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Fudging the news

J. Arch Getty, 9 May 1991

Stalin’s Apologist. Walter Duranty: The ‘New York Times’ Man in Moscow 
by S.J. Taylor.
Oxford, 404 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 505700 7
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... In the days before electronic media were able instantly to place each of us in any part of the world, foreign correspondents were our link with current events. We found out about wars, revolutions, floods and famines by reading the work of these colourful characters who, with their trenchcoats, typewriters and suitcases, moved from capital to capital sniffing out the news ...

Starving the Ukraine

J. Arch Getty, 22 January 1987

The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Hutchinson, 347 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 09 163750 3
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... The ‘peasant question’, in some form or other, was one that Russian governments faced for hundreds of years. Although it presented itself in many aspects, the essential problem was how to harness a dispersed and backward agriculture to state needs. In the 20th century a transformation-minded Bolshevik Party wrestled with peasant traditionalism, capitalism, low agricultural output and its own ideological preconceptions in an attempt to modernise along socialist lines ...

Back in the USSR

J. Arch Getty, 22 February 1990

... The Western press is full of surprising stories about reform and crisis in the Soviet Union. Since Gorbachev came to power, Soviet politics have changed drastically. But even before his ascendancy, there were rumblings of earthshaking changes in Soviet society below the level of national politics. In the later Brezhnev years, liberal Soviet sociologists, many of whom were working in a kind of professional exile in Siberian research institutes, carefully wrote about changing Soviet mores ...

All the Russias

J. Arch Getty, 30 August 1990

Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR 
by Bohdan Nahaylo and Victor Swoboda.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 241 12540 5
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... I recently asked two first-time Soviet visitors to the United States for their most vivid impression of America. Both are perceptive scholars and both had spent several weeks touring and studying. Without knowing the other’s answer, each replied that he was surprised to find that, in contrast with his native country, the US had solved its racial problems ...

Palaces on Monday

J. Arch Getty: Soviet Russia, 2 March 2000

Everyday Stalinism. Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s 
by Sheila Fitzpatrick.
Oxford, 280 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 19 505000 2
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... It was not until the 1970s that ‘Soviet studies’ evolved into ‘Soviet history’. The totalitarian model, with its focus on government control of an inert population, gave way to the study of modern Russian society. The new Soviet social history insisted that society mattered, even in dictatorships, that the Stalinist regime had had to deal with a society whose traditions, structure and inertia could derail or modify the state’s plans ...

Whose person is he?

Sheila Fitzpatrick: ‘Practising Stalinism’, 20 March 2014

Practising Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars and the Persistence of Tradition 
by J. Arch Getty.
Yale, 359 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 0 300 16929 4
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... Arch Getty​ spent a great many hours in Soviet libraries and archives (presumably during the 1980s), trying to understand Stalinism, studying its institutions and formal procedures, reading resolutions and exegeses that explained, in the characteristic self-satisfied tone of Soviet bureaucratic documentation, that the wise decisions of the Party’s Central Committee and Council of Ministers had been duly disseminated, hailed by the public, and implemented ...

Rancorous Luminaries

R.W. Davies, 28 April 1994

Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives 
edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta Manning.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £35, September 1993, 0 521 44125 0
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Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant 
by Amy Knight.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, January 1994, 0 691 03257 2
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This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow 
by Anna Larina.
Hutchinson, 385 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 09 178141 8
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Stalin i Ordzhonikidze: Konflikty v Politbyuro v 30-e gody 
by O.V. Khlevnyuk.
Rossiya Molodaya, 144 pp., December 1993, 5 86646 047 5
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... Great Purge on particular sections of the population. A preliminary study of the Soviet élite, by Getty and William Chase, indicates that, contrary to the usual assumption, the purges hit economic administrators more severely than writers and other members of the creative intelligentsia. An ingenious study by Sheila Fitzpatrick of Moscow and Leningrad ...

Stalin’s Purges

John Barber, 17 October 1985

Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered 1933-1938 
by J. Arch Getty.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 521 25921 5
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The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia 
by Moshe Lewin.
Methuen, 354 pp., £19, June 1985, 0 416 40820 6
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... sphere, on the role of the Party and on its development during these years. This is the task Dr Getty has undertaken, and with impressive originality and skill. In contrast to his predecessors, he has based his research on two hitherto underemployed sources. He has combed the Soviet press of the period, a mine of information for anyone able to read ...

Days of Reckoning

Orlando Figes, 7 July 1988

Stalin: Man and Ruler 
by Robert McNeal.
Macmillan, 389 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 333 37351 0
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... dictatorship under Stalin’s personal domination. The revisionists (Sheila Fitzpatrick and J. Arch Getty are perhaps the best known, although Moshe Lewin pioneered the social history of Soviet Russia in the interwar period) have questioned how far Stalin was able, in practice, to exercise such autocratic powers. Fitzpatrick (unknown to McNeal) has ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: A Leninist version of Soviet history, 1 September 2005

The Soviet Century 
by Moshe Lewin, edited by Gregory Elliott.
Verso, 416 pp., £25, February 2005, 1 84467 016 3
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... as high as some Cold War scholarship claimed (this is convincing, and has already been argued by Arch Getty and others) and that the system was effectively dismantled after Stalin’s death (he slightly overstates his case here, since the huge outflows of the 1950s were partially offset by substantial inflows, though not of ‘politicals’, in the ...

People and Martians

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 24 January 2019

The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 576 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 568 8
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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 412 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 567 1
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... D.F. Fleming (on the origins of the Cold War), and the American historian of the Soviet Union, Arch Getty. He polemicised against me too, as a Sovietological ‘revisionist’, though for some reason rather mildly, charging me only with neglecting terror, the key issue of the 1930s, in my writings on social history and thus being ‘indirectly ...

Riches to riches

John Brooks, 20 November 1986

Bend’Or, Duke of Westminster: A Personal Memoir 
by George Ridley.
Robin Clark, 213 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 86072 096 9
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GettyThe Richest Man in the World 
by Robert Lenzner.
Hutchinson, 283 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 09 162840 7
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... of these two books, the second Duke of Westminster and the American oil billionaire J. Paul Getty, almost too perfectly exemplify, at least on the surface, the dichotomy pointed to by Mencken. One a British peer of ancient lineage, the other a self-made man who, through investing skill and fanatical diligence, became the richest of all Americans, in ...

If It Weren’t for Charlotte

Alice Spawls: The Brontës, 16 November 2017

... her father apprehensively?) – stand in the doorway; the participants are framed in the hallway arch, with the curved wooden staircase behind them. On the half-landing is the grandfather clock Patrick used to wind up at 9 o’clock every night on his way to bed (so Charlotte’s friend Ellen Nussey remembered), though the original grandfather clock was sold ...

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