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- Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
- Format: Paperback | 450 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 192mm x 30mm | 358g
- Publication date: 3 August 2000
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1841151149
- ISBN 13: 9781841151144
- Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
- Sales rank: 168,680
A major biography of the man who, more than any other, made the twentieth century. Written by an author of great repute. The history of the 20th century is Marx's legacy. Not since Jesus Christ has an obscure pauper inspired such global devotion - or been so calamitously misinterpreted. The end of the century is a good moment to strip away the mythology and try to rediscover Marx the man. There have been many thousands of books on Marxism, but almost all are written by academics and zealots for whom it is a near blaspemy to treat him as a figure of flesh and blood. In the past few years there have been excellent and successful biographies of many eminent Victorians and yet the most influential of them has remained untouched. In this book Francis Wheen, for the first time, presens Marx the man in all his brilliance and frailty - as a poverty-stricken Prussian emigre who became a middle-class English gentleman; as an angry agitator who spent much of his adult life in scholarly silence in the British Museum Reading Room; as a gregarious and convivial host who fell out with almost all his friends; as a devoted family man who impregnated his housemaid; as a deeply earnest philosopher who loved drink, cigars and jokes.
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Francis Wheen is a distinguished author and journalist who was voted Columnist of the Year in February 1997 for his weekly column in the Guardian. He has written several books including the highly acclaimed biography of Tom Driberg MP, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize.
By John Brunton 05 Oct 2012
This biography of Karl Marx is a great read. The thorough research dispels inaccuracies in other books about Marx. Marx lead such an interesting and hard life, and toward the end of the book I just couldn't put it down.
Beatified in the Soviet bloc and vilified in the West throughout the Cold War, Karl Marx has always been the victim of his own notoriety. Wheen has gone some way, however, towards correcting this. Like many geniuses Marx was monstrously egotistical, often careless of the feelings of others and scornful of political rivals. Born the son of a Jewish laywer in Trier he was forced to flee the continent after the publication of the inflammatory communist manifesto in 1848. In London, where much of the rest of his life was spent in the scholarly silence of the British Museum Reading Room, he and his family were often in poverty. Portrayed here by Wheen as a rather Dickensian, middle-class English 'gent' fallen on hard times, Marx was in fact a complex and contradictory man; flamboyant, charming and even at times richly comic, he could also be moody and irascible. He died in 1883, stateless and intestate. An entertaining and balanced biography. (Kirkus UK)