It's not common for a history book to be written by someone who had a central role in the events but Trotsky's History is remarkable not just for that but also because it is so clear and analytical. He doesn't skirt around the issues, or offer vague generalisations, but digs into the detail and pulls out real gems.
He analyses the role of the land-owners, the nobility, the workers in the factories, the peasant base of the army, the Social Revolutionaries, Kadets, Narodniks, Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, and all the other actors, from their class interests and shows how despite their pronouncements, those class interests predominated.
It's a massive work, three volumes combined into one, but reads easily. Trotsky is often vilified in the press and even amongst so-called socialists, because he threatens their confortable reformist illusions. But in this book, is spelled out clearly and precisely exactly where such reformist politics goes. Every supporter of New Labour, or even Old Labour should read this book and think very deeply about whose interests their party really represents.
Whilst reading it, I was struck by the image of the hapless Labour candidate standing on my doorstep explaining to me that they weren't allowed to call themselves socialist any more, even if they were. Oh I wish they had read this book and managed to find just that tiniest streak of political confidence.