Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky

A Revolutionary's Life

Book - 2011
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Yale University
Born Lev Davidovich Bronstein in southern Ukraine, Trotsky was both a world-class intellectual and a man capable of the most narrow-minded ideological dogmatism. He was an effective military strategist and an adept diplomat, who staked the fate of the Bolshevik revolution on the meager foundation of a Europe-wide Communist upheaval. He was a master politician who played his cards badly in the momentous struggle for power against Stalin in the 1920s. And he was an assimilated, indifferent Jew who was among the first to foresee that Hitler’s triumph would mean disaster for his fellow European Jews, and that Stalin would attempt to forge an alliance with Hitler if Soviet overtures to the Western democracies failed.

Here, Trotsky emerges as a brilliant and brilliantly flawed man. Rubenstein offers us a Trotsky who is mentally acute and impatient with others, one of the finest students of contemporary politics who refused to engage in the nitty-gritty of party organization in the 1920s, when Stalin was maneuvering, inexorably, toward Trotsky’s own political oblivion.

As Joshua Rubenstein writes in his preface, “Leon Trotsky haunts our historical memory. A preeminent revolutionary figure and a masterful writer, Trotsky led an upheaval that helped to define the contours of twentieth-century politics.” In this lucid and judicious evocation of Trotsky’s life, Joshua Rubenstein gives us an interpretation for the twenty-first century.

A clear-eyed exploration of the career of Leon Trotsky, the tragic hero who “dreamed of justice and then wreaked havoc,” by a leading expert on human rights and the former Soviet Union

Baker & Taylor
Offers new insights into the life of the Russian revolutionary, exploring the battle of personalities between Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin and examining examples of both brilliant and flawed thinking which lead to his political oblivion.

Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011
Description: x, 225 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780300137248
Branch Call Number: 947.084092 Tro


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Mar 06, 2018

"On many sides it has been explained to me that my disbelief in democracy is my great sin, but when I ask to be given a brief object lesson in democracy, there are no volunteers."
Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was perhaps the most important intellectual/thinker to emerge from the Russian Revolution. Joshus Rubenstein's short, but substantial, biography gives us not only the facts of his life, but the outline of his thought, his crucial role in the Russian Revolution, and his ignominious exile and assassination in Mexico City. The heart of the story is his often tense collaboration with Lenin and his clashes with Stalin, which led to his outer and eventual death. Regardless of how you feel about communism, this is a good introduction to one of the 20th century's most important (and divisive) figures.

Mar 08, 2017

Oh, poor Trotsky! He intended to rid Russia of its 400 year old despotic dynasty and create a utopia, freeing peasants, workers, minorities and soldiers and sailors—cannon fodder in the Czar’s expansionist wars. All nought!
What resulted was less freedom, more repression and death. The cost of Trotsky’s folly, in terms of loss of human life, was immense. He both ordered the death of thousands and was complicit in the murders of myriads more while serving under Lenin and Stalin. Personally, his fanaticism cost the lives of his four children; his first wife; a brother and a sister; a niece and three nephews; and three sons-in-law—all murdered. Many other relatives, some who barely knew him, were imprisoned or exiled or simply disappeared [page 185].
As for Trotsky being a hero, even contemporary Marxist’s saw that the man’s compassion for the disenfranchised was a thin veneer covering a brutish streak. The author quotes the German communist agitator, Emma Goldman, a onetime admirer: “... one might detest the savage in the Kremlin [Stalin] and his cruel regime and yet not exonerate Leon Trotsky from the crime against sailors of Kronstadt.” Rubenstein concludes that Goldman, “... refused to see any significant difference between Stalin and Trotsky [page 186].
Joshua Rubenstein’s biography of Trotsky is well researched, well written, balanced and very readable. Besides shedding light on the revolutionary, the author gives his reader a glimpse into the overthrow of Nicolas II and the rise Russian style communism.

Aug 30, 2014

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After reading Davidson's fascinating novel, I confirmed his story with this fine bio.

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