Penguin £10.99 (443pp) £9.89 from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
The frock-coated communist, By Tristram Hunt
Friday 30 April 2010
Which great socialist had a dog called Nameless that "had a great appetite for boozing" and was trained to "growl hideously" at aristocrats? Not only in canine matters did Friedrich Engels fail to conform to the steely template of Communist leaders.
Hunt's engaging biography describes Engels' Mancunian oscillations. One day he would be galloping with the Cheshire Hunt, the next discussing Das Kapital with Marx.
Hunt describes his double life as "by day the respectable Dr Jekyll, clerk in the cotton trade; by night Mr Hyde, the revolutionary communist."
This personality split had its physical counterpart in the bourgeois mansion kept for entertaining and the terrace dwelling for his mistress.
Yet, as Hunt argues, Engels's "critique speaks down the ages... particularly apposite when it comes to the unregulated global market".
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