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From Workers’ Paradise to Totalitarian Nightmare

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The Financial Times has given a pretty glowing review of “Stalin’s Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky” by Bertrand Patenaude

The most damning indictment that Patenaude levels against Trotsky is his intellectual dishonesty: to avoid repudiating his own achievement in the Revolution, Trotsky defended the idea of the USSR as a workers’ paradise, even as it had become a totalitarian nightmare led by a man set on having him killed. At the end of his life he continued to insist that his vision of utopian revolution would be realised, even in the  ace of powerful evidence to the contrary. Such delusion could also blind Trotsky to disloyalty among his followers – he refused to believe anything that undermined his own idea of himself and his place in history.

While he offers trenchant psychological understanding and perceptive historical observations, Patenaude has a light touch. Stalin’s Nemesis at times reads like a thriller. It is a captivating book that captures a complex and contradictory character and the world he had created around him.