cover image Trotsky in New York, 1917: A Radical on the Eve of Revolution

Trotsky in New York, 1917: A Radical on the Eve of Revolution

Kenneth D. Ackerman. Counterpoint, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-1-61902-607-0

D.C. lawyer and author Ackerman (Young J. Edgar) takes the obscure story of Leon Trotsky’s 10-week stay in New York City in early 1917 and succeeds in painting a picture of a man on the cusp of greatness. When Trotsky arrived with his family in January, he was entrenched in an ideological schism with Lenin, precipitated by the 1915 Zimmerwald conference that divided European socialists over the socialist response to WWI. Trotsky was virtually unknown in America outside of certain émigré circles, but he quickly insinuated himself in the activities of the Socialist Party of America, becoming a thorn in the side of its leader, Morris Hillquit, and undermining Hillquit’s vision of what the party should be as well as its level of militancy in opposing WWI. Ackerman shows how, in that span just preceding the Russian Revolution, Trotsky managed to plant the seeds of dissent that would eventually splinter the SPA. Whether writing at his office on St. Mark’s Place or radicalizing German prisoners of war while briefly detained in Canada on his way back to Russia, Trotsky was a tireless believer in the revolution he would soon help bring to his homeland. His brief stay in N.Y.C. may remain a historical footnote, but Ackerman clearly demonstrates the forcefulness of Trotsky’s revolutionary spirit. Agent: Ron Goldfarb, Goldfarb and Associates. (Sept.)