"Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" is meant to introduce readers to Marxian economic reasoning by comparing it to neoclassical economics. Since this book was written over twenty years ago, it is inevitably somewhat dated. However, it still achieves its main goal very well. Anyone willing to learn about this important tradition should find this book valuable.
The book has four chapters. Chapter 1 provides the context for the comparison, Chapter 2 deals with neoclassical theory, Chapter 3 presents Marxian theory, and finally, Chapter 4 wraps it all up by discussing the importance of theoretical differences. Quite predictably, most of the action happens in chapters 2 and 3 while the rest only fulfills an ancillary function.
In Chapter 2 the authors assume basic familiarity with neoclassical economics and go on to discuss the logical structure of this particular theory: its entry points, its logic and how it links the entry points to everything else. According to Wolff and Resnick, neoclassical theory has three main entry points: preferences, resource endowments and technology. Moreover, its logic is determinist with clear causes and effects. The authors proceed using this determinist logic to show how neoclassical entry points (or "essences") lead to certain outcomes in factor (labour, capital) and commodity markets. This discussion of neoclassical theory serves as a backdrop for the later discussion of Marxian theory. The chapter also provides a very brief section with criticisms of neoclassical theory and a section on "the challenge of Keynes". This is easily the weakest part of the book. It is less accessible than the rest as well as visibly dated: as a result of the Keynes section, rational expectations school occupies the only Appendix of this chapter. Needless to say, much has happened since, including the New Keynesian response to rational expectations.
Chapter 3 starts by assuming no familiarity with Marxian theory and goes on to cover its logical structure and its applications. The authors emphasize that there are many Marxian theories and that the one presented in this book is just the one that they found the most persuasive. Its entry point is class - a process during which surplus product of laborers is appropriated by someone else. The logic of this particular Marxian theory is overdeterminist meaning that various processes (cultural, economic, political, natural) are both cause and effect at the same time and continually influence each other. That means that class is not an "essence" like neoclassical entry points, i.e. it does not cause other things. Choice of class as an entry point is justified by saying it has been overlooked in social analysis. This chapter is brilliant. Youtube features an hour long interview with one of the authors - Richard Wolff. In that interview, Wolff often stresses the importance of pedagogy and commitment to teaching. This chapter illustrates his personal position very well - although it is full of technical theoretical language, the exposition remains lucid and engaging.
Long story short, "Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical" is a good way to get acquainted with Marxian analysis.