- Paperback: 648 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press (October 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674062256
- ISBN-13: 978-0674062252
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Trotsky: A Biography
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Starred Review. Having covered Lenin and Stalin, Oxford history professor Service completes his biographical trilogy with the life of Leon Trotsky. Thick and intensely researched but a pleasure to read, it should remain the definitive work for some time. Trotsky (1879–1940) flashed like a comet across the political sky, sharing credit with Lenin for winning the 1917 revolution but losing the battle to succeed him after his 1923 death. While this outline is well known, Service mines new and old sources to fill in the details. A brilliant writer and speaker but too arrogant to attract a following, Trotsky had no chance against the methodical Stalin, whom he repeatedly insulted. Stalin forced him into exile in 1929 and had him murdered in 1940. Before and during exile, Trotsky poured out histories, memoirs and journalism, heavily influencing our picture of the revolution and its major figures. Service emphasizes that he was no objective observer. Stalin was not as stupid as portrayed, and Trotsky had no objection to mass murder when it served his purposes. This is a thoughtful, rewarding and essential contribution to 20th-century history. 50 b&w photos. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Following Lenin (2000) and Stalin (2005), this work continues Service’s series about leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution. Looming in his portrait of Trotsky, the Bolsheviks’ outstanding orator and commander of Communist forces in the Russian Civil War, is whether Trotsky could have prevailed in the post-Lenin power struggle. Service allows the possibility, but his commentary about Trotsky’s traits and habits militate against it. Developing Trotsky’s characteristics, Service detects in the young man a self-assured talent for Marxist polemics and a neglect of others’ sensitivities that eventually earned him enemies inside the Bolshevik Party. Trotsky excelled in verbal virtuosity (the “dustbin of history” is his coinage) but, as Service recounts, was a terrible listener. He disdained ideas other than his own, an arrogance palpable to and resented by the Bolshevik elite. Compounding Trotsky’s disadvantage, Service writes, was his clumsiness in the political maneuvering to succeed Lenin. Rounding out his depiction with Trotsky’s private life, which included an abandoned wife and children, Service solidly updates the hitherto definitive biography (hagiography, to critics) by Isaac Deutscher. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The outrage that is most talked about is the date of death. Okay, fine, he may have this one wrong; however, can any one say for certain when Lev Bronstein died???? Did Trotsky support the Mensheviks and socialist revolutionaries (Fact); did he join the Bolsheviks prior to the October Revolution (Fact); People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army as People's Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs? (Fact)
Was Trotsky an accomplished writer, editor, and orator (Fact). Was he an awful husband and father (fact). Did he and Stalin hate each other (fact)
I can go on and on with the small details. Prior to this BIO, and I think another one, no one even attempted a biography except an Autography of Trotsky ; and Robert Service's book is based on Trotsky's Autography. You are ignorant to expect 100% accuracy with any author. Therefore, you must always do your own investigation.
Gandhi's Autobiography is full of lies and deceit as well. Gandhi abused his wife and children more than the book leads on. Are we to diminish the note or the work--no?!!
Most recent customer reviews
The author describes in depth all sides of Trotsky's life