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Marxism: Philosophy and economics Paperback – January 1, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Quill; 1st Quill ed edition (1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688064264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688064266
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #919,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Among the best short accounts of Marxism ever, whatever the reader's own politics are. I found it a real pleasure to read, clear and tight, full of both common sense and intellectual rigour.' - Bernard Crick 'Very readable ... The non-Marxist Mr Sowell is distinctly successful in opening up the scope and brilliance of Marx's very interesting mind.' - Brigitte Berger, New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Amherst and other academic institutions, and his Basic Economics has been translated into six languages. He is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has published in both academic journals in such popular media as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Fortune, and writes a syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country.

Customer Reviews

Indeed, Sowell explains Marxism better than Marx ever did.
Michael Scalise
While Sowell has a scathing critique of Marx's ideas at the end of the book, the bulk of it is written to help make sense of Marx.
Kenneth E. Wagner Jr.
All in all, this is the first book I would recommend to anyone interested in learning about Marx.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
In the genre of books attempting to put Karl Marx's ideas and personae into context, this is by far the best in the field, leaving runners' up in the field far behind. As most books in this genre are written in unapproachable prose and in the language of arcane terminology, Sowell's book is stunning in it's presentation, lucid in prose, and sublime in characterization.

Especially interesting is Sowell's treatment of Marx the man. As the final part of the book, Sowell put's Marx's ideas in context with the man. This is in stark contrast to most of the book's in the field either treating Marx's personal life as that of an uncannonized saint(mostly), or as an unspeakable monster.

In pure character of book, one can do no better.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth E. Wagner Jr. on November 25, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
How ironic that Sowell, a famed conservative economist, would have written such a brilliant explanation of Marxism. Sowell clearly and intelligently lays out Marx's ideas while avoiding the 'disciples' of Marx who have misinterpreted him. While Sowell has a scathing critique of Marx's ideas at the end of the book, the bulk of it is written to help make sense of Marx. He is very fair to Marx, in fact I have never been so sympathetic to Marxism as I was after reading this work. Sowell is truly a great scholar.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Anyone who's read Marx firsthand can attest to the challenges he presents in scholar. He can easily seem inconsistent and dogmatic, though he wasn't either; because of his writing style and penchant for epigrams (even at the sake of clarity and accuracy) he is easily one of the most misunderstood philosophers in Western History. The literature on Marx often bears little or no relation to Marxism as espoused by Marx, Lenin being the prime source of these trachts, as well as the prime example. It is by no means an exageration to claim that the secondary literature on Marx is worse than any in the entire Western Philosophical Canon.

Dr. Sowell's acheivement is nothing less than a concise, accesible, and above all accurate explanation of the Marxist system. Criticisms that accuse Dr. Sowell of using complex language criticise him for using philosophical technical terms employed by Marx that are crucial to actually understanding Marx's philosophy. I personally found the reading the easiest of any book presenting a summation of Marxism.

Any criticism of the book should be focused on Sowell's brief critique of Marxism, and then merely for the fact that it includes the real-life results of putative "Marxism" (however divorced those policies may be from Marx's actual philosophy). It also should be noted that Dr. Sowell's doctoral thesis was on Marx and his thought; this is a subject that the author (despite his now-conservative leanings) was deeply enmeshed in during his whole early intellectual career.

All in all, this is the first book I would recommend to anyone interested in learning about Marx. Now if only Dr. Sowell could do the same for Hegel...
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael Scalise on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the most succinct presentation of the ideas of Marx I've ever read. Indeed, Sowell explains Marxism better than Marx ever did. It is very well written and a fair analysis by one of the countries best economists and writers. Sowell, a former Marxist himself, explains the essential Marxian concepts with a balance perspective.

Those people who read this expecting to have Marx bashed or praised will be disappointed. Those wishing to understand Marxism and learn about Marx the man will be very happy with this book.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
In the clear prose and incisive thought that marks all of his writings, Thomas Sowell explores a subject thought to be nearly incomprehensible except to a very few in a manner that any intelligent layman can absorb. In it, he describes the man, his life, and his ideas in a manner to make Karl Marx and his ideas understandable to those who might be afraid to tackle the subject otherwise. This book should be the mandatory first read for any person attempting to understand the ideas that made this century.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Roy Massie on November 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
With the current political climate in the U.S. throwing the word "socialism" in various directions, I decided to brush up on what the term really means. This book is extremely helpful if you want to understand Marxism without having to decipher Marx (extremely difficult without help). Most of the text is quotes from Marx, Engels or others they interact with, followed by direct and clear headed interpretation by the author. This makes for a fairly dry read, and there are not enough every day examples to explain the concepts. But the motivated reader can derive a pretty good understanding, that would not be feasible by going directly to the writings of Marx and Engels. The book is incredibly well documented. 20% of the pages are useful foot notes and references backing up the ocean of quotes being explained throughout the rest of the text.

Simply stated, Marx is very complex. A book like this one is necessary. There are many reasons why Marx is complex, but four really struck me. First, his reasoning is complex, subtle and originally in German causing some translation issues. He simply is not easy to read. He did not write for clarity and in fact designed some of his work to elaborately lay mental traps for his opponents so he could later surprise them with a fatal blow. Definitely not a contemporary approach. Second, he often used epigrams - brief statements meant to emphasize the expression of an idea, almost like proverbs. Unfortunately they accomplish just the opposite by creating confusion in interpretation. Third, and this is huge, Marx redefined most of the terms of economics in his system, literally inviting the fallacy of equivocation for everyone who tries to understand him.
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