In a carefully researched first outing, Delahunt tells the story of Trotsky’s wait in a fortified Mexico City house for the arrival of Stalin’s assassins.
One of the brightest firebrands of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky (born Lev Davidovich) was drummed out of the country by his jealous enemy, Stalin, and now, amid a swirl of memories—of love, betrayal, and revolution—the last days of the revolutionst are related in a series of impressionistic pieces, some narrated by Trotsky himself, others by people who knew him. The timespan goes from Trotsky’s Ukrainian childhood in the late-19th century all the way up to the 1950s, years after his death, when the man who ordered his assassination, Joseph Stalin, lies dying in Moscow. The story begins with a recollection of his arrival in Mexico City, where he and his wife stayed with the flamboyantly emotional and political couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Along the way we hear from Trotsky’s farmer father; his wife; one of his bodyguards; the Soviet operative infiltrating Trotsky’s compound; a Mexican artist; Trotsky himself; and others. Delahunt’s command of her vast subject is most impressive indeed as she darts about from lazy days in Mexico City to the frozen steppes of Russia during the Civil War to the conspiracy-cloaked corridors of power in Moscow—all without batting an eye or even once muddying the narrative. The depth of research is astounding in a mapping-out of the volcanic passions and dark evils of the Revolution’s heroes and villains—especially Stalin’s near-Satanic henchman Beria.
A complex story laid out with consummate skill and aimed directly at the powerful vortex where emotion and politics converge.