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Leon Trotsky

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betrayer, a hypocrite, and a totalitarian, and yet to many others he was a revolutionary of high esteem, who battled an outdated, oppressive dynasty and helped to usher in a new political era, and whose name became a political moniker: trotskyist.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 Trotsky’s life and relationships to reveal and make sense of his complex character and decisive actions. Interweaving dramatic historical events with examinations of Trotsky’s multi-faceted personality, he offers incisive views of the key facets of Trotsky’s life: his involvement with Soviet bureaucracy, the Spanish Civil War, and the rise of Hitler in the years before World War II. Illuminating Trotsky’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. 

224 pages | 35 halftones | 5 x 7 3/4 | © 2015

Critical Lives

Biography and Letters

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“A reasonably balanced and engaging defence of his subject. Le Blanc insists that Trotsky’s ideas remain relevant as global capitalism endures new crises.” 

Times Literary Supplement

“A most intelligent and insightful presentation of Trotsky’s thought and historical action.” 

International Viewpoint

“LeBlanc’s new and admirable brief biography of Leon Trotsky comes on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Trotsky’s assassination in Coyoacan, Mexico. . . . [An] important contribution toward the education of today’s emerging youthful revolutionaries.” 

Socialist Action

“Contains many insights and references that will be illuminating to those already familiar with the subject, as well as some fascinating illustrations.” 

Review 31

“Even-handed but sympathetic, learned but not overbearing, Le Blanc’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 Hitler’s rise to power and the purges unleashed by Trotsky’s nemesis, Stalin.”

Esther Leslie, University of London

“Le Blanc’s new biography of Leon Trotsky covers some familiar ground, but also offers a new take on the life and writings of the Marxist theorist. . . . Writing with zest, Le Blanc makes the most of his subject, and in a sense brings Trotsky himself from a rapidly receding past into the present.”


“Le Blanc brings a scholar’s knowledge of the current critical research and debate regarding Trotsky and the problems of twentieth century socialism as well as the invaluable perspective of an active, political militant. The issues and conflicts involved in working for a revolutionary solution to the injustices and crises of capitalism are not solely theoretical for Le Blanc or for Trotsky. . . . a well-researched, amply illustrated brief overview of Trotsky’s life and major ideas.” 

Labor Standard

“Le Blanc has written a unique biography of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), noting that his subject was highly controversial in his lifetime, and beyond. Trotsky was a voluminous writer as a journalist, author, and theoretician, and at the height of his career number two in the Bolshevik Party to succeed Lenin. Unfortunately, he was also very vain and arrogant, and suffered fools not lightly. . . . Le Blanc writes a highly educated treatise. Scholars should look carefully at his use of bibliography and structure from Trotsky’s own writings for a proper perspective on the man and his legacy. . . . Highly recommended.”


“Because Trotsky’s revolutionary integrity remained untarnished after his murder in 1940 at the hands of a Stalinist assassin, it is easy to fall into a deification of his work—something that competing Trotskyist sects have delighted in doing. Paul Le Blanc steers clear of those rocks in his very fine, short biography. He demonstrates a very clear-eyed and measured approach, combined with an unqualified opposition to Stalinist tyranny.”

Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal

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

6. Afterlife



Further Reading


Photo Acknowledgements

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