J. Arch Getty

John Archibald Getty, III (born November 30, 1950)[1] is an American historian and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, specializing in the History of Russia and History of the Soviet Union.

Life and career

Getty was born in Louisiana and grew up in Oklahoma. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 and his Ph.D. from Boston College in 1979. Getty was a professor at the University of California, Riverside before moving to UCLA. Getty is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, a Research Fellow of the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow), and has been Senior Fellow of the Harriman Institute (Columbia University), and the Davis Center (Harvard University.) He was Senior Visiting Scholar at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.[2]

Research and ideas

Academic Sovietology after World War II was dominated by the "totalitarian model" of the Soviet Union, stressing the absolute nature of Stalin's power. The "revisionists" beginning in the 1960s, focused on relatively autonomous institutions which might influence policy at the higher level.[3]

In 1985, Arch Getty wrote Origin of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938. The book was a challenge to Robert Conquest's work and part of the debates between the "totalitarian" and "revisionist" historians of the Soviet Union. Getty, in an appendix to the book, questioned Stalin's role in Sergey Kirov's execution and criticized the reliance on émigré sources.[4]

The "totalitarian" scholars objected to "revisionist" history as apologetics for Stalin and accused them of downplaying the terror.[5] During the debates in the 1980s the use of émigré sources and the insistence on Stalin's engineering of Kirov's murder became embedded in the two sides' position.[4] Sarah Davies and James Harris note that with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of the archives, some of the heat has gone out of the debate and politicization has been reduced.[3]




  1. Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF) .
  2. "Faculty page". www.history.ucla.edu. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  3. 1 2 Sarah Davies; James Harris (8 September 2005). Stalin: A New History. Cambridge University Press. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-1-139-44663-1.
  4. 1 2 Lenoe, Matt (2002). "Did Stalin Kill Kirov and Does It Matter?*". The Journal of Modern History. 74 (2): 352–380. doi:10.1086/343411. ISSN 0022-2801.
  5. John Earl Haynes; Harvey Klehr (1 January 2003). In Denial: Historians, Communism, & Espionage. Encounter Books. pp. 15–17. ISBN 978-1-893554-72-6.

External links

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