This is a good brief overview of Trotsky’s life and career. In other treatments it is all too easy to get lost in a morass of Russian names, intricate details of battles, and arcane Soviet politics. But here we get the high-level picture, and Trotsky’s contribution to the Russian revolution comes through load and clear, as well as his post-Lenin decline as Stalin consolidated power.
Geary uses a number of Verso books as his source material, so we get a fairly friendly perspective. Overall, Trotsky comes across as a reluctant revolutionary; one who would have greatly preferred to remain a theorist, well in the background, but who stepped up to take a leadership role because it was the right and necessary thing. He certainly never expected to be a battle commander, but that’s just what happened during the civil war and allied invasion of Russia after the revolution.
He also comes across as inflexible and a bit dogmatic, thereby losing the friendship of Diego Rivera. Sad for him, really, since it’s possible he would have avoided execution by ice ax had he been able to remain in Rivera’s house.