Deaths elsewhere

  • Updated: October 9, 2012 - 9:54 PM

Mervyn Dymally, 86, the Trinidad-born former teacher whose groundbreaking if sometimes controversial political career spanned more than four decades and included a stint as California's only black lieutenant governor, died Sunday in Los Angeles, after a period of declining health.

Dymally became a leader in the Los Angeles area's ascendant black political establishment in the early 1960s and served in both houses of the Legislature as well as in Congress.

"He's opened so many doors. A lot of people have walked through those doors," then-Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson said in early 2003, shortly after Dymally, a decade into his retirement from Congress, returned to the Assembly as its elder statesman. He served six terms in Congress.

Eric J. Hobsbawm, 95, whose three-volume economic history of the rise of industrial capitalism established him as Britain's pre-eminent Marxist historian, died Oct. 1 in London. The cause was pneumonia.

His masterwork remains his incisive and often eloquent survey of the period he referred to as "the long 19th century," which he analyzed in three volumes: "The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848," "The Age of Capital: 1848-1875" and "The Age of Empire: 1874-1914." To this trilogy, he appended a coda in 1994, "The Age of Extremes," published in the United States with the subtitle "A History of the World, 1914-1991."

Hobsbawm "was a brilliant historian in the great English tradition of narrative history," Tony Judt, a professor of history at New York University, wrote in an e-mail in 2008.

Sam Steiger, 83, an Arizona Republican and self-described "fiscal fascist" who amassed a staunchly conservative voting record during five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and who drew attention for his sharp tongue and sharkskin boots and for shooting two burros, died Sept. 26 in Prescott, Ariz. He died of complications from strokes.

Steiger, who was born to a Jewish family in New York, was a highly decorated combat veteran of the Korean War. He won election the U.S. House in 1966.

He established a voting record that got him lower ratings from liberal groups than Sen. Barry Goldwater, his fellow Arizona Republican who had run for president in 1964 on a hard-right platform. Steiger relished being an outsider in clubby Washington.

He did not seek reelection to the U.S. House in 1976 and lost a U.S. Senate race that year to Dennis DeConcini.

Eugene D. Genovese, 82, a prize-winning historian who challenged conventional thinking on slavery in the American South by stressing its paternalism as he traveled a personal intellectual journey from Marxism to conservative Catholicism, died Sept. 26 at his home in Atlanta.

Praised for his meticulous research, Genovese argued that slave life in the pre-Civil War South was not one of continuous cruelty and degradation. Rather, he described a system of "paternalism" in which slaves had compelled their owners to recognize their humanity. This, he said, allowed the slaves to preserve their self-respect as well as their aspirations for freedom while enabling their owners to continue to profit from their labor.

The book in which he articulated this view most completely was "Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made."

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