Mr. Puigventós tells us in his lengthly prologue that this is the material he brought together for his doctoral thesis. His research is truly impressive. His bibliography lists books, periodicals and magazines, web sources, documentaries, archives, and witness testimony. The book is peppered with many, many photos.
This is a story that many of us know from our studies and that others know from popular culture, such as Salma Hayak’s film FRIDA. The author takes us from Ramón’s childhood and his relationships with his parents, especially his mother Caridad who is a constant throughout the book, through the Spanish Civil war where Mercader is formed as a spy. Then to Paris and where he is introduced to Sylvia Ageloff who is instrumental in his introduction to Trotsky to the dastardly deed and then on to his trial and conviction, He is sentenced to 20 years in prison, after which he departs for Cuba and then 15 days later for the Soviet Union.
Puigventós attempts to paint a vivid portrait of the assassin and of his victim, but the plethora of minutia gets in the way. There is no doubt that Ramón Mercader/Jacques Mornard/Frank Jackson or Jacson and finally Ramon Ivanovich Lopez is a fascinating person as is his victim Lieba (Leib, Lev, Liev, Liova, Leon) Davidovich Bronstein/ Leon Trotshy, el Viejo.