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WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY JORDAN B. PETERSON 'Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece...The Gulag Archipelago helped create the world we live in today' Anne Applebaum THE OFFICIALLY APPROVED ABRIDGEMENT OF THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO VOLUMES I, II & III A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY JORDAN B. PETERSON 'Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece...The Gulag Archipelago helped create the world we live in today' Anne Applebaum THE OFFICIALLY APPROVED ABRIDGEMENT OF THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO VOLUMES I, II & III A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday heroism, The Gulag Archipelago is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's grand masterwork. Based on the testimony of some 200 survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile, it chronicles the story of those at the heart of the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin, and for whom the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair. A thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power, this edition of The Gulag Archipelago was abridged into one volume at the author's wish and with his full co-operation. '[The Gulag Archipelago] helped to bring down an empire. Its importance can hardly be exaggerated' Doris Lessing, Sunday Telegraph


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WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY JORDAN B. PETERSON 'Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece...The Gulag Archipelago helped create the world we live in today' Anne Applebaum THE OFFICIALLY APPROVED ABRIDGEMENT OF THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO VOLUMES I, II & III A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday WITH A NEW FOREWORD BY JORDAN B. PETERSON 'Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece...The Gulag Archipelago helped create the world we live in today' Anne Applebaum THE OFFICIALLY APPROVED ABRIDGEMENT OF THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO VOLUMES I, II & III A vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators but also of everyday heroism, The Gulag Archipelago is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's grand masterwork. Based on the testimony of some 200 survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile, it chronicles the story of those at the heart of the Soviet Union who opposed Stalin, and for whom the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair. A thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power, this edition of The Gulag Archipelago was abridged into one volume at the author's wish and with his full co-operation. '[The Gulag Archipelago] helped to bring down an empire. Its importance can hardly be exaggerated' Doris Lessing, Sunday Telegraph

30 review for The Gulag Archipelago

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Solzhenitsyn systematically goes through the horrors of the Soviet slave labour camps, one of the blackest chapters in world history. I read this book as a teenager, not long after it came out, and I was appalled that my parents had presented the Soviet Union as anything other than a monstrosity. For some reason, leftist people wouldn't properly admit it for a long time. I still can't quite understand why. If you feel any shadow of sympathy for Soviet Russia, read Solzhenitsyn and you will be cu Solzhenitsyn systematically goes through the horrors of the Soviet slave labour camps, one of the blackest chapters in world history. I read this book as a teenager, not long after it came out, and I was appalled that my parents had presented the Soviet Union as anything other than a monstrosity. For some reason, leftist people wouldn't properly admit it for a long time. I still can't quite understand why. If you feel any shadow of sympathy for Soviet Russia, read Solzhenitsyn and you will be cured. One of the first myths he explodes is that it was all Stalin's fault, and that Lenin was basically a good guy. Lenin just happened to die early, so it wasn't as obvious that he was equally to blame. Solzhenitsyn recounts a comparatively minor and unknown incident from the revolution, where Lenin brutally orders some railway workers to be executed for not fully cooperating with the Bolsheviks. As he comments: just for this one episode, Lenin fully deserved to be shot. He was responsible for dozens of much worse things.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I can not in clear conscience say that I really like a book about Soviet Gulags. To be honest, I repeatedly reached my limit of emotional energy. The story of any one of the 20 million people directly affected would have more impact. Oh, right. He tried that first, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. In a lot of ways, this a response to critics and deniers of his earlier book. I can not in clear conscience say that I really like a book about Soviet Gulags. To be honest, I repeatedly reached my limit of emotional energy. The story of any one of the 20 million people directly affected would have more impact. Oh, right. He tried that first, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. In a lot of ways, this a response to critics and deniers of his earlier book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I read this in 1974 in a bad situation in my life. This put "a bad situation" in America in a totally new light. I wish more Americans would listen and have listened to Solzhenitsyn. Update: I don't know how many of you have followed the...discussion that has been going on here but it inspired me to extend this review a little. The above is the original review in which