That said, I would recommend beginning with some of his shorter pieces of writing, just to get a flavor and overview of his thought, prior to attempting Capital. And, when approaching Capital, I would take it in small chunks, rather than all-at-once.
But yes, for anyone who wants to understand much of what the past couple of centuries of human history — and especially the impact of industrial capitalism — are all about, Marx is an essential read. To not read him (or discount him, as some have done in posts here) is simply to remain ignorant and/or deceived about both the nature of capitalism and the nature of Marxism.
Interestingly, in reference to Adam Smith, Smith raised many of the same concerns about unfettered capitalism that Marx addresses in his writing — Marx just did so to a much more detailed and rigorous degree.
As to where to begin, I recommend the following links (to be read in the order they are listed). I think anyone who reads them with an open mind will be duly impressed with Marx’s clarity and accuracy of insight:
Marx 1844: Wages of Labour
Profit of Capital
Marx 1844: Rent of Land (note that Marx cites Smith extensively here)
Economic Manuscripts: Capital Vol. I
And of course it also helps to read a bit of Engels, particularly this:
Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy
Lastly, for a well-organized collection of — and access to — Marx’s work, I recommend this link: Marx & Engels Selected Works. It includes “a short list for beginners” which covers a lot of ground. However, I would still begin with the above-listed links first, before diving into anything else, as they provide helpful context for everything else.
My 2 cents.
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