Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize (Biography)
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice Selection
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly and Book Riot
“Absorbing, meticulously researched.... [Sperber] succeeds in the primary task of all biography, re-creating a man who leaps off the page.” —Jonathan Freedland, New York Times Book Review
In this magisterial biography of Karl Marx, “likely to be definitive for many years to come” (John Gray, New York Review of Books), historian Jonathan Sperber creates a meticulously researched and multilayered portrait of both the man and the revolutionary times in which he lived. Based on unprecedented access to the recently opened archives of Marx’s and Engels’s complete writings, Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life provides a historical context for the personal story of one of the most influential and controversial political philosophers in Western history. By removing Marx from the ideological conflicts of the twentieth century that colored his legacy and placing him within “the society and intellectual currents of the nineteenth century” (Ian Kershaw), Sperber is able to present a full portrait of Marx as neither a soothsaying prophet of the modern world nor the author of its darkest atrocities. This major biography fundamentally reshapes our understanding of a towering historical figure.
This superb, readable biography of the most controversial political and economic thinker of the last two centuries achieves what scholars have been hard-pressed to deliver in recent decades: a study of Marx that avoids cold war, ideological, and partisan commitments and arguments. A University of Missouri historian, Sperber (The European Revolutions: 1848 1851) achieves this aim by securing Marx firmly in his 19th century, and keeping him out of ours. Sperber brilliantly weaves life and ideas together in this sympathetic, if duly objective, portrait of a difficult man. Not shy of criticizing his subject's ideas and evaluating their limitations both philosophically and as products of their particular time Sperber provides lucid explanations of Marx's many complex theoretical formulations and arguments. Marx the man comes to life not only as a thinker always struggling to make ends meet, but also as a husband and father, philosophical combatant, activist, German patriot, and exile in London. Marx's contemporaries also make vivid appearances, resulting in a book that is as much a chronicle of the events and dense ideological fights of the time that so embroiled its principal subject as a biography. A major work, this is likely to be the standard biography of Marx for many years. 34 illus.
This is a great book and deserves a good review. It was intelligently written and easy to digest. This book is not only for communists but for anyone interested in history, biographies and political theory.
do not buy it
Karl Marx, communist pig. do not buy this book.
Run and don’t look back. Evil incarnate in book form.