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The Man Who Loved Dogs

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  8,040 ratings  ·  940 reviews
A gripping novel about the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in 1940

In his youth, Iván Cárdenas Maturell was the great promise of modern Cuban literature. But after Iván dared to write a story that was deemed counterrevolutionary, he suffered the consequences and became not just a loser but a defeated man. After two years of obligatory social service, Iván retur
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2009)
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Average rating 4.46  · 
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John Mauro
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Man Who Loved Dogs is the best Russian novel by a non-Russian author that I've ever read. (The author, Leonardo Padura, is Cuban.) More broadly, it is probably also my favorite historical fiction of all time.

Padura has crafted a masterful and historically accurate novel that tells of the events leading up to the assassination of Leon Trotsky. There are three main points of view.

The first is Trotsky himself, as he is exiled from the Soviet Union by Stalin and eventually seeks refuge in Mexico
Infada Spain
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 2018-5stars
***** stars, though not a perfect 5 due to the strenuous effort needed to conclude some of the genuinely historical monologues.
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El hombre que amaba este libro!

What can one say after reading this 761-page epic tale about the assassination of Leon Trotski? Breathless in scope, wondrous in telling the tale and so very much human in scale. I would rank this as one of my favourite books read in a long time. If Goodreads had a special ranking of 6-stars, this would be one.

The book tells the story of the famous killing from three view points: Trotski, his Catalan assassin Ramón Mercader and the Cuban writer Iván Cárdenas Mature
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
While I was reading, I passed through different and conflicting emotions. From passion to compassion and empathy, from anger, frustration, futility and vanity to relief but always with a bitter taste in my mouth. I was present all the time, I was always there! I am not sure if I could introduce this book to many. It is mainly for " tous kalws gnwrizontes". I would like to thank a good friend of mine who suggested that to me. Amazing Book! ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the better written books I have read in a long time. You do not have to be in lockstep with the authors ideas and beliefs to appreciate what he has to say and how he says it. I will say that his portrayal of the betrayal of the Revolution, the darkness of Stalin, the impact of dogmatism run amuck is more than enough to demand a reading. Trotsky is portrayed in a sympathetic manner, but not idealized so far that the reader is unable to realize that if he had replaced Stalin upon Lenin's de ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is more than two months, since the day I finished this book. And I still have the taste of this great book I read. I feel I need to spend a few words because it deserves it. More than all Leonardo Padura deserves a lot of congrats for this monumental piece of work. He probably spent hours and hours of research and writing but he finally did it. The result is absolutely magnificent. It can be considered as a historical novel, or a political novel, or both of these. Even though the whole plot i ...more
Two things undermine this historical novel about the assassination of Trotsky: ponderous obviousness and complete a-historicism. We can guess, almost immediately, the identities of the narrators of the chapters other than Trotsky himself. And, contrary to the author's gauzy belief, Trotsky the writer existed side-by-side with Trotsky the mass-murderer--and Trotsky never regretted the murders. What's more, the author has Trotsky ascribe to Stalin precisely the essential quality that made Trotsky ...more
Jul 13, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea what this book was about. Turns out it is a historical novel about Trotsky's murder in 1940s. The chapters change between Trotsky, his future murderer and a fictional (I assume) Cuban writer in the 90s.

The book is very well written and interesting. However, it has many historical details, especially Trotsky's chapters. Many names that I felt I was supposed to know. And I didn't even know anything about Trotsky, only his name and that he was a communist...

But I did know two things.
TBV (on hiatus)
(No spoilers here; except for the Cuban narrators, this is mostly history.)

“I wanted to use the story of Trotsky’s murder to reflect on how the twentieth century’s great utopia was corrupted, that process in which so many invested their hopes and in which so many of us lost dreams, years, and even blood and lives.”

So says award winning Cuban author Leonardo Padura Fuentes. Known for his Mario Conde* series of crime novels, this is a total departure from that genre. It is excellent historical
The assassin and his prey...