I simply urged people to read the book for themselves as it has much to say and is applicable in many ways to events happening no I read this in 1974 in a bad situation in my life. This put "a bad situation" in America in a totally new light. I wish more Americans would listen and have listened to Solzhenitsyn. Update: I don't know how many of you have followed the...discussion that has been going on here but it inspired me to extend this review a little. The above is the original review in which I simply urged people to read the book for themselves as it has much to say and is applicable in many ways to events happening now. The book traces the history of the Soviet Gulag and then the willing "refusal to look" at the Gulag system (that went on till the '80s well after the book's publication). I still recommend this book I doubt anyone will have trouble seeing the resemblance between the Gulags and the Concentration Camps of the Third Reich...unless of course by willful ignorance. There has also been a suggestion that Solzhenitsyn was antisemitic. This apparently came from the controversy over his book Two Hundred Years Together where he says that "some" Jews were as much perpetrators as victims in Russia. I can't take a stand on this but so far as I can see it's not antisemitism it's simply part of the book. It was intended to be a comprehensive history of Jews in Russia. So far as THIS book goes I still recommend it and suggest as I do about all books that it be approached while thinking.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    I began ploughing through this book in the dreary and climacteric era of my workplace coming of age. A quickly-promoted amateur in a world of pros, I was fast falling out of my depth - and the deft irony of this book’s prose was no match for my witlessness. This book probably acted as one of its precipitants. Who knows? But, three years later, recuperating from the last of my fatal plummets, I met Fred. Fred was a disproportionately effusive returner of favours, like me. And, like me, he was bipo I began ploughing through this book in the dreary and climacteric era of my workplace coming of age. A quickly-promoted amateur in a world of pros, I was fast falling out of my depth - and the deft irony of this book’s prose was no match for my witlessness. This book probably acted as one of its precipitants. Who knows? But, three years later, recuperating from the last of my fatal plummets, I met Fred. Fred was a disproportionately effusive returner of favours, like me. And, like me, he was bipolar. So, working half-days then, I enlisted his help. Most of the guys bad-mouthed him, but I was by then a Christian, so avoided their game. In fact, I opened up to Fred, and confided to him that I needed to find something for my wife and asked him, a trained expert in such things, to help find it. He did more than that. Much more (and it was so typically beautiful of Fred)... He brought me in one of his spares from home and GAVE it to me. I was understandably floored. And my wife was delighted. Next morning, working from home, I spotted this book on our piano. Eureka! Fred - veteran as I was of tragic falls into his own gulags from official grace - would surely appreciate it. That afternoon when I arrived at work I placed it quietly on his desk. Was he fulsomely effusive in his thanks? Yep - you got it - just like I can be. (We’re like two overripe peas in a pod...) You know, guys: I never would have finished my weary slog through these prolix chapters anyway, at that soul-stretching time of drastic downsizing in our organization. And me in the state I was then. I had a job in hard economic times, and no matter how enervatingly demanding it got, I was HOLDING ON to it. But eleven years later - fully retired, though on a fraction of my income - wouldn’t I have loved, you’re saying, to restart this book THEN? You’re darned right, friends. Books are expensive. And inflation keeps shrinking my pension in real terms. But folks, wouldn’t YOU have done exactly the same... For a kid-at-heart like Fred, that day: To see his big face light up in garish gratitude like the Times Square Christmas Tree?!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mikey

    Given its historical importance, I fully expected that The Gulag Archipelago would be a lofty read. What I didn't expect was that it works so well as a story. Instead of being a straight history book, Gulag lies somewhere between journalism and history, and Solzhenitsyn's narrative voice is familiar and engaging. The book feels less like a history lesson, and more like a conversation with a good friend who knows how to put together and express an interesting, important, heartbreaking, and unforg Given its historical importance, I fully expected that The Gulag Archipelago would be a lofty read. What I didn't expect was that it works so well as a story. Instead of being a straight history book, Gulag lies somewhere between journalism and history, and Solzhenitsyn's narrative voice is familiar and engaging. The book feels less like a history lesson, and more like a conversation with a good friend who knows how to put together and express an interesting, important, heartbreaking, and unforgettable story. A narrative about the Soviet prison camps seems like it would be so weighty as to be unreadable, but Solzhenitsyn makes it surprisingly palatable. It's quite refreshing when you read a classic for the first time, and instantly understand where all the hype came from.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Veeral

