J. Arch Getty

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John Archibald Getty, III (born November 30, 1950)[1] is an American historian and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is noted for his research on Russian and Soviet history, especially the period under Joseph Stalin and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Life and career[edit]

Getty was born in Louisiana but 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.

Research and ideas[edit]

Getty established himself as a forerunner among revisionist historians of the Soviet Union with his first book, Origin of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938 (Cambridge 1985). Most recently, Getty has published a biography of N.I. Yezhov (2008). He is a controversial figure in the field of Soviet studies, as he was one of the first to put forth the thesis that the Great Purge was planned and commanded not only by Stalin, but by Yezhov and other Stalin's subordinates as well.[2][3][4] He has studied the Soviet constitutions and elections of the 1930s,[5] as well as the ancient antecedents of Soviet political practices.


  • John Arch Getty and Roberta Thompson Manning. Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives, (ed., with Roberta T. Manning), New York, Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-521-44670-8
  • J. Arch Getty, Oleg V. Naumov. The Central Party Archive: A Research Guide, Univ Pittsburgh Center for Russian. 1993. ISBN 99944-868-6-1
  • John Archibald Getty Origins of the Great Purges: The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1985. Ninth printing, 1996. ISBN 0-521-33570-1
  • J. Arch Getty, Oleg V. Naumov, The Road to Terror: Stalin and the Self-Destruction of the Bolsheviks, 1932-1939, Yale University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-300-09403-5
  • Stalin's "Iron Fist:" The Times and Life of N. I. Yezhov, Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-300-09205-9
  • J. Arch Getty Practicing Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars, and the Persistence of Tradition, Yale University Press, 2013, ISBN 0-300-16929-9


  • "Stalin as Prime Minister: Power and the Politburo," in Sarah Davies and James Harris, Stalin: A New History, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 83-107.
  • "'Excesses are not permitted:' Mass Terror Operations in the Late 1930s and Stalinist Governance," The Russian Review, 16:1, Jan. 2002, 112-137.
  • "Mr. Ezhov Goes to Moscow: The Rise of a Stalinist Police Chief," in William Husband, ed., The Human Tradition in Modern Russia, New York, 2000, 157-174.
  • "Samokritika Rituals in the Stalinist Central Committee, 1933-1938," The Russian Review, 58:1, January, 1999, 49-70.
  • "Afraid of Their Shadows: The Bolshevik Recourse to Terror, 1932-1938," in Stalinismus vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg. Neue Wege der Forschung, ed. Manfred Hildermeier and Elisabeth Mueller-Luckner, Munich, 1998.
  • "Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Prewar Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence," (with Gаbor T. Rittersporn, and V. N. Zemskov), American Historical Review, 98:4, Oct. 1993
  • "Trotsky in Exile: The Founding of the Fourth International," Soviet Studies, vol. XXXVIII, no. 1, January 1986, 24-35.


  1. ^ Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF) .
  2. ^ Average Joe: The Return of Stalin Apologists by World Affairs
  3. ^ John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr. In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage. Encounter Books, 2003. ISBN 1-893554-72-4 pp. 15–17
  4. ^ Timo Vihavainen, "The Yezhovshchina: Premeditated Social Engineering or the Result of Unforeseen Circumstances? Some Objections to J. Arch Getty's Revision of the Great Purges," Nordic Journal of Soviet & East European Studies (1985) 2#3 pp 129-136.
  5. ^ J. Arch Getty, "State and Society under Stalin: Constitutions and Elections in the 1930s," Slavic Review (1991) 50#1 pp 18-35

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