In Defense of Leon Trotsky published in French

25 June 2012

BookThe World Socialist Web Site is pleased to announce the publication of the French-language edition of In Defense of Leon Trotsky, written by David North, the chairman of the WSWS’s International Editorial Board. Défense de Léon Trotsky is available for purchase through Mehring.com and in Kindle format on Amazon.com.

Défense de Léon Trotsky examines the historical role and significance of Leon Trotsky, the co-leader with Vladimir Lenin of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the implacable opponent of Stalin. It reviews the decisive and often overlooked impact of Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution on the events of October 1917 and raises critical questions about the treatment of Trotsky in contemporary historiography.

In particular, North critiques the biography of Trotsky written by the British historian Robert Service, which has recently been issued in French by the publisher Perrin. North demonstrates that Service’s work fails to meet the basic norms of historical research, relying on and repeating old slanders against Trotsky.

The publication of In Defense of Leon Trotsky in 2010 provoked an international debate over Service’s Trotsky biography that is ongoing. Last year fourteen European historians who are specialists in the field issued an open letter opposing the publication of a German translation of Service’s biography. The controversy caused the German publisher Suhrkamp to delay its plans to issue Service’s work.

Last summer the prestigious scholarly journal the American Historical Review published a book review dealing with both In Defense of Leon Trotsky and Service’s biography of Trotsky. In this review, the historian Bertrand Patenaude writes, “A careful examination of North’s book shows his criticism of Service to be exactly what Trotsky scholar Baruch Knei-Paz, in a blurb on the back cover, says it is: ‘detailed, meticulous, well-argued and devastating.’”

Défense de Léon Trotsky includes both the open letter of the European historians and Patenaude’s review as appendices.

In Défense de Léon Trotsky, North explains that the attempt to denigrate Trotsky’s historical role by falsifying history has a definite contemporary purpose: to forestall a resurgence of interest in the foremost strategist of world socialist revolution and opponent of Stalinism at a time when millions of people are becoming disenchanted with capitalism.

The English-language version of this important work can be purchased here.