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Adventures in Marxism Paperback – 12 Jan 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; New edition edition (12 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859843093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859843093
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 604,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"Marxism has been part of me for all my life", says Marshall Berman. "Late in my fifties, I'm still learning and sorting out how." The essays in Adventures in Marxism, which span from a portion of Berman's 1963 Oxford thesis (supervised by Isaiah Berlin) to a reconsideration of the Communist Manifesto on its sesquicentennial in 1998, are a splendid presentation of that "learning and sorting". The book's not only about Marx, mind you--Berman also considers those who have followed in Marx's footsteps, including Edmund Wilson, Georg Lukacs, Meyer Schapiro and Walter Benjamin (as well as an interesting chapter on Studs Terkel's Working). And, too, there are marvellous passages in which Berman writes about the workers around him in the streets of New York. But none of this, perhaps, would have been possible if a young Berman hadn't tracked down a copy of Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, a collection of spirited essays that for years influenced him far more than the Manifesto or Capital. (Though he would eventually rediscover the power of the Manifesto, which "helped me see how the bad things and the good things in the world could spring from the same place, how suffering could be a source of growth and joy, how radical thought could escape doldrums and dualisms and gather vision and energy for better times.") Berman's essays show how the collapse of communist tyrannies does not negate the potential for "Marxist humanism" to offer a progressive response to globalisation; his enthusiasm for such a project makes the essays as delightful to read as they are informative. --Christine Buttery --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[Marshall Berman] represents what is best in Marxist tradition, which still has a chance of surviving the century of its catastrophic victories." - Christopher Hitchens Adventures in Marxism is a fine collection, a lovely addition to anybody's bookshelf. Marshall Berman is one of our liveliest and most generous interpreters of Marx. Vagabond and eclectic, to be sure, but always honest and brimming with ideas and romance. He can help us learn to create ourselves while we try to change the world." - The Nation "I'd put Berman's slim, thoughtful book of essays into an enquiring hand to feel that Marx the thinker's future was assured." - London Review of Books

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Berman Shines 6 Feb. 2000
By D. Coleman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Rarely does an author combine such comprehensive knowledge of his subject and such deep love of it with the language to convey both. A masterpiece. Forcefully conveys why the ideas of Karl Marx remain current in the 21st century and how they can bring inspiration to those who still aspire to a society in which 'the free development of each is condition of the free development of all."
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A fun romp 19 Sept. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Berman engages the reader through a fun romp through a variety of essays that span 50 years. A dialogue between Arthur Miller and the young Marx interplaying throughout the streets of New York City and discussions of modernity. Berman is brilliant at illuminating the culture which continues to feed a spirit of resistance, proving that the New Left, never really died but was crowded out by the New Right. Lays the basis for revitalized discourse for the next left.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
good :) 19 May 2000
By Jerry K - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I bought this hoping it'd be a good starting point on learning about Marx. Was not dissapointed here. I also thought, thanks to the cartoon cover, the book would be an easy read. But nope, this youngster had some trouble with Berman's style of writing! :(
Oh yea, a correction.. many reviews say Berman was giving away copies fo the Communist Manifesto to his friends and family as a youngster. This is not true... he was giving away Marx's Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Not that this is really relevant to why or why you should not check this book out... *anticipates a lot of "No, this review was not helpful" marks*
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Intellectually Intriguing But Choppy To Read 22 Dec. 2005
By Chris Luallen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
First let me say what I appreciated about this book. Berman is a serious intellectual with an enormous amount of knowledge to share about not only Marxism but literature, philosophy and history as well. He joyfully describes his youthful adoration of Marx's "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844," written by a younger and perhaps more spiritually vibrant Marx. Berman comes across not at all as a dogmatist. But rather as a very learned and thoughtful scholar. His intention with this book is to place Marx firmly within his proper place in the German humanist/romantic tradition, alongside Goethe and many others. Also Berman never makes excuses for the failures of Communism in the "real world". But readily admits that the tanks in Budapest and the purges of Stalin were a nightmare, as the Randy Newman song quoted in his preface states "If Marx were alive today, He'd be rolling around in his grave".

Of course, Berman, like Marx, is also a hopeless idealist who believes that the positive potential of human society is still virtually untapped and that revolutionary change for the better is still in the process of unfolding. Furthermore, Berman sees Marx as a still useful and important voice for the Western radical humanist movement that began with the French Revolution and was continued by numerous Communists and anarchists through the 1960's counterculture to the radical activists of today and beyond. Personally, I thinks Berman is probably too optimistic in his outlook on the future of humanity and the societies that we will likely create. But still I respect his point of view on this subject. Whether Marx will continue to be a useful voice is also highly debatable. Certainly Marx is a serious thinker with some valid things to say. But the truth is that Marx's ideas were perverted, by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and others, to justify some of the most brutal atrocities of the 20th century. So, for most people, Marx's name will always be tainted by these murderous tyrants as well as the ultimate failure of Communism to succeed as a viable alternative to capitalism.

I would still give this book 5 stars if it were written as a congruent whole. But instead it is actually quite choppy to read, as it is essentially a series of essays and book reviews Berman wrote between 1963-1988. Also it's hard to imagine who the targeted audience for this book would be. It is definitely not intended as a basic introduction to Marx and Marxism. Also most firebrand orthodox Marxists would probably not appreciate it, as it is definitely more philosophical musings than fiery dogma. Still Berman is a good writer with some interesting points to make. So this is probably worthwhile reading for those that are interested.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fleshing the thing out 2 Oct. 2001
By J. Thorne - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This collection of essays provides instructive and sometimes critical insights into Marx's works and their implications in the modern context. Berman has produced an enjoyable read overall. I found it thought-provoking to say the least. I recommend the book for anyone interested in Marxist thinking, irrespective of one's political point-of-view.
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