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A WORLD TO WIN

THE LIFE AND THOUGHT OF KARL MARX

Outstanding. Not the book for a budding Marxist to start with, but certainly one to turn to for reference and deeper insight.

Readers of all nations, get to work: Swedish scholar Liedman (Emeritus, History of Ideas/Univ. of Gothenburg) turns in a study worthy of Isaiah Berlin of communism’s most influential theoretician.

According to conventional wisdom, Karl Marx (1818-1883) was right about everything but communism. Yet, as Liedman writes toward the end of this long, overstuffed history, his ideas remain relevant. “It is the Marx of the nineteenth century, not the twentieth, who can attract the people of the twenty-first,” he writes, meaning that despite the deformities introduced to Marxist doctrine by way of the practical—and totalitarian—politics of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, there are still good bones in the house that Marx built. Liedman examines the man and his ideas alike, sometimes finding unpleasant moments in both—for instance, the ugly anti-Semitism and more-than-casual racism of his essay “On the Jewish Question,” which manifested in a dark tradition of anti-Semitism among “various socialist and communist traditions.” Marx was also famously fractious, and in some instances even his closest collaborators found themselves targets of his mouth and pen. Even when he was not aroused to anger, he found constant reason to take up contrary positions, so that within the pages of the Communist Manifesto, one finds both Friedrich Engels’ attack on and Marx’s defense of marriage. Throughout, Liedman notes, Marx remained true to his Hegelian roots, making particular use of the concept of sublation, meaning, perhaps confusingly, that “something was both abolished and raised to a higher level,” whether marriage or private property or, to name a darker instance, the state. Some readers may wish that Marx had gone with his earlier desire to become a poet instead of a philosopher of such matters, but this book makes clear that Marx’s ideas, going on two centuries old, still have meaning in the present.

Outstanding. Not the book for a budding Marxist to start with, but certainly one to turn to for reference and deeper insight.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78663-504-4

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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