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The Condition of the Working Class in England

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,260 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This, the first book written by Engels during his stay in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, is the best known and in many ways the most astute study of the working class in Victorian England. The fluency of his writing, the personal nature of his insights, and his talent for mordant satire all combiine to make Engels's account of the lives of the victims of early industrial ch ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 16th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1845)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,740)
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Hadrian
A harrowing and frightening book. Some things really have not changed over the past two centuries.

A grisly tour of the slums of the factory towns of the Industrial Revolution. Engels, an angry young man, details the blackened suffering of the workers there, their ignorance, poverty, sickness. I recall many similar details from Mike Davis' book on a 'planet of slums', and many things I've seen too. Beggars with severed and gnarled limbs, live wires, poisoned water. The narrow maze-like patch-work
...more
Andrea
In the words of my partner, a corker. It leaves you with a number of impressions.

The most overpowering is just rage and sadness at how the industrial revolution decimated lives. Half of children dead by the age of 5, average life expectancy from 45 to 50, the malnourtrition, cold, damp, misshapen bodies, impotency and infertility, lost limbs, lost lives.
'The English working men call this 'social murder', and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually. Are they wrong? (38)

N
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Rachel
Aug 22, 2007 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marxists; labor historians; Victorian studies readers
Excellent work on Industrial Revolution, but it does contain racist ugly filth about the Irish.
Clif
The only reason I don't give this book five stars is that a good part of it is filled with a detailed account of the very thing it is supposed to be about - the awful condition of the workers. How can that be a liability? It is because you don't need to know all the details in 2011.

You can get an excellent idea of the conditions by reading just a few pages - long hours, dangerous machinery, no sick leave, poor nutrition, freezing or hot work environment, preying upon women by overseers, fines or
...more
Anton Himmelstrand
Enjoyable both as an historical document and as political statement about industrial society.

In “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, Engels gives a long an detailed description of the state of the great Victorian industrial towns – and of their less fortunate inhabitants. The reader is shepherded through crumbling working-man's districts, gin-palaces, prison-like factory floors, mines filled with lung-destroying dust, damp cellars and the increasingly mechanized countryside. In many
...more
Jade Heslin
This started off as being the foulest piece of drudgery that I had ever cast my eyes upon. Engels is a very wordy man, and once he gets going he’s like a steam train in motion. But once we get past the gruelling first chapter, in which he lists all the different types of fabrics and methods of making them, we actually get a terrific, thought-provoking, persuasive argument against capitalism.

AND IT HAS LOTS OF MANCHESTER IN IT! He wrote this while he was here with his bezzo, Karl Marx. I absolute
...more
Gary
I must say upfront I detest Marxist-Leninism in its 20th century form and the post-modern left with their support for terrorism, Islamism , Jew/Israel-hatred, dictatorship and anti-white racism. Though I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of
Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable
As a historian Engels was brilliant.
The fact is that the Industrial Revolution
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Aasem Bakhshi
If a 19th century account of conditions of British proletariat can be called spine-chilling then this is it. On a different note, however, nothing much is changed in terms of universal characterizations, and working classes of the world go through more or less similar horrors all across the world. On the bottom of it, even though the classical definitions of proletariat and bourgeoisies have gone under various transformations, its always man against his destiny.
Comrade  Mohd Aliff
This book paints a VERY shocking picture of 19th century England during Industrial Revolution and also of Capitalism in general. It's not a theoretical work unlike many of Engels' other works but rather a SOCIAL REPORT on how the workers being exploited while denying them the most basic principles of human rights and dignity. A must-read classics; readable and informative.
Stephen Mahon
Engels detailed study of the working class in Victorian England is remarkable when you consider (a) He was German and (b) he was only 25 when he completed it. He out does the anti Semitism in some of his other tomes with a fair smattering of anti Irishness in this one. But no matter. We can put that down to age. o.O Reads like a detailed and thorough report in parts, but isn't without humour. And it is a thoroughly fascinating stroll around English cities of that era.


Random quotes:



“In Birmingham
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S.D.
America “solved” its class problem with a myth of upward mobility that appeared to be real for three decades, thanks to what Galbraith in 1952 called countervailing power; a means Engles suggested, more than a century, was the only resource available to the destitute working class of England – albeit as a step toward revolution. Perhaps the English working class Engles credits with knowing the cause of its mid-19th Century plight did comprehend it better than America’s in the 21st Century, where ...more
Dustin Hanvey
Useful for a lot of specific details about the effects of the early Industrial Revolution in England as it contains a lot of very shocking and troubling details about life for the workers in the factories, mines, and farms as a more modern, technology-driven society began to dominate. The impact of this book is impossible to overestimate in terms of 20th-21st century politics and economics. Where Engels went wrong is in believing too strongly in the telos he (and Marx) set up for the world. His ...more
Claire
I have read this - Engels is as fun of a person as Marx!
It is not very happy of a book, but in my History of Communism class, I am positive I saw this before.
Anthony Zupancic
It certainly identifies the horrible social effects of the industrial revolution. If you are unsure where the Communist Manifesto came from, or why, read this.
Ben
Seminal study of the working class. Engels explores some of the factory towns in Northern England and finds them wanting. From a Marxist standpoint this book is a cautionary tale of what happens when workers don't control the means of diddly; from a human standpoint it's a tragic, vivid document of lives lived in subhuman conditions. This book was one of the early reformist treatises that helped pave the way for labor laws and social improvement during the height of the industrial revolution. En ...more
Donovan
Engels is the proverbial Garfunkel to Marx's Simon. What a bland, tedious stylist by comparison!

Engels all but holds his nose as he tiptoes through the backstreets of industrial England. What are his principal objections to poverty, exploitation, and misery? The offensive smells, of course! Oh, and the fact that it causes women to enter the workforce. And forces men and women to sleep and work in close quarters. Who knew Engels was such a prudish church lady!
Charlotte
It is petty amazing that Engels wrote this as a tender 20 year-old. He has gone into tremendous depth describing the situation of the poor, despite having to disguise his own aristocratic backgrounds. While the book can be accused of excessively idealistic or sexist, it is still worth a revisit at a time when inequality floods contemporary discourse.
Lauren
Boring, dull, uninspired, insipid nonsense. Rich white guy worrying about poor white guys. I don't care for the Victorians, nor their writings (nearly all of which is completely male-centric). This book certainly did nothing to change my mind. Only slightly better than Dickens due to Engels seemed to write for a purpose other than profit.
Deborah Markus
Want to read this because Jeannette Winterson recommends it in "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" According to her, it's "a frightening, upsetting account of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on ordinary people -- what happens when people 'regard each other only as useful objects.'"
Mike Ward
I didn't finish it, but not because I didn't enjoy it (if enjoy is the right word...?), but mainly because it was quite repetitive - it is very thought provoking though

http://0651frombrighton.blogspot.co.u...
Amber Ziegler
A Dickens-esque description of the working class in England. It's quite shocking, I'm assuming sensational on purpose, and a must-read for anyone studying Victorian lit, especially Dickens. There are many parallels in 19th-century American lit as well.
Peter
I can't believe a comrade recommended I buy this to "further my development." It has some good parts about how capitalism COULD do things way better but won't. Stuff as simple as which way bricks are laid, semi-interesting.
Snitty
This is a classic book. While it's about England in the mid-19th century, what it describes is applicable today in both the United States and countries around the world. It's not a fun read, but it's enlightening.
David
Wonderful book to read while you're on the Orchestra Committee, negotiating a contract with intractable City Fathers. (See Durkheim's "Suicide.")
Chris
Interesting but mostly as a founding communist text than as a historical document.
Kevin Tole
As relevant today as when it was written. This book is constantly on the go
untogether
The condition of the working class in England by Friedrich Engels (1993)
Leslie
I think it's still pertinent. It's a great treatise on workers' rights.
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In 1820, Friedrich Engels was born in Germany into a wealthy family. Managing a branch of his father's business in Manchester, England, from 1842-1845, Engels became appalled at the poverty of the workers. He wrote his first socialist work, Conditions of the Working Class in England. After their meeting in 1844, Engels and Karl Marx became lifelong colleagues. While co-writing an article with Enge ...more
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“The middle classes have a truly extraordinary conception of society. They really believe that human beings . . . have real existence only if they make money or help to make it.” 2 likes
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