    One of my all time favorites. One of the accounts from the book that still makes me laugh (you read that right, though I shouldn't really) is: A political meeting was going on with about 1000 - 2000 people present in the hall somewhere in USSR (I can't recall the exact location and time of the event). Now the desiderata for survival in Stalin era was that everyone should stand up and clap their hands furiously at the mention of his name, and you don't want to be the one to stop clapping first. Thi One of my all time favorites. One of the accounts from the book that still makes me laugh (you read that right, though I shouldn't really) is: A political meeting was going on with about 1000 - 2000 people present in the hall somewhere in USSR (I can't recall the exact location and time of the event). Now the desiderata for survival in Stalin era was that everyone should stand up and clap their hands furiously at the mention of his name, and you don't want to be the one to stop clapping first. This might suggest that you oppose Comrade Stalin (how dare you, O ye of feeble bourgeois mentality). So, at this assembly someone inevitably mentioned Stalin's name. Right at that exact moment the whole congregation stood up and began to clap without forgetting to put a beaming stupid smile on their faces. Now you can't be sure that if Cheka agents are watching you at that moment or not. And moreover, you cannot stop clapping before your neighbor does, as he/she might inform on you. So this went on for 8 minutes (I tried clapping for 10 seconds myself and came to the conclusion that you clap twice in a second if you are doing it with gusto - fake or genuine). So they battered their hands together for at least 900 times. After smashing their hands together until they began to hurt, the highest ranking local member of the Party at the meeting decided that this was getting ridiculous even by then Soviet Standards. He thought that 8 minutes of clapping and smiling was enough for showing their loyalty for a singular mention of Comrade Stalin's name. So he slowly stopped clapping and sat down. The congregation took no more than half a second to do likewise following his lead. Nobody spoke anything about the event in the concluding hours of the meeting. (But I am pretty much sure that everybody made certain that they didn't mention Stalin's name again for rest of the evening). Next day, the Party member was arrested and never heard from again. This book would have been comical if it would have been a work of fiction rather than non-fiction. But alas, that is not the case which makes it a sad sad collection of numerous accounts of human suffering under Soviet tyranny.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Max

    “Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: “You are under arrest.” So Solzhenitsyn’s journey into the gulag began in 1945 where he spent eight years. This is a personal history by a survivor of the false arrest, the long prison sentence, the brutal dehumanizing treatment that sends shivers up the spine. Solzhenitsyn also reports the experiences of many others. Each report is heartfelt. Solzhenitsyn changed history by once and for all underminin “Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: “You are under arrest.” So Solzhenitsyn’s journey into the gulag began in 1945 where he spent eight years. This is a personal history by a survivor of the false arrest, the long prison sentence, the brutal dehumanizing treatment that sends shivers up the spine. Solzhenitsyn also reports the experiences of many others. Each report is heartfelt. Solzhenitsyn changed history by once and for all undermining the mythical image of the Soviet Communist Party as a party for the workers. He convincingly exposed the brutality and hypocrisy of the Soviet system under Lenin, Stalin and after. It begins with the arrest for a few critical words, or having a friend who uttered them, or not turning in your friend, or just to fill a quota. Such is the job of the bluecaps, the SMERSH, the apparatchiks of the State Security system, the interrogators whose job it is to get confessions. Their job is not to determine guilt or innocence. That is irrelevant. Their instructions are clear. Stalin has enemies. You must deliver them. If you do the rewards are great. If you don’t you will be gone. This is how the gulags were filled. Perhaps most surprising is how effective the secrecy was. The average Soviet citizen knew people were watched and arrested or disappeared, but were ignorant of the scope. Many in the West were taken in by Soviet propaganda. While Stalin’s purges in the late thirties unsettled some admirers in the West, for others it took Solzhenitsyn to show them the true nature of Soviet society. For many, incarceration was automatic. All returning prisoners of war in WWII were sent to camps. Similarly Russians who for any reason spent time in the West were sent to camps. Anyone who performed any function under the German occupation was sent to camp. These millions were added to the millions of political prisoners from the great purges and routine surveillance. Solzhenitsyn describes the special camps, prisons, prison trains and the horrific penalty cells. Inmates were routinely crowded into small, dirty, vermin infested, unheated compartments and cells. For those that complained or attempted escape the penalty cells served up a wide variety of torture. In camps inmates lived in primitive huts or crowded barracks sleeping together in confined spaces. Many were not even allowed correspondence. These unfortunates could receive no news of loved ones nor could their loved ones know anything about them. Cut off completely from any prior life they ceased to exist to the outside world. Here inmates worked off their 10 or 25 year sentences if they lived that long and their sentences were not extended. Even if fortunate enough to eventually be released, they were sent with nothing but the rags on their backs to internal exile in some remote desert or tundra. Solzhenitsyn details the constant humiliations, the beatings, the