Terror by Quota


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State Security from Lenin to Stalin (an Archival Study)

Paul R. Gregory

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This original analysis of the workings of Soviet state security organs under Lenin and Stalin addresses a series of questions that have long resisted satisfactory answers. Why did political repression affect so many people, most of them ordinary citizens? Why did repression come in waves or cycles? Why were economic and petty crimes regarded as political crimes? What was the reason for relying on extra-judicial tribunals? And what motivated the extreme harshness of punishments, including the widespread use of the death penalty?


Through an approach that synthesizes history and economics, Paul Gregory develops systematic explanations for the way terror was applied, how terror agents were recruited, how they carried out their jobs, and how they were motivated. The book draws on extensive, recently opened archives of the Gulag administration, the Politburo, and state security agencies themselves to illuminate in new ways terror and repression in the Soviet Union as well as dictatorships in other times and places.

Paul Gregory is Cullen Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Houston. As a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, he directs the Soviet Archives Working Group. He lives in Bellaire, TX.

"This book, the first to focus on the 'working arrangements' of security agencies under Stalin, unlocks a number of issues in Soviet history that have until now been classified as instances of the dictator's irrationality or excess."—Mark Harrison, University of Warwick

"The most significant contribution of this work is modeling, and the author's expertise as an economist shines here. This is an accomplishment few historians can match, an extraordinarily clear exposition of the workings of Stalin's power. "—Hiroaki Kuromiya, Indiana University

"In the vast and growing literature on Stalinism, this text stands out not only due to the extensive coverage of a complex subject matter but also due to its unique methodology. Paul Gregory applies the rational-choice paradigm to the policies, and, in particular, the infamous Great Terror of 1937-1938. This important study improves our understanding of dictatorship and broadens the scope of historical economic analysis in general."—Valery Lazarev, University of Houston and Hoover Institution

 "An extraordinarily clear and interesting analysis of Stalin's terror."—Hiroaki Kuromiya, Indiana University, Bloomington

"This is an extremely informative and original study of Stalin's massive use of the organs of state security against members of the CPSU and Soviet citizens in the 1930s." —Jonathan Harris, The Russian Review

"His writing is clear and vivid and conveys much of the atmosphere of the period."—Lars T. Lih, Slavic Review

"Gregory presesnts a well-documented study of the terror in the Soviet Union under both Lenin and Stalin. . . . The book offers another window into the literature on legacies of the socialist period." —J. W. Peterson, Choice

“…perhaps the most impressive synthesis of the latest published research on Stalin’s security police to date.”—Iain Lauchlan, Revolutionary Russia

ISBN: 9780300134254
Publication Date: January 6, 2009
360 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
28 b/w illus.
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