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A new exploration of Karl Marx's life through his intellectual contributions to modern thought
Karl Marx (1818–1883)—philosopher, historian, sociologist, economist, current affairs journalist, and editor—was one of the most influential and revolutionary thinkers of modern history, but he is rarely thought of as a Jewish thinker, and his Jewish background is either overlooked or misrepresented. Here, distinguished scholar Shlomo Avineri argues that Marx’s Jewish origins did leave a significant impression on his work. Marx was born in Trier, then part of Prussia, and his family had enjoyed equal rights and emancipation under earlier French control of the area. But then its annexation to Prussia deprived the Jewish population of its equal rights. These developments led to the reluctant conversion of Marx’s father, and similar tribulations radicalized many young intellectuals of that time who came from a Jewish background.
Avineri puts Marx’s Jewish background in its proper and balanced perspective, and traces Marx’s intellectual development in light of the historical, intellectual, and political contexts in which he lived.
"Besides being approachably succinct, Avineri’s sympathetic account is distinguished by its appearance in the highly regarded Jewish Lives series." —James Miller, The New York Times
"And here lies the central strength of this short biography: It tells us what Marx actually wrote." —Jonathan Rose, The Wall Street Journal
“Shlomo Avineri has written a wonderfully perceptive and nuanced biography of Karl Marx--paying all due attention (but no more than that) to Jewish interests, Marx's and ours. His book is both intellectually and politically engaging--and a pleasure to read.” —Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ
About the Author
Shlomo Avineri is professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. A leading Israeli political scientist, he is the author of The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx and The Making of Modern Zionism.
Author Photograph © Hebrew University