Without Trotsky there would have been no Bolshevik Revolution, but Trotsky was no Bolshevik.
Providing a full account of Trotsky’s role during the Russian Civil War and concentrating on his time as an active participant in Russian revolutionary politics, rather than his ideological writings of emigration, Swain gives the student a very different picture of the Bolshevik Commissar of War. This radically new interpretation of Trotsky’s career spanning 1905-1917 incorporates the tense relationship between Trotsky and Lenin until 1917, and pays particular attention to the Russian Civil War and Trotsky’s military organisation and contribution to the war.
Swain argues critically that Trotsky achieved where Lenin would have failed, suggesting that Trotsky was in the main part responsible for the Bolshevik Revolution.
Introduction 1. The Precocious Apprentice 2. Revitalising the Party 3. Insurrection 4. Saving the Revolution 5. Building a Workers’ State 6. Combating Thermidor 7. Exile and Internationalism Conclusion
‘Geoffrey Swain has produced a robust, highly readable and fresh look at Trotsky that provides new insights into his personality, life, career and political ideas. Trotsky comes out as a more human and rounded figure than in many other biographies but, at the same time, Swain emphasises his ruthlessness. He gives no comfort to romantics who sentimentalize Trotsky as a more restrained alternative to Stalin.’
Professor Christopher Read, University of Warwick