Karl Marx Biography

Karl Marx
by Gareth Stedman Jones

Gareth Stedman Jones returns Karl Marx to his nineteenth-century world, before later inventions transformed him into Communism’s patriarch and fierce lawgiver. He shows how Marx adapted the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, and others into ideas that would have—in ways inconceivable to Marx—an overwhelming impact in the twentieth century.

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life
by Jonathan Sperber

“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.


The Communist Manifesto
by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

 Celebrating Karl Marx’s 200th Birth Anniversary

The Communist Manifesto has been recognized as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League’s purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.

The book contains Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism.

Born in Westphalia in 1820, Friedrich Engels was the son of a textile manufacturer. After military training in Berlin and already a convert to communism, Engels went to Manchester in 1842 to represent the family firm. A relationship with a mill-hand, Mary Bums, and friendship with local Owenites and Chartists helped to inspire his famous early work, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844. 

Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Trier, Germany and studied in Bonn and Berlin. Influenced by Hegel, he later reacted against idealist philosophy and began to develop his own theory of historical materialism. He related the state of society to its economic foundations and mode of production, and recommended armed revolution on the part of the proletariat.  


Karl Marx
by Rolf Hosfeld

Is the Grand Old Man re-emerging? More than twenty years after the collapse of Communism, and in the midst of the crisis of Capitalism, Karl Marx’s ideas, at least in part, are back in vogue. He is often invoked, yet often misunderstood. In this award-winning biography Rolf Hosfeld offers a new, transparent, and critical view of Marx’s turbulent life. Linking the contradictory politician and revolutionary to his work—his errors and misjudgments as well as his pioneering ideas—Hosfeld presents a vivid account of Marx’s life between Trier and London. At the same time, he renders accessible Marx’s complex work, one of the world’s most important contributions to the history of ideas.


A World to Win
by Sven-Eric Liedman

“The globalized world of the twenty-first century has many parallels with that of the period running up to the cataclysm of 1914, namely the world predicted by Karl Marx. Communications go that much faster, but this is a difference of degree, not type. People, messages, and ideas are flung around the globe. Money circulates in a never-ceasing torrent, poverty lives side by side with wealth, and capital exercises its impersonal power over each and every one of us. In this world, Karl Marx – blunt and straightforward enough to inspire criticism of the latest exploits of capitalism, the failings of politics, and the genuflection of those in power before fetishes like The Market – lives on. Despite nearly 200 years having passed since his birth, his burning criticism of capitalism remains of immediate interest today. The texts he left behind gave rise to what would come to be called Marxism, but that was a term he rejected. His approach – enormous amounts of reading and writing, integrating new discoveries from the various sciences into his analyses of society – was a far cry from how his theories would come to be used in states where only one, party-approved interpretation was allowed. Now, more than ever before, these texts can be read in their own right. In addition to providing a living picture of Marx the man, his life, and his family and friends – as well as his lifelong collaboration with Frederick Engels – Sweden’s leading intellectual historian Sven-Eric Liedman, in this major new account of his life and thought, shows what Karl Marx the thinker and researcher really wrote, demonstrating that this giant of the nineteenth century can still exert a powerful attraction for the inhabitants of the twenty-first.”–

Karl Marx
by Francis Wheen

In this stunning book, the first comprehensive biography of Marx since the end of the Cold War, Francis Wheen gives us not a socialist ogre but a fascinating, ultimately humane man, while still examining the criticisms of his detractors. A study in contradictions, Karl Marx was at once a reserved scholar, a fiery agitator, and a gregarious socialite, while his intellect and ideology were once described as “Rousseau, Voltaire, and Hegel fused into one person.” He lived both at the center and on the fringes of his age, and his oratory and writing continue to change the contemporary world. In his entertaining, offbeat style, Wheen offers an eminently readable biography of one of history’s most unforgettable figures. “Wheen’s portrait of Marx’s life is artfully shaped and makes delectable reading.”—New York Times “A magnificent portrait of Marx…. Bravo!”—A. N. Wilson “[E]xpertly researched, admirably objective, eminently humane, and plenty entertaining.”—Boston Book Review

Love and Capital
by Mary Gabriel

Brilliantly researched and wonderfully written, LOVE AND CAPITAL reveals the rarely glimpsed and heartbreakingly human side of the man whose works would redefine the world after his death. Drawing upon previously unpublished material, acclaimed biographer Mary Gabriel tells the story of Karl and Jenny Marx’s marriage. Through it, we see Karl as never before: a devoted father and husband, a prankster who loved a party, a dreadful procrastinator, freeloader, and man of wild enthusiasms-one of which would almost destroy his marriage. Through years of desperate struggle, Jenny’s love for Karl would be tested again and again as she waited for him to finish his masterpiece, Capital.

An epic narrative that stretches over decades to recount Karl and Jenny’s story against the backdrop of Europe’s Nineteenth Century, LOVE AND CAPITAL is a surprising and magisterial account of romance and revolution-and of one of the great love stories of all time.


Left of Karl Marx
by Carole Boyce Davies

In Left of Karl Marx, Carole Boyce Davies assesses the activism, writing, and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915–1964), a pioneering Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist. Jones is buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery, to the left of Karl Marx—a location that Boyce Davies finds fitting given how Jones expanded Marxism-Leninism to incorporate gender and race in her political critique and activism.

Claudia Cumberbatch Jones was born in Trinidad. In 1924, she moved to New York, where she lived for the next thirty years. She was active in the Communist Party from her early twenties onward. A talented writer and speaker, she traveled throughout the United States lecturing and organizing. In the early 1950s, she wrote a well-known column, “Half the World,” for the Daily Worker. As the U.S. government intensified its efforts to prosecute communists, Jones was arrested several times. She served nearly a year in a U.S. prison before being deported and given asylum by Great Britain in 1955. There she founded The West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News and the Caribbean Carnival, an annual London festival that continues today as the Notting Hill Carnival. Boyce Davies examines Jones’s thought and journalism, her political and community organizing, and poetry that the activist wrote while she was imprisoned. Looking at the contents of the FBI file on Jones, Boyce Davies contrasts Jones’s own narration of her life with the federal government’s. Left of Karl Marx establishes Jones as a significant figure within Caribbean intellectual traditions, black U.S. feminism, and the history of communism.


Karl Marx
by Werner Blumenberg

This classic biography of Karl Marx, complete with Gareth Stedman Jones’ poignant introduction, is unlike any other account of its subject. Focusing as much on Marx’s private life as on his public persona and work, this classic biography looks in detail at his relationship with his mother and father, wife and friends, and includes generous quotations from a wide range of correspondence in addition to virtually every photograph in existence of Marx and his closest associates.

Blumenberg examines Marx’s early writing as a schoolboy and his romantic poetry whilst a student, as well as his exchanges with close friend and collaborator Frederick Engels. In these pages are moving accounts of the privations of Marx’s poverty-stricken life in London and the tragedies which struck his family, as well as discussions of his intellectual development and political activity.Including virtually every photograph in existence of Marx and his closest associates, and focusing as much on his private life as on his public persona and work, Werner Blumenberg’s biography provides an intimate portrait of the making of a complex intellectual the New Yorker dubbed “the next most influential thinker.”


Eleanor Marx
by Rachel Holmes

Unrestrained by convention, lionhearted and free, Eleanor Marx (1855–98) was an exceptional woman. Hers was the first English translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. She pioneered the theater of Henrik Ibsen. She was the first woman to lead the British dock workers’ and gas workers’ trade unions. For years she worked tirelessly for her father, Karl Marx, as personal secretary and researcher. Later, she edited many of his key political works and laid the foundations for his biography. But foremost among her achievements was her pioneering feminism. For her, gender equality was a necessary precondition for a just society, and she crusaded for this in Britain and on a celebrated tour across America in 1886.

Drawing strength from her family and their wide circle, including Friedrich Engels and Wilhelm Liebknecht, Eleanor Marx set out into the world to make a difference. Her favorite motto: “Go ahead!” With her closest friends–among them Olive Schreiner, Havelock Ellis, George Bernard Shaw, Will Thorne, and William Morris–she was at the epicenter of British socialism. She was also the only Marx to claim her Jewishness. But her life contained a deep sadness: She loved a faithless and dishonest man, the academic, actor, and would-be playwright Edward Aveling. Yet despite the unhappiness he brought her, Eleanor Marx never wavered in her political life, ceaselessly campaigning and organizing until her untimely end.

Rachel Holmes has written a dazzling and original portrait of one of the most remarkable women of the nineteenth century.



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