Volume 1 of Capital was first published in 1865. I am using the 1967 edition by International Publishers Co, Inc., including the changes made by Engels for the fourth edition, 1887. LofC# 67-19754, ISBN 0-7178-00170-2.
Volume 1 is: “A critical analysis of capitalist production”
The first requirement for human history is human beings. That is, we must exist. In order to exist, we must live and reproduce. To live, we must, like any animal, find or wrest food and shelter from nature. Therefore, history resolves itself, first and foremost, into the question: how do we go about providing the necessaries of life? Being born premature, it is the nature of our species to form societies so that the young may be provided for during the many years before they can provide for themselves; therefore we provide the necessaries of life socially. Hence the understanding of the different social methods and systems of production and distribution of necessities becomes critical to understanding history. Marx begins, therefore, with analyzing production and distribution in contemporary (for him, and also for us) societies.
From the preface to the first German edition. Page 10: “In the domain of Political Economy, free scientific inquiry meets not merely the same enemies as in all other domains. The peculiar nature of the material it deals with, summons as foes into the field of battle the most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human breast, the Furies of private interest. The English Established Church, e.g., will more readily pardon an attack on 38 of its 39 articles than on 1/39 of its income. Now-a-days atheism itself is culpa levis, as compared with criticism of existing property relations.”
From the afterword to the second German edition. Page 15: “With the year 1830 came the decisive crisis. In France and in England the bourgeoisie had conquered political power. Thenceforth, the class-struggle, practically as well as theoretically, took on more and more outspoken and threatening forms. It sounded the knell of scientific bourgeois economy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, whether this theorem or that was true, but whether it was useful to capital or harmful, expedient or inexpedient, politically dangerous or not.”
From the preface to the French edition. Page 21: “In this form the book will be more accessible to the working-class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else.”