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The Man Who Loved Dogs
 
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The Man Who Loved Dogs [Format Kindle]

Leonardo Padura , Anna Kushner

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The story of Ramon Mercader, the assassin of Trotsky. Moving seamlessly between Cuba where Mercader lived out the last years of his life, Mercader’s early years in Spain and France, and Trotsky’s long years of exile, it is the story of revolutions fought and betrayed, the ways in which men’s which men’s political convictions are continually tested and manipulated.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  63 commentaires
18 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Sweeping, Satisfying, and Suspenseful. 31 janvier 2014
Par Dmitry Portnoy - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Hindsight makes the past appear predictable. What could be more inevitable than what has already occurred? That is the big lie of history, filled with unlikely persons and developments, but embarrassed to admit it.

Literature doesn't have this problem. It restores the sense of surprise to events that were unbelievable when they happened. It can make history seem like fantasy or science fiction, which is how it feels as it unfolds. It exposes a truth whitewashed from chronicles chiseled in stone.

Old-fashionedly, yet freshly, "The Man Who Loved Dogs," whole-heartedly and un-self-preoccupiedly embraces its power as fiction. It revs up a turbo-charged narrative drive; culls the perfect details from the bin of minutiae to hang the story on and hook you in; weaves long, flexible, yet tightly focused sentences to funnel the complex feelings of its characters. And guiding it all a profound sense of shock the author's mastery impels upon the reader.

How could a math student build an army to overthrow a tzar, create an all-powerful government, yet be so blind to politics? How could an utterly improbable revolution happen again and again in different places? How could a swimmer just struggling not to drown turn the tides of history?

Read this book as the impossible epic fantasy-adventure it is, and marvel at the magic on every page.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 If you want to be in politics and want to have a friend...get a dog !!! 21 février 2014
Par David Reskof - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
This is a wonderful story about the assignation of Leon Trotsky who was the rival and sworn enemy of Joseph Stalin. Apparently the author, Leonardo Padura, was born, raised and educated in Cuba during Fidel Castro's long lasting regime when orthodox Communist dogma was the only political idea available in Cuba. Madura seems during his life to have become slowly aware of the truth of the matter and utilizing the thinly veiled medium of the detective genre tells the story of his own enlightenment and of the life of the man who actually did kill Trotsky at the behest of Stalin personally. The story is a bit redundant and could have used some careful editing with regard to length and repetition. But, all in all it is very good and gripping in parts. David Reskof
16 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A somewhat cynical novel about Leon Trotsky and his assassin 10 mars 2014
Par Marc Lichtman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I mostly read non-fiction these days, and I got interested in reading Leonardo Padura because as a partisan of the Cuban Revolution, I'm interested in what Cubans are writing and reading, and he seems to be the most popular writer in Cuba. I love his Mario Conde novels; I view them less as detective stories than as social criticism, but the mystery form works well for him. I still have one to go. The fact that he is introducing Trotsky to Cuban readers is significant, but the real question is the form in which he's introduced. Someone I know who was at the recent Havana Book Fair said that Cuban Communists he knows who admire Trotsky are not thrilled with the book, although that may not be a representative sampling.

I like the form of this novel: The alternating stories of Trotsky; his assassin Ramón Mercader; and Padura's alter ego, the semi-fictional writer Iván Cárdenas, who meets Mercader in Cuba. The fact that the three stories aren't quite in sync with each other also makes it more interesting. It's starts out as quite an exciting novel, but soon moves into a slow, long narrative. What I like best about the Mario Conde novels is that while there isn't really a lot of action, the writing style makes me feel like I'm on a proverbial roller coaster ride. It's impossible for me to read them slowly. A lot more happens in this novel, but I found myself feeling bogged down in somewhat dull writing.

The New York Times review talks about "its Tolstoyan passion for historical trifles and Dostoyevskyan pleasure in examining the moral life of its characters." I have no pretensions to being a literary critic.

Padura did a lot of research for this novel, in a number of different countries. But while the only place I've been that Trotsky ever lived is where I live, New York, I believe I've read more Trotsky than Padura. Padura mentions some of his sources, through what Iván reads, and the fiction that someone left a copy of The Revolution Betrayed for Mercader in prison.

Sometimes historical fiction is pure conjecture, since we know little about the words spoken by historical figures. But sometimes we know a great deal. Padura uses some material directly from Trotsky (for example from Trotsky's Testament), but in other cases where Trotsky has given us (better) dialogue (as with Konrad Knudsen in Norway in Writings of Leon Trotsky (1935-36)), Padura is likely unaware of it. What he was unaware of, and what he chose to change for his novel, one can only speculate on. In some cases it matters little; in other cases quite a bit.

Padura has Trotsky conversing with the Turkish fisherman Kharalambos, while in reality they had no language in common; an unimportant detail. But then Padura has Trotsky determined to write a biography of Stalin, while his publisher is intent on one about Lenin. In reality the exact opposite is true, and it does make a difference to the personality and politics of Trotsky.

I enjoyed the fictional meeting between George Orwell and Mercader in Spain, although I don't know if Orwell introduced himself to people by his pen name or his real name Eric Blair.

Most of what is true about Ramon Mercader comes from The Mind of an Assassin, and some dialogue is taken directly from words spoken or written by Trotsky's secretary Joseph Hansen, his wife Natalia Sedova, and from Sylvia Ageloff, who Mercader seduced for his assassination plans.

