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Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels Audio CD – Bargain Price, January 4, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With strong scholarship in Marxist history and theory, a fluent style and some healthy doses of irony, Hunt (Building Jerusalem) traces the coauthor of The Communist Manifesto from his pious Prussian roots through his apprenticeship in the family textile firm in Manchester, England, early years at the forefront of revolutionary upheavals throughout Europe and his subsequent return to the family industry to support Marx's family and writing. Engels is characterized as a gregarious yet committed theorist and activist, providing considerable financial and intellectual resources to Marx while accepting his own role as second fiddle in their joint battle for socialist ideological dominance. Though the book makes a strong case for the value of Engels's own writings on working conditions and defends against reductive readings that would align him with the rigid orthodoxies of Leninism and Stalinism, the author is clear-eyed with regard to Engels's less savory, sometimes deeply chilling ideas and his divisive manipulations of organizations and party politics. This is an impressive biography of a fascinating figure whose attempts to synthesize his own contradictory roles as arch-capitalist and seminal communist, embody the very notion of dialectics so central to Marxist theory. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
“It all began over drinks,” Hunt writes of the forty-year collaboration between Karl Marx and his benefactor, ghostwriter, and best friend, Friedrich Engels. Engels’s life was defined by an awkward tension. When he could afford it, he was a muckraking journalist, street-fighting revolutionary, and international libertine. When he couldn’t, he was tethered to Manchester and his father’s cotton mill, supplying Marx with the money (and the empirical evidence) he needed to complete “Das Kapital.” This greatly enjoyable biography of “the original champagne communist” is a perceptive tour not just through Engels’s life but through philosophy and political thought in the nineteenth century, though it will inevitably be read through the lens of the twentieth. Engels saw the existence of the Slavs “in the heart of Europe as an anachronism,” at once indicating a low opinion of the people who would first embrace Marxism and hinting at the pitiless path Communism later took. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Especially interesting to me, because I knew nothing about it, was Engels's and Marx's fascination with Darwin's theory of evolution and their abiding belief that human society would inevitably evolve in a similar "scientific" fashion. I always wondered where the odd belief in dialectical materialism as a "science" sprang from--- now I know.
Also odd: Engels, a polymath intellectual, invariably chose illiterate workingclass women as his sexual partners and closest female intimates. Despite his evident fear of intellectual women of his own class (what else could it have been but fear?), he wrote "The Origin of The Family, Private Property, and the State," a pretty good analysis of female oppression for its time.
My one big quibble with Hunt is that his citation system uses the definitive edition of Marx and Engels's works, which tells me nothing about when a particular work was first published.
I bought this book simultaneously with Frances Wheen's negligible biography of Marx that was touted by Christopher Hitchens. Forget Wheen (another young Brit). If you want to learn about Marx and Engels and the times they lived in, read "Marx's General".
page tuner, really illuminates 19th century England, highlights Capitalism weakness and gives credence to Marx ideas, thoughtful, well
nit-picking here but there is a tone of pandering to popular "middlebrow" opinion and ignorance. Hunt gives too much credence to various theories that there was a huge ideological difference in the respective outlooks and legacies of Engels and K.M.as siezed on by certain superficial thinkers. Likewise the "theory" that Engels "materialism" was a logical progenitor of Stalin's mechanistic "materialism" which in his role as"gravedigger of the revolution" (see Trotsky) cannot be regarded as seriously as a dialiectical materialist, e.g. "Marxist". Rather, Stalin's version of "marxism" at all times after 1923 was an apology and justification of the (later) entrenched bureaucracy. Much more could be said but we'll leave it at that for now.