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Capital: A Critique of Political Economy

(Capital #1)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  6,993 ratings  ·  367 reviews
Capital, one of Marx's major and most influential works, was the product of thirty years close study of the capitalist mode of production in England, the most advanced industrial society of his day. This new translation of Volume One, the only volume to be completed and edited by Marx himself, avoids some of the mistakes that have marred earlier versions and seeks to do ju ...more
Paperback, 1152 pages
Published May 5th 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1867)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,993 ratings  ·  367 reviews

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Dec 11, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cute Marxist girls (call me)
I bought two copies of this book. I gave one copy to my girlfriend. We agreed to read it together. We never did. We broke up. I still have a copy. And so does she. Karl Marx ruins relationships by putting undue pressure on them to perform. I think, if I am ever to be in real a relationship again, I will have to work out my problems with Marxism first. I will post an ad on craigslist. It will say this:

Man with commitment issues and problems understanding the causal relationship between labour and
Louis Althusser wrote a preface to a French translation of Capital and in it he gives lots of advice on how to read this book – I recommend you read this book according to that advice, even if I didn’t quite do that myself. A big part of that advice is to not read in the order that Marx wrote. You see, the first few chapters on the commodity are seriously hard going. Much harder going than just about anything else in the book. In fact, Althusser was pretty well just following Marx’s on advice th ...more
Mar 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, classics
Do you know how many pages this is? 1152. And worth every leaf on the tree. A must read for anyone willing or wanting to wax grand about capitalism.

Picture it: My first semester in graduate school. Day two. My professor goes over the syllabus, week one: Das Kapital (Marx)/ chps. 1 - 15, 22, 27 etc. I cry for three days lamenting the decision to pursue higher education. Then I read that shit and my little world changes.
David M
9/12/2017 - I manage to finish Marx's opus a couple days before the 150th anniversary of its first publication. Per usual, I find the mere feat of powering through a great & difficult book doesn't automatically lead to an increase in wisdom. I'll have to cogitate on this one a while.

Yes, it's a brilliant, messy thing. Chapters of abstract algebra alternate with harrowing pieces of journalism and history. Marx's exact thesis, if he has one, is often elusive. Before reading it, I was under the
Roy Lotz
Marx was a man badly in need of an editor. For all of the financial, amiable, and intellectual support provided by Engels, one wishes that Engels had only he had been more ruthless is cutting the fat from his partner's work. This would have been easy enough at the time, but by now Marx’s writing has acquired a sacred aura.

The main meat of this bloated tome is all in the first few hundred pages. Marx actually lays out his ideas in a very pleasing and pithy manner. I wish the rest of the book was
Luís C.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Economic Lovers
Great unfinished work of Karl Marx, Capital is the bible of the socialist and communist ideology. Long, sometimes perilous, with some touches of redundancy in the way, the book nevertheless offers a vision of the still nascent industrial society in the West. The alienation, labor exploitation, inhuman and devastating. The theory of surplus value, the origin of the money and exchange, division of labor and the conflict between the owners of Labour and those of Capital, Karl Marx gives us the pers ...more
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'Let us finally imagine, for a change, an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common.'
Erik Graff
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: David Schweickart
I had long avoided reading Das Kapital because I thought it would be too mathematically advanced for me. Taking courses with the Marxist philosopher and mathematician, David Schweickart, induced me to make the effort since his assignments and my own readings of Marx had already become pretty extensive and the avoidance of his most important text seemed silly. So, on my own now, I began carrying the tome about in my backpack, reading most of it at Jim's Deli across Sheridan Road from the Lake Sho ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An eye-opener
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hot_joints
I have to say, this joint is bangin'. I find it useful when I'm in the club. P.S. Check out the total or expanded form of value. It's defective!
Chelsea Szendi
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory
Vampires, monsters, fetishes! Stick with Marx through the saga of the coat and the M-C-M' and the rewards are so rich. When he guides you from the realm of exchange into the realm of production, I dare you not to feel like you are involved in cracking an incredible mystery. Because you are.
Graham Latham
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading this book for way too long. However, it has been a worthwhile experience, revealing the provenance of many leftist values that I may have had sympathy for, but admittedly did not fully understand because I lacked an understanding of origin. Not saying I'm a doctrinaire Marxist now, but that is exactly the whole point of reading Marx at this juncture in the state of leftist social theory/politics... To read it from an non-dogmatic perspective. I think if you do this, Marx has ...more
Fug o' Slavia
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"First you get the primitive accumulation then you get the Linen, Then you get the Coats, Then you get the Capital, Then you Get the Labour, Then you get The Surplus Value, then you get the mechanization, then you get more Surplus Value" - Tony Montana
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time I've read this book, and I'm confident there will be a fourth, fifth, and even sixth reading. This is the quintessential text for explaining how capitalism is predicated upon the rapacious exploitation of the working class.

Although the review written below contains many errors, and was written during a state of extreme inebriation, I feel no compulsion to edit it.

Fair warning, I’m writing this hung over.

