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Publisher's Summary

Marxism is a term that many people freely use, but few seem to grasp its implications. Sowell's book is the antidote to this problem. He writes in a fluid and easy-to-follow manner, leading the listener through the Marxian scheme of ideas. Along the way, he shatters some existing interpretations of Marx-interpretations that have developed through repetition rather than through scholarship.

©1985 Thomas Sowell (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Marxism

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A must read, but a hard one!

Sowell's book is, without doubt, one of the most comprehensive studies on Marxism, based on years of research into Marx and Engels' works. It is specifically remarkable for reading through most of the first hand works by the two intellectuals, instead of founding its arguments on mere conceptions and articulations (as done by many), and giving a comprehensive and coherent vision of Marxism. Quite importantly, this vision is based on the philosophical and intellectual framework conceived by Marx and Engels and the historical context of the time, rather than using contemporary definitions and terms to illustrate an idea (and a philosophy) that was proposed one and a half centuries ago.

However, it is not written as fluently as it claims. Somewhere in the middle, I decided to acquire the book itself, to be able to go back and read some of the sentences several times. The narration does not make things easier, partly because of the nature of the book, and Marxism in general, partly because of the writing style of Sowell, and partly because of the narration itself. E.g. book is full of quotations, and, at times, it is hard to follow when a quotation starts and when it ends. Or, when a footnote ends. Writing style is full of long but complicated sentences, and Louis does not make them easy to follow!

In sum, if you are an economist, or someone interested in the history of economic though (or the idea of liberty in general), this is a must read for you. But, be prepared for a hard read!

61 people found this helpful

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A comprehensible dissection of Marxism

Most modern Marxists produce, with their terminology, an impenetrable fog that obscures their ideology. They use terminology that impels the listener to assume their premises. Sowell does a great job of avoiding the trappings of this modern tact, and instead delves deeply into the makings of this ideology, and it's implications.

Only at the very end does he expose the failings of this ideology-- from it's root to it's branch. As you read, he does not continually stop to snipe at the concepts he exposes, but wishes only to establish the structure of the argument with absolute clarity for the reader.

A must read!

32 people found this helpful

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Essential for the Current Time

This book was hard for me to understand because for the first 8 chapters, Sowell does his best to expound on what Marxism is without criticizing it--he explains it in terms of what Marxism was according to Marx and Engels, and gives a detailed analysis of what it is by quoting extensively and establishing firmly what Marx believed and answers many of the criticisms or alternate theories read into Marxism by modern Marxists. In this way, it feels very much like the analysis and exposition are occurring inside a bubble or vacuum. I found myself wondering, "What is the significance that Marx equates capital to be a function of labor?" He spends a lot of time explaining how we can be sure of what exactly Marx and Engels thought, and puts to rest theories that Engels did not understand Marx.

Chapter 9 is fairly objective biographical account of Marx and Engels, and chapter 10 is Sowell's detailed and incisive critique of Marxism where the previous 9 chapters come full circle and I felt a sort of, "Ohhhhhhhhhh, NOW I get it!"

I think Chapters 1-8 is the most excellent example of steelmanning where an opponent gives their adversary's argument in the best possible light before refuting it. Knowing what I know now about Marx's personal life, I am amazed at how objectively Sowell referred to Marx and his ideas in 1-8... there is no contempt or ridicule present at all, and in many places efforts to excuse, justify, or explain apparent contradictions or poor reasoning on the part of Marx.

In many ways, he lets the facts speak for themselves and only offers his explicit criticism in Chapter 10.

This book is essential for the current time.

20 people found this helpful

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Required reading/listening

Communism is easily the best known "ism" of all time. And it is easily the least known about item in history. A weak fuzzy pipe dream of nineteenth century German Socialist grown in glorious proportions by the dictators and practitioners of the left, it deserves no respect. Sowell's work lays bare the personal weaknesses of Marx and Engels and their vague and flawed creation.

20 people found this helpful

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A really hard read

I am not that intelligent but have some. I found this book to be way over the top and I was lost most of the time. There are not too many books on Marxism on Audible so it is slim picking. I would say if you want to get the most out of this book, find a way to get Marxism 101 first as this is most definitely graduate level study.

18 people found this helpful

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Maybe my expectations were misplaced?

I read this book primarily as a way to understand my "lefty" friends and maybe gain some perspective as to why the Marxist ideology is attractive. I wanted to feel the pull towards this ideology but with the context that can be supplied by a critical author. Maybe I really need to expose myself to some hardcore Marxist writings, or maybe I'm just too incompatible with this line of thought. A decent enough book, but I never really felt like I couldn't put it down nor did it ever express its ideas in a way that led me to think.

17 people found this helpful

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None Better

There is no better american intellectual and researcher than Thomas Sowell. Listen to this book.

15 people found this helpful

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Another Great Sowell Book

Informative

Not an outright attack on Marxism. Sowell provides great information and clarification on the tenants of Marxism with occasional mention of the problems with the political/economic philosophy.

Will likely give it another listen in the future.

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15 people found this helpful

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Not Bad !

I love Thomas Sowell I have almost all his books, but I didn't like the Narration of this book I wish they would redo it with Tom Wiener or someone else.

Not my favorite book by the other , but stiil a good book.

9 people found this helpful

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Great Material but not an easy "in the car" listen

What disappointed you about Marxism?

Not much about the book, though it's very intricate to listen to the material. I think too much of the special Marx/Engels/Hegel jargon made it a difficult listen while driving.

Would you be willing to try another book from Thomas Sowell? Why or why not?

Yes, always pleased with Sowell's books.

How could the performance have been better?

The places where the audio was re-read really stood out and were sometimes distracting

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Marxism?

None -- don't like abridged works.

7 people found this helpful

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