Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Revolution Betrayed” as Want to Read:
The Revolution Betrayed
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Revolution Betrayed

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,452 ratings  ·  77 reviews
One of Marxism's most important texts, The Revolution Betrayed explores the fate of the Russian Revolution after Lenin's death. Written in 1936 and published the following year, this brilliant and profound evaluation of Stalinism from the Marxist standpoint prophesied the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent related events.

The effects of the October Revolution led t
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 20th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1937)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Revolution Betrayed, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Nick No.

"Sorry, your answer is too short. To post your answer, please add more detail."…more

"Sorry, your answer is too short. To post your answer, please add more detail."(less)
The Communist Manifesto by Karl MarxDas Kapital by Karl MarxThe State and Revolution by Vladimir LeninReform or Revolution by Rosa LuxemburgThe Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Socialist Classics
364 books — 291 voters
The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein1984 by George OrwellA People's History of the United States by Howard ZinnManufacturing Consent by Edward S. HermanThe Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
Best Left-Texts
554 books — 326 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,452 ratings  ·  77 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Revolution Betrayed
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016

Written in 1936, Trotsky provides a Marxist analysis of the fate of the Russian Revolution after Lenin's death (1924). Which was, obviously, a total totalitarian bureaucracy nightmare, yes. Marx and Lenin would be the very first to say so.

Good read for all the smug fuckers who like to say "well, socialism doesnt work, look at Russia". It was precisely because Stalin and co abandoned the October ideas and principles - including freedom - that this great historic opportunity turned into a massive
The Once and Future King
Jun 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: To anyone who wants to know the difference between Stalinism and true Communism.
This is a most excellent book for all of those who want to know the difference between False Communism and true Communism, International Freedom Fighter Leon Trotsky un-masks the Hypocrisy of the Stalinist Dictatorship in Russia after the Death of Lenin.
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading George Orwell made me want to read this, and I'm glad I did. ...more
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
worst case of sour grapes in world history. it's not cool to pooh-pooh the entire bureaucratic-bonapartist project just because you got chased outta town by an icepick-wielding madman, dude. ...more
Tom Michalak
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
His analysis of the Soviet Union's development from the Great October Revolution's inception is a surprisingly well-balanced, materialist one. Going into the book, judging from (my copy's) picture of a scowling Stalin and the title (which I've heard was originally when Trotsky wrote it "The Revolution Deformed"), I imagined it was going to be anti-communist ravings, when it wasn't. The Trotsky I was familiar with until actually reading what he had to say, as opposed to Trotskyist parties of the ...more
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Oh Trotsky. . . . We all know that you're just bitter because Stalin won and you didn't. ...more
I have rather ambiguous feelings on this one. On the one hand, I'm not some right-wing cold warrior who believes that Lenin = Stalin in any straightforward manner. I wouldn't reject every continuity between the two leaderships, but I also believe the differences were important. Nor do I see Lenin as a psychopath merely out for his own power and influence and therefore no different from Stalin. So on this particular point, there would be at least some agreement between me and Trotsky.

My problem
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is probably one of the most important books on the Soviet Union. If you are interested in its degeneration and the future collapse of the Eastern block, this is the perfect book to start with. As was the case with the most genuine revolutionaries, Trotsky tended to overestimate the revolutionary potential of the masses. In this book he professes that either there will be a new workers' revolution or capitalism will be restored in Russia. Well, guess what happened at the end. ...more
Chuck Sheldon
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Heavily biased perspective on the Russian Revolution and Stalin's leadership. Beautifully written and an important primary source for people interested in the Soviet Union and Trotsky. ...more
Andy Hempe
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important political works of the 20th century. Explains what the Soviet Union started out as, and what it became. Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of socialism. As Trotsky wrote, the Soviet Union was not a communist country, and not even a socialist one; it was half way between capitalism and socialism.
Christopher Koch
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Those who worship the established fact can't prepare for the future. ...more
Jan 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bilge
Ghastly book by one of the few men who might've made the Soviet Union even worse than it was under Stalin. ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: society-politics
The book discusses the origin of authoritarian Communist Party rule in the USSR.