tortures, the starvation diets of gruel and bread crusts. He describes the work, harsh and meaningless, hour after hour, day after day, without respite. Some camps intentionally worked the inmates to death. Other camps were designated to contribute to the five year plans, to dig canals, to lay train tracks. The inmates received nothing for this and the quality of the work reflected their motivation. This use of prisoners kept the quotas high for the State Security system. Solzhenitsyn tells us about the inmates. Typically dispirited, subject to a system designed to bring out the worst behavior – at times they support each other but all too often it is each person out for him or herself. He describes their captors, how they live off the system. Upon arrival they take any remaining inmates possessions and the best looking young women for private mistresses. Afterword they steal the inmate’s food and use their labor for their personal gain. Deprived of every dignity and every hope, some inmates finally come to acceptance and Solzhenitsyn describes its remarkable effect on the soul – a feeling of quietness, peace. In his seventh year of prison Solzhenitsyn experiences an epiphany. “looking back, I saw that for my whole conscious life I had not understood either myself or my strivings…In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel…And it was only when I lay there rotting on the prison straw that I sensed in myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil.” Thus Solzhenitsyn does not condemn the secret policeman, the interrogator, the camp guard as inherently evil. “If only it were so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.” - “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good…..Ideology - That is what gives evildoing its long sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.” - “Thanks to ideology the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing calculated on a scale in the millions” In our present time of rising populist nationalism, we should not forget Solzhenitsyn’s warning, “There is always this fallacious belief: ‘It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.’ Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.” “Yet, I have not given up all hope that human beings and nations may be able, in spite of all, to learn from the experience of other people without having to go through it personally.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    A bleak and unremittingly grim account of the gulags between 1918 and 1956, narrative history rather than Solzhenitsyn’s usual literary voice. There are occasional flashes of hope and redemption, but these are few. Solzhenitsyn provides a historical account reasoning through the state’s decision-making process and covering all the process of prison and exile from arrest to release (not so many reached release). There are detailed descriptions of the food, interrogations, torture, sanitary arrang A bleak and unremittingly grim account of the gulags between 1918 and 1956, narrative history rather than Solzhenitsyn’s usual literary voice. There are occasional flashes of hope and redemption, but these are few. Solzhenitsyn provides a historical account reasoning through the state’s decision-making process and covering all the process of prison and exile from arrest to release (not so many reached release). There are detailed descriptions of the food, interrogations, torture, sanitary arrangements, travel, weather, clothing, the guards, stool pigeons, the daily work, rebellions, hunger strikes, executions, cells, relationships between the sexes and exile. It is comprehensive and Solzhenitsyn does not spare the reader. He also outlines some of the policies which led to the gulags, the architects of them (primarily Lenin and Stalin) and provides some estimates of the death toll generally from the gulags, starvation and land clearance; figures are in the tens of millions all told. It is an indictment of what Lenin and Stalin made of Marx in the Russian situation and some of the logical inconsistencies in the system (you achieve the withering away of the state by making it bigger). The whole thing is a testament to the fortitude of the human spirit. There are occasional flashes of humour; the party meeting where no one wants to be the first to stop clapping and so it goes on for over 8 minutes springs to mind. The book is of historical importance; placing the origins of the gulag with Lenin rather than Stalin; he just exploited and perfected it. It is a must read and there isn’t a lot more to say. Anyone who wants to understand Soviet history has to read this.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    This is a wonderful book, but like many Russian authors, Solzhenitsyn goes on too long too often and all the excess verbiage takes away rather than adds to the enjoyment and understanding of the book. However this does not mean that some idiot librarian has the right to decide that all seven (I think it was 7) volumes of the book should be divided willy-nilly into just three volumes. So "The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV" has all sorts of vol This is a wonderful book, but like many Russian authors, Solzhenitsyn goes on too long too often and all the excess verbiage takes away rather than adds to the enjoyment and understanding of the book. However this does not mean that some idiot librarian has the right to decide that all seven (I think it was 7) volumes of the book should be divided willy-nilly into just three volumes. So "The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV" has all sorts of volumes combined in it, volume 2, volume 4 etc. WTF?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sweetwilliam

