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Martin Edward Malia (March 14, 1924, Springfield, Massachusetts – November 19, 2004, Oakland, California) was a historian specializing in Russian history. He taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1958 to 1991.
Malia's best known work is his history of Russian communism, "The Soviet Tragedy" (1994). In it he challenges the traditional Leftist interpretation of communism as a fundamentally sound project, that admittedly went wrong during Stalin's regime, but in later years succeeded in creating a credible alternative to capitalism. Maila posits that the integral socialism proclaimed by Lenin, then soft-pedaled under NEP, resumed by Stalin and pursued by all his successors until Gorbachev, was basically flawed, precisely because it destructed capitalism integrally. The untrammeled socialist project was from the start an uphill battle, which brought about not only the destruction of economic freedom but of almost any freedom. The Soviet system could therefore not tap the reservoir of human potential that its ideology promised to bring to new heights.
Malia also wrote a famous essay "To the Stalin Mausoleum" (1990) which he signed as Z. The essay was reprinted in Eastern Europe...Central Europe...Europe which was edited by Stephen R. Graubard. He is the author of the foreword to the English version of The Black Book of Communism.
His book History's Locomotives. Revolution and the making of the Modern World (2006) is a good example of historiographic reflection. In the eighth chapter Malia gives a complete and concise survey of debates about the French Revolution from the 19th century up to our time.
One of his colleagues at Berkeley was another prominent Russian historian, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky. In the official Berkeley obituary, Riasanovsky is quoted as saying of Malia: "[he was an] outstanding and now very popular historian, occupying a leading position in the present international discussion of the collapse of the Soviet Union and what that collapse means historically and for the future. (He also was) a brilliant writer in Russian and European intellectual history."
- Alexander Herzen and the Birth of Russian Socialism, 1812-1855 (1961)
- The Soviet Tragedy: A History of Socialism in Russia, 1917-1991 (1994)
- Russia under Western Eyes: From the Bronze Horseman to the Lenin Mausoleum (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999)
- History's Locomotives. Revolution and the making of the Modern World (2006)
- "11.19.2004 - Russian history expert Martin Malia dies at age 80". Berkeley.edu. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-16. Retrieved 2008-04-27.
- Graubard, Steven R. Eastern Europe...Central Europe...Europe...USA: Westview Press, Inc. 1991 ISBN 0-8133-8150-9
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