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on 12 October 2015
A great book for educating someone in Marxist economics.
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on 30 May 2011
Capital vol. I is an intimidating book, with many hundreds of pages and thousands of footnotes. In fact, even the footnotes have footnotes... Needless to say, any help in keeping sight of the bigger picture is welcome. This book does just that. It's clearly written and cuts right to the heart of what Marx was trying to say. Harvey's explanation of the "dialectic" structure of the book is alone enough to make this book worth buying.

Understand, however, that this is not a critique of Capital, and nor does it claim to be. I'm certainly not a fan of Marxism, but if you want insight into how Marxists themselves understand Marx, this is the book for you.

Alternatively, you can follow Harvey's lectures on his website for free. The book follows the structure (and indeed often the wording) of these lectures.
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on 4 February 2013
An extremely informative book which provides timely information for anyone who is concerned about the direction the world and its economy is headed.
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on 15 April 2010
Many people approach reading Marx's 'Capital' with great trepidation, especially as it's first three chapters are famously difficult, I know I did.

So, therefore, anything which helps readers get to grips with, persevere with and better understand that book is to be welcomed, and David Harvey has produced an excellent companion, for 'Capital Vol 1 for just that purpose. Anyone wanting a substitute to the task of reading 'Capital' will be disappointed however.....you'll still need to tackle the big book itself.

I like the way that Harvey uses techniques from his lecture series to explain concepts - like talking about breakfast to explain the concept of 'commodity fetishism'.

Even for those who have already read 'Capital', Harvey's 'Companion' will be a be rewarding experience as it makes you review your own understanding leading to a better one.

As we live in a time when global capitalism is in crisis and people seek reasons to understand why and look to rediscover Marx's analysis of capitalism, Harvey's 'Companion' is a valuable aid to understanding and, ultimately, challenging and changing the system.
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on 11 March 2017
takes the beauty away from the original, but a great insight.
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on 3 September 2011
This book, really does make volume 1 of Capital available to ordinary bods like me. I did try to read it before and gave up after failing to sufficiently understand the first chapter. Eventually I gave it another go after reading Alex Callinicos's introductory text 'The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx' and found that I could follow it . The truth is that Harvey is a very clear writer but Marx's ideas are complex and take a little getting used to. This is especially the case because the first 3 chapters of Marx's 'Capital' are the most difficult. And this difficulty is, to some extent, reflected in the first three chapters of this book. Harvey is however much clearer than Marx making the journey much less painful and much more enjoyable. More intelligent or at least patient readers than me may no doubt be able to read Harvey right off. It's a beautifully written book and well worth the effort of mastering the first three chapters.
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on 14 April 2010
David Harvey is not just one of the world's foremost social and economic geographers, but is also one of the world's foremost Marx interpreters. "A Companion to Marx's Capital" is the book form of a series of lectures on Capital, Volume 1, that he has annually held with his college students and which has famously been made available publicly in video format (he is currently fundraising for volume 2). Because of this, the book is not just only about Volume 1, but it is also written to be as accessible to a general public as possible. Moreover, it seeks only to explain, not to defend. Sometimes, this does lead to trouble - Harvey does not entirely seem to grasp that to explain the way a certain figure thought about a topic also means you have to show what arguments he himself would have used to defend his perspective, and when Harvey tries to substitute his own arguments for those of Marx, they are often not the more convincing for it. The book is somewhat weak on making the entirety seem convincing for that reason, but that is something easily solved by referring to his excellent other work, "The Limits to Capital" (Limits to Capital).

That said, the book is a systematic, clear and engaging explanation of the work, built on a chapter-by-chapter approach. Harvey recommends, especially for the difficult and abstract first chapters, to have a copy of Marx's "Capital", Vol. 1, with you while reading it - the Penguin edition is generally recommended (Capital: Critique of Political Economy v. 1 (Classics S.)). This is justified also because Marx himself, as Harvey shows, builds up his argument from chapter to chapter, both in terms of introducing ever new and more complicated concepts building on the old, and in terms of showing bit by bit what the contradictions in capitalism are and how capitalism unfolds as a result. Marx's approach is thoroughly steeped in a dynamic analysis which sees movement as the result of a clash of contradictions, in the tradition of Hegel in particular. Harvey does a deft job of explaining what this is and how it works out in the course of Marx's book.

There are of course points where one can have disagreements with Harvey's explanations, and I think at a few points this is warranted. He fails entirely to point out the actual analytical benefits of a value theory as opposed to just a price theory in his discussion of the chapter on money. Because the 'labor theory of value' is an absolutely essential and inalienable part of Marxist analysis, this is a serious problem. He does not explain the relation between industrial and financial capital very well in the chapter on capital and labor power (which he does do in his other major work). Finally, he does not give Marx's statements on the relation between 'historical and moral factors' as well as productivity to value and its flows the full attention it deserves, although admittedly that would reach fairly far for what is to be a basic introduction.

Nonetheless, overall the book is an excellent companion to the work of Marx, if one actually uses it in that way. Although I am very familiar with Marx's books, I have found that placing the two side by side and tracing the arguments as Harvey presents them through the chapters indeed allows for clear and easy insight into the difficult and often poorly written material to an extent that has helped me newly understand it too. This is no mean feat, and it will make the task of actually getting down and reading Capital, often seen as an impossible burden, all the lighter and easier to do. For this, the book is much recommended and a great contribution to popularizing Marx & Engels' enduring insights into society. For the deeper theoretical work, there are many others available.
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on 31 December 2013
Volume 2 of Capital is considered a dry text difficult to read, a desert with oasis in the middle. However, it is fundamental to read with you want to understand capitalism. In volume 1 Marx dedicates to understanding production; in volume 2 he looks into the circulation of capital. David Harvey makes the text relevant by adding examples that the reader will recognise. And you can get the bonus of watching his videos on his web page at [...]
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on 16 November 2011
I started to read Capital and got about 30 pages in before I admitted to myself that i didn't understand a flippin' word. So I got Harvey's book, I read about 50 pages before I admitted to myself that I didn't understand a flippin' word. Now I'm not stupid, I've got an MA etc etc. I've even watched a few of Harvey's videos on the net, of which this book is a transcript basically. I would be interested to know if all these people who claim to understand what this is all about actually do understand, I have a shrewd guess that they really don't have a clue. and only grasp the basics.....just me being cynical.
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on 2 February 2015
Wonderful service - beautifully packed
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