much promotion; if you had no job then you had enormous problems; to the best of my knowledge hardly any known Communists got academic jobs in those ten years, though you could say Edward Thompson was hired later, but that was in adult education. In Cambridge there were three, possibly four jobs in the economics faculty for which I applied, of which two appointees were clearly inferior, the one who I thought was a reasonable appointment over me was Ken Berrill; he was a good friend and after the change he offered to give me the same job within the faculty, but I said it was a bit late; then I was in for the Chair which David Joslin got; the curious business is that institutionally in England the Cold War was present, but as far as I am aware it hardly impinged on the actual intellectual field of history; whether people got a reputation both in this country or elsewhere, I don't think was at all affected by the Cold War

37:12:08 The more important aspect of my life is as a politically committed historian; my actual political activities as such are of no particular moment;  my history books have had political echoes, if only symptomatic ones; I have noticed that you can very often test the change in the political atmosphere in a country by the moment at which the people start translating my books; in Spain this began to happen in the later 1960s as Francoism was wound down, at a time when the great bulk of university people were passionately opposed, and it proved to be possible to publish the works of people who were not actually called Marx or Lenin; in Brazil the real testing point came in the early 1970s when the dictatorship became slightly liberalized; I discovered by sheer chance in Korea in the late 1980s that they had already pirated about five of my titles; it was just about that moment when they were moving from dictatorship; the same thing must have happened in Taiwan but I have never been there; in Turkey it is quite clear that since the 1990s this has been happening; in places like Argentina an enormous amount was pirated so I don't know when it started. This had two effects, partly through time, as my titles remained in print, but partly also because the people who then became radicalized, the young student generation, would eventually become editors, publishers, ministers. In that way, books like mine had some kind of impact, more in some countries than others, dramatically so in Brazil which is for some reason my best market. They did so because they were readable; I think that is the importance of trying to walk the tightrope between being acceptable to one's colleagues within the field, and at the same time being understandable to that ideal type, the educated citizen; my effect within the field of historiography is much harder to assess and I don't think I am the person to make such an assessment