Books

Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Marx’s Das Kapital

Books That Changed the World

by Francis Wheen

“As Wheen skillfully shows, there was an underlying love-hate relationship between Marx and capitalism. As early as the Manifesto, he had written of capitalism’s operations with a sort of awe, describing how the bourgeoisie had revolutionized all hum and social and economic relations, and had released productive capacities of a sort undreamed-of in feudal times.” –Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 144
  • Publication Date November 18, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4394-5
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $13.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 144
  • Publication Date November 21, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8711-3970-2
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $19.95

About The Book

In vivid detail, Francis Wheen tells the story of Das Kapital and Karl Marx’s twenty-year struggle to complete his unfinished masterpiece. Born in a tworoom flat in London’s Soho amid political squabbles and personal tragedy, the first volume of Das Kapital was published in 1867, to muted praise. But after Marx’s death, the book went on to influence thinkers, writers, and revolutionaries, from George Bernard Shaw to V. I. Lenin, changing the direction of twentiethcentury history.

Wheen’s captivating, accessible book shows that, far from being a dry economic treatise, Das Kapital is like a vast Gothic novel whose heroes are enslaved by the monster they created: capitalism. Furthermore, Wheen argues, as long as capitalism endures, Das Kapital demands to be read and understood.

Praise

“As Wheen skillfully shows, there was an underlying love-hate relationship between Marx and capitalism. As early as the Manifesto, he had written of capitalism’s operations with a sort of awe, describing how the bourgeoisie had revolutionized all hum and social and economic relations, and had released productive capacities of a sort undreamed-of in feudal times.” –Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic

“Francis Wheen is rightly admired for his biography of Karl Marx, but the book that lit up Marx for me was Francis’s much slimmer biography of Das Kapital. Suddenly, I got the point and was ready to tackle the great work with new understanding.” –Julia Jones, The Week

“[Wheen’s] engrossing take on “Das Kapital” nails the series’ mission: bringing to life the man (brilliant but easily distracted), his times (“ber-turbulent), how the book came together (slowly and unsurely), and its influence then and now. Wheen’s cast of characters would have made Robert Altman jealous: Friedrich Engels, of course, and Trotsky, Lenin et al., but also Balzac, Hegel, Mary Shelley’s monster, H.G. Wells, Jean-Paul Sartre and even George Soros. And Wheen doesn’t go easy on his subject, whether trying to clarify what he calls Marx’s “fractured narrative and radical discontinuity” or providing a platform for the man’s many critics. Like most of the “Books That Changed the World,” Wheen’s work is concise and incisive, affording readers a chance to become thoroughly versed in a text that once, and seemingly forever, loomed like a chore or a bore.” –Bill Ward, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A welcome, brief study of the making of a not so necessarily massive tome.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Wheen concisely recounts the birth, life, and legacy of the most challenging and formidable title in Marx’s canon” with penetrating attention to the evolving Zeitgeists that form the subject. Marx’s finest traditional biographer . . . [Wheen’s] overall wit, sharp prose, and passion are altogether riveting.” –Scott H. Silverman, Library Journal

“[An] exhilarating read, and a healthy corrective to those brought up to think of Marx’s work as rigid and doctrinaire.” –Adam Sisman, The Sunday Telegraph

“As gripping and as readable as a first-rate thriller.” –A. C. Grayling, The Times (London)

“[Wheen] brilliantly evokes the atmosphere of Victorian Gothic that pervades the pages of Das Kapital.” –Jonathan Derbyshire, Time Out London

“Wheen . . . presents this splendid reevaluation with great wit and verve.” –The Good Book Guide

“[A] spending series.” –Bill Ward, Minneapolis Star-Tribune