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Paperback The Condition of the Working Class in England Book

ISBN: 0192836889

ISBN13: 9780192836885

The Condition of the Working Class in England

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Book Overview

This, the first book written by Engels during his stay in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, is the best known and in many ways the most astute study of the working class in Victorian England. The fluency of his writing, the personal nature of his insights, and his talent for mordant satire all combiine to make Engels's account of the lives of the victims of early industrial change an undeniable classic.

Customer Reviews

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The most powerful indictment of 19th century capitalism in existence

Friedrich Engels' classic "The Condition of the Working Class in England" was written when he was only twenty-four, and had but recently abandoned his Calvinist upbringing for a more critical, socialist, point of view. Yet this book reads as if it were written by an experienced political commentator or a radical sociologist, without actually at any point becoming melodramatic or dense. Engels' main purpose is to confront the bourgeoisie with the reality of their mode of production and to contrast this with the rhetoric of "free choice" and "civil liberties", as well as the capitalist apologia of the political economists of his day, in particular Andrew Ure. With great insight into both the causes and effects of the capitalist system, Engels catalogues the endless want, filth, despair and misery experienced by millions of labourers every day in 19th century England. He pays attention to housing, to factory safety, to unionism, to the physical condition of the workers, to alcoholism, the state of the Irish underclass, to prostitution and disease; in short, all the ills attendant on industrialization. What gives this book such power is that Engels on the one hand proceeds in an analytical manner, making use above all of sources from the bourgeoisie itself and from Parliamentary reports, in explaining the functioning of the capitalist system and the competition between capitalists and between labourers. On the other hand, he writes in a particularly readable manner and at no point bores the reader with the mere summing-up of statistics. On the contrary, every analytical truth is accompanied by a vivid description, taken from Engels' excursions into working-class neighbourhoods, of the terrible state of humanity that the economic laws of capitalism cause for a great number of people. For those interested in political economy, it may come as a surprise to see how much of the functioning of capitalism Engels already understood at such an early point in the development of theory. This gives the lie to the many theorists who would later claim that it was Marx only who worked on economics and that Engels was a mere epigone; this book should be a vindication of Engels. His later sketches of the political economy and of the historical development of capitalism would lay the foundation for both the Communist Manifesto and Marx' economic works. But the core insights that would create the modern theory of socialism are for the first time fully expressed here, and in a most appealing and shockingly effective manner. In other words, an absolute must read for every person of intelligence.

Engels' Expose' on 'How the Other-Half Lived' .

This chilling book is the real-life Oliver Twist exposed.I think Fredrick Engels wrote this book,in part to clear his conscious.And largely, to shed light on the fetid ,wretched underbelly of the 19th century industrial-age society.The nameless toilers working ten to twelve hour shifts,in a factory operation they had no vote or control over.Marx and Engels had many valid arguments for improving the workers lives.Did their end-results justify their means of social revolution? Engels would be amazed at the former textile towns,like Manchester,absorbing the large influx of Asians,Moslims and Africans today.It is still being debated,whether history has proven Engels & Marx right.This book is still a historical classic,thats presumptive findings give the modern reader,reason to pause. So,look all around you. -A Great Book !


Fabuous book. Engels wrote this when he was only 24- and what a tour de force. The work is detailed, beautifully observed and elegantly written. Despite the depressing nature of the subject matter, the tone is always possible about a better world beyond the evils of capitalism.Unfortunately 150 years after this masterpiece was written things dont seen to have gotten better under capitalism. Rather, the old evils of poverty, infectious diseases, starvation have been replaced by the modern evils of capitalism: obesity, alienation, mass materialism, depression, plunging fertility and marriage rates and so on...

A visit to the Dark Satanic Mills of England

Engels was the engine behind Karl Marx, one that gave him all the support he could, so to permit Marx to dedicate himself almost completely to the completion of his works. Judging himself many degrees bellow Marx in terms of intelect, Engels nonetheless is capable of writting a book such as this which describes all the impoverishment of the working class in the beginning of the industrialization in England, being helped by some well porputed factories labor fiscalization agents who allowed Engels to flip trough their reports. Strong terms like "the dark satanic mills" describe fully what were the working conditions of the time in a so rich country as England. An historical document lest no one forget what can happen again if the free hand of capitalism is allowed to run free of any barriers.


In this book, Karl Marx's friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels describes the lives of England's laboring classes in the worst days of the industrial revolution. This includes dangerous working conditions, meager pay, child labor and explotation. Being the son of the owner of a textile factory, Engels knew of these conditions first hand. In these days it was said that the fastest way out of Manchester was a bottle of gin. This book contains images that are pathetic in the true sense of word, one catches glimpes of life so wretched that they are scarely belivable. Writings such as this one eventually exposed the misery of the working classes and had a profound influence on socialists and labor movement leaders. The book is a tour-de-force and truly speaks for it's self.
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