Not only is this one of the best books on Marxism that I've read, it's also one of the best books on ethics. Blackledge, a political theorist at Leeds, has consolidated everything written on Marxism and ethics since Marx. Just to a list a few of the many names and sources cited: Lukacs, Lenin, Bernard Williams, Marcuse, Adorno, Alasdair Macintyre, Kant, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Mill, Hume, Che, Stalin, Sartre, Trotsky, Merleu Ponty, etc.
Blackledge has several goals in this book. The first is to show that Marx is not a nihilist, and that he did have a moral theory, albeit it's not a completely formalized theory like Kant, or Mill, where you just plug in a set standard (e.g., greatest happiness principle, or the categorical imperative). Marx's morality was one that was in the process of becoming, alongside the actually revolutionary movements of anti-capitalist. Thus, Blackledge is able to apply moral weight to Marx's criticisms of capitalism, something many Marxists either ignore doing, or fail to do.
After reestablishing Marx as a moral theorist, Blackledge moves on to discussing the history of Marxian ethics, from the second international hitherto. This is where many of the names mentioned above make an appearance, and Blackledge respectfully points to pros and cons of each theorist. Aside from Marx, Blackledge has one other theorist that he holds in high regard: Alasdair Macintyre. I think he may have been his phd student, and Blackledge has published other books on Macintyre. Macintyre offered ethical solutions to the cold war problems of Marxism, but as he aged he no longer saw the proletariat as the necessary agent for revolution, and thus left Marxism behind. Although he remains sympathetic to Marxism, and its critiques, he no longer thinks it works in practice.
It is only at this point that the book gets curt and thin. Blackledge contest that Macintyre is wrong according to some sociological works, and the writings of SWP chairman Alex Callinicos (a laudable thinker in his own right). Thus, if Macintyre's arguments about the proletariat as the revolutionary class are wrong, then we can retain his youthful ethics. And Blackledge suggest we do so. But in order to get a clear grasp of what Macintyre's youthful positions are, one would have to read Blackledge's other book: Macintyre's Engagement with Marxism.
Overall, Blackledge has presented a fantastic and well thought out work, that is a necessary addition to the debate over Marxian ethics, and ethics in general.