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Children's LiteratureAGERANGE: Ages 10 to 14.
In the mid-19th century the German political émigré Karl Marx published his scathing attacks upon the seemingly heartless elements of capitalist society. In works such as The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital Marx offered a philosophical and practical alternative to the rapacious nature of the Industrial Revolution. Communism derives its roots from this work and persists as a form of governance to this very day. Sadly, the egalitarian and communal elements of Marx's work were lost in translation when dictatorial figures such as Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse Tung achieved power under the auspices of communist thought. The resulting human suffering beggars much of what Marx and other communist writers portrayed as the next step in human social evolution. However, as Jennifer Fandel points out in this concise yet capably crafted illustrated work, the legacy of communism was not entirely evil. Social reforms leading to welfare, unemployment insurance, and social safety nets all resulted in capitalist states in response to fear of working class radicalism fueled by socialist thought. Thus, and despite the tragic results of communism as a form of governance, Marx and his supporters did set the stage for social development in ways they could hardly imagine. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck