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The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky 1929-1940 Paperback – January 17, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In the 1930s, Trotsky, with a handful of followers, attempted to block the path of Stalin’s relentless hurricane of betrayal and murder. His epic defence of the soul of the Revolution against its bureaucratic executioners was a torchlight in the storm. In one of the very greatest modern biographies, Isaac Deutscher redeems the legacy of this astonishing revolutionary and humanist thinker.”—Mike Davis

“The three volumes of Isaac Deutscher’s life of Trotsky ... were for me the most exciting reading of the year. Surely this must be counted among the greatest biographies in the English language.”—Graham Greene

“He has told the story more accurately and with fuller detail than ever before ... .compulsory reading for anyone interested in the history of Soviet Russia.”—A.J.P Taylor, New Statesman

“He has told the story more accurately and with fuller detail than ever before. His book is compulsory reading for anyone interested in the history of Soviet Russia and of international communism.”—A. J. P. Taylor

“This is the critical voice the velvet revolution faded out. The republication of Deutscher’s classic trilogy is good news for a new generation who want to know what went wrong with communist-style socialism.”—Sheila Rowbotham

“Deutscher is an exceedingly vivid writer with a sense of style, and a warm and understanding sympathy for his hero: this makes him a first rate biographer.”—Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Isaac Deutscher was born in 1907 near Krakow and joined the Polish Communist Party, from which he was expelled in 1932. He then moved to London where he died in 1967. His other books include Stalin and The Unfinished Revolution.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (December 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859844510
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859844519
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,287,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book written by a genius, about a genius. What a pleasure to read!

"He could read like an artist the beautiful book of Marmara"; and he diverted to it from distant wanderings the mind of the old revolutionary. They talked to each other only in gestures, grimaces, and a few Turkish, Greek, or Russian monosyllables. These were enough for Kharalambos to convey what was going on in the depth of the sea, to tell, by the horizon, the skies, the season and the winds, how the nets should be cast - straight, in spirals, or in semicircles - how weights should be thrown from the boat to bring lobsters into traps, and how the catch should be guarded against dolphins lurking round. The author of Permanent Revolution learned eagerly and humbly this "intricate and primordial art which has not changed for thousands of years". He noticed "the annihilating glance" Kharalambos gave him whenever he threw a weight the wrong way. "From kindness and a sense of social discipline he admits that, on the whole, I do not throw the weights badly. But it is enough that I should compare my work with his and my pride abandons me at once. It was not so bad, after all, to come back to Kharalambos, to read with him the book of Marmara, and to write a book of one's own as well."

The beautiful writing of Trotsky, translated, illuminated by the beautiful writing of Deutscher.

I will say this, though, this newer 2003 edition has a boatload of typos. You might look for a used edition, in the case of Vol 3 from 1963 or 1965 or thereabouts. The older version is exactly the same book, without the mass of typos.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is the definitive biography of Trotsky, very detailed and thoroughly partisan. one of the most poignant what-ifs of history--what if Trotsky, instead of stalin, had led the ussr after lenin? for one thing, there would have been no pact with hitler. no purges. no massacre of the high command of the army on the even of world war ii.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the final volume of Isaac Deutscher's famous three-volume biography of Leon Trotsky, the great Russian revolutionary. Deutscher's biography is the standard biography of Trotsky by which all other biographies of Trosky are measured.
Picking up the life of Trotsky from the time of his first exile from the Soviet Union in 1929, this book carries the story of the later portion of Trotsky's life all the way to his murder in Mexico in 1940.
Deutscher's writing is enticing and holds the interest of the reader. The book is also wonderfully indexed and serves as a guide to the voluminous writing of Leon Trosky during the last phase of his life.
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Format: Paperback
This last of 3 volumes in Deutscher's biography caps an astonishing and captivating historiographical achievement. Deutscher weaves together character study, drama, and historical narrative to give an authoritative account of Trotsky's tragic final years, as the great leader waged a rearguard ideological struggle in the face of an avalanche of Stalinist harassment, slander, repression and murder. Simultaneously, Deutscher lays bare the blunders and disasters of the Communist International under Stalin's leadership, making clear how inexorably these failures followed from Stalin's deadened bureaucratic-centralist socialism.

Deutscher's deft handling of the facts, personalities, ideas, and situations of the time is simply unparallelled, and makes for a tremendously enjoyable and informative read. His account of Trotsky's last hours left me in awed tears.

Essential material for anyone exploring the question of where socialism went wrong in the 20th century.
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Format: Paperback
THIS YEAR MARKS THE 66TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION OF LEON TROTSKY-ONE OF HISTORY'S GREAT REVOLUTIONARIES. IT IS THEREFORE FITTING TO REVIEW THE THREE VOLUME WORK OF HIS DEFINITIVE BIOGRAPHER, THE PROPHET ARMED, THE PROPHET UNARMED, THE OUTCAST.

Isaac Deutscher's three-volume biography of the great Russian Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky although written over one half century ago remains the standard biography of the man. Although this writer disagrees , as I believe that Trotsky himself would have, about the appropriateness of the title of prophet and its underlying premise that a tragic hero had fallen defeated in a worthy cause, the vast sum of work produced and researched makes up for those basically literary differences. Deutscher, himself, became in the end an adversary of Trotsky's politics around his differing interpretation of the historic role of Stalinism and the fate of the Fourth International but he makes those differences clear and in general they does not mar the work. I do not believe even with the eventual full opening of all the old Soviet-era files any future biographer will dramatically increase our knowledge about Trotsky and his revolutionary struggles. Moreover, as I have mentioned elsewhere in other reviews while he has not been historically fully vindicated he is in no need of any certificate of revolutionary good conduct.

At the beginning of the 21st century when the validity of socialist political programs as tools for change is in apparent decline or disregarded as utopian it may be hard to imagine the spirit that drove Trotsky to dedicate his whole life to the fight for a socialist society.
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