The story of one of the twentieth century’s most notorious political murders: the assassination of Leon Trotsky.
Trotsky was the charismatic intellectual of the Russian Revolution, and a brilliant writer and orator. He was also a ruthless and authoritarian figure who could have become Lenin’s successor as ruler of the Soviet Union. But by the time of the Second World War, he was a powerless exile in Mexico who had been refused entry to every country in Europe.
Living in a villa borrowed from the great artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Trotsky was protected by naive young American acolytes who saw him as the supreme theoretician of world revolution. The hothouse atmosphere of the villa was heightened by emotional turmoil in the relations between Trotsky and Rivera, a volcanically unstable man, and the sexual tension in his relations with the beautiful Frida Kahlo. Trotsky’s wife was restless and jealous. Exotic visitors like the Surrealist poet André Breton came and went. The puritanical Trotsky drove his young followers hard.
Outside, the wolves were gathering. Mexican communists, led by the celebrated painter David Siqueiros, tried to storm the house and kill the man they regarded as the supreme traitor to their cause. The Trotskys’ younger son, apolitical and harmless, had been liquidated in Russia, and their older son had died under mysterious circumstances in a Paris clinic, apparently poisoned by Stalin’s assassins. In Moscow, Stalin himself ordered his secret police to kill his fiercest left-wing critic, at any cost. By the summer of 1940, after Trotsky had moved to new quarters, Stalin’s agents had found a man who could penetrate the tight security around their enemy in far-away Mexico.
Bertrand Patenaude’s book reconstructs a famous state crime with chilling precision and the page-turning qualities of a true-crime classic. It gives us a humane and panoramic view of Trotsky’s life and of Russia in revolution, as well as a story of deadly rivalry, revolutionary fanaticism and tragic violence and loss.
- Publisher's description
Read the review 'Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky' in the Socialist 587