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#160;And he was an assimilated, indifferent Jew who was among the first to foresee that Hitlerand#8217;s 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 Trotskyand#8217;s own political oblivion.
As Joshua Rubenstein writes in his preface, and#8220;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.and#8221; In this lucid and judicious evocation of Trotskyand#8217;s 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.
“A fascinating, illuminating book, a treasure trove of information on the development of Sakharovs views and of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.”Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute.
-- Matthew Trundle - Ancient History
"It is fascinating and inspiring to read these documents and witness how the Soviet security apparatus with all its spies and bugging devices was unable to break the will of one indomitably courageous man."Richard Pipes, Baird Professor of History, Emeritus, Harvard University
-- Jeane J. Kirkpatrick
"Sheds fascinating light on the working of the Soviet system at the highest levelits policy towards the intelligentsia and the dissidents."Walter Laqueur
-- Richard Pipes
"Joshua Rubenstein has produced a steadily intelligent, insightful biography of one the last century's most alluring intellectual-politicians, a man of astonishing brilliance and no less astonishing rigidities."and#8212;Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Imagining Russianand#160;Jewry:and#160;Memory, History, Identity
"As much a myth and a legend as a man, Leon Trotsky is an individual of deep contradictions... Fast-paced and engaging, Rubensteinand#8217;s brief biography provides a solid introduction to the period and a detailed examination of a man much studied but little understood."and#8212;Publishers Weekly
"An accessible scholarly account of a man whose life spanned continents, whose charisma was legendary and whose ideas sparked a revolution and its backlash."and#8212;Kirkus Reviews
"An exemplary biography... Rubenstein depicts Trotsky as a tragic hero, a complex man whose brilliance and fallibility were inseparable."and#8212;Judith Maas, Jewish Advocate
"Joshua Rubensteinand#8217;s succinct account of Leon Trotskyand#8217;s life rescues the Russian radical from a remoteness, positioning him at a useful distance for contemporary readers."and#8212;Harvey Blume, ArtsFuse
"In this new, concise biography, Rubenstein offers a more balanced view of Trotsky....There are many reasons to commend this work and#8212; among them, Rubensteinand#8217;s depoliticization of its subject and the bookand#8217;s succinctness and readability."and#8212;Peter Ephross, The Forward
"Joshua Rubenstein has told a fascinating story in this book. It is very well documented, with close attention to the sources in several languages, and yet it reads like a novel."and#8212;Rabbi Jack Riemer, South Florida Jewish Journal
"This trim book . . . pulls together all the essentials of the life of Leon Trotsky and the revolution he so significantly shaped into a seamless, intelligent, and wonderfully accessible synopsis."and#8212;Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs
"Brilliant, charismatic, fatally idealistic and dogmatic—Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) was all this and more, according to this fine biography, the latest in the publisher's Jewish Lives series....Trotsky proves to be a fascinating subject....An accessible scholarly account of a man whose life spanned continents, whose charisma was legendary and whose ideas sparked a revolution and its backlash."—Kirkus Reviews Peter Ephross - The Forward
andnbsp;and#8220;. . . this is both a good read and a balanced, plausible interpretation of the man in his times. Rubenstein sees things to admire and deplore, and achieves the mix of empathy and critical distance a good biographer needs.and#8221;and#8212;Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Guardian
andldquo;A reasonably balanced and engaging defence of his subject. Le Blanc insists that Trotskyandrsquo;s ideas remain relevant as global capitalism endures new crises.andrdquo;andnbsp;
andldquo;A most intelligent and insightful presentation of Trotskyandrsquo;s thought and historical action.andrdquo;andnbsp;
andldquo;Contains many insights and references that will be illuminating to those already familiar with the subject, as well as some fascinating illustrations.andrdquo;andnbsp;
andldquo;Even-handed but sympathetic, learned but not overbearing, Le Blancandrsquo;s expert study leads a reader through the complexities of twentieth-century history and the vicissitudes of revolution, while also painting an intense, and at times heartbreaking, portrait of a key player and critic of capitalism and real-existing Communism. Le Blanc provides a sharp assessment of the influence and actions of Trotsky and the Trotskyists, against the backdrop of Hitlerandrsquo;s rise to power and the purges unleashed by Trotskyandrsquo;s nemesis, Stalin.andrdquo;
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.
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.
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.
A clear-eyed exploration of the career of Leon Trotsky, the tragic hero who and#8220;dreamed of justice and then wreaked havoc,and#8221; by a leading expert on human rights and the former Soviet Union
The name and#8220;Leon Trotskyand#8221; is a controversial one: for some it sparks anger, and they view him as a betrayer, a hypocrite, and a totalitarian. For others the name inspires admiration, seeing the man as a revolutionary knight battling an outdated, oppressive Imperial dynasty. However you view him, Trotsky was a strong leader of Soviets and one of the most important figures of twentieth-century Communism. He played an essential role as commander of the Red Army on the side of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, before he was challenged and eventually defeated by his rival Joseph Stalin. Deported from Russia, Trotsky lived the rest of his life in exile until Stalin finally located him and had him executed.
In Leon Trotsky, Paul Le Blanc interweaves dramatic historical events with Trotskyand#8217;s multi-faceted personality, and explores his involvement with Soviet bureaucracy, the Spanish Civil War, and the rise of Hitler in the years before World War II. Despite his removal from the Soviet Union, Trotsky continued to fight for his early Communist tradition, which eventually became referred to as Trotskyism.
This balanced portrait of Trotsky and his life will be invaluable to history students, scholars, or anyone with an interest in political history and extraordinary lives.
There are few more divisive names in history than the Soviet communist Leon Trotsky. To some, he was a betrayer, a hypocrite, and a totalitarian, and yet to many others he was a revolutionary of high esteem, who battled an outdated, oppressive dynasty and helped to usher in a new political era, and whose name became a political moniker: trotskyist. Whether colored by disdain or admiration, one thing is certain: Trotsky was one of the most important figures of the twentieth century.
In Leon Trotsky, Paul Le Blanc delves deep into Trotskyandrsquo;s life and relationships to reveal and make sense of his complex character and decisive actions. Interweaving dramatic historical events with examinations of Trotskyandrsquo;s multi-faceted personality, he offers incisive views of the key facets of Trotskyandrsquo;s life: his involvement with Soviet bureaucracy, the Spanish Civil War, and the rise of Hitler in the years before World War II. Illuminating Trotskyandrsquo;s personal and political struggles and achievements, this balanced portrait will be invaluable to history students or anyone interested in the extraordinary lives that made up the twentieth century.and#160;
About the Author
Joshua Rubenstein is the Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International USA and a longtime associate at Harvard Universitys Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He is the author of Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg and is coeditor of The KGB File of Andrei Sakharov and Stalin's Secret Pogrom, both published by Yale University Press. Stalins Secret Pogrom received a National Jewish Book Award.
Table of Contents
Introducing a Life
1. The Shock of Exile
2. Revolutionary, Past and Present
3. The Revolution Betrayed
4. Bracing for the Storm
5. The Jaws of Death