Illustrated life of Lev Davidovich Bronstein, aka Leon Trotsky (1879 –1940), “the brain behind the Russian Revolution.”
Lenin would have something to say about that bold claim, but there’s no doubt that Trotsky provided intellectual guidance for the uprising and, briefly, the communist state that followed. The text and images are sometimes over-the-top even by graphic-novel standards; the angry kulaks and sinister, bomb-tossing anarchists could have come from a tsarist recruiting poster. Still, Geary (J. Edgar Hoover: A Graphic Biography, 2008, etc.) ably distills the events that occupied many hundreds of pages written by Marxist historian Isaac Deutscher and Trotsky himself, touching on such matters as the idea of permanent revolution and the impossibility of socialism in one country. Geary traces Trotsky’s evolution from farm boy to bookish adolescent to revolutionary to Bolshevik strategist. He also provides a solid, if necessarily brief, account of the rivalry that developed between Trotsky, desirous of power, and Joseph Stalin, even more so, and the unhappy conclusion to which that rivalry eventually led. Why Lenin “did not promote Trotsky above any other comrade,” however, remains a mystery. At least Trotsky, veteran of tsarist prisons and armored trains, got to dally with Frida Kahlo for a few happy moments before the end—but that end is plenty graphic, so to speak, and Geary does not shy from depicting it.
A swift-moving, generally accurate view of Trotsky’s life, guaranteed to send orthodox Stalinists into fits.