The first of a two volume study on Trotsky by the astute British commentator and historian (see his Russia, What Next? and Stalin: A Political Biography), takes his life from 1879 to 1921-at the point when his own policies began to turn against him. Besides its incisive analysis, it is written with a sense of drama and emerges as sharply pointed political history absorbing to read and definitive in quality. To explain his subject fully, Deutscher turns first to Trotsky's boyhood as Lyova Bronstein, the son of a prosperous Jewish farmer in the Ukraine and follows through on the ironies and chance happenings that intervened before Bronstein, as Trotsky- a fugitive from Siberian exile- found himself knocking at Lenin's door in London. Controversies, friendships, new beliefs- at all times backgrounded by the curious network of socio-economic conditions as they existed and were unfolding in Russia- showing the development of clearer goals- especially Trotsky's which were of a definitely more heated and romantic nature; but also those of Lenin and the others and from time to time of Stalin as he ""flitted past like a shadow on a screen"". While it makes no startling pronouncements, this-as it takes Trotsky through his role as the leader of the October Revolution, and the ironic instigator of the replacement of proletarian democracy by party organization- will be among the best of the works in the field.