I'd like to think that Trotsky represents a more hopeful alternative, although I don't begin assuming what he says is fact. The USSR and the Communist regimes which followed are polarizing topics. It may be hard to find a fully objective analysis, regardless of the writer's politics, to verify some of Trotsky's data. Trotsky's description of the cause and effect of the changes in the early USSR leading to bureaucracy
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: soviet-history
Trotsky has some wild views about "political revolution against the bureaucracy" that as far as I know weren't at all in touch with Soviet reality (and, perhaps more importantly, would not have stopped the unraveling and stagnation of the planned economy by the 70s/80s due to the Soviet Union's isolation and underdeveloped production). That being said, I actually really enjoyed this book and found it to be a prescient analysis of what the Soviet Union was at the time. Not nearly as anti-communis ...more
Adam Levy
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A scathing critique of Stalin's regime in its early days and prescient prediction of the fate of the "Soviet" Union and the fate of Europe. Trotsky writes with a sharp wit, sarcastic rhetoric and amiable arrogance at times, however this does lead to some self indulgent meanderings at times.
A must-read for anyone interested in Left politics as a cautionary tale about the dangers of the revolution and what can be done to prevent them when the time comes!
This book serves very well as a sequel to Or
Zack M
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: revolutions-list
Important reading for anyone serious about the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Fairly readable, although I got a lot more out of it by being part of a reading group https://revolutionbetrayed582896380.w... . About the nature of the soviet union, what went wrong, and the nature of socialism and a socialist revolution. Etc. ...more
Donna Davis
Brilliant theory; wish he'd been right. ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s a pretty good analysis of what the existing power & structure was after the Russian Revolution & the civil war that followed. The latter seems to ignored in a lot of the analyses about Stalinism & I think to ignore that distorts the issue significantly. Trotsky, thankfully accounts for it. He gives clarification as to what kind of people made up the bureaucracy & why but also the major institutions that were supposed to be in control of workers & the changes imposed from above on these inst ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Revolution Betrayed along with What Is to Be Done feels like reading tragedy. If What Is to Be Done is the Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers the October Revolution, then The Revolution Betrayed is the Eumenides and Trotsky is Orestes, trying to find reason among the blood that was shed for Marxism and seeking justice before the Furies in the Comintern rip him to shreds.

The Revolution Betrayed unflinchingly investigates how the tactics of Lenin that overthrew the despot king led to civ
Lucas Johnston
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trotsky is undoubtedly one of the best polemicists I've read. He finds a way to inject his critiques with life such that they do not come off to be purely banal philosophy, but are instead full of passion and emotion. This isn't to say his philosophical thinking is lacking - by my estimate he does well here too - rather, it is simply a remark on the rare ability to combine the two (which I find happens most often in leftist philosophers, coincidence?).

In this book, Trotsky does an outstanding jo
Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
[Review draft work in progress]

Reflecting on the notorious Politburo and Bolshevik Revolution [Disclaimer: coming from a Pacifist Libertarian Socialist perspective], the contrast between key figures remains with distinctive nuances on the spectrum [obviously, dictatorship of the proletariat puts every revolutionary here on the authoritarian end of the Left spectrum, but differences still remain].

Stalin - the 'conservative' Communist [concentration of power in the State led by Stalin the dictator
Shea Mastison
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
"The motor force of progress is truth and not lies." Trotsky is an interesting political figure from the 20th century. He was the 'Left Opposition' to Stalin; and a political scapegoat for nearly every catastrophe that befell the Soviet Union after Lenin's death. In this book, Trotsky uses wit and cold facts to dismantle the bureaucratic mess that was the U.S.S.R.

