Western historical debates on Stalin’s purges

Williams, Christopher (2008) Western historical debates on Stalin’s purges. In: Obshestvenno-politicheskaya mysl’ v Rossii: Traditsii i novatsii (Socio-political thought in Russia). Ижевск, изд-во УдГУ, pp. 251-262.

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This paper outlines and assesses the two schools of thought on Stalin's Russia in the West, namely orthodox totalitarian school versus the revisionist perspective. Based on Western access to Russian archives, this paper analyses the Western historiography on the purges and uses this to explore the following issues: Stalin's consolidation of power; his role as leader; Stalin's relationship with other politicians; Stalin's maintenance of authority using coercion rather than •consent and finally, did the purges help Stalin move from being an oligarch to a dictator.

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