cover image Trotsky: A Graphic Biography

Trotsky: A Graphic Biography

Rick Geary, . . Hill and Wang, $16.95 (103pp) ISBN 978-0-8090-9508-7

A principle architect and hero of the Russian Revolution, then a pariah and exile under Stalin, Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, is a perpetually controversial figure, which makes the tameness of this graphic biography so disconcerting. Geary does a good job treating a touchy subject objectively, but that objectivity is detrimental in the long run: there is no context or commentary, no point of view, and while none of the facts and philosophies behind the Russian revolution are hidden, it is all relatively passionless. The text is basically a verbose time line, reinforcing the feeling that this book is a sort of supplement for some unseen history textbook. The primary customers for this book will be Geary's fans, and they won't be disappointed. Best known for his ongoing series of graphic novels looking at famed murders, here he recreates Russia of the period in his own distinct style. It's instantly recognizable while never distracting; detailed, but not cluttered. Occasional flights of fancy, like his portraits of Trotsky done in the style of negative and positive propaganda posters, are wonderful, and the book suffers from not having more like them. (Sept.)