Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism by Eric Hobsbawm Abacus, HK$119 Eric Hobsbawm, born in 1917, knows there are no shortcuts in history. This, he says, he has learned from living through and reflecting on much of the last century. Having written histories of the 19th and 20th centuries, he tries here to understand the world in the 21st. His three main topics inhabit the title. He also discusses related subjects, for example the nation state, whose power and influence, he says, have been diminished by globalisation. Such has been its corrosive effect he questions whether any state today could enter a major war with conscript armies prepared to die for their country. Hobsbawm also tackles 'the imperialism of human rights', arguing against powers doing their victims a favour by conquering them. 'The default position of any state,' he says, 'is to pursue its own interests.' Written from 2000 to 2006, the pieces home in on the Iraq war and the American imperialist project, with Hobsbawm arguing that the word 'democracy' has lost all contact with reality in US rhetoric. The book is worth the investment, but some may feel that, owing to their short-format constraints, the essays lack the rigour of his previous work.