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on 10 October 2010
Fascinating and world-view affecting reading.

If you're buying a copy of Capital to go with David Harvey's book "A Companion to Capital" or his phenomenal free lectures go with this one, rather than the Oxford World's Classics abridgement.

True, this version is intimidatingly fat, and the OWC's version seems to be a more readable translation, but it (the OWC version) is missing lots of the detail (sometimes several paragraphs at a time), colour and footnotes to which Harvey refers.

Hope this review doesn't seem superfluous but I bought the other version because it was all I could get hold of at short notice and spent hours finding and reading missing sections in a .pdf version as a result!
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on 17 February 2009
Having never read Karl Marx but heard him quoted; usually in a derogative way I thought that I should find out what he said for myself.
The downside of Marx is that he over explains to the point of sometimes stupifying the reader and never uses one word when six will do!!
The up side more than makes up for it and if you can persevere, given the current climate his writings are almost prophetic in several major and aposite ways.
I was surprised to find that he was not particularly political in the way that he is usually portrayed and was writing very specifically about the future of industrial capitalism as it was practised in America and the uk. No wonder the "masters of the universe" both then and now sought to shut him up by demonising him; they may have been rumbled before they made a packet otherwise! I don't agree with everything Marx wrote, but I do believe that his ideas should be more widely debated than they are. This was an excellent book for adding to my world perspective and I can thoroughly recommend it.
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on 23 January 2007
If :

- Your mum has taught you lots of valuable things (eat your vegetables, be nice to old people and little dogs, don't be late to school, keep a clean nose) but she was never really able to explain why you had to WORK for a living - instead of, you know, just living;

- Your teachers packed your head full with all kinds of useful knowledge (about prepositions and adverbs, mineralogy and astrophysics, the reproductive organs of plants, x+2-y=0) but they never told you how exactly PROFITS are made - and why anybody would want to make them anyway;

- Your friends and lovers can spend hours yakking about various interesting topics (the latest music machine, videogames, designer shoes, imitation leather sofas, blockbuster movies, pink underwear and cherry flavoured bubble-gum) but they call you a bore and a nitpick whenever you wonder why you're all surrounded by so many COMMODITIES and publicity ads promising you bigger, better and faster useless things.

- You often have the impression that some greater truth is lacking in your life (and you've tried all the legal/illegal drugs, exciting TV shows, gurus and psychoanalysts, help-yourself books and bestsellers about kid sorcerers)...

...Then the time may have come to have a long talk with good old Uncle Karl - the black sheep of the social sciences, the guy nobody likes to mention at social occasions (except in the form of a joke: "have you heard the one about Karl Marx in Las Vegas?"), the most misquoted and misinterpreted modern thinker.

In "Capital", he kindly invites you to break on through to the other side (that's how countercultural he was) and check out what's really happening behind the glitzy appearances of everyday life. You don't even have to be a genius to understand him (it will be enough if you can count to ten without choking). And you might be surprised about how obvious some things will seem after he explains to you about the cage you're sitting in.

Of course, mum will probably be broken-hearted and fear that you'll join the next anarcho-pinko-terrorist organization down the block. Your teachers might refer to a vast list of successful anti-Marx books and charity organizations. And your friends and lovers will find you an even greater bore than before.
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on 14 February 2013
This kindle version, aside from being a really great translation, is so frustrating as it has no page numbers! How are you supposed to reference from it?

This keeps happening with the kindle books i purchase and their customer support services have been useless.

But the book is great.
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on 15 March 2010
Like Darwin's The Origin of Species, Marx's Capital is based on years of research and scientific analysis of economic, social, political lives of people. This is the book that changed history, present and future forever. Everyone with conscious mind MUST read the Capital.
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on 12 January 2000
In Marx' economic works and above all in "capital" we find the deepening of the classical economists' theory of value, an understanding of the origins of crises as the text develops throughout 3 volumes, a superior method in the way of treating economic problems, and an historical background to the theory generally. All the criticisms of Marx are well-known by now and have been effectively discussed by other marxist writers such as David Harvey in "The Limits to Capital" and Guglielmo Carchedi in "New Frontiers in Political Economy". If one looks throughout history violence is almost always committed when poltical/economic systems change. To blame Marx for a 100 million deaths is complete idiocy as one could likewise blame Nietzsche for WW2 or George Washington for the death of all the original inhabitants of the US plus all the deaths attributable to US meddling around the world. As someone with substantial knowledge of world history Marx was aware of the necessity of violence when society was split between irreconcilable forces and didn't shrink from pointing this out. Those who still advocate neo-liberalism and free markets are those in power who have benefited from their pre-existing superior strength and have little concern for the deteriorating environment and the awful labour conditions in most of the world. Marx is still relevant in these times (the neo-liberals still invoke Adam Smith, an 18 century political economist), so if all we have to look forward to is the "mutual ruination of the contending classes" I'll see you all on the barricades!
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on 27 December 2014
Buy it in print. DON'T buy the Kindle version! It's littered with errors that make the text incomprehensible. For example, on page 126 of the print edition:

"When examining use-values, we always assume we are dealing with definite quantities, such as dozens of watches, yards of linen or tons of iron. The use value of commodities provide the material for a special branch of knowledge, namely the commercial knowledge of commodities."

On the Kindle edition, this has been rendered as:

"When examining use-values, we always assume we are dealing with definite qualities, such as dozens of commodities provide the material for a special branch of knowledge, namely the commercial knowledge of commodities."

Added to that, as has already been pointed out, there are no page numbers. If any book needs page numbers it's Capital.

Great book, was a great translation until they digitized it and ruined it.
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on 7 January 2000
Criticisms of Marx arise mainly from reading this volume of "Capital", yet it is his whole body of thought that needs to be considered when assessing such a thinker, especially before one makes bold, unqualified statements. In that "Capital" is probably the most important and relevant economic text now, a century after he completed it, does it solely deserve to be read. Fellow reviewers have brought to attention the violence this book has caused - this has arisen from ignoring the whole body of Marx' work. I would recommend this, therefore, to only students of Marxian thought or economics - where, of course, its influence lies. It is certainly true that the historical part of the text is a little dry - but this is only to be expected of Marx's materialist approach. A work of genius from a genius, then, but for anyone wishing to see the main thrust of Marx's body of thought is better off starting with part one of "The German Ideology" or the weightier "Grundrisse", where he states his conditions for revolutionary violence - conditions which still haven't been reached today.
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on 17 November 2006
The most important issue in economics today is an evaluation of Marx's theory of surplus value. If corporations were getting smaller, if labor's lot overall was improving, if peace was breaking out all over, we might well conclude Marx was wrong. Marx must be dealt with. It is incredible that most economics PhD's have never read Capital.
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on 11 February 2013
This (in)famous book needs no introduction, it is a masterpiece of historic research and economic thinking. As an economist, I appreciate Marx' attention for the basics, which are too often taken for granted. He's a smart and witty writer, but he also has done an enormous effort to gather so many detailed discussions of labour conditions and a thorough reading of economic theory at the time. When you go through the text, make sure not to skip the savvy footnotes: this is referencing as it should be.
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