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Leon Trotsky

A. Plan of the investigation

-Utilizing a great breadth of sources I plan to encompass the many different viewpoints and perspectives of historians both modern and past to build a complete understanding of the significance of Leon Trotsky’s role in the October/November Russian Revolution during 1917.

-I plan to use sources from all mediums accessible including the internet, published literature (books, periodicals) and possibly some videos pertaining to the subject.

-The amount of information available to this subject is immense and it will require good judgment to recognize those sources which will hinder my progress rather than aid it.

B. Summary of Evidence

-the evidence gathered clearly points in one general direction; Leon Trotsky played a very significant role in the coup d’etats that was the Russian Revolution of October 1917.

-many prominent historians including Isaac Deutscher and Edward Hallet Carr boldly state that Trotsky “played the largest single part in organizing the coup of October 1917”

-Trotsky was able to rally the people in Petrograd for the Bolsheviks with his literary and speaking prowess.

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He was described as one of the most prominent literary intellectuals in history. His affinity to words allowed him to rally entire audiences for his cause with a single speech.

-By securing the Red Army Trotsky ensured that the Bolsheviks would stay in power.

-Economically he took advantage of the starving state of the masses, the Russian economy was getting worse and to promise the people food was cunning.

C. Evaluation of Sources

-the sources I have chosen so far suit the topic well.

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-I have included almost all of the plausible perspectives including Trotsky’s own from his numerous books, modern historian’s and past historians from both the non-partisan, Soviet and Bolshevik viewpoints. These older primary perspectives provide an invaluable addition to my investigation.

-Trotsky’s The history of the Russian Revolution is perhaps the most important of all my sources because it is the first person perspective of the revolution from Trotsky himself who has already been described as the most important single figure in the rev.

-Edward Hallett Carr’s The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923 is another great source because of the detail in which Carr explains not only Trotsky’s own actions but the actions of the other prominent leaders of the time including Lenin and other Bolsheviks.

-Carr is effective in comparing the differing opinions between Lenin and Trotsky and their less than sterling past which makes for an interesting sub-story.

D. Analysis

-Trotsky’s role in the October/November 1917 Russian Revolution was clearly significant

-many historians agree that the Revolution would not have taken place without his influence on the people of Petrograd.

-using his immensely powerful public speaking skills Trotsky was able to win over the people of Petrograd without a fight and a made for a peaceful revolution rather than a bloody battle unlike the revolution of February 1917.

-the formation of the Red Army can be solely attributed to Trotsky’s efforts, strengthening the power of the Bolsheviks.

E. Conclusion

-As many historians agree, there is little doubt that Trotsky’s role in the October/November Revolution in Russian during 1917 was significant to the point that many historians regard him as the most influential single person with the largest single role in the revolution.

-using his wit and writing/speaking skills he was able to ingeniously win over the masses in Petrograd, the past Russian capitol where the provisional government held power.

Annotated Bibliography

Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1879-1921. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954.

Deutscher’s main point is that while Trotsky and Lenin were an ingenious pair together, after Lenin disappeared from the scene Trotsky was alienated by the Bolsheviks and his great ideas and leadership were squandered. Isaac describes Trotsky as a man who excelled at leading those under him but failed at leading his equals. Deutscher uses both primary and secondary evidence to build his thesis. Deutscher is a prominent English writer who grew up during the period in which the revolution took place and was born in Poland, this might slightly affect his perspective. We also know that he was persecuted for his anti-Stalinist views, this could affect his objectiveness. This document is extremely strong because it pertains directly to my subject. Deutscher devoted an entire chapter to Trotsky in the October Revolution, this is excellent.

Edward Hallett Carr. The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923 (in three volumes); London: Macmillan, 1953.

Carr is quick to state that Trotsky played the largest single role in the Russian Revolution of 1917 and this is his thesis throughout the pertaining text. Carr uses mainly primary evidence, including Trotsky’s writings to build his thesis; he also uses some secondary evidence. Upon investigation I have gathered that Carr was one of the century’s most outstanding historians and also one of its more controversial. This makes Carr’s perspective solid as he is greatly respected around the world. This book is useful because it gives a good overview of the events that took place during the entire Bolshevik revolution as well as some early historical conceptions about Trotsky.

Pipes, Richard. A Concise History of the Russian Revolution. New York: Knopf, 1995.

Pipes’ definition of concise refers to a 1000 page text but after some digging one can come up with some great information about the 1917 revolution in general. Pipes does not focus specifically on Trotsky which is unfortunate but he accurately describes Trotsky in the context of the other great leaders like Lenin and how they worked together. Pipes uses all types of sources, primary and secondary to build his thesis including direct quotes from past historians and important figures. Pipes is a Baird professor of history at Harvard University, this is assuring that his perspective is both valid and useful. This does build the bias of a western perspective and can be somewhat limiting. In evaluation this source is strong and provides a good addition to my research.

Pipes, Richard, Editor. Revolutionary Russia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.

This collection of texts is a great tool because it encompasses many different opinions of many different historians. Thus it can be said that there is no true thesis from this book as it is a compilation, though in his forward Pipes hints to the fact that Trotsky played a large role in the October/November Revolution. Pipes’ point of view is somewhat relevant as he is editing the works of other people but being a professor of history at Harvard University his judgment can be trusted. This text is very useful to my research because it features many different excerpts from famous historians, such as E. H. Carr.

Rabinowitch, Alexander. The Bolsheviks Come to Power, The Revolution of 1917 in Petrograd. New York. Norton & Company, 1976.

The text pertaining to Trotsky is brief but important. This book is basically a day by day explanation of the revolution. This is useful to build a greater understanding of Trotsky’s motives in general as well as his specific actions that lead to the revolution in October. The author uses a great deal of primary as well as secondary documents to strengthen his thesis. Not much is known about the author; in the future hopefully we will be able to learn some more information about him. This document is weak because it does not pertain directly to Trotsky’s significance in the revolution but it is somewhat valuable because it gives a breadth of knowledge about some of the other figures in the revolution.

Trotsky, Leon. The history of the Russian Revolution. 3 vols. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1932.

Trotsky’s thesis is hard to determine as he discusses much of the revolution but one candidate for the section pertaining to my topic would be that the economic troubles and the political effectiveness of Lenin and Trotsky together created an opportune moment to overthrow the provisional government by rallying the masses behind their cause. Trotsky uses his own recollection and experience of the events to describe the Russian situation. Trotsky’s bias is easy to pinpoint considering his significance in the events, it is important to watch for his subjective viewpoints and asses their value. This book is extremely valuable to my topic because it give an unparalleled understanding of the events that took place from Trotsky’s own eyes.

Cite this page

Leon Trotsky. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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