For the rest of us, the history nuts or the student of modern history, this is the biography to get. One can roundly condemn Trotsky's methods and beliefs without insinuating that the USSR would have been no better off under his leadership than Stalin's. Trotsky was vain, but at the same time lacked self-conscious of his actions. I had previously read Service's biography of Lenin, and I'm coming to really enjoy his writing style. Service has done a remarkable job collecting, researching and writing the tome. ... Trotsky by Robert Service. This article was published more than 10 years ago. Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. Trotsky was one of the most important figures of the Russian Revolution. His justification? I think I have to disagree with the other reviewers who accuse Robert Service of being non-partial, or biased against Trotsky. He led the Red Army in the Civil War. Trotsky Item Preview remove-circle Share or Embed This Item. Thank you for your patience. Welcome back. Trotsky didn't believe in "constructive criticism", and was equally vengeful against his enemies as Stalin. Trotsky is, I think, an innately fascinating historical figure. His biography of Trotsky was positively reviewed in the British and American press on its publication, but two years later was strongly criticized by Service's Hoover Institution colleague Bertrand Patenaude in a review for The American Historical Review. To purchase it in pamphlet form, click here. In moments where the book explores his charisma in public visible life, Trotsky glitters glamorously. Scoop a new vibe in the numbers and do today’s Daily Sudoku. An even-handed review of the complex and contradictory character of Trotsky. Fans of Russian history will find much to enjoy in these pages, from the carefully documented discussion of Trotsky's failed attempts to unify Russia's leftists before the revolution to an intriguing section on his tragicomic interlude in Turkish exile from 1929 to 1933. Trotsky interest me because it is a french passion (not the better). Was what happened in Soviet Russia even worthy of the name of communism? This was a really interesting book, I wish it would've talked more about his ideas though. Switch gears. Trotsky: A Biography By Robert Service Harvard, 648 pages, $35. Robert John Service FBA (born 29 October 1947) is a British historian, academic, and author who has written extensively on the history of the Soviet Union, particularly the era from the October Revolution to Stalin's death. by Belknap. Trostsky, Robert Service's debunking biography, proves that being Stalin’s great enemy does not make Trotsky in any way a good man, says Simon Sebag Montefiore in a review first published in 2009. This has occurred for a variety of reasons, including his break with Stalin, his exhaustive writings that critiqued Stalin, and his assassination (which made him a martyr), most likely ordered by Stalin. I don't think the Soviet Union however would have been that much different under Trotsky after the death of Lenin. Here it is an university work. At the same time, he was personally austere, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, taking offence at foul language and preferring to live modestly. We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner. He was until 2013 a professor of Russian history at the University of Oxford, a Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford, and a senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.He is best … Juliet Johnson is associate professor of political science at McGill University. Trotsky is, I think, an innately fascinating historical figure. Service vividly describes Trotsky's risky escapes from Siberian exile and his daring as a military leader during the Russian Civil War. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter . Trotsky has been a somewhat hero of the Russian revolution for the Western intellectuals, who saw him as the moral opposition to Stalin. Review: Trotsky: A Biography. Leon Trotsky checks both boxes. That means: If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour. This book explains why this vision is naive and ignorant, based solely on Trotsky`s better verbal skills. From his early intellectual ferment to his heroics in the October revolution and Civil War, Service illustrates a man of fixed ideological belief - a demagogue, an intellectual, but most importantly a deeply inhumane individual. I feel like there could be a better biography out there, but will take this over the lame-o apologias that have preceded it. One thing to note though is that some history of the USSR, and the other major figures of this time are needed otherwise you may be scratching your head a few 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. But that this hope for him is ultimately illusory -- by his own words & deeds, Trotsky both said & proved that he would have been at least as ruthless & oppressive as Lenin. On the other hand he is an amazing character in the history of the Soviet Union. Was there ever a moment when the Russian experiment with full market socialism was not on the track to an oppressive & murderous outcome? “Parvus denied that universal suffrage was an end to itself since the middle class would always find ways to manipulate the electoral system. He seems to have always spoken his mind, he is not much of a hypocrite in that but he was particularly self-contradictory and in his own writings (according to the author among politician-writers he is second to only Churchill), he always selectively quoted himself and the rest to justify his often unreasonable views. His fearless leadership and organizational skills are celebrated in his pivotal roles in the October Revolution and the Red Army. The world also likes cruel men who are less cruel than other men. He and the other Communists were intellectuals and r. A straight forward biography of the real life Emmanuel Goldstein. Without Lenin, as Trotsky himself acknowledged, there would have been no October Revolution in 1917. Trotsky was one of the most important figures of. He rightly argues that a Soviet Union under Trotsky would still have been an authoritarian socialist state - Trotsky made no bones about his belief that the party should act decisively to build communism in the Soviet Union regardless of the consequences. On the positive side of the ledger, Trotsky comes across as a brilliant orator, a prolific writer and an unusually brave revolutionary. All of this is not to diminish the self evident talents of Lev Trotsky the man. A “Dis-Service” to Leon Trotsky – Review of Robert Service’s Biography This book is very thick running to 600 pages but is very thin when it comes to an honest political examination and analysis of the ideas of Leon Trotsky, the subject of Service’s tome. This has occurred for a variety of reasons, including his break with Stalin, his exhaustive writings that critiqued Stalin, and his