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Book on Karl Marx is for young readers

Updated: 2015-05-29 11:43
By Mei Jia in New York (China Daily USA)

A popular teenagers' book in China on the life of Karl Marx may also stir the same zeal among American youth, despite the ideological and historical differences between the two countries.

The book about the German philosopher was written by a veteran Chinese scholar and its English version was launched during the 2015 BookExpo America on Friday by US publisher Benchmark Education and China Children's Press and Publication group.

The book tells a story about Marx that readers in China and the US may not be familiar with: A man who experienced many setbacks and frustrations, but also a man who values love and family, who writes beautiful poems, and who fights for social justice his whole life.

Maxwell Pan Smith, an American teenager, shared his view on Marx in connection with Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba.

Ma says he learned much from Marx's way in a book I read, Smith said. "Ma said if he wants to be successful, he has to let the people make the decisions and let the people earn the money," the youngster added.

The reason to publish the Marx book by Li Xueqian, president of the Chinese publisher, varied sharply from Smith's.

"I was so impressed by the Marx book when I first read it in 1973 that his fury toward social injustice impressed me until now," Li said.

Li believes Marx isn't outdated for today's readers, since his theory relates with China's past and present.

US scholar Peter Button agreed and said "such a text is so important for especially younger Americans is that the book can help them better understand a country like China, whose modern history has been so profoundly shaped by Marxism."

And senior international publisher Patricia Aldana further explained: "In (American) universities many students study Marx because his ideas and analysis offer explanations for how we have come to be as we are today."

The book is written by Han Yuhai and translated by Elizabeth Henry.

Han, a Peking University professor, is a much-loved writer and established researcher in Marxism studies. He also writes for such TV series as Sparkling.

"Han just knows the ways to tell stories to impress young readers," veteran children's writer Cao Wenxuan said.

"We felt that the author's great knowledge of the subject and his expertise would help make this book a success in the US," Tom Reycraft, founder and president of the book's American publisher, told China Daily.

He believes that young people in the US will be very interested to learn more about Marx's thinking.

"Our biography of Karl Marx will give students significant opportunities to explore the point of view that differs from typically found in US school libraries," Reycraft said.

"Since America is introducing a new educational system, the book is an example of 'more informational text' as the new system requires," he added.

For years in the United States, young people have had few opportunities to learn about Karl Marx and Americans are led to believe Marx was "completely wrong," said Saul Thomas, a professor at the University of Chicago.

"American youth should not be deprived of this history or Marx's story. Han's book is ideal as an introduction to a story that has been distorted, hidden and suppressed," Thomas said, adding "the book is short, easy to read and comprehend".

Han's humorous and close-to-teenager style has won the enthusiasm of many young readers in China. The English version tries to maintain the same charm.

"Karl Marx should be recognized as a hero who inspired millions to take up the cause of the exploited and oppressed and fight for a better world. American youth should not be deprived of this history or Marx's story," Thomas said.

Book on Karl Marx is for young readers

Han Yuhai, author of Karl Marx for Young Readers, discusses his work at the 2015 BEA in New York on Thrusday. Mei Jia / China Daily

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