If there had been a Penguin or Oxford edition of this text available on Amazon I would have bought it. But there wasn't. So I have ended up with this one. The book begins with a two page biography of Marx, which is uncredited, as is the translation which constitutes the remainder of the book. After reading the first sentence of this translation it becomes clear why. 'The subject of our discussion is first of all material production by individuals as determined by society, naturally constitutes the starting point.' No, this is not careless transcription on my part, this is the first sentence word for word!
Although the text is mostly readable, what I guess to be the careless mixing of various drafts of the translation does not end with it's first sentence. On top of this the name of the first text - 'Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy' is rendered 'Introduction to the Critique of Political Philosophy' on the top of every right-hand page up to page twenty-three, where this text ends (and as far as I have been able to read without feeling compelled to write this review). The text is also interspersed with bracketed question marks, often occurring mid-sentence, which I presume are reminders to check or review the translation of a word or phrase (which task it appears has fallen by the wayside, along with the smaller task of removing these question marks from the final draft).
Although the question marks, and the mistake regarding the name of the first translated work do not much affect the quality of the text they do show that it was thrown together with a minimum of care. I hope the remainder of the book shows some improvement, but I will not be holding my breath. Nor will I be purchasing anything from this publisher in the future!
Half of the book is about various long-forgotten German philosophers that the grand old man deftly debunks. It is the other half which is mainly of interest for us today, in which Marx gives the basics of his philosophic system. Anyone worried about not understanding Marx should read this half of the book. It is totally approachable, and very friendly, written in superb style, with generous doses of humour. Even Marx's philosophical opponents will be surprised with what they will find here. The system he proposes sounds the epitome of sound common sense, while his presentation of the failings and the strengths of the capitalist system will have even hardened private marketeers nodding to themselves in agreement, or even chuckling up their sleeve.