Leon Trotsky, one of the leading figures of the Russian October Revolution, remains a controversial figure. For many, Trotsky's assassination in Mexico marked a tragedy in Soviet history, cutting off the possibility of a humane version of communism taking hold in Russia, with Trotsky himself arguing that he would have held back the tides of arbitrary rule and terror. But is that so? In answering this question and others about Trotsky's ideas, political defeat, and exile, Hitchens and Service speak to the very nature of communist ideology.
Christopher Hitchens is an author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in 2008.
Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he writes about business and politics, edits the Hoover Institution's quarterly journal, the Hoover Digest, and hosts Hoover's television program, "Uncommon Knowledge."
Robinson is also the author of three books: How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life; It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP; and the best-selling business book Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA.
Robert Service, a noted Russian historian and political commentator, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a Fellow of St. Antony’s College, Oxford.
His research interests cover Russian history and politics in all its aspects from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Service has finished a biography of Leon Trotsky, drawing on the Hoover Archives, which will be published by Macmillan and Harvard University Press in October 2009.
He is the author of The Russian Revolution 1900–1927, 4th edition (London, 2009), Lenin: A Biography (London, 2000), “Architectural Problems of Reform in the Soviet Union: From Design to Collapse” in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 2 (2001), Russia: Experiment with a People (London and Harvard, 2002), “Stalinism and the Soviet State Order,” in Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 1 (2003), A History of Modern Russia. From Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century, 3rd edition, expanded and updated (London and Cambridge, Mass., 2009), Stalin: A Biography (London and Cambridge, Mass., 2004), “Military Policy, International Relations and Soviet Security after October 1917,” in Russia: War, Peace and Diplomacy. Essays in Honour of John Erickson (London, 2004), “Soviet Political Leadership and 'Sovietological' Modelling,” in Leading Russia: Putin in Perspective: Essays in Honour of Archie Brown (Oxford , 2005), and Comrades: A World History of Communism (London and Cambridge, Mass., 2007).
Service holds an M.A. in modern languages from the University of Cambridge and an M.A and a Ph.D. in government from the University of Essex.
Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens defends why he called himself a Trotskyist. Hitchens says "he combined in himself the role of man of action and man of ideas," and admires his opposition to Stalin and Hitler as "a person of immense emotional and physical courage."