The PJ Tatler

The most entertaining article on historians arguing over Trotsky you'll ever read

My attention span has taken quite a beating the past few years with my 24/7 immersion in the internet but this article at Inside Higher Ed about a devastating take-down review of a biography of Trotsky really held my attention:

But the new issue of The American Historical Review contains a notice that will earn a place in the annals of the scholarly take-down. One historian says of another that he “commits numerous distortions of the historical record and outright errors of fact to the point that the intellectual integrity of the whole enterprise is open to question.” Its publisher (one of the most prominent university presses in the United States) “has placed its imprimatur upon a book that fails to meet the basic standards of historical scholarship.”

And plenty more where that came from. Since reading the review last week, I have been in touch with both the reviewer and the review-ee — then spent a week trying to elicit a comment from the pertinent acquisitions editor at the press, who has gone either on vacation or into hiding.

The volume in question is Trotsky: A Life (Harvard University Press, 2009) by Robert Service, a professor of Russian history at the University of Oxford.

Read the whole thing and you won’t regret it.

Hat tip to a socialist friend’s facebook wall. (Yes, I do somehow manage to maintain cordial friendships with a few opponents on the Left.)