Thursday, July 14, 2011

Infighting about Trotsky

It was amusing to read (at Lenin's Tomb) of some recent infighting occasioned by a damning scholarly review of Robert Service's Trotsky: A Life (Harvard, 2009), involving a pair of fellows from the same nook of the anticommunism industry, the Hoover Institute on War, Revolution, and Peace.  While Service's book has been criticized by several leftist reviewers, it had generally been well-received in academic circles. This changes with Bertrand M. Patenaude, who writes, in The American Historical Review (see here):
In his eagerness to cut Trotsky down, Service 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. 
By the end, he concludes (but read the whole review, it's worth it):
Harvard University Press has placed its imprimatur upon a book that fails to meet the basic standards of historical scholarship. 
At Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee puts the review in context and requests comments from the author, the review's author, and Harvard. Service's response is to accuse Patenaude of being a 'Trotsky romantic.' From Harvard, McLemee gets no response.

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