assassination (which made him a martyr), most likely ordered by Stalin. Excellent biography of an extraordinary historical figure. It is a good school for manipulation and success in business. Apology. Review by Paul Le Blanc . Again, for me at least, the most interesting aspect was Service's analysis of Trotsky's marxism. He was a brilliant leader. Service focuses more on Trotsky's intellectual development, rather than on the more exciting elements of his life. Read this after watching Hitchens and him debate at some stuffy Hoover Institute roundtable. While Lenin's and Stalin's dramatic roles in Russian and Soviet history are well known, Trotsky is perhaps most famous in popular culture for meeting an untimely death by ice axe in Mexico in 1940. The world likes its underdogs. His factiousness led to his demise from party leadership, expulsion, exile, death, and murder. He has written several books, including the highly acclaimed Lenin: A Biography, Russia: Experiment with a People, Stalin: A Biography and Comrades: A History of World Communism, as well as many other books on Russia's past and present.Trotsky: A Biography was awarded the 2009 Duff Cooper Prize.Married … 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. Rather than being … His factiousness led to his demise from party leadership, expulsion, exile, death, and murder. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Trotsky is a towering figure in almost all (non-Soviet) histories of the October Revolution, including his own (though in Red October the late Robert Daniels argued that he was a brilliant rationaliser of events whose post factum claims to have planned everything in advance should be taken with a grain of salt). This is an entertaining biography of one of the (flawed) giants of the 20th century. Yet Trotsky's first wife, Alexandra, a revolutionary herself, supported his decision, and Trotsky maintained regular contact with her and his two daughters, Nina and Zina, afterward. Canadian readers will especially appreciate Service's recounting of Trotsky's detention in Halifax while en route to Russia in April, 1917, at a time when Trotsky desperately wanted to return home to take part in the evolving revolution. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King... Robert Service completes his masterful trilogy on the founding figures of the Soviet Union in an eagerly anticipated, authoritative biography of Leon Trotsky. A straight forward biography of the real life Emmanuel Goldstein. A charismatic man, with abundant literary gifts, including polemics and oratory, absolutely committed to revolution. He was an individualist who advocated collectivism. Trotsky interest me because it is a french passion (not the better). I think I have to disagree with the other reviewers who accuse Robert Service of being non-partial, or biased against Trotsky. Leon Trotsky checks both boxes. More than any other Bolshevik, it was Trotsky, the penseur with the pince-nez, who became the brand of the revolution, and not just the revolution in Russia—revolution everywhere. Was what happened in Soviet Russia even worthy of the name of communism? Many politicians, journalist and other was trotskyst when they were young. When it doesn't have one it makes one. Practical concerns overrode theory even when the man was clearly at his best as a provider of ideological justification for the October Revolution and its (embattled) legacy. Of course, that is a reflection of Trotsky's milieu. Unbiased history and biography of the Bolsheviks is a relatively recent phenomenon; prior to 1991, a combination of lack of primary materials and philo-Communism among Western historians meant very few objective books were published. Service focuses more sharply on Trotsky's negative aspects. Read honest and unbiased product reviews from our users. By Robert Service Macmillan, £25. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Give your brain a workout and do today’s Daily Cryptic Crossword. Service has done a remarkable job collecting, researching and writing the tome. Which despite the context of two decades of aristocratic led war and conflict in Russia is a very dangerous thing to excuse or advocate. These two facts alone would have made the mythical Soviet Union under Trotsky quite different than the victorious Stalinist version, if still not especially laudable. They mostly just keep it a bit more quiet in public than they used to. When local authorities finally allowed him to continue his journey a month later, Trotsky reportedly "shook his fist at the English officers and cursed England" as the ship sailed away from port. The Service view can be summarised in a sentence: Trotsky was a ruthless and cold-blooded murderer and deserves to be exposed as such. Just maybe this shows he is doing a good job of providing all the necessary complexities and nuances for such interesting historical figures. The reality is very different, as this masterful and compelling biography … If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to email@example.com. The talented yet deeply paranoid and bloodthirsty Stalin built the totalitarian Soviet empire as a personal fiefdom. Robert Service, one of our finest historians of Soviet Russia, has written the first full-length biography of Trotsky in English for over half a century. Review: Trotsky, a Biography by Robert Service. Without Trotsky's efforts, the Bolsheviks might have been consigned to the dustbin of history after mere months, rather than decades. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. The chapters are similarly sized, each offering a detailed chunk of Trotsky's life , without being bogged down with minutia, yet still offering more than enough information to satisfy the reader. This book is very thick – running to 600 pages – but is very thin when it comes to an honest political examination and analysis of the ideas of Leon Trotsky, the subject of Service’s … The author, Robert Service, does a fine job of giving the reader a firm grasp of the life of Trotsky and Service achieves this without bias and without overloading the reader with unnecessary detail. by Peter Savodnik. A critical biography of Leiba Bronstein (Better known to the world as Leon Trotsky), Service does an excellent job of exploring the life, the complexities, and the many hypocrisies of this giant of 20th century history. March 9, 2019...conflicting social and political forces. This one is quite different than Kersaudy's book. Isaac Deutscher's sympathetic three-volume biography of Trotsky, and Trotsky's own autobiography, My Life, assiduously fed these beliefs. He had a habit of using people until they were no longer politically useful. Robert Service is an Englishman, decidedly NOT a communist, and is something of an expert on the Soviet Union. “This book's purpose,” Service announces at the start, “is to dig up the buried life” (p. 4).
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