Friday, September 16, 2016
Review of "Trotsky In New York - 1917" by Kenneth D. Ackerman
I have long been fascinated by the Russian Revolution and the events leading up to it. So when I learned that Kenneth D. Ackerman had written "Trotsky In New York 1917 - A Radical On The Eve of Revolution" I was eager to read it.
Trotsky, his common-law wife and their two boys had been exiled from several European nations, and for a few months in the winter of 1917, found safe harbor in America. During the tumultuous weeks that he was in New York, the zealot jumped into the middle of the fractured world of the American Socialist movement. He wrote for the newspaper Novy Mir, spoke wherever he could find an audience, and corresponded with other Russians back in Europe. He was carrying on a feud with Lenin - a basic Bolshevik vs. Menshevik dust-up - and people in NYC were reporting back to Lenin what Trotsky was doing and saying.
When the Revolution broke out in St. Petersburg, many Russians, including Trotsky and his family, made moves to get back home and join in the growing movement. So his tenure in America was short-lived and was quickly overtaken by events, but it proved to be a crucial chapter in his career. The author examines those weeks from several fascinating perspectives. I found the book instructive, and have promised to pass it along to a Russian friend who is intrigued to learn about this little known aspect of Trotsky's dramatic life and career.