From Stalin to Mao
"For the first time, a source-based history of Communist Albania, the little eastern European country that defied, first, its Yugoslav neighbors, then its Soviet sponsors, and finally its Chinese protectors, only in order to build, by its own efforts, one of the world's most sectarian and cruel Stalinist dictatorships. It is a remarkable tale, well told in this book."
―OA Westad, Harvard University
"Elidor Mëhilli's lively and brilliantly researched study of Albanian history from 'Mussolini to Mao' draws us into the fascinating world of a tiny, isolated, and preindustrial country engaging some of the most significant upheavals in international affairs in the twentieth century. This important and much-needed book explores Albanian realities in the long and painful Communist period as no other history I know."
―Norman M. Naimark, Stanford University
"From Stalin to Mao is an excellent book. In exploring Albania's various alliances―Yugoslav, Soviet, and Chinese―we not only learn about the Albanians but we also get new and important insights into decision making in Belgrade, Moscow, and Beijing. This is unique. What I enjoyed most was how Elidor Mëhilli is able to capture just what the Albanians were trying to do when the odds were really lined up against them."
―Robert Clegg Austin, University of Toronto
From Stalin to Mao, which is informed throughout by Mëhilli’s unprecedented access to previously restricted archives, captures the powerful globalism of post-1945 socialism, as well as the unintended consequences of cross-border exchanges from the Mediterranean to East Asia.
After a decade of vigorous borrowing from the Soviet Union—advisers, factories, school textbooks, urban plans—Albania’s party clique switched allegiance to China during the 1960s Sino-Soviet conflict, seeing in Mao’s patronage an opportunity to keep Stalinism alive. Mëhilli shows how socialism created a shared transnational material and mental culture—still evident today around Eurasia—but it failed to generate political unity.
Combining an analysis of ideology with a sharp sense of geopolitics, he brings into view Fascist Italy’s involvement in Albania, then explores the country’s Eastern bloc entanglements, the profound fascination with the Soviets, and the contradictions of the dramatic anti-Soviet turn. Richly illustrated with never-before-published photographs, From Stalin to Mao draws on a wealth of Albanian, Russian, German, British, Italian, Czech, and American archival sources, in addition to fiction, interviews, and memoirs. Mëhilli’s fresh perspective on the Soviet-Chinese battle for the soul of revolution in the global Cold War also illuminates the paradoxes of state planning in the twentieth century.
"In From Stalin to Mao, Elidor Mëhilli effectively places the story of Albania in the context of its consistent interaction with larger states, systems, and demands. This turns into an opportunity for the imaginative author to address scholarly debates and literatures central to numerous fields―from Russian and East European history to socialism, trans-national exchange, empire, de-Stalinization and reform, Sino-Soviet relations, small states and big patrons, Cold War, and even American foreign policy―and make the story of this small Balkan country relevant to the concerns of numerous readers. His fascinating story is never Albania itself, but Albania and the different 'windows into the world' of the twentieth century."
―Austin Jersild, Old Dominion University