As many of you already know, Getty paints a picture of the Purges that is radically different from the typical Western perspective. First and foremost, it is picture where Stalin isn't an evil mastermind in control of everything, though it is more than that. Stalin is presented as a mediator of extremes, one who does more reacting than acting. The Central Committee itself is presented as a chaotic organization without much control of the provinces. The various events that are collectively described as the Great Purges are the results of the Central Committee trying to keep accurate records of who is and isn't a party member, and a radical anti-bureaucratic stance towards the mid-level party leaders.
Probably the most interesting part of the book was the Bibliographic Essay, where Getty literally demolishes the typical Western view of events. Getty goes directly to the sources of Conquest and his ilk and shows them to be completely unreliable. Statements from Conquest like "basically the best, though not infallible, source is rumor" are rebuked for their idiocy ("Such statements would be astonishing in any other field of history" says Getty, as should any person interested in historical accuracy).
I highly recommend this book, even though it does drag-on in various places. I've ordered another one of Getty's books, The Road to Terror, where he seems to take on a more anti-Stalin line regarding the same period, though reviews at amazon still suggest it is nothing like a Conquest-type view. I'm currently thinking some of the pro-Stalin people out there might be purposely misusing Getty's older research, though I'm not certain. I can't wait to get my copy of Road to Terror.