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Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion
     

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion

4.0 1
by Gareth Stedman Jones
 

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As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his nineteenth-century world, before twentieth-century inventions transformed him into Communism’s patriarch and fierce lawgiver. Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and new

Overview

As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his nineteenth-century world, before twentieth-century inventions transformed him into Communism’s patriarch and fierce lawgiver. Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and new notions about God, human capacities, empires, and political systems—and, above all, the shape of the future.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, a Europe-wide argument began about the industrial transformation of England, the Revolution in France, and the hopes and fears generated by these occurrences. Would the coming age belong to those enthralled by the revolutionary events and ideas that had brought this world into being, or would its inheritors be those who feared and loathed it? Stedman Jones gives weight not only to Marx’s views but to the views of those with whom he contended. He shows that Marx was as buffeted as anyone else living through a period that both confirmed and confounded his interpretations—and that ultimately left him with terrible intimations of failure.

Karl Marx allows the reader to understand Marx’s milieu and development, and makes sense of the devastating impact of new ways of seeing the world conjured up by Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Ricardo, Saint-Simon, and others. We come to understand how Marx transformed and adapted their philosophies into ideas that would have—through twists and turns inconceivable to him—an overwhelming impact across the globe in the twentieth century.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Peter E. Gordon
Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion…has many virtues, among them a graceful style of narration that will guide even readers unfamiliar with 19th-century history through the period's political controversies. Stedman Jones has a keen grasp of intellectual history, and skillfully conveys the various themes in philosophy and economics from which Marx forged his own ideas. He has written the definitive biography of Marx for our time.
Publishers Weekly
08/29/2016
Jones, professor of the history of ideas at Queen Mary University of London, demystifies many elements of Karl Marx’s life in this clear-eyed biography of the founding theorist of communism. In Jones’s well-drawn portrait, Marx is an unappealing figure: self-absorbed, anti-Semitic (despite his Jewish ancestry), racist, and perpetually demanding money from relatives and friends to keep up bourgeois pretensions beyond his means. His redeeming features are his devotion to his wife, Jenny (though many believe he was the father of their housekeeper’s son), and a commanding air. Jones concentrates on Marx the thinker, situating him in the context of 19th-century German idealist philosophy—though the author’s exegesis of Marx’s philosophy is not always clear, perhaps unavoidably given the obscurity of Marx’s ruminations—and the factional infighting of those involved in contemporary radical politics. Jones’s criticism of Marx’s philosophy is sharp but balanced. He credits Marx with a telling journalistic exposé of capitalism’s excesses, but highlights gaps and contradictions in Marx’s economic theories. Jones also argues that Marx’s class analysis sprang from philosophical obsessions—with statehood, citizenship, religion, and authentic being—and systematically misunderstood the true circumstances and ambitions of workers. Jones’s sophisticated, scholarly prose is not always easy to read, but he does clear up some of the mythology surrounding this controversial icon and his thinking. Maps & illus. (Nov.)
Times Literary Supplement - Ferdinand Mount
[A] fine new biography…[A] rich and subtle account…Stedman Jones’s book is not a biography in the unbuttoned personal sense…It is more a Life-Times, in which Marx’s physical and intellectual travels are recounted against a carefully inked-in historical background…Gareth Stedman Jones performs the delicate task of disassembling the doctrine without dismissing the thinker, cutting the wires that link the two with all the delicacy of a bomb disposal expert. It is a remarkable and irreplaceable achievement.
Christopher Clark

A deeply original and illuminating account of Marx's journey through the intellectual history of the nineteenth century. Stedman Jones explores the friendships, affinities, rivalries and hatreds that shaped Marx's life with elegance and analytical brilliance. He anchors his narrative in a startlingly textured account of the society and politics of Marx's era.

Most important of all, he brings to life the thoughts of a plethora of other writers, showing how Marx's engagements with the thoughts of others enabled him to navigate a course that often had little or nothing to do with the Marxism of the twentieth century. A profound reappraisal and a gripping read.

Terrell Carver
This is a masterly instance of intellectual biography, sure to be the standard work on the subject in any language. Stedman Jones is the only biographer or commentator who successfully explicates Marx’s intense engagements with his political milieux. Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion presents not just a ‘rounded’ picture of his subject, but an intelligible one.
Warren Breckman
It is the achievement of Stedman Jones’s great biography that it weds sensitivity to Marx’s singular individuality with deep understanding of the philosophical and political contributions that make this particular individual worthy of our attention and paints Marx’s life and thought on a canvas that amounts to nothing less than a history of nineteenth-century Europe.
David Leopold
Stedman Jones has a deserved and longstanding international reputation as a highly distinguished modern historian. He has written a wonderful book faithful to the messy reality of Marx’s life and intellectual evolution.
New York Times Book Review - Peter E. Gordon
Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion, by the British historian Gareth Stedman Jones, has many virtues, among them a graceful style of narration that will guide even readers unfamiliar with 19th-century history through the period’s political controversies. Stedman Jones has a keen grasp of intellectual history, and skillfully conveys the various themes in philosophy and economics from which Marx forged his own ideas. He has written the definitive biography of Marx for our time.
New Yorker - Louis Menand
Important…[Stedman Jones] bring[s] exceptional learning to the business of rooting Marx in the intellectual and political life of nineteenth-century Europe.
Open Letters Monthly - Steve Donoghue
[Stedman Jones] writes quite well about the development of Marx’s intellectual circle and outlook, but he also regularly reminds us of the little human details of the man…Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion is ultimately, amazingly, a bright and readable biography.
Public Books - Jeremy Adelman
Stedman Jones makes Marx a man in his time, forever reading, revising, and yearning to puzzle out his emerging global present. Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion is a majestically important book about an intellectual struggling to make sense of a rapidly integrating world; it is also a fascinating portrait of that world seen through one mind’s eye.
Times Literary Supplement - George Steiner
[Stedman Jones’s] analysis of Marx’s economic and sociological diagnoses will prove enduring. Karl Marx situates Marx within his nineteenth-century context precisely in order to demonstrate the paradox of interpretative readings and misreadings which generated his global impact.
Choice - S. Bailey
This outstanding work shows with remarkable clarity how Karl Marx developed his thought in response to that of his contemporaries…The author links [the] fluctuations in Marx’s writings to the dramatic changes that took place in Europe in the 19th century. One of the book’s great strengths is how well it portrays these changes. Another is how lucidly it covers Marx’s struggles with those who were earlier his allies (particularly Mikhail Bakunin and Ferdinand Lassalle).
Washington Times - Aram Bakshian
One of the many virtues of Gareth Stedman Jones’ substantial new biography of Karl Marx is that it traces the ways in which the intense imaginings and flawed theorizing of one man—including many ideas he himself discarded before his death—came to play a major role in shaping the bloody 20th century. Mostly, it should be added, in ways Marx himself never dreamed of and would probably have found appalling… [A] meticulously researched and highly evocative portrayal.
The Nation - Benjamin Kunkel
Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion looks to be the most substantial intellectual biography of its subject yet written.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674971615
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
10/03/2016
Pages:
768
Sales rank:
74,549
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.30(d)

Meet the Author

Gareth Stedman Jones is Professor of the History of Ideas at Queen Mary University of London and Director of the Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge.

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Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Thank you