The first time I read this, I gave the book 4
Krishna Avendaño
El problema con El Capital no es tanto lo pesada que puede resultar su lectura - que lo es -, sino el hecho de que la teoría marxista, a la luz de la realidad, y como lo demostraran varias generaciones de economistas austríacos, tales como Menger, Böhm-Bawerk y Mises, resulta un error teórico. No sólo su análisis sobre la dinámica capitalista es malo - partiendo del equívoco de una teoría del valor-trabajo que ha sido demostrada falsa -, sino que sus ideas conducen a un entendimiento pobre de lo ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
to be honest the only reason this book rates is because we have godfathers like David Harvey to illuminate it for us. remember the footnote where he makes fun of Malthus for being a virgin? real mature, KARL. also you'll have to look elsewhere if you're looking for evidence of his toxic friendship with Freddy E., fyi!
Oct 24, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Political Economy
This is the most important book for economist
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
The conqueror will occupy your lands and then sell your resources back to you on credit and tell you all the time it’s a good deal for you. Marx said that multiple times in this book and that’s a metaphor he used to describe the fate of the working person (labor) when at the mercy of capital.

Exploitation and alienation are features not bugs in the absence of a government for the people. The plight of the working class in Europe for the most part was pitiful and hopeless during the time of this
Karlo Mikhail
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, theory
Best way to start the year is finally reading the full text of Capital Vol.1. Previously read only bits and pieces of Marx's magnus opus eclectically (notably the first chapter on commodities, the second part on the transformation of money into capital, the chapters on the labor process and the rate of surplus value, and the last part on primitive accumulation). A great work that not only lays bare the workings of capitalism but also presents a forceful argument for the overthrow of such an expl ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I have not read this book, but am familiar with the gist of it. Until recently, even though I share Marx's aversion of Big Capital in the hands of a Few Individuals, I had not appreciated the real impact.

Every product has two values: the intrinsic value of the product, created by the poor labourer, and the exchange value, which the capitalist sells it for: usually much higher than the intrinsic value. The capitalist pockets the difference, and grows fat like a leech on the life-blood of the poor
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
you will never see 20 yards of linen or one coat the same way again
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just re-pasting my old review, which I wrote a long time ago, coming down off mushrooms and a case of beer....

Fair warning, I'm writing this hung over.

The first time I read this, I gave the book 4 stars, knowing it was a 5 star work, but with 4 star writing. I was wrong. Oh-so wrong. Marx's writing merely reflects his dialectical and masterly way of contemplating, and few of us can dare to grow wings and fly up to such lofty heights of his genius and acumen! Read, reflect
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning, God (the first commodity) created the heavens (exchange-value) and the earth (use-value). And so begins the materialist Bible, Das Kapital, which, if its abstract theoretical model is to be believed, and I think the case is much stronger for than against, it is the most important book of the industrial, i.e. our, epoch. The two greatest intellectual merits of this work are the discoveries of socially necessary labor-time and the precise nature of surplus value, that is, that it ...more
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember when I started reading Capital with the assistance of David Harvey (, but its been a greater education than I could have imagined. I cannot help but keeping many of Marx's theories in mind throughout my daily life. Fetishism of the commodity, production of surplus value, class struggle over the working day, division of labor, struggle between labor and technology, creation of a surplus labor army, process of capital accumulation, primitive accumulation (or ac ...more
Sean Sullivan
Dec 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I think one of the great misconceptions about Capital is that it is dry and difficult. Many people seem to think that reading it would be a chore. Not true. I think if you were to read it on your own or in a study group, you’d find it funny, engaging and not all that hard. It assumes perhaps a small amount of understanding of classical political economy (Malthus, Smith, Ricardo, etc) but not much. I’d say if you’re going to read it, read it in a group, because some of the ideas need to be worked
Cassandra Kay Silva
I made the absolute horror of a mistake of listening to this on audio! Once I started I just couldn't put it down (due partly to the amazing nature of the book, and partly to my own neuroses).

The reasons not to listen to this on audio:
1. Too many citations to juggle easily on the audio format!
2. Multiple readers is irritating (no thank you librovox)
3. You will hear the words cotton, capital, trade, exchange, sterling, and Loco Cito so many times on the audio book that you will be saying them
We live in a world where we're told again and again that class is irrelevant, that the very concept of class struggle is old-fashioned and out-dated. Any open-minded reading of this book, though, will show that class politics is still, and will forever be, at the heart of capitalism. We won't go anywhere unless we face that fact head on. We won't move forward until we battle against class privilege and stop capitalists from getting filthy rich while the rest of us are stagnating and suffering.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: E V E R Y O N E
Marxism is one of those things where you think you know what it's all about as long as you read the Sparknotes and 'get' the key terms. Marx wrote the Capital to underline that his theory and vision isn't just a bunch of words, but a living, developing dialogue with a system that thrives when its benefactors close their eyes and which meets its victims disguised as random acts of failure and violence.

Like a dog on acid, Marx bites down on the concept of 'value', which chase turns into a variegat
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Capitalists
I bought this at the school book store, read the first part on Commodities and Money. I read Capital on those mornings when I get up early to fish, except never make it outside, so not making much of a profit with no fish. The next best thing to making a living is reading about Capital, although the book is really a tragedy and makes me sad.
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In 1818, Karl Marx, descended from a long line of rabbis, was born in Prussian Rhineland. Marx's' father converted to Protestantism shortly before Karl's birth. Educated at the Universities of Bonn, Jena, and Berlin, Marx founded the Socialist newspaper Vorwarts in 1844 in Paris. After being expelled from France at the urging of the Prussian government, which "banished" Marx in absentia, Marx stud ...more

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