The story of three men whose lives become intertwined across decades and continents, the book primarily tells of the assassination of Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. Its purpose runs deeper though: to look at the corruption and failure of the utopian dream of communism and to inspire compassion for the people caught up in this vast and dreadful experiment.

Iván is a failed writer living in Cuba under Castro. Having inadvertently crossed the regime in his youth, he has lost
I would give it 5 stars, but the last third dragged on too long. Still a very good book. Padura started with some really mediocre (at least the translations are awful) crime novels — but this, and his book on Hemingway are both 4.5 books. He manages to make these historical figures come fully to life.
Robert Wechsler
At first, I greatly admired this novel, and its translation. There was something about the measured, calmly passionate way the three stories were told that grabbed me for some time. But I became progressively less interested in the two stories other than the one about Trotsky, to the point that I started just reading the Trotsky chapters. And then, about halfway through, I reached a point where I lost interest even in them, not so much in Trotsky himself as in what had become an endlessly measur ...more
An impressive book on the biggest revolution of the XXth century, how it was betrayed and it finally betrayed those who believed in it.

Told through the prism of Trotsky and Mercader's stories, leading to this fateful day of august 1940 in Mexico, the book shows the appropriation and corruption of the communist ideal by Stalin, defining a new system that'll redefine worldwide politics long after his death. Through intricate webs of lies and deceptions, through hate and paranoia.
It shows how Trots
Aaron Arnold
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2015
I'm not much of an expert of Cuban literature, so I can't offer much contextual insight on where this fits into the island's broader literary traditions other than it's not very surprising to me that a Cuban author would find some interest in the theme of the downsides of socialism. While there are the expected resonances with other works like Orwell's 1984 or Koestler's Darkness at Noon, Padura's novel deliberately aims for broader, more literary heights: it's longer, it has more characters, an ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Dystopian novels tend to be cautionary tales set in some realistically or fantastically imagined future. The Man Who Loved Dogs is a dystopian novel grounded in the history of the 20th century. Written by the Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, whose early work includes a well-regarded series of crime novels, this well conceived, expertly crafted novel is absorbing, horrific, and insightful. Its characters, historic and fictional, are convincing and compelling. There are three primary protagonists and ...more
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb of this book described it as a novel on Stalinism by a Cuban writer who lives in Cuba. It is an epic at 574 pages exploring the events surrounding Leon Trotsky’s eleven-year exile from the USSR and his eventual murder in Mexico. I was skeptical about reading it, as I doubted it can bring anything new to the subject. Historian Isaac Deutscher had already delved deeply into it in his monumental biography of Trotsky. Besides, Cuban communism restricted artistic freedom and compelled artis ...more
After have read The Obedient Assassin by John P. Davidson, I must read this book.

It is "amazing" how some authors are regaining ideas from their books based on books which have been already published. A similar case happen with Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan and published in 2014 compared to Fanny Stevenson by Alexandra Lapierre which was published in 1993.
Michael Baranowski
Nov 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I really wanted to like this book. I felt that I *should* like this book. And yet, once I started reading it, the thought of reading more the next day was not a happy thought. That may be because I was reading it in dribs and drabs, and my sense is that this is a book designed to be consumed in extended reading sessions. Whatever the case, once I get into a book and put it down, I'm not very likely to pick it up again. ...more
Cecil Paddywagon
Might've been a translation issue but the book was terribly dry and didactic; aside from the parts about the narrator and Ramón, I felt like I was reading a history textbook that assumes a wealth of prior knowledge from the reader. Don't get me wrong, I *want* to learn more about this stuff, but this might not be the most productive way to do it. And at ~600 pp, it's... too much. ...more
Deena Scintilla
ABANDONED. I really wish GOODREADS had an "abandoned" option. I prob won't go back to this because it jumped around too much for my short attention span during this pandemic. Not only did it jump from character to character but from decades. I started reading....or trying to read...some of the 4 and 5 Star reviews but they were in Russian, German, Arabic, etc. ...more
James F
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leonardo Padura is one of the best-known writers of present-day Cuba. He is particularly known for his series of "police procedurals" with the character Mario Conde, which I am not familiar with (it's not a genre I normally read, although I gather from some of the reviews of the present book that they somewhat transcend the usual limits of the genre.) This seems to be his first "literary" novel, a historical novel dealing with the assassination of Leon Trotsky. I realized when I reached the last ...more
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Man Who Loved Dogs
by Leonardo Padura

