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Why Marx Was Right [Hardcover]

Terry Eagleton
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 April 2011
In this combative, controversial book, Terry Eagleton takes issue with the prejudice that Marxism is dead and done with. Taking ten of the most common objections to Marxism - that it leads to political tyranny, that it reduces everything to the economic, that it is a form of historical determinism, and so on - he demonstrates in each case what a woeful travesty of Marx's own thought these assumptions are. In a world in which capitalism has been shaken to its roots by some major crises, "Why Marx Was Right" is as urgent and timely as it is brave and candid. Written with Eagleton's familiar wit, humour and clarity, it will attract an audience far beyond the confines of academia.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (1 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300169434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300169430
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Acclaimed literary scholar and cultural theorist Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of English Literature at Notre Dame.

Terry Eagleton is the author of many books including The Idea of Culture (2000), Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2002), the bestselling text Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983, 1996, 2008), Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics (2009), and the forthcoming On Evil (2010).

Product Description


"Reading a book by Terry Eagleton is like watching fireworks. . . . The list of Marxism's shortcomings is common coinage, and Eagleton offers convincing counterarguments."--Dennis O'Brien, "Christian Century"--Dennis O'Brien "The Christian Century "

About the Author

Terry Eagleton is currently Bailrigg Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, England, and Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He lives in Dublin.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and provocative 22 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The most readable, well-informed and thought-provoking text on politics I have read for many years. Guaranteed to stimulate your brain, whether you start of as a sympathiser or not. Demonstrates Eagleton's lucid and engaging style to its best advantage. Highly recommended.
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99 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes - he's still right... 15 May 2011
By Diziet TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In his latest book, Eric Hobsbawm suggested that perhaps '[o]nce again, the time has come to take Marx seriously'. In this book, Eagleton does precisely that and, in doing so, demonstrates the continuing relevance and importance of Marx.

Each chapter of the book starts with a common criticism of Marxist thought. So, for example, Chapter 1 begins with:

"Marxism is finished. It might conceivably have had some relevance to a world of factories and food riots... But it certainly has no bearing on the increasingly classless, socially mobile, postindustrial Western societies of the present." (P1)

From here, Eagleton goes on to demonstrate that the 'underlying logic' of capitalism remains the same and thus a Marxist critique is still most certainly relevant. As he points out, to simply accept that:

"some people are destitute while others are prosperous is rather like claiming that the world contains both detectives and criminals. So it does, but this obscures the truth that there are detectives because there are criminals..."(P11)

Other criticisms that Eagleton considers include (Chapter 2) the murderous and tyrannical nature of actually existant socialist societies such as Stalin's Russia and Mao Zedong's China; (Chapter 3) the idea that Marxism is a form of historical determinism and that 'Marx's theory of history is just a secular version of Providence or Destiny' (P30); (Chapter 4) Marxism is utopian and thus unrealistic; (Chapter 5) Marxism reduces everything to the economic and is a form of 'economic determinism'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A service to political reflection 15 Jan 2013
This book was much needed. The well-read Marxist will probably gain little additional knowledge from it. However, it is a fantastic and enjoyable read, funny, ironic and launching a devastating attack against many of Marx's critics. The book answers to ten of the most common critiques of Marxism. Those who unleash these critiques I am sure will be challenged if they read this book with an open mind. Ultimately, this could be a book for the general reader, the one who would be first helped by an introduction to Marxism and anybody who desires to read to further their limited knowledge of Marxism. I would still recommend reading The Communist Manifesto beforehand. Overall, pick it up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rattling good yarn 3 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You get the impression Eaglton rattled this off without pausing for breath. This kind of makes you want to hang on and keep reading. There is no denying the lifetime of scholarship that lies behind this achievement though, nor the incisiveness with which he shoots down common (usually ignorant) criticisms of Marx's work and ideas. It is all very, very convincing when it relates to Marx's analysis of (and great admiration for) Capitalism, particularly its instability and its ultimate incompatiblity with a true democacy. Its biggest weakness - which it shares with Marx - is that it offers no alternative that is remotely either plausible or appealing. I wish it did, and and no doubt it is out there, but it is not in this otherwise excellent book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Marx Was Right: By Terry Eagleton. 11 Oct 2011
By ShiDaDao Ph.D TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a fascinating book, clearly written and highly accessible. The author - Terry Eagleton - is the Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster and Notre Dame Universities, and lives in Dublin, Ireland. He has written previously upon the subjects of 'God' and 'Evil', and his previous books have received good reviews. This book is essentially written as a counter-argument to what may be viewed as rightwing misconceptions, misapprehensions, deliberate disinformation and misrepresentations of the copious written work of the social philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883).

The hardback (2011) edition contains 258 numbered pages and consists of a Preface, ten chapters and a Notes section. Although the chapters are not named, each chapter deals with a specific misconceptions regarding Marxist theory, and Eagleton uses the chapter itself to deconstruct the misrepresenting 'myth'. Chapter One, for instance, deals with the idea that Marxist thinking is somehow 'out of date', and 'irrelevant' for today's postmodern, internet fuelled modern world. Eagleton shows clearly that Karl Marx not only predicted the contemporary situation, but wrote extensively about it, expressing how things were most likely to economically develop through time. Other chapters deal with determinism, materialism, ethnic rights, gay rights, feminism, oppressive states, political violence, class, economics, and utopia, etc.

Eagleton presents a lucid corrective narrative based upon sound research. The works of Karl Marx are extensive, deeply intellectual, valid and often difficult to understand from a single reading. Ineffect, Marxism is an intellectual tradition that requires time and good guidance if its true essence is to be correctly understood.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly turgid
As the blurb on the back of the book says with "capitalism shaken to its roots by major crisis" now is the right time for a clear minded reappraisal of Marx. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Lendrick
5.0 out of 5 stars got it
av not read it, am sure its not a bad read as the book is in good condition and am sure my friend will like it.
Published 3 months ago by bunji bob bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Terry Eagleton is right about Karl Marx
This book is tightly argued ,well written and not without a sense of humour.. I read it on kindle ,Amazon you capitalist monster And did not find the incredibly useful index till... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dave Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Marxism is still alive...thanks God!
An excellent book from Eagleton. Easily accessible and with a pungent sense of humour( as Marx himself had in his books),it covers the different aspects of Marx's thought. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Orlando Innamorato
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid explanation of Marxism
I really enjoyed reading this book, as Eagleton provides a solid review of Marxism. He uses a variety of sources from Marx's various works and is able to go into quite some depth... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Isaac Verma
5.0 out of 5 stars OF COURSE HE WAS
Love just the title and very fact of this book. Only dipped into it so far but stimulating. Hope it's well-read. Capitalism can't hang on much longer. Read more
Published 11 months ago by JENNIE ROBERTSON
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't fault him
Top read, anyone who isn't convinced on Marxism should read for a much better understanding. Alternatively if you're already a Marxist it will help you when it comes to arguments... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Aaron John
1.0 out of 5 stars Kill me now
I couldn't finish this such was the dull writing style. Bearing in mind I once suffered through Moby Dick because I'd pay 50p for it, this tells you all you need to know about this... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite nice
In this book Terry Eagleton debunks every usual objections to Marxism in a clear and logical manner, and proves the validity of Marxism today.
Published 15 months ago by ZYX
3.0 out of 5 stars needed for uni
have not had time to read this as yet. have skimmed it and will get time soon to read properly
Published 15 months ago by Jayne Cullin
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