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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(1 star). See all 20 reviews
on September 17, 2013
This is a poorly done facsimile of the first volume only. I had to order the three Penguin Classics volumes to get what I needed to take part in a study group on these works. This was a really stupid choice.
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on August 29, 2017
Don't buy this book. Regardless of whether you want Capital to understand the history of economics, the ideology of communism, are curious about the relevance of what Marx had to say about the world today, or just want to have a smart looking thing on your book shelf, this edition is worthless to you.

First of all this is an old, out of date translation, one which is hard to read, and ultimately makes a difficult book that much harder. The translation is old enough that it is even in the public domain, meaning you really ought not pay for it at all. Furthermore, this is an abridgment, which for a book as long as Capital might not be the inherently bad, but this abridgement is clearly motivated to present a particular, dishonest picture of what Marx thought.

That this was done is all the more clear from reading the introductory essay. The author is not a sympathetic critic whatsoever, but rather appears to deliberately misrepresent basic aspects of Marx's thought. He also does little to try to contexualize Capital within the broader intellectual climate of the time, nor within Marx's body work. The biggest misstep in the introduction is the description of Marx as promoting "economic determinism", something popularly ascribed to Marx, because of it promotion by later 'vulgar Marxists' but something which Marx and Engels both went out of their way to caution against. Marx's basic idea is that economic conditions are important in giving rise to how a society is but that only creates a framework in which people act. A less vulgar characterization is that rather than determine, the historical, economic, and political conditions of a society limit the possible ways it is likely to evolve, but the particular way in which it does is still the subject of human free action. Ie. given the current political conditions of the United States, it is highly unlikely that widescale communist insurrection will happen in the short term, but you never know. The idea of Marx as being an economic determinist largely came about within the Second International, a fact the author/editor would know had he even a passing familiarity with the history of Marxism, of Marx scholarship. Regardless, the 'Materialist conception of history' is largely not the focus of Capital, but rather other works by Marx, making the main criticism the author/editor is making largely irrelevant and bizarre. I can't help but think that the editor hasn't actually read the book he is writing the introduction for, nor any of Marx's other works, nor any secondary literature that wasn't deliberately hostile and dishonest.

Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with what Marx has to say, he is worth taking seriously. Capital is a uniquely penetrating analysis of capitalism and one of the most influential books of all time, and is therefore worth confronting in an intellectually honest way. Instead of the buying this;

The Oxford abridgment still uses the same old translation, but at least is abridged honestly, by a creditable and respected Marx scholar. The introductory essay is brief but good.

The edition on amazon that contains volumes one and two is also the from the old translation, but is complete. If you just want the straightforward printed text of the public domain version, this will do. The brief interpretive essay at the beginning isn't fantastic but it isn't terrible. There is a useful bibliography of secondary sources included in this one.

If you are serious then you should really just bite the bullet and buy the full Penguin edition. This is the most accurate, up-to-date translation, and is the whole complete text. Most helpfully the edition opens with a ~100 page introduction by Ernest Mandel, a hugely important Marxian economist in his own right, which systematically provides an exposition of the major concepts within Marx's economics, and contextualizes the work itself in its own time. While Mandel does have his own particular view on many aspects of Marx's work, it's broadly agreeable enough that few Marxists would dispute its quality and accuracy. This introduction alone is nearly worth the price. The edition also contains numerous prefaces and afterwords to different editions, many of which contain interesting or revealing tidbits about how Marx and Engels were reacting to how other were understanding and interpreting the work.

I hope this is helpful, if you want to learn about Marx this is the worst thing you could buy, and if you want dishonest propaganda at least don't bother wasting money.
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on February 3, 2016
Poor understanding of human nature.
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on October 6, 2002
Marx got it all wrong. He derives his understanding of economics
not from the real world, but seemingly out of thin air. His first
real mistake come on page 3, when he asserts, without any good
reason, that use value can be completely omitted from his
derivation of exchange value. The Austrian school of economics,
exemplified by Ludwig vonMises and George Reisman, has shown that
use value can in fact be quantified, using a principle called
marginal utility. Not only can use value be quantified, but it
is the primary force in determining the market value of goods.
The second biggest problem seems to be his treatment of labor
as if it were some kind of substance. It may be simply a metaphor
on his part, but I get the feeling it isn't. Labor is an action,
not a substance intrinsically contained in commodities.
Some of his other mistakes, like his treatment of the source
of property rights, may be excusable considering the time period,
when most land could be traced to ownership by right of conquest,
but on the whole this book reads like sophistry for a hatered
and envy of producers, rather than a scholarly work of economics.
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on January 6, 2001
If you are ever considering taking history classes in college, pray that you will never have to read this book. I would liken the experience to reading computer assembly intructions over and over. This is the kind of book that is so boring that the author is writing, "I know you are not reading this" by page 1,324. Das Kapital is monotonous, drags on far longer than it should, and it takes Marx pages and pages to express a single point that be expressed by a few sentences. It is as if an unfeeling robot wrote this book. Mein Kampf is the is the same type of book, yet at least it has some life to it and you don't have to force yourself to read it. Avoid having to read this book if you can!
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on April 30, 2000
Mr. Marx took himself far too seriously. If he was a real Marx he would have told a few jokes about fat ladies. Not a good book, however if you suffer from sleep deprovation this book will surely do the trick.
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