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Karl Marx

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  969 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
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 rediscov ...more
Paperback, 431 pages
Published 1999 by Fourth Estate (first published January 1st 1989)
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Jan-Maat
This boils and all biography gives a vivid picture of Marx suffering from boils, smoking cheap cigars (apparently he fell in love with a shop with particularly cheap cigars whose advertising said 'the more you smoke, the more you save'), revealing the man with bad handwriting (which prevents him from getting a job as a clerk with a railway company), who suffered from more boils, cadging money off Engels and engaging in bitter correspondence wars with lesser left-wing thinkers who no doubt lacked ...more
Buck
Feb 02, 2012 Buck rated it really liked it
It’s strange but arguably true: millions of people died in Siberia because a philosopher in London had carbuncles on his ass. Chaos theory now makes a little more sense to me.

In a famous riff on Hegel, Marx once said that history repeats itself, "the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." Marx’s own biography suggests a different sequence. His life was a grubby, shambolic farce that somehow gave birth to a world-historic tragedy. Francis Wheen, the author of this generally excellent b
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Karl Marx, Francis Wheen
عنوان: کارل مارکس؛ نویسنده: فرانسیس وین؛ مترجم: شیوا رویگردان؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1380، در 373 ص، 3 ص، مصور؛ شابک: 9644113000؛ چاپ دوم 1392؛ کتابنامه از ص 349 تا 368 و نیز بصورت زیر نویس؛ موضوع: سرکذشتنامه کارل مارکس 1818 تا 1883 م، قرن 20 م
Nigeyb
Nov 11, 2015 Nigeyb rated it really liked it
Francis Wheen’s aim with this book was to write a general book about Karl Marx for the intelligent reader. Francis Wheen gives a clear explanation of all of Marx’s works but spends as much time on the man himself, his contemporaries and his relationships.

I came away from this entertaining, interesting book with a good feel for his life and times: the boils on his bum, the numerous creditors, his ingrained procrastination, numerous fallings out with socialist rivals, his wife, his children etc.
...more
Gabriel Fugazi
Nov 01, 2012 Gabriel Fugazi rated it it was amazing
Francis Wheen does for Marx what Safranski did for Schopenhauer. The wild years of philosophy are not over in this book. It's actually brilliant, especially considering the tons of bullshit that have been said and written about Marx in recent years. Sometimes you find yourself missing the good old hagiography. Wheen on the other hand is not in the sanctifying business. His Marx is neither a saint, nor a devil, but a genuine crazy-cat bohemian philosopher.
Val
Jun 21, 2016 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Here is one view on Marx and his influence:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentis...
and here is another:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07gpjmm
Francis Wheen concentrates on Marx the man, not the theorist, so includes plenty of details of his life along with what he was thinking, studying and writing about through the years. As the author points out, there are a lot of books giving detailed critiques of Marxist theory and no need for yet another. Marx himself also wrote a lot, some of which has o
...more
Subvert
May 19, 2011 Subvert rated it really liked it
I finished reading this book in less than two weeks, which is quite fast considering I only read while I'm in the skytrain. But with this book I found myself reading and walking through the crowded Bangkok streets at the same time, occasionally pushing over some Thai people.

A flawed genius that wrote one of the most important and influential books in human history. Marx here comes by as a sectarian asshole alienating almost all his comrades all the time, as being mostly dirt poor, but also as be
...more
Lolita Lark
Jun 12, 2014 Lolita Lark rated it really liked it
We always heard that Marx was a humorless drudge, the equivalent of a computer geek, slaving away in the British Museum Reading Room. Nonsense. He was a merry one, or at least as merry as one could be --- having been born in dreary Trier, Germany.
He was a dynamite speaker, especially when there was a brouhaha amongst his fellow rabble-rousers, as there usually was. He could round up the troops, get anything he wanted passed when he was running, say, the International Working Men's Association.

An
...more
Benjamin Plaggenborg
Sep 26, 2015 Benjamin Plaggenborg rated it really liked it
In an obituary of Christopher Hitchens, his longtime friend, Francis Wheen recounted Hitch's ludicrously improbable experiences and his exceptional clarity of mind, no matter how inebriated. It's hard to shake off the suspicion that Hitchens, who described Marx as "friend and mentor" in his memoir, supplies some of the vividness with which Wheen portrays Old Major. Never would you have guessed, in reading the customary 300-word biographies of sociology textbooks, what an extraordinarily rowdy, d ...more
Meirav Rath
Jun 14, 2008 Meirav Rath rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history lovers, anyone who claims to be a Marxist, socialist, communist or even an anarchist,
Wheen's wonderfully written book illustraits, with colors as vivis as possible, the life and works of Karl Marx, warts and all; from blood-thirsty arguments with opponents, to medical details of the various many ailments Marx suffered from to the horrificly true and not-so-nice predictions of Europe's political future including the world wars and what brought them about.
Karl Marx is an educating idol for anyone who wants to think on their own, to conclude only what their mind understand by const
...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Oct 02, 2011 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I think what readers will really enjoy with this one is the authors ability to keep it all in perspective. You can tell the author has no agenda, he doesn't push any "ideal" onto you he just tells you what happened and leaves the agenda pushing to the rest of us. I really liked that and thought he came at the character of Karl Marx from a number of different angles. He let you see what Marx may have looked like to his wife Jenny, to his friend Engels and to a whole host of other characters, that ...more
Nuno
Nov 07, 2014 Nuno rated it liked it
Na segunda metade do século XIX , já o capitalismo tinha as suas crises e já se anunciava o seu ocaso . Passados cento e cinquenta anos , e passadas muitas e graves crises , o moribundo ainda por aí anda . Trata-se de um ocaso que parece durar um dia inteiro ...
Robert Varik
Feb 24, 2017 Robert Varik rated it liked it
Kindlasti kasulik lugemine, mõistmaks 20. sajandit enim mõjutanud filosoofi elu ja kujunemislugu. That said, oli see veidikene kuiv ja igav lugemine minu jaoks.
John  Edgar Mihelic
Oct 02, 2016 John Edgar Mihelic rated it really liked it
Three or four years ago, I went to go on a walk in the woods with my wife. It was early spring and the sun was shining, so we hoped to take the day and make the most of it. Or she did, and I have problems saying no to her when she asks because she’s just so darn persuasive. The walk didn’t last long. No one told the snowpack on the trail that it needed to have melted so that we could walk on the trail.

I’m not sure how I managed it, but there was a mall with an actual physical book store close b
...more
IanFz
Nov 30, 2016 IanFz rated it really liked it
Great view into the hypochondriac genius that was Marx!
Alan Hughes
Jun 25, 2009 Alan Hughes rated it liked it
Recommended to Alan by: Karl Phillips
Amazon.com Review

Karl Marx, whose influence on modern times has been compared to that of Jesus Christ, spent most of his lifetime in obscurity. Penniless, exiled in London, estranged from relations, and on the run from most of the police forces of Europe, his ambitions as a revolutionary were frequently thwarted, and his major writings on politics and economics remained unpublished (in some cases until after the Second World War). He has not lacked biographers, but even the most distinguished

...more
Jay R. shepard
Jan 23, 2015 Jay R. shepard rated it really liked it
The first time I read anything by Karl Marx was thirty years ago in college, "The Communist Manifesto" written by Marx and Engels. At the time, I really didn't think much about it-except that it was some kind of communist propaganda, radical in it's way. Fast forward thirty years. Now, after reading Francis Wheenns'book, I see Marx in a different light. I see an ordinary man of the nineteenth century who was an intellectual icon of his time - an economic and philosophical polymath of his day. H ...more
Oran
Mar 27, 2016 Oran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good look into a very significant and controversial figure, written with some sharp prose and dry wit. As a biography, in terms of how it discusses its subject, it succeeds in painting a complex image of an often misunderstood man. While it's showing Marx's more favourable aspects than some other critics, I really appreciate Wheen's commitment to painting a full picture: he never shies from some of Marx's great vices which range from darkly funny to outright awful at points.

I sho
...more
Bob
Jan 29, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
Unlike Shelley, whom many admire greatly as an artist without condoning his morals, Marx tends to attract furious criticism of almost every aspect of his life (he was nice to his grandchildren, it would seem).
Paul Johnson's chapter on Marx relies heavily on Robert Payne's 1968 biography which I haven't located but take to be quite critical. Wheen's 1999 entry intends to walk an even-handed middle ground between "hagiography" (his word) and utter scorn, which it does.
Nonetheless, at times Wheen s
...more
A.W.
Jun 28, 2016 A.W. rated it it was amazing
Most people who know about Marx only know about him through The Communist Manifesto and the usual propaganda. Marxists in general only know of Marx through his philosophical and economical works, but what of Marx as a person? While this is the first and so far only biography of Marx I have read, I felt that Wheen did a fantastic job in humanizing the otherwise seemingly unreal mythical genius of legend who worked tirelessly in the background to deliver the theory that gave the prognostic of the ...more
Paul
Jun 23, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing
Francis Wheen provide me with a greater understanding of the philosopher who has been a guiding force in my life. To paraphrase Marx, the fertlizer of revolutions is not political consciousness but class consciousness.

I have written previously in a different forum, "Much like Charles Darwin, who discovered immutable truths regarding of the origins and evolution of life, Karl Marx was a pioneering scientist. He guided humanity through the reasons capitalism was born, why it would thrive and domi
...more
Felipe
Dec 19, 2015 Felipe rated it did not like it
Francis Wheen managed to do here something that must have been really hard: avoiding everything in Marx's life and work that really matter, while still being able to fill what seemed like an endless amount of pages with irrelevant everyday gossip on the guy's come and goes from the time. One may perfectly well like or díslike Marx for so many reasons, but one thing seems undeniable: he (his work, or how it has been translated to public opinion) have been referencial, influential and transcendent ...more
Devin Wallace
Although the man has been both revered and reviled, few people will doubt the effect the ideas of Karl Marx have had on the world. Francis Wheen, a columnist for the English newspaper The Guardian, tells the life story of one of the most famous thinkers of all time. Yet unlike others, who either ignore flaws or distort them to high heaven, Wheen allows us to see Marx as a real person: flaws included. The story is funny; Marx wasn't one to mince words, and they were (luckily) recorded in full, vu ...more
Ronald
Aug 30, 2012 Ronald rated it really liked it
Marx was a tragic character. He never held a job, as most people define 'job,' but he abhorred social inequity and thought he had the 'final solution.'
His ideas were not widely accepted during his lifetime, but were eventually co-opted at devastating human cost by a succession of fanatical totalitarian state actors.

One thing that he did get right, and which has been widely misrepresented by religionists who thrive on the golden goose of human gullibility, is expressed in the following quotation
...more
Electric-guitar
I enjoyed the book at least. I started reading Karl Marx cus so much was in the news about him, and some many people quoting him. So it is my 1st read about Karl Marx.

It sounds like life was rather a struggle for Karl and his family. Always poor and always in financial difficulties, with his friends always "donating" money to him or Karl asking for money. It made me think that he must of had some sort of personality disorder the way he conducted himself (According to the biography)

"By the time
...more
Deanna
Sep 17, 2009 Deanna rated it liked it
Shelves: biography-auto
Karl Marx's life is a fascinating read. Talk about messed up! I would be interested to read a biography of his wife Jenny.

What amazes me is how someone can have a classical education and use that knowledge to twist it for evil.

This book focuses extensively on his writings and and publishing's. It was a little boring at times which is why I gave it a 3.

I think everyone needs to read something to do with Karl Marx in their life to realize how much our world is impacted by him today. He must be up
...more
DoctorM
Sep 16, 2012 DoctorM rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Not a bad introductory biography of Marx, and well-written enough, though it lacks real political depth, and cares more for Marx's family life and friendships than for the world in which he thought and wrote--- a biography that's a "life" without "times". As tragic and impoverished as the lives of Karl and his family were, Wheen misses the fact that Marx's life is in so many ways something that happened between the covers of the notebooks where he interminably researched, wrote, and revised his ...more
Nuno Martins
Dec 20, 2010 Nuno Martins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biografias
Biografia de Karl Marx que aborda o lado mais humano dele do que o lado filósofo/socialista.
Um livro muito interessante, fácil de se ler e que dismitifica o que muito se pensa acerca dele. Marx nunca foi um "furioso revolucionário que comia crianças ao pequeno-almoço" mas sim um grande pensador, pai de família e até mesmo burguês com gostos requintados, mas que nos deixou um enorme legado que infelizmente foi muito mal utilizado e compreendido, criando com isso uma imagem muito "sinistra" de Kar
...more
Laura Walin
Oct 06, 2013 Laura Walin rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies, history
Takakansi lupasi, että tämä kirja kertoo Marxin henkilökohtaisesta elämästä. Siihen nähden kirja oli pettymys, koska melko paljon siinä maalailtiin myös Marxin yhteiskunnallis-poliittisen elämän suuntaviivoja ja motiiveja. Kenties suurmiehen elämä kietoutui niin paljon ajatusten ja (työ)elämän ympärislle, että henkilökohtainen elämä oli luontevinta esittää niiden välipuheina ja alaviitteinä? Teos olisi mielestäni parantunut hieman selkeämmällä jaottelulla. Nyt lukija joutui pinnistelemään pysyäk ...more
Safdar Sikandar
Nov 21, 2015 Safdar Sikandar rated it really liked it
His life was a paradox. he talks about dignity but lives almost on his friend's donation. his writings are full of confusing paradoxes. but man had a wit, razor sharp wit. and his devotion to the cause of proletariat. his wife was a wonderful partner for him. this book was about marx, the man. entertaining read. not much detail about his work though. i would read another book for his works. as a beginning to read about the great man, good start. the most inspiring thing is his devotion to the ca ...more
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Francis James Baird Wheen (born 22 January 1957) is a British journalist, writer and broadcaster.

Wheen was educated at Copthorne Prep School, Harrow School and Royal Holloway College, University of London. At Harrow he was a contemporary of Mark Thatcher who has been a recurring subject of his journalism.[citation needed] He is a member of the 'soap' side of the Wheen family, whose family business
...more
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