Debunking Trotsky with Bing

Dearest GW,

So, about 20 minutes ago, I found myself reading an article on Leon Trotsky, while listening to Bing Crosby singing White Christmas; at that point, my mind jumped right to you and I thought I’d share with you the several contributing factors that led me to this juncture on my unexpected afternoon off.

To begin with, I should be running around after pre-schoolers and being merry right now, but due to some unforeseeable nonsense about a water main, I’m sitting at home with coffee, Christmas and communism instead. One of the websites that I’ve recently added to my “Dark Roasted Stumbling” routine is called The Daily Beast. You should definitely check it out, if you haven’t already; the title of the website was enough to get me curious. Anyway, one of the leading articles (well, it’s a review I suppose) on The Book Beast is an article about Leon Trotsky, and a new book that apparently debunks the “Trotsky Legend”.

With Bing crooning Christmas tunes in my ear, I merrily (or not?) read of this new biography that apparently aims to shatter any image of Trotsky as a revolutionary or prophet of any sort. According to the new biography, written by Robert Service (who apparently has a whole lot of credentials and has studied at some pretty important universities), the “only major difference between Trotsky and his fellow Bolshevik leaders was that he never got the chance to wield total power” (that’s a quote from the article, not the book). Now, this might be all fine and good, and since Trotsky is dead and therefore will never have the chance to wield this “total power”, I feel just that little bit safer tucked away in my tiny corner of the democratic land of Christmas consumerism. Aside from that, however, it seems like this Service fellow has written something that’s essentially bordering on slanderous, and that’s just bad biography work.

Meanwhile, since you definitely know more about Trotsky than I do, I’m curious to know what you think. I’d also like to know why Robert Service seems to think that he needs to debunk the Trotsky mythology, and write what essentially seems to be coming off  (to Michael Kazin at least) as a tell-all that only really tells part, and appreciates less. That said, if Trotsky has been lauded as a revolutionary of any sort for this long, people won’t take kindly to someone rather blatantly saying “he’s not — that’s that; let’s all go home and think about how this will affect our lives while we drink Vodka and wallow in due sadness”.

It’s funny that I even really care to read about all of this; I chalk it up to pure curiosity of the bored academic with her afternoon off and no place to go. And an innate sense of schadenfreude, of course.

Cheers to you, sir.

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