I read four of the reviews highlighted. I agree - none of them attempted to read the book. So I attempted to read the book. I understand why they failed.
Capitalism exists today all over the world, and it's called capitalism because capital rules. This isn't the same as saying that capitalists rule, or that the capitalist class rules. In capitalism, there are certainly people who have more power than others, but there isn't a queen who sits on a throne high above society and commands everybody. So if people no longer rule over society, who does? The answer may sound a little strange. things do. of course we don't mean this literally, since things can't do anything, least of all rule people. After all, they're just things. And not all things have this power, only special things o. Or to put it better, only a special form of things do. These special things don't fall from the sky or come flying down to Earth inUFOs shooting people with laser beams. They're just the things that people create to make life easier, to serve them. Strangely, over time, people forget that they made those things, and soon enough, people begin to serve the things!
Imagine this: a girl walks over to a desk and writes down on a piece of paper, "Please drink a glass of water." One or two hours later, she wanders by the desk again and finds that piece of paper. As she reads it this time, she forgets that she was the one who wrote it and thinks to herself that she should probably do what the paper says. Maybe she's a bit skeptical at first, so she finds a friend and asks, "Do I really have to drink a glass of water right now? I'm not even thirsty." The friend answers, "I don't know. Here, let me have a look." She reads what's written on the piece of paper and tells the girl, "Yep, that's what it says. You have to drink a glass of water." If the girl walks by this piece of paper too often, she would get a terrible bellyache pretty quickly. And that's how she ends up being ruled by things and suffering.
You could charitably call the voice "whimsical" but you couldn't really call it "for kids." It's like "explain like I'm five and you're roofed out of your mind on shrooms and pentothal." I've read Pipes and I don't have a clue what the author is talking about.
One hundred percent of these criticisms are based on a misunderstanding of the title, a basic denial of the fact that all commodities cost money in capitalism and a misconceived view of how academic publishing functions. None of this concerns the book’s actual content.
The author of the New York Times chose the title. In German, it's "Kommunismus: Kleine Geschichte, wie Endlich Alles Anders Wird" (Communism: a little history that ends very differently). The German title doesn't try to appeal to kids, which is good, because the illustrations are for kids the way Spiegelman illustrations are for kids.
Capitalism first developed in England around five hundred years ago. At that time, feudalism, still ruled, which means there were queens, princesses, and many maids. But most people were peasants. Peasants worked the fields in small village communes or together with their families. Since they had no machines and few inventions, they had to work a ton. Even though they worked so much, they were still poor. Even worse, the church, which was very powerful at that time, demanded every tenth piece of bread the peasants produced - and the princesses wanted even more than that! Every so often the people had to go to the princesses' courts and work there for several days. But they always knew exactly how much the rulers were taking away from them. Otherwise, they were pretty much left alone. you see, the princesses understood little about working, and so they couldn't really tell the peasants how to do their work.
The argument put forth by the Howling Monkeys is that this is an unserious work that disregards the failures of Communism and that it has taken on an undue amount of attention simply by being published by a "serious" press. And frankly, I think those criticisms have merit.