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Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 5, 1992

97 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Das Kapital Series

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Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

From the Inside Flap

Capital, one of Marx's major and most influential works, was the product of thirty years close study of the capitalist mode of production in England, the most advanced industrial society of his day. This new translation of Volume One, the only volume to be completed and edited by Marx himself, avoids some of the mistakes that have marred earlier versions and seeks to do justice to the literary qualities of the work. The introduction is by Ernest Mandel, author of Late Capitalism, one of the only comprehensive attempts to develop the theoretical legacy of Capital. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May 5, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445688
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

355 of 364 people found the following review helpful By H.R. Sauertieg on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Marx's CAPITAL is frequently condemned by people who've never read it, and lauded by other people who don't fully understand it. I've read it and I don't think I fully understand it, but the main points of the text are pretty clear; Marx drills them into the reader as he unfolds his theory of the basis of capitalism.
First, a note on what CAPITAL is not. It is not a "communist" tract, though it is a foundation for communist thought. Marx follows two main trains of thought -- the first is observational, the second diagnostic. He explains how capitalism works, and why it works that way. Disagreeable as some of his ideas may be, they cannot be brushed away by citing the examples of Stalin and Pol Pot to discredit them. Unlike the typical Communist dictator, Marx was a hard-working scholar, a clear thinker, a fundamentally honest writer. His familiarity with the whole spectrum of economic and philosophical writings that preceded him is unquestionable, and CAPITAL is probably more impressive to a reader who's read THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (Adam Smith), if nothing else.
The capitalism of Marx's time (mid-19th century) had dismal effects on the "proletariat" or working-class, and CAPITAL cannot be fully appreciated without some knowledge of how England, the most industrialized nation in the world, looked at that period of history. Charles Dickens is one writer who "exposed" the condition of the poor, in a more acceptable (though no less wordy) fashion it seems.
CAPITAL is certainly an important book and it is not the unreadable monstrosity it's reputed to be. It is repetitious, but usually the repetition includes some new twist as Marx proceeds from one aspect of his theory to the next.
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167 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Janums on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading the "reviews" of Capital here on, a person who has read the book can see that most "reviewers" have not even troubled themselves read the book! Instead of taking the time and energy to plow through this work, many would rather get on a soap box and ramble on about their own views thereby "reviewing" the work.

I read the entire book from cover to cover. Not an easy task. It took me more than a year with persistence! But I did it.

Socialism is not mentioned once the the actual work itself. (Of course it is mentioned in the 87 page Introduction which some of the "reviewers" might have bothered to skim through!)

What is the name of the book? Capital! Not Communism or Socialism! One who has bothered to read this long book knows that the book has nothing to do with Communism. The book was supposed to form a scientific explanation of what the Capitalist mode of production was and how it formed and its' inner workings. Marx felt that after writing the pamphlet Manifesto of 1848, he owed it to the world tho explain what Capitalism was. It is a microscopic examination of the capitalist mode of production in mid-nineteenth century England. Granted that things have changed since 1850 England, the basic core of Capitalism hasn't changed.

The man was brilliant, he obviously spent a lot of time formulating an understanding of what Capitalism is. It was an eye opener for me into what Capitalism really is. It was stimulating to see how Marx in the work slowly but surely synthesizes his successive points one by one thereby building a model of the Capitalist mode of production for one to examine.

My only complaint was that it was too long. He could have said what he had to say in 200 pages rather than 800.
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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By El Cholo Invisivel on March 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I was greatly surprised to find that the words "Communism" and "Socialism" are not even mentioned in Capital, volume 1. This leads me to believe that the most vehement criticisms of this book are by people who haven't read it. I am not by any means a communist, but I found this book to be an excellent description of capitalism. Since we are still living in a capitalist system, much of what Marx says is still relevant today, for example, his analysis on how capitalism exerts continuous pressure to lengthen the work day. I regularly read the Economist and found Marx's criticism of the magazine entertaining. It is worth knowing, for example, that the Economist opposed shortening the work day of children to 10 hours. In another fascinating section, Marx uses the depopulation of Ireland based on the Potato Famine and the resulting land grab by the rich to disprove Malthus' theory on population. He proved how, contrary to what Malthus predicted, despite losing half of its population to famine and emigration, poverty continued to rise, and the rich continued to get richer. He ends the chapter on this prophetic note: "The accumulation of the Irish in America keeps pace with the accumulation of rents in Ireland. The Irishman, banished by the sheep and the ox, reappears on the other side of the ocean as a Fenian. And there a young but gigantic republic rises, more and more threateningly, to face the old queen of the waves."
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Brian C. on May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to write a review for a book that is so widely known, which so much has been written about, and which inspires such extreme degrees of both love and hatred. I also freely admit that I am far from being an expert in Marxian economics or economics in general (when I have gained more confidence in my understanding of Marxian economics I intend to update my review).

There are two main criticisms of Marx that are very often leveled against Capital and against Marx's thought in general that I think are invalid and I would like to get them out of the way at the beginning of my review.

The first criticism often leveled against Marx is based on the idea that the failure of the various "socialist" states, the various economic difficulties those states faced while they existed, as well as the atrocities that were often committed in Marx's name, constitute irrefutable evidence of the falsity of Marx's main ideas. The point I would make in this regard is that the title of Marx's book is Capital and for good reason. Marx's book is about the functioning and the dynamics of an economy dominated by capital, or the private ownership of the means of production, and the social relations that are inherent to such a system. In other words, Marx's book is about capitalism not about socialism. His analysis of the dynamics of a capitalist society and economy has to be assessed on its own terms and should not be assessed based on the problems faced by, or the relative inefficiencies of, the socialist economies. In my opinion there is much in Marx's analysis of capitalism that is both valid, and often brilliant, and which does not in anyway rely for its validity on the possibility or desirability of a fully planned or state run economy.
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