I'm interested to study works about historical materialism. Can someone suggest some references about this subject with a couple of words commenting on them. I'm interested in basic ideas of historical materialism and not about Marxism in general. Works after Marx and Engels. Is this strait of thought obsolete?
Perhaps the most original contribution to historical materialism after Marx is Đilas's New Class, that analyzes the communist system itself from the point of view of historical materialism. The new class is the privileged ruling class of bureaucrats in "communist" autocracies, which Đilas identifies as being state capitalist. This is clearly revisionist of Marx but rather faithful to his methodology. The socialism/capitalism convergence theory is similarly revisionist of Marx, see e.g. Galbraith's New Industrial State. Lukac's History and Class Consciousness develops young Marx's ideas on alienation and the fetishism of commodities in capitalist societies. Cohen's Karl Marx’s Theory of History is a defense of more orthodox historical materialism.
In 1955 book Eros and Civilization Marcuse attempts to synthesize social theories of Marx and Freud to develop a "non-repressive society". Althusser's fuses historical materialism and structuralism in his Reading Capital, and a number of essays. Both were influential in 1970s. On structural Marxism, see also Offe's Structural Problems of the Capitalist State.
In a more diffused way historical materialism ideas (influence of environment and economics on social structure and culture) show up in the schools of technological determinism, e.g. Ayers's Theory of Economic Progress (1944), and geographic determinism founded by Huntington. One example of the latter is Adams's Energy and Structure (1975), another is recently popular Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel.