Karl Marx: His Life and Environment
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Karl Marx: His Life and Environment

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  262 ratings  ·  23 reviews
First published over fifty years ago, Isaiah Berlin's compelling portrait of the father of socialism has long been considered a classic of modern scholarship and the best short account written of Marx's life and thought. It provides a penetrating, lucid, and comprehensive introduction to Marx as theorist of the socialist revolution, illuminating his personality and ideas,...more
Paperback, 4th, 256 pages
Published September 12th 1996 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1939)
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Erik Graff
Dec 06, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: James Ivan Gottreich
Shelves: biography
This is the first book-length biography of Karl Marx I read. Actually, it is more a book about Marxism than about the individual. Few very personal details are included, but what is discussed is important. The occasion of my reading of it is burned in memory. Except to me, it is not important.

By junior year I was quite the high school radical. A member of Students for a Democratic Society and The Young People's Socialist League, a good student, a volunteer on weekends at the Chicago A.C.L.U., I...more
In addition to being about a titanic man in Marx, this is the first work of another titan, Isaiah Berlin. It is more of an intellectual biography than a close look at the chronological details of Marx's life. Marx comes across as a horrendous man, totally obsessed with his cause to the detriment of all else. He was driven by a single minded desire to see what he thought was inevitable come to pass, namely, the overthrow of capitalism. He believed this to be inevitable due to the inexorable laws...more
This book was my introduction not only to Karl Marx and his thought, but to the author Isaiah Berlin. While I have fondness neither for the thought nor for the writings of Marx, I have become a fan of both the works and thoughts of Isaiah Berlin over the decades since this first encounter. Even in this early work (first published in 1939) Berlin's incisive and elegant style highlighted by meticulous scholarship is present. He brings to his study of Marx a much needed freedom from bias. While it...more
Ivars Neiders
There may be better introductions now on Marx in the terms of scholarship, but the style of Isaiah Berlin's prose compensates this. To read Berlin is always a pleasure.
Konstantinos Chatzigeorgiou
I really enjoyed this. While Isaiah Berlin was 30 at the time he wrote this, it's so competently put together that it leaves you with a sense of wonder for the author's achievement. As many mentioned, this isn't a strict biography, but rather a portrayal of the development of Marx's thought with some minimal context of his life provided. Berlin shows the evolution of Karl Marx's philosophy as well as his fusion of different ideas, all put together to form the awe inspiring tools of Marxian socia...more
This was a train wreck from the beginning for me, and I'm not afraid to admit that it was only so because it was basically out of my league. This is a book about a 19th century intellectual, written by a 20th century intellectual, and when read by a 21st century average joe, like myself, it doesn't always translate so well. I struggled with the prose from page one. Half page, run-on sentences packed with references to 18th and 19th century philosophers and their tenets made for an extremely hard...more
Taha rabbani
خوب، نوشته‌های آیزایا برلین شفاف و روشنه و برای آدم‌های آماتوری مثل من یک کلیاتی رو به قابل‌فهم‌ترین شکل بیان می‌کنه. با این حال به نظرم می‌رسه مترجم در قسمت‌های فلسفی و عمیق‌تر کتاب نتونسته به اندازه‌ی کافی شفافیت متن رو حفظ کنه. اما به هر حال محیط و اوضاع و احوالی که مارکس در آن زندگی کرده و به عظمت رسیده رو قشنگ توصیف می‌کنه. آیزایا برلین این کار رو خیلی بهتر در کتاب رمانتیسیسم انجام می‌ده و ما را قادر به درک یک دوره‌ی تاریخی می‌کنه که در کشور خودمون چنین دوره‌ای وجود نداشته است.
با خوندن این...more
I think this was mostly worth reading for the various prefaces and introductions, all from 1950-60s Britain and America, who are completely within the bounds of anti-communist discourse and yet trying to justify the writing of a somewhat positive biography of Marx. The biography itself was middling, though pleasant. This despite the fact that, as the author of the introduction says, "like so many Englishmen, [Berlin] writes surpassingly well." (Them Brits you know... they're all born to write li...more
Personal biographic details are relegated to the background in lieu of an extraordinarily lucid and convincing presentation of the philosophic (but not economic) foundations and framework which undergirt the hirsute German genius' enduringly influential corpus of utopian and pseudo-scientific historical materialism. Berlin is not by any means a fan, but he's fair.
untungnya buku yang didapat bukan yang covernya ini:


senangnya sang diri dapet buku langka dan sptnya bagus ini:)
bakal bisa jadi bacaan tepat di bulan suci.
biografinya nabi. Nabinya kaum buruh satu bumi!
Aman Kalia
This is one of most sensible semi-biographical account of Marx i have come across. Sir Berlin sound absolutely stunning in each & every line, especially when he is discussing 19th century philosophers & their ideas.
javad aarabi
"بگذارید طبقات حاکم از تصور برپایی یک انقلاب کمونیستی،برخود بلرزد.پرولتاریا چیزی ندارد که از دست بدهد-به جز غل و زنجیرهایش-اما می تواند جهانی را به دست آورد.کارگران سراسر جهان،متحد شوید."

مانیفست کمونیست-مارکس ،انگلس
Excellent book. Provided new insight to a topic I was relatively unfamiliar with while providing a summarization of Marx.
A fine biography of Marx. Berlin does an excellent job elucidating the foundations and influences of Marx's philosophy as well as the impact of his thought since his death.
Besides being a biography of Marx, this book is a great short survey of 19th century history and philosophy.
(The 3rd edition that I have is a hardcover, but I didn't feel like adding another edition to GR.)
Erik Toren
A good introduction in the life of Karl Marx and his theories.
Feb 12, 2008 Khalil added it
Shelves: socialism
A good short primer on the life and ideas of Marx.
Taylor W. Rushing
Lacked any depth from the authors perspective.
Anything by Berlin is just a joy to read
Matthew Matheson
Jan 28, 2008 Matthew Matheson marked it as to-read
Shelves: owned-books
Read more of his books.
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
Shelves: biography
Marciano Flores
Marciano Flores marked it as to-read
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Sir Isaiah Berlin was a philosopher and historian of ideas, regarded as one of the leading liberal thinkers of the twentieth century. He excelled as an essayist, lecturer and conversationalist; and as a brilliant speaker who delivered, rapidly and spontaneously, richly allusive and coherently structured material, whether for a lecture series at Oxford University or as a broadcaster on the BBC Thir...more
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