There was a yawning paradox at the center of Eric Hobsbawm's life. While he stressed the bigger canvass on which history is written, and gave deserved recognition to the unsung heroes who pushed for progress, he lived on the front line of history made by great men. The history of Germany would have been far different had it not been for the monstrous, maniacal personality of Adolf Hitler. The same was true of Stalin in the Soviet Union.
Hobsbawm also underestimated his own greatness and his potential to influence others. Had he broken with the Communist Party at any stage, his example could have inspired many others to follow him and reject a utopian notion that had degenerated into a murderous creed.