28 04 2009

For years now a lot of us (well maybe not a lot, but I’m sure there’s at least one or two other people), have been clamoring for a new biography of Leon Trotsky that makes use of the declassified Soviet archives.  In essence, we’ve wanted Trotsky to get the iconoclastic treatment that Lenin and Stalin have received, so as to proceed toward a more definitive verdict on his life and writings.

Well after a few decades of waiting, it is finally going to happen, and just several short months from now in the form of a comparatively long biography by one of the most prominent Slavic scholars alive (and one of the better writers I might add), Robert Service:

Its not exactly as long as Deutscher’s bio of Trotsky, but there’s only so much ground one can cover at this point that hasn’t already been covered, so I know that I’m personally hoping to find out about newer revelations regarding his role in Soviet politics and his relationship with Stalin and Lenin.

And one might argue that Volkoganov’s bio utilized the archives, but I found his work wasn’t exactly earth shattering in any way shape or form, as a lot of what he wrote was common knowledge (although his book was pretty good nonetheless); but this might be a problem endemic to Sovietology as a lot of so-called revelations end up being anti-climactic.  For instance Pipes’ The Unknown Lenin was extremely disappointing in that most of the stuff within was widely speculated to have already been reality.

Regarding the new Trotsky biography, Service is very high on the list of people whom I’d want to see write a Trotsky bio.  His one’s on Lenin and Stalin were excellent, and his forays into non-biographical material have been outstanding as well.  I had been hoping Edvard Radzinsky would try his hand at it, as his Stalin bio was probably one of the best books I have ever read, but given how obscure and irrelevant Sovietology is to contemporary society, I guess one should be pleased that any publisher is willing to widely publish and promote any bio of anyone from that time, as I’m sure the demand can’t possibly be that high.




One response

12 05 2009
In the Mexican suitcase « Poumista

[…] Sklyansky on Robert Service’s new biography of Trotsky. […]

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