The 132 letters and articles in this book were written by Leon Trotsky during the eighteen months the Russian revolutionary lived in exile in Norway.
The newly installed Norwegian labor government admitted him in June 1935, after he had been ordered to leave France, but then it interned him in September 1936 and deported him to Mexico that December. The French and Norwegian governments both objected to the kind of writing he did on their soil, writing that sought to promote revolutionary Marxism and the formation of a new organization, the Fourth International.
The book begins with an open letter, written by Trotsky and signed by several other revolutionaries, explaining why a new International was needed to replace the Second and Third Internationals. A large part of the volume is concerned with the problems of revolutionary party-building in Belgium, Britain, Holland, and the United States. Trotsky had to grapple with sectarianism, opportunism, centrism, and unprincipled factionalism. Also included are resolutions Trotsky wrote for an international conference in July 1936.
Another major subject was the growing Stalinist repression against revolutionists and dissidents in the Soviet Union, for whom trotsky sought to enlist international support. The peak of this repression was reached in August 1936 when Stalin staged the first big Moscow trial. Zinoviev, Kamenev, and other old Bolsheviks startled the world by "confessing" that they, in collusion with Trotsky, had conspired to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union. The last part of this book is the start of Trotsky's work in exposing that and subsequent "confession" trials as frame-ups.
Other things Trotsky wrote about included the new People's Fronts being organized at that time in France and Spain; terrorism; the new Soviet constitution; the Seventh Congress of the Communist International; the relation of the capitalist state to the fight against fascism; whether Marxists should defend the churches in Nazi Germany; Rosa Luxemburg's legacy; the uses of the general strike; and the relation of factions to political parties.