The historical novels I personally most like are ones like The Year of the French, where the major players of the Irish Revolution of 1798 are fairly minor characters in the novel, and the major characters are fictional. What you get through the fictional dialogue and the narrative is an impressive analysis of the contradictions within the ranks of the revolution, and a feel for what was going on. Even though I partially disagree with Thomas Flanagan, he gives a remarkable view of the failed revolution. Then there's Strumpet City, a novel about the Dublin Lockout of 1913. While labor leader Jim Larkin is portrayed through his actual words and deeds, and while his presence looms large, again, the main characters are fictional.

Padura portrays quite accurately the gangsterism of Stalinism; that's a strong point. But he has the Left Opposition led by Trotsky losing because of an error by Trotsky. Trotsky made plenty of errors, but none were decisive in this. The death of Lenin played a major role. The backwardness of Russia, the fact that socialist revolution in Germany didn't succeed, although it remained a very real possibility at least through 1923, the overthrow of the brief Soviet Republic in Hungary; these were far more important factors in what unfolded. The bureaucracy grew conservative, and developed the theory of "socialism in one country" using the Communist International simply as a means to carry out foreign policy of the USSR. The bureaucracy and the Communist Party grew through massive recruitment of opportunist job-seeking Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. It was less and less the party of Lenin. These are what mattered most, not a battle between two individuals.

Is the novel cynical? That's subject to interpretation, and different characters, including (semi?) fictional friends of the semi-fictional Iván Cárdenas represent somewhat different points of view. The main idea that I see is that there was a possibility of creating world socialism, which Padura calls "utopia," but it was lost, and that's the end of it. But then, that's how Padura sees Cuba also. He paints a true picture of it, but not the whole truth as I see it. Unlike the Soviet Union, where it vanished quite early, internationalism is still alive in Cuba. What they accomplished in Angola helped to free South Africa; that remains alive in Cuba, South Africa, and even here in the US. They send doctors all over the world, and teachers to many countries.

Some Cuban immigrants today are delighted when they see activity on behalf of the Cuban Five. Most Cuban-Americans at least support an end to the embargo. The capitalist press naturally pays more attention to the difficulties in Cuba than those of its colony Puerto Rico, where massive numbers are coming to the US, but they don't need a visa, and don't get characterized as political refugees.

Ultimately, the fate of the Cuban Revolution is tied to that of the world revolution. What exists today is very contradictory--one of the worst crises in the history of capitalism, but not yet massive response by the working class, although there are important struggles. Revolutionary parties are tiny in the few countries where they exist. But Stalinism was one of the greatest obstacles to revolution, and that's near its end. The working class will not play dead while their wages and social wages plummet, and jobs are fewer and fewer. I retain my revolutionary optimism.

For those interested in the life of Leon Trotsky, I first recommend My Life: An Attempt at an Autobiography. The Trotsky trilogy by Isaac Deutscher (clearly used by Padura) remains the best biography, although it's at it's weakest point on Trotsky in Mexico. I dislike Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary, but it does make extensive use of Joseph Hansen's archives, and that's worthwhile reading.

For understanding why Stalinism won, besides Revolution Betrayed I suggest reading Lenin's Final Fight: Speeches and Writings, 1922-23, the three volume Challenge of the Left Opposition, and The Third International after Lenin.

And if you're interested in Trotsky on literature, read Art and Revolution: Writings on Literature, Politics, and Culture and Literature and Revolution.

08/05/2014. A friend of mine who also likes Padura as a writer, and reads him in Spanish thought I was not critical enough. He's right. The whole thing about Trotsky in his last exile plagued by doubts, haunted by the ghost of Kronstadt, had already been done to death in both fiction and "non-fiction." It has no resemblance to the actual revolutionary Leon Trotsky.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Masterful blend of taut fiction, breathtaking scope of history, and spot on geopolitics. 23 mars 2014
Par Robert J. Welch - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
The breadth and scope of what the author undertook is remarkable. The tapestry is majestic, from Spain to the Soviet Union to Mexico and Cuba, all with an enthralling tale of murderous intrigue. If you like history, you will have it in spades with a special overlay into the minds of the 20th century figures. If you favor fiction, you will find an engaging tale, delving deep into the minds of a cross section of world activists. I don't know how Senor Padura did it but he has created a novel worthy of literary acclaim. Historical figures literally leap off the page and the reader cannot help but be captivated by a unique overview of history's turning points. Bravo! A tremendous work.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Kind to Dogs, Cruel to Mankind 23 février 2014
Par Bleecker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The man is a fictional portrait of the man who assassinated Trotsky. The novel begins in the Spanish Civil War and is a tale of betrayal and murder on both a political and individual scale. The story is completely gripping; the development of the character of the assassin with his hesitations and his periodic questioning of those directing his actions. Those around him, blinded by ideology and unable to see the human suffering it inflicts. This blindness is true of Trotsky too -- always the victim, never the executioner, tho he was and on a massive scale. In a powerful ending the book acknowledges the death of compassion and the damage to those who have lived under the control of those ruled by ideology. After I finished it I read Bloodlsnds by Timothy Snyder, a history of Europe between Hitler and Stalin to learn more about the period.

Padura is a wonderful writer. This book, along with his mysteries, convey a well drawn picture of life in Havana. It is amazing to me that someone who sees the flaws and the harms so clearly, has stayed in Cuba. It's s tribute to him and to the human spirit that survives even in harsh circumstances.
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