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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Renowned Soviet Historian Dallin Dies at 76

NEW YORK -- Alexander Dallin, an American historian of the Soviet Union whose family took part in the Russian Revolution but who was widely respected for the scholarly detachment with which he viewed communism, died of heart failure Saturday in Stanford, California. He was 76.

Dallin worked at a number of universities, including Columbia University, where he held the post of director of the Russian Institute.

Born in Berlin on May 21, 1924, Dallin was the son of David Dallin, a Russian revolutionary leader who belonged to the moderate Menshevik faction, which had broken away from Lenin's Bolsheviks in 1903.

After the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, the Mensheviks sought to play the role of opposition party, but David Dallin was forced into exile in Germany in 1921.

As a scholar, Dallin was something of a maverick, tending to concentrate on aspects of Soviet history and policy-making that were neglected or viewed as irrelevant by other academics.

In 1957, he published "German Rule in Russia, 1941-45," a study of Hitler's occupation of parts of Russia during World War II that won the Wolfson Prize for history.

He published many more books, including "Black Box" (1985), a study of the Soviet shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, concluding the United States may have engineered the plane's deviation into Soviet strategic airspace, and "The Gorbachev Era" (1986).