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Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary's Life (Jewish Lives)by Joshua Rubenstein
Synopses & Reviews
Born Lev Davidovich Bronstein in southern Ukraine, Trotsky was both a world-class intellectual and a man capable of the most narrow-minded ideological dogmatism. He was an effective military strategist and an adept diplomat, who staked the fate of the Bolshevik revolution on the meager foundation of a Europe-wide Communist upheaval. He was a master politician who played his cards badly in the momentous struggle for power against Stalin in the 1920s. And he was an assimilated, indifferent Jew who was among the first to foresee that Hitlers triumph would mean disaster for his fellow European Jews, and that Stalin would attempt to forge an alliance with Hitler if Soviet overtures to the Western democracies failed.
Here, Trotsky emerges as a brilliant and brilliantly flawed man. Rubenstein offers us a Trotsky who is mentally acute and impatient with others, one of the finest students of contemporary politics who refused to engage in the nitty-gritty of party organization in the 1920s, when Stalin was maneuvering, inexorably, toward Trotskys own political oblivion.
As Joshua Rubenstein writes in his preface, “Leon Trotsky haunts our historical memory. A preeminent revolutionary figure and a masterful writer, Trotsky led an upheaval that helped to define the contours of twentieth-century politics.” In this lucid and judicious evocation of Trotskys life, Joshua Rubenstein gives us an interpretation for the twenty-first century.
"As much a myth and a legend as a man, Leon Trotsky is an individual of deep contradictions. One of the leaders of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky was a theorist and architect of the Communist system. Though he helped create the authoritarian structure of the Soviet hierarchy, he pushed for greater openness within the system and suffered irreparable rifts, first with Lenin, then with Stalin. A dedicated intellectual and scholar and by all accounts smarter than Stalin, Trotsky was continuously outmaneuvered by his rival, who eventually had him exiled and assassinated. Rubenstein, a historian of the Soviet Union, seeks neither to lionize nor to demonize his subject, and the complicated portrait that emerges is of a man with a keen curiosity for human nature, but prone to the most stubborn closed-mindedness, a brilliant strategist and tactician who repeatedly erred and miscalculated. The author is particularly interested in Trotsky's engagement with his Jewish identity, which manifested mostly in the political sphere. Fast-paced and engaging, Rubenstein's brief biography provides a solid introduction to the period and a detailed examination of a man much studied but little understood." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In this powerful book, the story of KGB surveillance and intimidation of Nobel prize laureate Andrei Sakharov from 1968 to his death in 1989 comes to light for the first time. Disturbing archival documents show how deeply the KGB feared this great figure of Soviet science, and how profoundly it misunderstood his role in the human rights movement.
A clear-eyed exploration of the career of Leon Trotsky, the tragic hero who “dreamed of justice and then wreaked havoc,” by a leading expert on human rights and the former Soviet Union
In the spring and summer of 1952, fifteen Soviet Jews, including five prominent Yiddish writers and poets, were secretly tried and convicted; multiple executions soon followed in the basement of Moscows Lubyanka prison. The defendants were falsely charged with treason and espionage because of their involvement in the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, and because of their heartfelt response as Jews to Nazi atrocities on occupied Soviet territory. Stalin had created the committee to rally support for the Soviet Union during World War II, but he then disbanded it after the war as his paranoia mounted about Soviet Jews.
For many years, a host of myths surrounded the case against the committee. Now this book, which presents an abridged version of the long-suppressed transcript of the trial, reveals the Kremlins machinery of destruction. Joshua Rubenstein provides annotations about the players and events surrounding the case. In a long introduction, drawing on newly released documents in Moscow archives and on interviews with relatives of the defendants in Israel, Russia, and the United States, Rubenstein also sets the trial in historical and political context and offers a vivid account of Stalins anti-Semitic campaign.
Andrei Sakharov (1921–1989), a brilliant physicist and the principal designer of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, later became a human rights activist andas a resulta source of profound irritation to the Kremlin. This book publishes for the first time ever KGB files on Sakharov that became available during Boris Yeltsins presidency. The documents reveal the untold story of KGB surveillance of Sakharov from 1968 until his death in 1989 and of the regimes efforts to intimidate and silence him. The disturbing archival materials show the KGB to have had a profound lack of understanding of the spiritual and moral nature of the human rights movement and of Sakharovs role as one of its leading figures.
About the Author
Joshua Rubenstein is northeast regional director of Amnesty International USA and a longtime associate at Harvard Universitys Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Alexander Gribanov is a literary scholar and archivist. He was the literary editor of the Chronicle of Current Events in Moscow, and arranged and processed the papers of Andrei Sakharov at Brandeis University.
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