Leon Trotsky

Stalin –
An Appraisal of the Man and his Influence

Editor’s note

LEON TROTSKY wrote and revised in the original Russian the first seven chapters and the appendix of this book. He checked in the English translation the first six chapters and the appendix but not the seventh chapter. The first seven chapters were to have been cut and condensed after the writing of the book had been completed. Like most authors, Trotsky was more optimistic than accurate about the expected date of completion, and his case was aggravated not only by the excessive optimism of the revolutionist and the military leader but by continual harassments and attempts on his life. The date of completion was therefore deferred from time to time. Finally, he set August, 1940 as the “deadline,” to use his own expression. But his manuscript was not complete on the twentieth of August, when he was struck down by his assassin. Two days later he died. The editor therefore left the first seven chapters and the appendix unrevised, except for a few deletions of repetitious material.

Some of the manuscript of the unfinished portion was in Trotsky’s study, strung out in enormously long strips of many sheets pasted end to end, at the time of the murderous attack upon him, and in the struggle with the assassin portions of the manuscript were not only spattered with blood but utterly destroyed. Moreover, no part of this posthumous manuscript had been put in final form by the author. It was made up of notes to be more fully developed, of excerpts from the works of other writers, of various documents, of dictated material not yet corrected by the author, all tentatively grouped for further use. Some of it was roughly blocked out under tentative chapter headings. Most of it was undigested material filed under eighty-one subheadings in more than twice that many folders. Out of this largely raw material the Introduction, the chapters from eight to twelve inclusive, and the two supplements have been edited.

Under the circumstances, extensive interpolations by the editor were unavoidable but were, nevertheless, kept down to a minimum consistent with achieving the maximum of clarity and fluency. In every case, including the editor’s introduction of single words, these are set off from the author’s text by brackets. Of course, the lists of Stalin’s aliases, of Communist Party Congresses, the glossary and chronological guide are entirely the work of the editor. Portions of the author’s notes summarized by the editor are distinguished from the main body of the text by closer printing. Wherever quoted material found in Trotsky’s portfolio on the Stalin biography is not a component part of Trotsky’s text, such quoted material is marked by a star. In many cases that material bore identifying notations in Trotsky’s handwriting.

The editorial policy in regard to the unfinished portion of the manuscript was to publish Trotsky’s text entire except for repetitions and utterly extraneous material which he obviously would have cut had he survived. Many of the documents are published here for the first time, without benefit of censorship either by Trotskyists or by Stalinists.

The editor wishes to thank the author’s widow, Natalia Ivanovna Sedoff-Trotsky, for her contribution to this book. He desires also to acknowledge the assistance of Leon Trotsky’s principal secretary, M. Jean Van Heijinoort; the Director of the Harvard University Library, Mr. Keyes D. Metcalf; the Registrar of the Harvard Library, Mr. Edward L. Gookin, and his staff; the Curator of Rare Books in the Treasure Room of the Widener Library at Harvard, Mr. William A. Jackson, Mr. W. H. McCarthy, and the Misses Fritzi Oldach and Rita Fitzpatrick. Their generous co-operation and unfailing patience facilitated the editor’s access to Trotsky’s posthumous manuscript. Although the editor did not always follow their advice, his very special appreciation is reserved for Marguerite Hoyle Munson, Alexandre Barmine and Max Eastman, who read the book before publication and offered extremely valuable critical comments.

C. M.

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Last updated on: 7 September 2009