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The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0717803590 ISBN-10: 0717803597 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Intl Pub; 1st edition (June 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0717803597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0717803590
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #834,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on August 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have always found Engels easier to decipher than Marx. Also, since much of this book is based on the new (in 1884) science of anthropology - a close cousin to psychology and psychiatry - I generally find it pretty easy to get my head around the concepts that he presents.

It stands out really clearly in this book that he and Marx trace the origins of class society to the agricultural revolution (when human beings started raising crops and animals instead of being hunter gatherers) - which immediately resulted in a "surplus" of food - which became the responsibility of an elite (chieftains and priests) to safeguard for the winter and hard times.

He also traces the necessity for men to trace their offspring once there is a surplus and they begin to accumulate wealth (the keepers of the surplus get to keep a little more of it than everyone else). Because by this time human beings have figured out how babies are made and want to bequeath their wealth to their descendents. This can only happen if they can trace their paternity, which means limiting women (but not men) to a single sexual partner. Thus the need to replace matriarchal society with patriarchy and to introduce the marriage contract to bind women to a single man.

Engels then traces how this primitive "tribal" structure, eventually led to the concept of private property - and of the feudalistic state. To have a state you have to have a king or supreme leader. He maintains power via a standing army and rewards "knights" in his army with gifts of private property. And because property is no longer owned communally, people are forced off the land they used to farm and have no choice but to go and work as serfs for the knights and lords who now own the property by the king's decree.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin C. Paulson on March 27, 2010
Verified Purchase
I like this book, of course. However, Amazon's "Print on Demand" leaves the buyer with a text that is almost incomplete. I guess I was warned, but I did not expect paragraphs of material lost due to the accuracy of the photograph. I could have rated this item five stars simply for the content of the book, however, the mistakes and unreadable content in the book would not allow me to rate it so high.

Here is an example of the mistakes in the text, in case someone is curious:

"1. The consanguine family. The co nganguine familv is th e first step toward the famtl. Heie the niarriage groups. are-arranged by generations: all the grand-fathers and grand-mothers T nt"BTir a certain famijylare. mutual husbands and 5 3 51?? J-the."

As you can see, these mistakes render the text less than intelligible. The frequency of occurrence seemed to be about once a page, with some excerpts worse (harder to understand) than others. There are a few pages that are full of this gibberish, and I was not able to read them. Nevertheless, this book is not common, and it is good to have my own copy (for cheap), albeit slightly incomplete.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter C. Patton on October 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This modern Penguin Books edition of Engels' classic work is a must read. My only regret is that I had not read it years ago. Engels begins with an encyclopedic knowledge of antiquity, quoting from such classics as Grote's 'History of Greece' (12 vols), Mommsen's 'History of Rome' (5 vols), and Lewis Morgan's 'Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery, through Barbarism to Civilization' (now available from Amazon). Into this "supersaturated solution" of received knowledge he dips his thematic string "the origin of the family" and draws it out encrusted with crystals of known but here-to-fore unrelated information. As a long-time university teacher of ancient history I was thoroughly familar with Engels' database but had never mined it for this particular theme. Most of modern anthropology has arisen long after Engels completed the fourth edition of this work in 1891, so he may be criticized for errors in detail and even method, but his overall message is still relevant and very important for civilization today! Born in Germany, Fredrich Engels was very well educated and seems to have been a reader of Latin and Greek, and fluent in German, French, and Russian as well as a skilled writer of English. A well-turned, if somewhat polemical example: "The downfall of Athens was not caused by democracy as the European lickspittle historians assert to flatter their princes, but by slavery, which banned the labour of free citizens." Throughout the book Engels is highly complimentary of the United States as the highest form of representative democracy in his time. But he does offer a criticism which is hard to gainsay, especially since 2008: "...the democratic republic no longer officially recognizes differences of property.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jill Hickson on November 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Puts history in perspective and shows that women have been equal participants in society in times past and gives the scientific analysis of how and why women's position in society changed to one of a second class citizen becoming slaves to our male partners. If you want to know why, then read this book and others which challenge the status quo and which point to the ways to achieve full human liberation of not just women but the entire human race.
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