Trotsky

Robert Service

Trotsky

Revolutionary practitioner, theorist, factional chief, sparkling writer, 'ladies' man', icon of the Revolution, anti-Jewish Jew, philosopher of everyday life, grand seigneur of his household, father and hunted victim, Trotsky lived a brilliant life in extraordinary times. Robert Service draws on hitherto unexamined archives and on his profound understanding of Russian history to draw a portrait of the man and his legacy, revealing that though his followers have represented Trotsky as a pure revolutionary soul and a powerful intellect unjustly hounded into exile by Stalin and his henchmen, the reality is very different. 4.3 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
Trotsky

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, History
Format Hardback
Pages 624
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication October 2009
ISBN 978-1405053464
Publisher Macmillan
 

Revolutionary practitioner, theorist, factional chief, sparkling writer, 'ladies' man', icon of the Revolution, anti-Jewish Jew, philosopher of everyday life, grand seigneur of his household, father and hunted victim, Trotsky lived a brilliant life in extraordinary times. Robert Service draws on hitherto unexamined archives and on his profound understanding of Russian history to draw a portrait of the man and his legacy, revealing that though his followers have represented Trotsky as a pure revolutionary soul and a powerful intellect unjustly hounded into exile by Stalin and his henchmen, the reality is very different.

Reviews

The Literary Review

John Gray

Here Service surpasses himself, and produces a life that is genuinely revelatory... he has given us the best biography of Trotsky to date, and there seems little reason why anyone should write another.

01/10/2009

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Standpoint

George Walden

One reason this is the best biography of Trotsky to date is that it disregards all sentimental nonsense and gives us the facts... Any notion of Stalin the hangman and Trotsky the humanist-despite-himself is efficiently demolished.

01/10/2009

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The Sunday Telegraph

Simon Sebag Montefiore

...an outstanding, fascinating biography of this dazzling titan. It is compelling as an adventure story – the ultimate rise and fall – but also revelatory as the scholarly revision of a historical reputation... If Trotsky had become dictator, Service is clear that while Russia would have avoided Stalin’s personal sadism, the same millions would still have been killed.

11/10/2009

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The Sunday Times

Robert Harris

Service makes it clear that Trotsky could have been Lenin’s heir if he had shown even the most basic ability to make alliances in the politburo. But he failed to exploit his opportunities. It was not just Stalin’s cunning that defeated him; it was his own intellectual arrogance... Seldom has the pathology of the revolutionary type, and its murderous consequences, been more mercilessly exposed than in this exemplary biography.

18/10/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Simon Heffer

This is a superb work of scholarship, and above all leaves the reader in no doubt as to the evil of Trotsky, not just in politics but in his personal life. Service has written on both Lenin and Stalin, and has been attacked by other critics for a cartoonish approach to these characters. That is unfair, but only slightly. Service lacks the skill of some writers in retailing not just the facts (which he does superbly) but also developing the personality of his subject.

24/10/2009

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The Mail on Sunday

Tristram Hunt

Masterful... the book is much more than dry critique of Trotsky's place in the Communist pantheon. It is a pacy, compelling account of one of the most magnetic and gifted leaders of the Russian revolution.

25/10/2009

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The Financial Times

Tony Barber

Balanced and thoroughly researched... Service paints a perceptive portrait, emphasising how Trotsky, a lifelong advocate of world revolution, insisted on speaking grammatically correct Russian, and sported dapper three-piece suits and a pince-nez. He gave up smoking, drank sparingly and hated smutty stories, while “nearly all fellow Bolsheviks smoked, drank, swore and gossiped profusely”.

14/10/2009

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Times Literary Supplement

Donald Rayfield

Trotsky is surprisingly easy to read, given the twists and turns of revolutionary socialism in the twenty years it took Trotsky and his comrades to move from theory to practice. Service’s secret is to use more full stops than any other leading historian, and the book has clearly been written with attention-deficient undergraduates in mind... If Service’s prose lacks [Isaac] Deutscher’s brilliance, it has a no-nonsense clarity, even jocularity about it.

23/10/2009

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The Guardian

Tariq Ali

Stodgy… The Service view can be summarised in a sentence: Trotsky was a ruthless and cold-blooded murderer and deserves to be exposed as such. This counter-factual approach is nothing new and was the stock-in-trade of most anti-communist and pro-Stalin ideologues for much of the last century.

31/10/2009

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