The Prophet Outcast: Life of Trotsky, 1929 to 1940

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Overview

Few political figures of the twentieth century have aroused as much controversy as the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Trotsky’s extraordinary life and extensive writings have left an indelible mark on revolutionary conscience, yet there was a danger that his name would disappear from history. Originally published in 1954, Deutscher’s magisterial three-volume biography was the first major publication to counter the powerful Stalinist propaganda machine. In this definitive biography Trotsky emerges in his real...
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Overview

Few political figures of the twentieth century have aroused as much controversy as the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Trotsky’s extraordinary life and extensive writings have left an indelible mark on revolutionary conscience, yet there was a danger that his name would disappear from history. Originally published in 1954, Deutscher’s magisterial three-volume biography was the first major publication to counter the powerful Stalinist propaganda machine. In this definitive biography Trotsky emerges in his real stature, as the most heroic, and ultimately tragic, character of the Russian Revolution.

This third volume of the trilogy, first published in 1963, is a self-contained narrative of Trotsky’s years in exile and of his murder in Mexico in 1940. Deutscher’s masterful account of the period, and of the ideological controversies ranging throughout it, forms a background against which, as he says, ‘the protagonist’s character reveals itself, while he is moving towards catastrophe.’

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In the 1930s, Trotsky, with a handful of followers, attempted to block the path of Stalin’s relentless hurricane of betrayal and murder. His epic defence of the soul of the Revolution against its bureaucratic executioners was a torchlight in the storm. In one of the very greatest modern biographies, Isaac Deutscher redeems the legacy of this astonishing revolutionary and humanist thinker.”—Mike Davis

“The three volumes of Isaac Deutscher’s life of Trotsky ... were for me the most exciting reading of the year. Surely this must be counted among the greatest biographies in the English language.”—Graham Greene

“He has told the story more accurately and with fuller detail than ever before ... .compulsory reading for anyone interested in the history of Soviet Russia.”—A.J.P Taylor, New Statesman

“He has told the story more accurately and with fuller detail than ever before. His book is compulsory reading for anyone interested in the history of Soviet Russia and of international communism.”—A. J. P. Taylor

“This is the critical voice the velvet revolution faded out. The republication of Deutscher’s classic trilogy is good news for a new generation who want to know what went wrong with communist-style socialism.”—Sheila Rowbotham

“Deutscher is an exceedingly vivid writer with a sense of style, and a warm and understanding sympathy for his hero: this makes him a first rate biographer.”—Times Literary Supplement

Times Literary Supplement
A first rate biographer.
Graham Greene
The most exciting reading of the year. Surely this must be counted among the greatest biographies in the English language.
A.J.P Taylor
He has told the story more accurately and with fuller detail than ever before....compulsory reading for anyone interested in the history of Soviet Russia.
New Statesman
Library Journal
Debuting in 1954, Deutscher's three-volume biography on the Russian revolutionary countered much of the propaganda issued by Stalin's regime to destroy Trotsky's reputation. Still among the best titles on the subject. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859844519
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 1/22/2004
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 7.95 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Isaac Deutscher was born in 1907 near Krakow and joined the Polish Communist Party, from which he was expelled in 1932. He then moved to London where he died in 1967. His other books include Stalin and The Unfinished Revolution.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii
1 On the Princes' Isles 1
2 Reason and Unreason 102
3 The Revolutionary as Historian 176
4 'Enemy of the People' 209
5 The 'Hell-black Night' 289
6 Postscript: Victory in Defeat 413
Notes 425
Bibliography 466
Index 477
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  • Posted July 14, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Hagiography of a traitor to the revolution

    Deutscher wrote of 'the Trotsky legend' - which he promoted. Lenin vanished, as Deutscher ludicrously called Trotsky 'the leader of October' and the 'intellectual initiator of industrialization and planned economy'. Trotsky said that Stalin was the grave-digger of the revolution, but there was no counter-revolution in the Soviet Union until 1991, when Boris Yeltsin restored capitalism there. On the notion that Trotsky made an original contribution to Marxism with his theory of 'permanent revolution', we should note that Lenin wrote in 1905, "From the democratic revolution we shall at once, and just to the extent of our strength, the strength of the class-conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution." The leader of Trotsky's Fourth International, Ernest Mandel, wrote accurately that Yeltsin "follows in Trotsky's footsteps." (Socialist Worker wrote absurdly that the counter-revolution brought "the workers of the USSR closer to the spirit of the socialist revolution of 1917, not further from it.") Trotsky encouraged all sections of his sect to interfere in each other's affairs, so he wrote endless letters telling Belgian Trotskyists why the French Trotskyists were squabbling, and vice versa. Deutscher depicts the Trotskyists' squabbles, feuds and splits, all driven by ego, all mimicking in a minor key their master's monstrous ego. Deutscher notes Trotsky's 'fiascos, fallacies, and miscalculations', especially, later, 'his fiasco with the Fourth International'. (Incidentally, even Trotsky opposed the SWP's dogma of 'state capitalism'. As Deutscher explained, "The concept of state capitalism was meaningless where no capitalists existed.") In response to the German Communist Party's disastrous policy, Trotsky called on the Soviet Union to attack Germany, thus risking the Soviet Union's survival on war and also justifying Hitler's propaganda that Germany was being encircled by hostile powers. In 1936, in 'The revolution betrayed', Trotsky wrote, "If the war should remain only a war, the defeat of the Soviet Union would be inevitable. In a technical, economic, and military sense, imperialism is incomparably stronger. If it is not paralysed by revolution in the West, imperialism will sweep away the régime which issued from the October Revolution." So, without revolution in the West, the Soviet Union was doomed. But there was no revolution in the West, yet imperialism did not sweep away the Soviet régime. So Trotsky's forecast was wrong, as well as defeatist. Trotsky said that Stalin was both progressive and reactionary in the Soviet Union, but always reactionary abroad. So, according to Trotsky, a workers' state was an agent of counter-revolution. Denying the Soviet Union's revolutionary nature led straight to absurdity. Deutscher wrote, "It is probable that had there been no Teheran and Yalta compacts, western rather than eastern Europe would have become the theatre of revolution." So Deutscher thought that the Soviet Union should not have made these peace agreements, agreements that helped to stop the USA and Britain attacking the Soviet Union, in Churchill's 'Operation Unthinkable'. This whole biography is a travesty of history, as objective and accurate as Michael Gove's biography of 'Michael Portillo, the future of the right'.

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