Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary
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Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary

by Bertrand M. Patenaude
     
 

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In Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, Stanford University lecturer Bertrand M. Patenaude tells the dramatic story of Leon Trotsky's final years in exile in Mexico. Shedding new light on Trotsky’s tumultuous friendship with painter Diego Rivera, his affair with Rivera’s wife Frida Kahlo, and his torment as his family and comrades become

Overview

In Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, Stanford University lecturer Bertrand M. Patenaude tells the dramatic story of Leon Trotsky's final years in exile in Mexico. Shedding new light on Trotsky’s tumultuous friendship with painter Diego Rivera, his affair with Rivera’s wife Frida Kahlo, and his torment as his family and comrades become victims of the Great Terror, Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary brilliantly illuminates the fateful and dramatic life of one of history’s most famous yet elusive figures.

Editorial Reviews

The Financial Times
“Gripping. . . . Patenaude has created both a compelling biography of the revolutionary leader and a thrilling account of the violent world of international socialist politics in the 1930s.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Bertrand Patenaude tells a masterly story, of a brilliant, cornered man and, along the way, of a misguided century.”
Simon Sebag Montefiore
“Excellent, exciting. . . . Trotsky charts, with novelistic flair and in archival detail, the progress of the plot that culminated in Trotsky being killed with an ice axe in 1940.”
Christopher Hitchens
“This book deepens and enhances the sense of tragedy that always attends contemplation of ‘the Old Man’ and his last struggle.”
Ian Thomson
“An absorbing reconstruction of Trotsky’s last years in Mexico. . . . Patenaude’s hyrbrid history and detective story grips from start to finish. With rare narrative verve, he chronicles the last years of a revolutionary’s life, with its sexual jealousies, paranoia, and finally murder.”
Robert Service
“Well researched and vividly told.”
Misha Glenny
"This is an extraordinary, gripping piece of history that gets closer to Trotsky’s essential character than any of the vast tomes devoted to him in the past. Perhaps most extraordinary is the page-turning narrative drive which keeps the reader enthralled despite knowing how the story ends. Don’t miss it."
Ken Kalfus
"Bertrand Patenaude’s Trotsky is an epic character: fiery, vain, contentious, exacting, intellectually lively, ideologically blinded, seductive, even sexually aggressive—and a man keenly aware that the inherent tragedy behind human existence overshadows the petty mishaps of politics, assassination included."
Richard Overy
“A haunting and dramatic reconstruction of Trotsky’s life and death in exile. The detail is fascinating, almost voyeuristic.”
Dominic Sandbrook
“It is a tribute to Bertrand Patenaude’s narrative skill that although we always know how his book is going to end, it is none the less readable and utterly gripping. . . . The pace and tension are worthy of a Hollywood thriller.”
—Misha Glenny
“This is an extraordinary, gripping piece of history that gets closer to Trotsky’s essential character than any of the vast tomes devoted to him in the past. Perhaps most extraordinary is the page-turning narrative drive which keeps the reader enthralled despite knowing how the story ends. Don’t miss it.”
—Ken Kalfus
“Bertrand Patenaude’s Trotsky is an epic character: fiery, vain, contentious, exacting, intellectually lively, ideologically blinded, seductive, even sexually aggressive—and a man keenly aware that the inherent tragedy behind human existence overshadows the petty mishaps of politics, assassination included.”
Publishers Weekly
A captivating account of the final years of Leon Trotsky, Lenin's former right-hand man, who was outmaneuvered by Stalin and driven into exile in 1929. Historian Patenaude (The Big Show in Bololand), a lecturer at Stanford, concentrates on the period from 1937, when Trotsky arrived in Mexico, to 1940, when a Soviet agent plunged an ice pick into his skull. The year 1937 marked the height of Stalin's purge trials during which a parade of great revolutionary figures confessed to being fascist saboteurs working for Trotsky. All were executed along with their families, friends and thousands of other innocent citizens. Some Western leftists were disgusted, but many couldn't believe the nation they admired could tolerate such injustice. Trotsky set to work, pouring out writing and speeches and testifying at international hearings, which concluded that the trials were a sham. Patenaude paints a vivid portrait of Trotsky, a flamboyant, Westernized intellectual; his stormy relations with his equally flamboyant Mexican champion (and later enemy), artist Diego Rivera; his dealings with his own largely American supporters; and the relentless efforts of Stalin's GPU to kill him. This is a dramatic, event-filled portrait of a turbulent, half-forgotten era. 14 b&w illus. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Patenaude (research fellow, Hoover Inst., Stanford Univ.) applies his expert knowledge of early Soviet history in narrating the story of Leon Trotsky's final years in exile in Mexico. This, then, is the story not of the dashing hero of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian civil war but rather of "the Great Exile" and "the Old Man" of the Dewey Commission hearings and later events, an individual hounded by the Kremlin and its supporters in the West and suffering from an array of physical ailments. The book draws extensively on archival collections and published primary sources, in addition to important (mostly English-language) secondary work. VERDICT It's not evident how the author is reassessing this fascinating period in Trotsky's life, and nowhere does he make his case. Nonetheless, his Trotsky is a reliable and masterfully written account that captures, in the words of John Dewey, "the bare overpowering interest of the man and what he has to say." It should be read by anyone interested in Trotsky and the ways in which his life intersected with events in the Soviet Union, Europe, the United States, and Mexico in the 1930s.—Sean Pollock, Wright State Univ., Dayton, OH
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A captivating account. . . . Patenaude paints a vivid portrait of Trotsky, a flamboyant, Westernized intellectual. . . . This is a dramatic, event-filled portrait of a turbulent, half- forgotten era.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060820695
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/14/2010
Pages:
370
Sales rank:
1,179,781
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Robert Service
“Well researched and vividly told.”
Ian Thomson
“An absorbing reconstruction of Trotsky’s last years in Mexico. . . . Patenaude’s hyrbrid history and detective story grips from start to finish. With rare narrative verve, he chronicles the last years of a revolutionary’s life, with its sexual jealousies, paranoia, and finally murder.”
Richard Overy
“A haunting and dramatic reconstruction of Trotsky’s life and death in exile. The detail is fascinating, almost voyeuristic.”
Ken Kalfus
“Bertrand Patenaude’s Trotsky is an epic character: fiery, vain, contentious, exacting, intellectually lively, ideologically blinded, seductive, even sexually aggressive—and a man keenly aware that the inherent tragedy behind human existence overshadows the petty mishaps of politics, assassination included.”
Simon Sebag Montefiore
“Excellent, exciting. . . . Trotsky charts, with novelistic flair and in archival detail, the progress of the plot that culminated in Trotsky being killed with an ice axe in 1940.”
Christopher Hitchens
“This book deepens and enhances the sense of tragedy that always attends contemplation of ‘the Old Man’ and his last struggle.”
Misha Glenny
“This is an extraordinary, gripping piece of history that gets closer to Trotsky’s essential character than any of the vast tomes devoted to him in the past. Perhaps most extraordinary is the page-turning narrative drive which keeps the reader enthralled despite knowing how the story ends. Don’t miss it.”

Meet the Author

Bertrand M. Patenaude is a lecturer at Stanford University, where he is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. He is the author of The Big Show in Bololand, which won the Marshall Shulman Book Prize. He lives in Menlo Park, California.

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