A book by Friedrich Engels written in 1845 in German. While Karl Marx is the big cheese when it comes to Marxism (duh!), Engels was the one that actually made it popular. Marx's books were all really hard to read (try The Communist Manifesto for size, IF YOU DARE!!) and didn't make any sense to us common folk which is why it makes you seem big and clever if you claim to have read anything he ever wrote. Engels on the other hand was the working man's working man and all his books were a jolly old read and easy for us proletariat to understand. This wasn't the first Socialist book but it was sort of the first really big one.

In terms of historical accuracy the book is complete pants, if Engels got any of his statistics right it was more luck than judgement and a good portion of the quotes in the book were either made up or misquoted so they made his point better. Further, Engels goes on to make predictions with such stunning confidence you'd think he was some kind of fabulous time traveller, when in fact his predictions largely never came true, most notably his prediction that there would be a proletariat uprising in the coming years.

So, the facts were wrong, the quotes were wrong, the predictions were wrong, what exactly is so good about this book? Well, it's interesting stuff and it really riled up the Marxists and got them all excited, also it really helped Marx form his own opinions of the world which would continue to dumbfound and confuse people for many years to come.

The book mostly focuses on how hard done by the peons of late nineteenth century England were. This was of course, the time of the Industrial Revolution and just after the French Revolution, I guess people got the two mixed up a lot, because Engels and Marx were expecting the people to overthrow the capitalists, and the Queen to say "Let them eat weaving looms".