Discovered on a Kindle Deal —not familiar with Padura— certainly the cover did not draw my eye but the title ... THAT stirred my curiosity enough to check into what Kirkus called

“...philosophically charged but swiftly moving. A superb intellectual mystery”, and of course the very mention of the Trotsky /Stalin ‘strain’ snagged me. This one surprised me friends.

Definitely complex:
multiple storylines, each with it’s own protagonist and multiple settings a
Sam Marlowe
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A semi fictional retelling of Trotsky's exile and his death at the hands of assassin Ramon Mercader. That's what the premise is about. But the book goes deeper into the lives of the hunted and the hunter, and the thread that connects the two of them - Stalin, who antagonizes the former and indoctrinates the latter. The spectre of stalinism which the book largely critiques runs through every page of the book, haunting the characters and the reader alike with its inescapable tentacles. In short, i ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With no previous knowledge of this book or its author, I picked up The Man Who Loved Dogs from the store shelf because I thought: “Huh, with a name like that, this ought to be good.” Fortunately, this was a case where my book intuition (yes, you can judge a book by its cover) served me well, as the blurbs on the covers promised that this would indulge two of my biggest literary interests: Latin-American literature, and Communist regimes. And satisfy me, it did.

The Man Who Loved Dogs is a histori
4.5 stars. This was amazing.
Selma Strublic
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very very good book!
And.... I strongly recommend others from Padura.
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Like others, I find the book brilliant. Padura, perhaps one of the most highly successful authors in Cuba, has written a novel explicitly critical of Stalinism (and hence of Fidel Castro too) that I wondered how the text got past the censors.

The narrator, Padura's older alter-ego, recounts his own exuberance and then disillusion with the Revolution, coming into contact with the enigmatic "man who loved dogs." Along the way we are treated to a narrator-less account of Trotsky's life (often in ago
Jason Furman
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novel
A decent novel, feels a little like lesser Mario Vargas Llosa. The Man Who Loved Dogs mostly centers around two parallel stories--Trotsky in exile as he moves from Siberia to Turkey to Norway to Mexico to his death. And his assassin who is recruited by his hard-core believer mother in the Spanish Civil War, is trained in Russia for years just for this mission, practices in Paris and is ultimately deployed to Mexico where he infiltrates the Trotsky household and ultimately kills him. A lesser str ...more
Jul 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This took me weeks to read (I usually have two books on the go and this was my bathtime book!) but what an outstanding achievement (the book-not the feat of reading such a huge tome in the bath without dropping it once!)
A fictionalisation of the murder of Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940, it bears some resemblance to Don De Lillo's 'Libra'. However, whereas De Lillo focuses mainly on the persona of Lee Harvey Oswald, Leonardo Padura's work tells the story from multiple points of view, including th
Maria Fernanda
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is overpowering, marvelous and shocking, and also very well written.
Slow in the first two chapters, cause you don't know how the story is going to go, but them it just unfolds itself and you're hoocked.
Great for everyone interested in history, politics and understanding the world we live in.
I strongly feel this is how we should learn history in schools since it mentions and reveals facts my history teachers never even spoke about.
I strongly recommend it to everyone, EVERYONE.
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Up to what point is this book historically accurate? 1 35 Feb 04, 2016 01:48PM  

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Leonardo Padura Fuentes (born 1955) is a Cuban novelist and journalist. As of 2007, he is one of Cuba's best known writers internationally. In English and some other languages, he is often referred to by the shorter form of his name, Leonardo Padura. He has written movie scripts, two books of short stories and a series of detective novels translated into 10 languages. In 2012, Fuentes was awarded ...more

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