It's not that Trotsky disagrees with the objectives; he's just highly skeptical of the "new aristocracy" that had built itself upon t
Jun 08, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Michael Percy
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
When I lecture I will often, in the heat of the moment, say things based on my understanding of the topic, and oftentimes it is hard to pin-point where this knowledge came from - a case of: how do I know what I know? The experience usually sends me back to the books to reconfirm my knowledge. Whenever I read the classic political science texts from J.S. Mill, Rousseau, Hobbes, Locke, Burke, et al., I feel as though I am reading what I know. This is clearly a result of my education, but after hav ...more
James Fleming
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A work of genius. Anyone who genuinely wishes to understand the nature of the Soviet Union should make reading this a priority. The science of Marxism shines like a light from its pages as it describes the "midnight in the century" that was Stalinism. In this work, Trotsky reclaims Marxism for the people away from the combined clutches of Western bourgeois hypocrisy and Stalinist propaganda, who had shared interests in describing the Soviet Union as "socialist". Trotsky describes the bureaucrati ...more
Erick Pastora
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book you can read on socialism and communism. This book is like the chapters Lenin never got to write at the end of "The State and Revolution", as it details in great economic and political descriptions all the conquests of the bolshevik revolution, and then pictures all the obstacles and degradation of the Bolshevik Party that led to the consolidation of the bureaucracy as the ruling class of the State.

It's notable that Trotsky compares the reality of the USSR with the theorical princi
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Trotsky’s writing is the solvent to any and all unwieldy criticism of Marxist communism by way of Stalin’s brutal reign. Prescient and precise in its criticisms of the Soviet Union’s bureaucratic, one-state socialism, The Revolution Betrayed is a sentence-by-sentence mouthful and a consistent attack on the Stalinist regime; and on the deficiency of half-cocked communism. With capitalist aims at heart, and dictatorship in the fist, Stalinism is a dangerous confiscation of the ideals of proletaria ...more
Xavier Alexandre
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: politic, economy
A deep analysis about what went wrong in Soviet Union, and how the original ideal of socialism was brutally replaced by a bureaucracy dictatorship. One would love to know what would have happened if the USSR had stayed true to the intentions of erstwhile revolutionaries. And to ask the author his analysis of the current world. He was right in expecting Soviet bureaucracy to founder at some time. But it has certainly not been replaced by a regime he would appreciate.
Surprisingly easy read. Trotsky is downright hilarious in places, with a very dry wit. Makes some good points. Makes some naive/optimistic points. I have trouble thinking that his idealistic view of communism/socialism was possible, particularly at the point in time he was writing from. Lots of the insights from the book are still valid, though.
Elan Garfias
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you're a a socialist wondering wtf happened to the Soviet Union, read this book. Trotsky gives a wonderful account of the bureaucratizing of the CP and the conditions that allowed Stalin to triumph over a weary proletariat. Powerful, prophetic, and 100% necessary. Shoutout to the prose style as well: Trotsky is way more readable and eloquent than most Marxist writers. ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The State and Revolution
  • Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
  • Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism
  • What Is to Be Done?
  • Reform or Revolution
  • The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
  • Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder: A Popular Essay in Marxian Strategy and Tactics
  • Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science
  • The Condition of the Working Class in England
  • The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
  • The Communist Manifesto
  • The Prophet Armed: Trotsky, 1879-1921
  • Wage-Labour and Capital/Value, Price and Profit
  • The Mass Strike
  • The Civil War in France
  • Ten Days that Shook the World
  • Das Kapital
  • Critique of the Gotha Program
See similar books…
See also Лев Троцкий

Leon Trotsky was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Marxist theorist. He was one of the leaders of the Russian October Revolution, second only to Vladimir Lenin. During the early days of the Soviet Union, he served first as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs and later as the founder and commander of the Red Army and People's Commissar of War. He was also among the first members

News & Interviews

  Melissa Albert burst onto the YA scene (and catapulted into readers' hearts) with her 2018 debut The Hazel Wood. This darkly fantastical...
46 likes · 0 comments
“The basis of bureaucratic rule is the poverty of society in objects of consumption, with the resulting struggle of each against all. When there is enough goods in a store, the purchasers can come whenever they want to. When there is little goods, the purchasers are compelled to stand in line. When the lines are very long, it is necessary to appoint a policeman to keep order. Such is the starting point of the power of the Soviet bureaucracy. It "knows" who is to get something and who has to wait.” 9 likes
“A program of "disarmament," while imperialist antagonisms survive, is the most pernicious of fictions. Even if it were realized by way of general agreement - an obviously fantastic assumption!- that would by no means
prevent a new war. The imperialists do not make war because there are armaments; on the contrary, they forge
arms when they need to fight.”
More quotes…