Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 9 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Frequently Bought Together
Today we expect political memoir writers to take part in a game of show and tell about the most intimate details of their private personal lives on their road to celebrity. Refreshingly, you will find no such tantalizing details in Russian Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky's memoir written in 1930 just after Stalin had exiled him to Turkey. Instead you will find a thoughtful political self-examination by a man trying to draw the lessons of his fall from power in order to set his future political agenda. This task is in accord with his stated conception of his role as an individual agent at service in the historical struggle toward a socialist future. Thus, underlying the selection of events highlighted in the memoir such as the rise of the revolutionary wave in Russia in 1905 and 1917, the devastation to the socialist program of World War I and the degeneration of the Russian Revolution especially after Lenin's death and the failure of the German Revolution of 1923 is a sense of urgency about the need for continued struggle for a socialist future. It also provides a platform as well for polemics against those foes and former supporters who have either abandoned or betrayed that struggle.
At the beginning of the 21st century when socialist political programs are in decline it is hard to imagine the spirit that drove Trotsky to dedicate his whole life to the fight for a socialist society. However, at the beginning of the 20th century he represented only the most consistent and audacious of a revolutionary generation of Eastern Europeans and Russians who set out to change the history of the 20th century. It was as if the best and brightest of that generation were afraid, for better or worse, not to take part in the political struggles that would shape the modern world.Read more ›
Trotsky's autobiography is a fascinating account of his life from his childhood up to 1930, when he wrote the book, ten years before he was murdered by an agent of Stalin in 1940.
Trotsky made contributions to Marxist thought, for example in his theory of permanent revolution and the theory of combined and uneven development. But he is best known for his political activities: firstly as a key leader, alongside Lenin, of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and then later as the leading opponent of the bureaucratic tyranny of Stalin's regime, which destroyed the fledgling workers' democracy in the 1920s and forced Trotsky into exile.
Trotsky clung to the view that Russia under Stalin was a "degenerated workers' state". I think he was mistaken on this: much more convincing is Tony Cliff's theory that Russia (and, later, the other so-called "communist" regimes) was a state capitalist society. But despite this weakness, Trotsky did keep alive the fundamental Marxist idea that socialism must be based on internationalism and democracy. (The "dictatorship of the proletariat" was meant to mean the DEMOCRATIC control of society by the working class.)
One early episode gives a flavour of the book. At school Trotsky took part in a minor bit of rebellious behaviour in class against an unpleasant teacher. When the school cracked down, Trotsky learned his first political lesson. Some boys bravely stayed loyal to each other, some became tell-tales, and the majority wavered in the middle.
Trotsky writes: "These three groups never quite disappeared even during the years that followed. I met them again and again in my life in the most varied circumstances."
Leon Trotsky's autobiography, My Life, was first published in 1930 when Trotsky was fifty, ten years before he was assassinated. Since it first appeared in German, My Life has been translated into numerous other languages, including English, which I read with interest. All of us remember bits and pieces, and perhaps unifying themes, which we might include in our own autobiography were we to write one. Trotsky's recollections, however, seem to be remarkably capacious.
Trotsky's characterization of his rural, agricultural family as struggling to maintain lower-middle class status seems simple and straightforward. However, in contrast to Trotsky's early years, few of us think of the lower-middle class as living in a house made of mud with a thatched roof that leaked when it rained. The picture becomes all the more unexpected whe we learn that the mud house contained a working piano and furniture that was suited to less rustic circumstances. As Trotsky's industrious but illiterate father became more prosperous, he replaced the thatched roof with a metal one, and more of the dirt floors were covered with tile.
Perhaps the most telling report that makes clear the lingeringly primitive conditions in which Trotsky was raised is that he was one of eight children, four of whom survived infancy. As Trotsky tells it, the deaths of newborn children were regarded with no more emotion than the survival of others. High infant mortality and maternity rates were readily recognized and accepted as facts of life.
As Trotsky's lower-middle class life became less precarious, his father employed more -- in fact, hundreds -- of seasonal laborers to help with the harvest.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?