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Short Synopsis
A remarkable new biography from one of Britain's leading young historians that recovers the cofounder of communism from the shadows of history.

Full Synopsis
Friedrich Engels is one of the most intriguing and contradictory figures of the nineteenth century. Born to a prosperous Prussian mercantile family, he spent his life working in the Manchester cotton industry, riding to the Cheshire hounds, and enjoying the comfortable upper-middle-class existence of a Victorian gentleman.

Yet Engels was also, with Karl Marx, the founder of international communism, which in the twentieth century came to govern one-third of the human race. He was coauthor of The Communist Manifesto, a ruthless party tactician, and the man who sacrificed his best years so that Marx could write Das Kapital. His searing account of the Industrial Revolution, The Condition of the Working Class in England, remains one of the most haunting and brutal indictments of the human costs of capitalism. Far more than Marx's indispensable aide, Engels was a profound thinker in his own right—on warfare, feminism, urbanism, Darwinism, technology, and colonialism. With fierce clarity, he predicted the social effects of today's free-market fundamentalism and unstoppable globalization.

Drawing on a wealth of letters and archives, acclaimed historian Tristram Hunt plumbs Engels's intellectual legacy and shows us how one of the great bon viveurs of Victorian Britain reconciled his exuberant personal life with his radical political philosophy. Set against the backdrop of revolutionary Europe and industrializing England—of Manchester mills, Paris barricades, and East End strikes—Marx's General tells a story of devoted friendship, class compromise, ideological struggle, and family betrayal. And it tackles head-on the question of Engels's influence: was Engels, after Marx's death, responsible for some of the most devastating turns of twentieth-century history, or was the idealism of his thought distorted by those who claimed to be his followers?

An epic history and riveting biography, Marx's General at last brings Engels out from the shadow of his famous friend and collaborator.

"[A] vivid and thoughtful biography." ---The New York Times

"The author is clear-eyed with regard to Engels's less savory, sometimes deeply chilling ideas and his divisive manipulations of organizations and party politics. This is an impressive biography." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Mr. Hunt is remarkably good at distilling an epoch and conveying a sense of place, and he perfectly judges the pace of his narrative." ---The Wall Street Journal

"Hunt's narrative is lively and consistently engaging...and admiring without being uncritical." ---Kirkus Starred Review

"Greatly enjoyable.... A perceptive tour not just through Engels's life but through philosophy and political thought in the nineteenth century." ---The New Yorker

"Dietz delivers a solid, steady performance of this impressive material that will likely stimulate further interest in and analysis of this influential historic personality." ---Library Journal Starred Audio Review

"A terrific account of the 19th century intellectual climate that led to Marxism;... but most of all it's an insightful, important portrait of the most historically important friendship of the 19th century." ---The Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly Review

Kirkus Review

Library Journal Audio

Marx's General

The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels

Author Tristram Hunt

Narrated by Norman Dietz

Publication date Jan 4, 2010

Running time 17 hrs

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