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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Communist Manifesto
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Overall, this version is practical and 'user friendly.'

Here is a little personal story:

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I have read three other versions of the Communist Manifesto. All of these had their own special characteristic that distinguished them from each other. For example, one version has a good introduction and a good afterward , another version has good notes at the end of the Manifesto and another version is pocket size. However, this version has proven to be much better.

When I began reading this version, the large size of the pages bothered me a bit. However, it makes sense that the pages are larger because the Author places important information and notes that help to explain the Manifesto. As I continued reading, I became convinced that this version was much more practical than other versions even if it was not pocket size. The reason being, that whenever I did not understand a reference all I had to do was look at the edge of the page. In other versions, I had to go to the back of the book and read notes and other information in small print. This obviously became really annoying and it made me stop reading the notes because a lot of the information was overwhelming and sometimes unnecessary.

Furthermore, this version is better than the others because it explains the original text in plain English. In addition, this version has a funny and inspirational introduction, a good afterward by Howard Zinn and a section with a few questions that people usually ask to try and discredit socialism/communism. However, the Author answers those questions that sometimes puzzle or have puzzled us at one point in time.

I think that this is such a good version, that I would even recommend it to a skeptic.
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353 of 398 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
My five star rating is based on the quality of this handsome edition of one of the classics of political philosophy. Classics of this magnitude, whether Adam Smith's THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, Tocqueville's DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, or THE FEDERALIST PAPERS have achieved a status that makes the assigning of a rating rather silly. Regardless of one's feelings about Marxism or Communism, a work of such gigantic influence is of such a status that rating it is almost silly. It is one of the constitutive artifacts of our culture.

The particular edition I am reviewing is the recent reissue on Verso with an introduction by Eric Hobsbawm. There are a host of editions of THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, and virtually any of them will do the trick, but I very much enjoyed this edition, partly for the handsome jacket and binding, and partly for the superb intro by Hobsbawm. It is not a new translation, and indeed it isn't clear that there will ever be much of a demand for a new translation. The MANIFESTO was first published in 1848 and this translation in 1888. Moore's translation is the standard one for a simple reason: Engels examined it closely and helped Moore in editing the final draft of the translation.

Although I had read a fair amount in the writings of Marx over the years, this was my first time to read the work from cover to cover. I found it surprising on several levels. First, it was a much easier to read work than I had anticipated. This is upon reflection hardly surprising. The work was intended as a pamphlet for the masses, and it was essential that it be as understandable as possible. Also, the concepts and ideas articulated in these pages have become a part of the intellectual landscape of Western civilization. A host of ideas are commonplace, even among those who do not consider themselves sympathetic towards Marxism. It has become a commonplace of the past decade that Communism and Democracy clashed, and Communism lost. But the fact is that Marxist thought has exerted a massive influence on the way we view the world, and many things introduced by Marx are now central constituents of our world. Just look at the way we write history now. Before Marx a detailed consideration of the economic factors in an era was unheard of; now it is considered essential.

As a credo, I find myself conflicted over its contents, just as I always find myself conflicted in reading Marx. Marx's analyses of the dynamics governing capitalist society have always struck me as dead on. No one writes more presciently or timelessly about the structures of exploitation that are inherent in capitalism. Nonetheless, I find his positive proposals as to how to transcend capitalism to be untenable, and the post-capitalist world he describes to be undesirable. The best way to express this is that I find Marx the critic to be convincing and impressive, but Marx the visionary to be irrelevant. I want us to pay attention to Marx's critiques, but not to his proposals for change.

I was delighted in reading the book to find the word "highfalutin" in the text. The world seems somehow to be a more charming place for the unexpected presence of such a light-hearted word in the midst of a serious text.

Though listed as the work of Marx and Engels, Marx was the primary creator of the work. He also did the bulk of the writing. It isn't sufficiently commented on what a beautiful writer Marx could be when he tried. Too often he adopts the try academic style begun with Christian Wolff and continued by Kant, Fichte, and Hegel. But a host of exquisite phrases such as "All that is solid melts into air" shows that Marx could turn a phrase when conviction didn't prevent him.

