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Trotsky Hardcover – 1975

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; First American edition (1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034016932X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340169322
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,385,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Was Leon Trotsky "shy"? As strange as it may seem, Carmichael has provided possible evidence for such a diagnosis in his superb biography. Trotsky, who was perhaps the greatest orator of the twentieth century (which is why the "shy", accusation seems so paradoxical), never formed his own faction, and displayed "passive" behavior while Stalin and his clique of idiots overran the country, and in addition, he relied mainly on Lenin for his own political fortunes. While health incapacitated V.I. Lenin, Trotsky showed complete ineptness, ideologically, and personally, with his own actions. Lenin was preparing a "bombshell", which would have resulted in the ouster of Stalin from the Bolsheviks in 1921, Trotsky was aware of what this info was (the nationalities issue), but when Lenin was attacked by another stroke, Trotsky just made a "compromise" with Stalin! Instead of destroying Stalin politically, he passively watched as Stalin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev betrayed the Bolshevik Revolution (certainly not the actions of a genius!). Trotsky had a myriad of opportunities to consolidate his own position in the USSR, but didn't; he was head of the army and navy, was perhaps Lenin's closest comrade, but yet, he, instead of Stalin, ended up with a pic-axe in the skull thousands of miles from the Kremlin. The only explanation is that Trotsky was "shy" (or passive; Carmichael traced this passiveness to Trotsky's ideology, which apparently states that the role of the individual is minimal).
Unlike other bio's of Trotsky, such as Deutscher's and Volkogonov's, Carmichael focuses a large amount of words to the psychological motive behind some of Trosky's actions.
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Format: Hardcover
As readers of this space may know I make no bones about being an admirer of the work of Leon Trotsky (see all my reviews). I also believe that the definitive biography of the man is Isaac Deutscher's three-volume set. Nevertheless, others have written biographies on Trotsky that are either less balanced than Deutscher's or come at it from a different angle with a different ax to grind. Joel Carmichael's is a standard liberal democratic take on Trotsky's life and work. Mr. Carmichael, as others before and after him like the social democrat Irving Howe, takes on the huge task of attempting to whittle down one of the big figures of 20th century history against the backdrop of that mushy Cold War liberalism that retarded the intellectual development of even fairly critical Western minds in the post-World War II period.

That standard academic response invoked admiration for the personality and intellectual achievements of Trotsky the man while abhorring his politics, especially those pursued as a high Soviet official when he had political power. In the process Mr. Carmichael tries to account for Trotsky's `fall' from power in the psycho-biographic parlance that was popular in the 1970's. In short, Mr. Carmichael concludes essentially that if only Trotsky was less of a loner and a better Bolshevik Party infighter his personal fate and history may have worked out better. Hell we, Trotsky's admirers, have been screaming about his very important failure to lead the 1923-24 fight against the Stalinization of the Bolshevik Party (also known following the French revolutionary example as the Themidorian reaction) struggle for years. All without benefit of pseudo-Freudian analysis, by the way. In the end Mr.
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