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Jewish Lives Biography / Book on Leon Trotsky; Revolutionary, Marxist thinker Preview
October 15, 2011
240 P., 5.5" x 8.25"
978-0300137248

Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary's Life

by Joshua Rubenstein

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 Hitler’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 Trotsky’s own political oblivion.

As Joshua Rubenstein writes in his preface, “Leon Trotsky haunts our historical memory. A preeminent revutionary 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 Trotsky’s life, Joshua Rubenstein gives us an interpretation for the twenty-first century.

Feature Review: 

There are many reasons to commend this work — among them, Rubenstein’s depoliticization of its subject and the book’s succinctness and readability."
--The Forward

"My first reaction was to wonder whether the 21st century needs a new interpretation of Trotsky, or even a new biography, but in fact 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.--Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Guardian

"In this new, concise biography, Rubenstein offers a more balanced view of Trotsky....There are many reasons to commend this work — among them, Rubenstein’s depoliticization of its subject and the book’s succinctness and readability." --Peter Ephross, The Forward

"As much a myth and a legend as a man, Leon Trotsky is an individual of deep contradictions... 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

"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

"An exemplary biography... Rubenstein depicts Trotsky as a tragic hero, a complex man whose brilliance and fallibility were inseparable." Jewish Advocate

The paperback version was chosen as one of the six best paperbacks by the Sunday Telegraph, November 10, 2013


Joshua Rubenstein

Joshua Rubenstein
Richard Sobol

Joshua Rubenstein is the northeast regional director of Amnesty International USA and a longtime associate at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. He is the author of Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg, a masterful biography of this controversial Soviet-Jewish writer and journalist.

TO HEAR AN INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN ABOUT HIS BOOK ON TROTSKY on ABC, Australia National Radio
CLICK HERE

September 9, 2013 at 4:15pm
Harvard Center for European Studies
Joshua will be giving a presentation about his biography of Leon Trotsky

September 18, 2013 at 7:30pm
Wellesley College 7:30 pm
Joshua will speaking about Leon Trotsky

September 26, 2013 at 7pm
Harvard Book Store
Joshua will be giving a presentation to mark the publication of the paperback edition of his Trotsky biography

HEAR RUBENSTEIN SPEAK ABOUT TROTSKY AND BIOGRAPHY AT CUNY: Start at 5:54 min

See footage of Trotsky with Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera

TO HEAR AN INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN ABOUT HIS BOOK ON TROTSKY
CLICK HERE Then go to “Beneath the Surface with Suzi Wiessman” Friday, January 6, 2012 and click on PLAY. Her interview with Joshua Rubenstein begins at the time 37:28

See Trotsky give a speech in Copenhagen, Denmark (in English):

To look at artifacts in the Trotsky Museum in Mexico in the house where he lived and was assassinated CLICK HERE

Myths about Trotsky still thrive: To read a 2005 article --with many inaccuracies about Trotsky himself-- about a claim of inheriting the weapon that assassinated Trotsky CLICK HERE