Everyone interested in political thought or modern history needs to read this book. Its influence--its ongoing influence--is incalculable. Its critique of the exploitative nature of capitalism remains astonishingly relevant. And its predictions about the future course of history, even if no longer inspiring or convincing, are crucial to grasp if one is to understand many of the political impulses of the past one hundred and fifty years.
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163 of 197 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I remember reading the Communist Manifesto thirty years ago when I was at University. At the time it seemed tedious and impenetrable. Recently I re-read it and was amazed at how clear it seemed and what an effective piece of propaganda it was and how clear was the writing.
Reading through the program one realises the distance that has been travelled since it was written. Some of the major planks are the Abolition of Child Labour, the creation of a progressive income tax and Free Education.
Perhaps one of its major weaknesses is that Marx was a person who tended to carry a grudge. Thus a third of it is devoted to attacks on some of his contemporary enemies and rivals. These disputes have so long passed into history they are incomprehensible.
The modern notion of Communism of course stems not from Marx but from Stalin and Lenin. Marx wrote at a time when the only democratic country in Europe was France. England, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire all had limited franchises and Russia was of course an autocracy. One of the major reforms he battled for was the introduction of democracy. It was his belief that the implementation of his program would flow from that.
Following Marx's death his movement evolved into a parliamentary movement the Social Democratic Party. Communism as a modern political phenomena dates from 1917 when splinter Social Democrats followed Russia's lead and developed small conspiratorial parties who were committed to the seizure of power by force. Stalinism is an offshoot of this system and is a form of state terror aimed at ensuring the survival of unpopular anti democratic regimes.
Reading through the Manifesto one can see the basis of a system which was not only an effective for mobilising political movements, but came to influence intellectual debate for the next century. There is also perhaps a sense of a naive optimism which could not contemplate the sorts of disasters which were to occur over the next hundred years.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Phil Gasper brings a profound clarity to the words of Marx and Engels. Readers of other editions may be surprised by how much more fully they grasp the meaning of "history's most important political document" this time around. I was.

The true breadth of Marx and Engels' intellect is made clear in the many short selections of their subsequent writings included with the Manifesto (especially Engels' very readable "The Principles of Communism"). I greatly appreciated this inclusion by Gasper, along with his thoughtful introduction and afterword.

Don't buy this book for yourself alone, get one for a friend too. In a world where profit-seeking and power-grabs drive everything from oil wars to pharmaceutical research to prison construction, who says Marx is dead, anyway?
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Calling this edition the "Collectors Edition" is an egregious misnomer. While the binding is good, that's the only thing positive that can be said about this edition. This "publisher" apparently has no editor and no one who understands a thing about professional typesetting. It looks as if it was typed out in MS Word. Paragraphs are indented a full half inch, AND the paragraphs have entire blank lines between them. The first half of the book uses straight quotes and two hyphens for dashes. The second half of the book switches to curly quotes, but puts spaces around full em dashes. Over and over again the apostrophe of possessives have spaces before the 's' (as in "Marx' s").

I was so disgusted with the poor quality typesetting that I returned it. If you're looking for a nice, high quality hardcover of the Manifesto, go for the Barnes & Noble edition. They at least have professional typesetters.

To the "publishers": I highly recommend you get yourselves a copy of Jan Tschichold's _The Form of the Book_ (you can get it here on Amazon). Please learn how to typeset a book properly before printing any more books.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
"Communist Manifesto" is one of the most fascinating and significant works of political philosophy. Regardless of your political views this is an important book and anyone interested in the history of ideas ought to read it. I had read it for the first time back in college and decided to re-read it when I came across the free Kindle edition.

