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Trotsky: The Eternal Revolutionary Hardcover – March 12, 1996

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (March 12, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684822938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684822938
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although for years Trotsky had condemned Lenin as a potential dictator, in 1917 he became a radical Bolshevik, a hard-line Leninist committed to a one-party state with a monopoly of power sustained through terror and violence. Together with Lenin, the military leader and fiery orator (born Lev Davidovich Bronstein in 1879) liquidated opponents, inaugurated forced collective labor and unleashed a violent campaign against religion. Using hitherto unavailable materials from Soviet archives, Volkogonov, special assistant to Boris Yeltsin, persuasively argues that Trotsky, while preaching global revolution, helped Lenin lay the foundations of a repressive domestic system that grew organically into the totalitarian dictatorship presided over by Stalin, Trotsky's rival. Assassinated in Mexico in 1940 by one of Stalin's henchmen, Trotsky, according to this meticulous, dense political biography, shares responsibility for the Red Terror that claimed him as victim. Complementing Volkogonov's recent critical biographies of Stalin and Lenin, this compelling study lays to rest the image of Trotsky as a persecuted idealist, blameless victim of Stalin's duplicity.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Currently a special assistant to Russia's President Boris Yeltsin, Volkogonov (Lenin: A New Biography, LJ 10/15/94, and Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy, LJ 9/15/91) has carefully mined mountains of newly released sources in this study of Trotsky. The latest effort is a well-conceived political biography that clearly redresses the paucity of reliable works on the enigmatic Trotsky. It captures his enormous energy, his restless intellect, and his unswerving faith in the inevitability of world revolution. Volkogonov's subject has a tragic Greek cast?from his meteoric rise under Lenin to his brutal demise under Stalin. The present work complements and frequently overshadows Isaac Deutscher's comprehensive three-volume study (1954-63). Recommended for all but the smallest collections.?Mark R. Yerburgh, Fern Ridge Community Lib., Veneta, Ore.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By David A. Caplan on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Volkogonov has written a very sensitive portrait of Trotsky. For specialists, of course, it should be combined with a reading of Deutscher's three-volume biography, but for general readers Volkogonov should suffice. Volkogonov's "Trotsky" is not as scholarly as Deutscher's masterly work, but it's more balanced. The author, a disillusioned former Communist, recognizes Trotsky's genius and portrays him in sympathetic and tragic terms, yet frequently reminds us that his subject was working under fatally flawed premises. Since he doesn't take communism seriously on an intellectual level, he spares us most of the details about theoretical clashes among the Bolsheviks over Marxist interpretations. He also reminds us that even though Trotsky never ceased criticizing Stalin's tyranny, his own role in the development of the murderous role of the CPSU was not innocent. Some readers may justly criticize Volkogonov's haphazard organization of his materials, but I find it doesn't detract from his work, and I rather enjoyed his more personal observations.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By givbatam3 on November 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Leon Trotsky is one of the most fascinating, and yet despicable
men in history. The most brilliant of the Bolsheviks who made the October Revolution in Russia and its number 2 leader during the Civil War that solidified the Communist regime, the man is truly an enigma. At a young age, he decided to use his talents to create a Marxist world-wide revolution and still at a young age, had already made a name for himself by moving into Lenin's close circle before the famous Second Party Congress that led to the formation of the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions and then to being one of the leaders of the abortive 1905 Revolution in Russia. It is already at this early stage we see the strange combination of far-sightedness combined with myopia that came to characterize him. This is manifested in Trotsky's correct realization that Lenin's formula for creating a tightly controlled movement ruled by the Center would ultimately lead to a one-man dictatorship. Yet, in spite of his almost prophetic perception of Lenin's flaws, when the February 1917 Revolution leading to the overthrow of the Tsarist regime occurs, Trotsky throws all caution to the wind and rejects all his previous criticism of Lenin and the Bolshevist path and wholeheartedly joins him in his plan to carry out a Bolshevik coup. With the success of the Bolsheviks in coming to power, Trotsky reaches the peak of his career, first as Commissar for Foreign Affairs given the unenviable task of negotiating with the Germans who were demanding immense
swaths of Russian territory. He then moves on to be Commissar for War.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. Dequesada on February 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is probably the best biography written by Russian military historian Dmitri Volkogonov. Using previously unreleased data from the archives of the KGB and the Russian Communist Party makes this biography of Trotsky unique. He is critical of Trotsky exposing him as no better or worse than his "colleagues" Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. However I always detected in Leon Trotsky far more honesty and leadership quality than his victorious adversary Joseph Stalin, who was not only a mass murderer but had an uncanny ability for mendacity.
It is also my opinion that if Trotsky wouldn't have been assasinated (by order of Stalin) in Mexico in 1940, he would've evolved into an advocate of Progressive Populist Democracy as he slowly realized that it was the very same system that he helped create which caused him to fall from grace in the former and then newly formed USSR.
I highly recommend this book.
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Rask on January 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If Shakespeare had been of an era after Trotsky, the immortal playwright could have added another classic to his grand tragedies about Caesar, Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet. The life of Lev Davidovich Bronshtein -- Trotsky -- had all the elements that Shakespeare found essential for his great dramas: a larger-than-life personality, magnificent talents, gigantic flaws, monumental historic wars, pursuit by an incarnate villain and a tragic, violent death. The Shakesperean Trotsky would have lived for ages.
Dmitri Volkogonov's biography of the Number Two man (after Lenin) of the Bolshevik Revolution would have given grist to Shakespeare's mill for the Russian biographer's study of Leon Trotsky gives a good view of the man caught up in the spell binding events that shaped Trotsky's time. Volkogonov, a former general in the Soviet army, became chairman of the Russian Declassifying Commission after the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus had access to the super secrets of the old regime. But it is not necessarily the revelations of some of those ultra secrets which makes this biography such a compelling drama. It was Trotsky himself, his life, his great talents, his impossible dreams and his pursuit by one of the Twentieth Century's most vile villains which rivets the attention, plus Volkogonov's hard-driving narrative so admirable translated by Harold Shukman.
A leading member of the October Revolution which abruptly transformed Russian history, Trotsky was one of the most prominent Marxist intellectuals. He was considered by many to have been Lenin's heir-apparent.
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