At last, based on full access to Soviet and Western archives, as well as interviews with surviving members of the Trotsky family and others, Dmitri Volkogonov offers a breakthrough reinterpretation. No source is ignored: Volkogonov even interviewed a member of Stalin's NKVD hit squad that assassinated Trotsky. Through his access to internal memos sent between Trotsky, Lenin, and Stalin, we learn of the blistering intensity of the animus between Stalin and Trotsky that began under Lenin with petty disputes over military strategy, continued under Stalin with a series of public trials of so-called Trotskyites, and culminated in the extensive planning for and eventual assassination of Trotsky. The result is a stunning work, one that compares the flesh-and-blood Trotsky with the Orator-in-Chief of revolutionary ideology, and discovers contradictions both profound and deadly. Volkogonov unsparingly illustrates Trotsky's rigidity and ruthlessness, and he takes issue with Trotsky's military leadership. He shows us that Trotsky's unwavering, monomaniacal commitment to world communist revolution made him, at times, both corrupt and foolishly myopic. We learn that Trotsky was both the man who gave away his own gold watch to a brave Red Army soldier and the man who advocated the use of blocking units, in which a rear line of soldiers were ordered to shoot their frontline comrades if they failed to charge. Ultimately, as Volkogonov shows, the tragedy of Trotsky is that his internal inconsistencies were a natural part of the entire revolutionary movement, for "Trotsky had declared intellectual war on virtually everyone". Volkogonov's account of the "eternal revolutionary" will stand as definitive formany years to come.