The Manifesto is written in a very powerful and passionate style, and it's really high on rhetoric. Unlike most other Marx' or Engels' works it is not written in order to analyze historical or philosophical ideas as much as to inspire and give communists a very clear and well-defined set of principles for which they ought to stand. Nonetheless, the Manifesto presents the reader with all the major intellectual positions that communists of all stripes have promoted for over a century and a half: history and politics as class struggles, demonization of "bourgeoisie," dismissal of all other socialist movements, call for the abolishment of private property and the traditional family. Manifesto is also very dismissive of any intellectual objections to its ideas, dismissing all of them with a single sentence. It has become fashionable in certain circles to claim that the eventual horrors of communism were due to the "distortion" of Marx' and Engels' thought, but after reading the Manifesto it is hard to imagine that any of the revolutionary changes that they called for to be implemented in any other way than through extreme violence. "Communist Manifesto" is the line in send that had been drawn very early in the history of communism, and it is very easy to see how all the subsequent tragic developments have been acted out according to this playbook.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In response to the 2-star reviewer, it's fair to wonder how accurate the opinion of someone who cannot spell "Satan" is. Calling Marx a "squanderer", even if it were true, is nothing but a useless ad hominem and has no bearing on the content of the Manifesto. In addition, the reviewer has literally zero understanding of what Communism is or what Marx argued for and against - has the "THE TRUTH" even read the book being "reviewed"? Nobody is "demonizing others" for becoming "successful through their own labors" - that's a silly fiction and straw-man. One of Marx's criticism of Capitalism is it allows some to accumulate enormous wealth through the labors of OTHERS. This is the reality - hardly any better or different than plantation slavery - that "THE TRUTH" should be ranting against.

All said, buy this version of the Manifesto - it is the best I know of. Gasper does an awesome job of bringing out its meaning and relevance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a great copy of the Communist Manifesto because, as with all of this particular Bedford Series, it provides lots of related documents to build context from. There is some text-book style background information, but most of the book is primary source documents that make it a really handy collection for anyone doing scholarly work. Fear not, whether you are trying to convert fellow commies or crush those revolutionary reds, this book will help you build your own case from scratch without having to wade through some author's opinion.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Manifesto is a short political tract, under sixty pages, but its affect on history has been enormous. We forget this today, especially after the Cold War, but if one reads into Marx's critique of capitalism, it still resonates even a century and a half later.

Of course, the tract is enunciated by a 19th century positivism that seems grossly misplaced in our postmodern, cynical world. Additionally, the rise and collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism (except in maybe today's North Korea and rhetorically in Cuba) has illuminated the weaknesses of the application of Marx's ideas. Nevertheless, it shows the costs of an unfettered market economy, in an industrial context, extremely well. Notice also the ten planks of the Communist Manifesto platform of action, to be implemented by a revolutionary state, which included some things we take for granted today--abolition of land ownership, progressive income tax, public and universal education, and nationalization of all railways, means of transportation, as well as abolition of child labor, and centralization of bank credit in a state bank.

If you're going to study 20th century politics and social movements, the Communist Manifesto is a must. It is a nice, more readable introduction to some of Marx's more obtuse works, such as his writings on German philosophy (The German Ideology), the 1848 revolutions, the 1871 Paris Communards (covered in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon and the Revolutions in France), philosophy (The Poverty of Philosophy), and the three volume set of Das Kapital [the last two of which Engels co-wrote and edited from Marx's writings and transcripts].
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What many don't realise is that this book sits at the top of a larger body of work which forms Marx's philosophy. Beyond the manifesto, Marx has been extremely influential in the areas of philosophy, psychology, ethics, aesthetics as well as the more obvious areas such as political economy. This book therefore is a consequence of a much more complex philosophical analysis of his times. In other philosophical discussions of Marx, you will rarely if ever come across references to the manifesto which puts it into perspective relative to his other, philosophically more important writings. However, as a polemic and a political manifesto this book is spot on for it's time even if Marxism, due to the subsequent events of history needs to be seriously reworked and comtemporised.
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