Duncan Hallas

Karl Marx: Man and Fighter

(July-August 1976)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.90, July-August 1976, p.28.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Karl Marx: Man and Fighter
Boris Nicolaievsky and Otto Maenchen-Helfen
Penguin Books. £1.50

Reviewing the hardback (1973) edition in IS 59, Bill Johnson wrote:

Among the various biographies of Marx, this one emphasises Marx the active revolutionary, hounded from Germany and then France for his brilliant socialist journalism, driven into appalling poverty in London, the Marx of the Communist League and the International Working Men’s Association ...

One of its pleasant characteristics is the way the picture of Marx is painted, as it were, warts and all. We learn of Marx the student, rather lazy and a bit of a boozer, and Marx the London pub-crawler, almost arrested in the Tottenham Court Road for chucking stones at the street lamps. Marx’s mother pops up too, with her famous lament: “If Karl had only made capital instead of ...”

Generally, the authors give a very clear exposition of the various political struggles in which Karl Marx was engaged in the course of his life, although the picture of the situation in Germany and Europe generally in 1848 is, I thought, rather too compressed and difficult to follow. But altogether it is a good book.

It is indeed a very good book; clear, vivid and exceptionally readable. It has the authentic smell of the movement about it and, if there is the faintest whiff of Nicolaievsky’s Menshevik tendencies, it is no more than that. £1.50 may seem a bit steep for a paperback but this one is cheap at the price.


Last updated on 3.10.2007