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The latest entry in this series lives up to its "biography" conceit. Wheen concisely recounts the birth, life, and legacy of the most challenging and formidable title in Marx's canon-incomplete at three dense volumes, the latter two posthumously published-with penetrating attention to the evolving Zeitgeists that form the subject. Marx's finest traditional biographer, Wheen gazes longer on his man's personal travails than is absolutely necessary, but his overall wit, sharp prose, and passion are altogether riveting. Wheen sees Kapital's first volume, which came out soon after the U.S. Civil War, an ironic, Dickensian masterpiece. Deftly reconciling the "scientific" Marx, whom most readers find culminating in Kapital, with the revolutionary and more recently celebrated humanistic Marx of earlier writings, Wheen argues for the relevance of Kapital's insights, even to ardent free enterprisers, and skewers the abominations of Leninism while avoiding classical anticommunism. Recommended for all academic and flagship public libraries, along with its siblings in this series, which employs a diverse group of well-lettered gadflies (P.J. O'Rourke), popularizing authorities (Karen Armstrong), and academic experts (Janet Browne) to bring renewed attention to imposing masterpieces.
—Scott H. Silverman