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International Socialist Review, Fall 1964


David Herman

Trotsky Anthologies


From International Socialist Review, Vol.25 No.4, Fall 1964, p.127.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Age of Permament Revolution: A Trotsky Anthology
edited, with an introduction, by Isaac Deutscher
(with the assistance of George Novack)
Dell, New York, 1964. 384 pp. 95¢.

The Essential Trotsky
Barnes & Noble, New York, 1963. 251 pp. $1.50.

The Basic Writings of Trotsky
edited by Irving Howe
Random House, New York, 1963. 427 pp. $5.95.

Three different anthologies of the works of Leon Trotsky have been put out by major publishers since 1963. This is evidence of the very rapid growth of interest in the ideas of Trotsky that recent world events – especially the Sino-Soviet dispute – have produced.

The most recent of these, The Age of Permanent Revolution, is by far the most valuable and also, fortunately, the least expensive. It is an excellent introduction to Trotskyism and at the same time gives a good picture of Trotsky – the amazingly manysided man of action and of far ranging intellect.

The book contains only a tiny part of Trotsky’s enormous output, but such a careful selection has been made that the reader gets a balanced and rounded picture of Trotsky’s views and deeds. Trotsky’s brilliant style comes through too, of course.

Isaac Deutscher’s introduction is a valuable addition to the book. Succinctly, it sketches the background material which an American audience, largely ignorant of both Marxism and recent world history, will need, to follow the book. Deutscher’s defense of the relevance of the theory of permanent revolution to today’s world will interest both Marxists and the general reader.

The Essential Trotsky contains three essays on the Russian Revolution. The best known of the three, The Lessons of October, has long been out of print; and is an important work. The first essay, The History of the Russian Revolution to Brest-Litovsk, was written while Trotsky was negotiating the peace at Brest-Litovsk. It was written to convey the significance of the Russian Revolution to the working class of Europe and other parts of the world. The last essay refutes some of Stalin’s falsifications about the Russian Revolution.

The anthology edited by Irving Howe is based on a much narrower range of material than The Age of Permanent Revolution – mainly on well-known works in print in English. It reflects the editors views in its stress on Trotsky’s criticisms of the Soviet bureaucracy. But it’s hard to miss with an anthology of the works of Trotsky! Anyone not familiar with Trotsky’s writings will find Howe’s anthology an intellectually exciting and enlightening book.

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