    I view people that cling to the tenets of communism the same way I view Holocaust deniers. From the Bolsheviks of 1917 to the turmoil in Venezuela of 2017; Communism is as Churchill said; the equal sharing of misery. The pages of Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize winning masterpiece are full of misery. Solzhenitsyn paints a picture for the naïve westerner of the backbone and main pillar of Soviet Socialism: The gulag. The purpose of the network of gulags in the Soviet Union is to 1. Intimidate the mass I view people that cling to the tenets of communism the same way I view Holocaust deniers. From the Bolsheviks of 1917 to the turmoil in Venezuela of 2017; Communism is as Churchill said; the equal sharing of misery. The pages of Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize winning masterpiece are full of misery. Solzhenitsyn paints a picture for the naïve westerner of the backbone and main pillar of Soviet Socialism: The gulag. The purpose of the network of gulags in the Soviet Union is to 1. Intimidate the masses so that they dwell in a constant state of fear and 2. To provide the nation state with an endless supply of slave labor. From the pages of this book you will learn that communism is probably the cruelest form of government in the history of humankind. Solzhenitsyn’s writing is first hand. He was imprisoned for 8 years after being accused of writing letters that were critical of Stalin. He wrote these letters while serving in the Red Army during WWII. Being able to tell his story and that of his fellow zeks(convicts) was the motivation used by Solzhenitsyn to survive a brutal prison system designed to systematically kill it's inhabitants. His writing style is angry and he uses sarcasm to describe the system of Soviet Gulags that make Tsarist Russia look like the Cub Scouts in comparison. It is not an easy read. One thing that makes it a difficult read is that that the author rambles on and repeats himself. Solzhenitsyn apologizes for this but he explains he was never able to proofread the manuscript. In fact, he never saw all of his notes in one place. He had written this book and hid it in pieces all over the Soviet Union. He was raided by the KGB while in the process of smuggling the pieces out of the country for publication. So please forgive the author if he repeats himself and makes a few errors. He wrote the book while living in a police state and didn’t have the luxury of being able to proofread it. THIS IS HOW YOU HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE SOVIET UNION!!! For this reason, make sure you select the abridged version. This book is full of horrific but interesting stories. Many are laughable if they weren't so cruel. The NKVD (the precursor to the KGB) would observe a mass meeting. Clapping would commence at the mere mention of comrade Stalin’s name. The ovation would last for 15 minutes or more. People applauding would quite literally pass out rather than be the first one to stop clapping. Finally, one of the factory general managers stopped clapping because, after all, this was ridiculous. There was an agenda to keep. After the gathering the factory manager was arrested. This was how the NKVD separated out the leaders. The Soviet Union only wanted sheep. Leaders were dangerous and sent to the gulag. There is another story about the man who was struggling carrying a mass produced bust of Stalin. The bust was too heavy and he had no way to carry it properly so he tied a rope around Stalin’s head and slung it over his shoulder. The man was given a 10 year sentence for terrorism. Still another man was given 10 years for draping his hat and coat on a bust of Lenin. There are endless stories about how the zeks (convicts) and the 58’s (political prisoners) were coerced into confessions and sentenced without a trial for political crimes they didn’t commit. When the suspect were charged with a crime it would be in code. When the citizen asked “what is code 58-[XYZ]” they were told by their interrogators “that is for us to know.” During interrogations, the arrested argued that they had fought against the Germans or fought in the Revolution and their interrogators would say that “that is another matter.” Please note that I did not use the term “suspects” because there were no suspects. If arrested, you were guilty. These were not isolated incidents. Solzhenitsyn said that almost every family had at least one family member or more incarcerated in one of the many islands of prisons throughout the Soviet Union. The zeks were fed a ration that could not sustain them when subjected to backbreaking labor. They were forced to work hard labor 7 days a week and often 16 hour days even if temperatures fell to -60˚F. The author tells of a canal built to the black sea where a quarter million zeks were killed in the process. Solzhenitsyn refused to compare the building of the canal to the building of the pyramids because, as he says, the difference was that the Egyptian slaves were at least given contemporary technology while the Soviets used only primitive technology! Trees were cleared by tying ropes to the tops of them and having gangs of zeks wiggle the tree until it could be toppled over. The canal was dug by pick and shovel and the frozen earth was carried away in wheel barrows or in a sack carried over the shoulder. People were dead from exhaustion, starvation, and by exposure and froze to death where they fell. The useless canal that ended the lives of so many was never even utilized. This and other things built by slave labor and managed by central government planning were most often inferior and shoddy. Solzhenitsyn argues that peasants of Tsarist Russia were far better off than peasants living under Soviet rule. He cites the outrages that led to revolution and uses statistics to demonstrate how these outrages pale in comparison to the modern Socialist State and the system of Gulags. The Russian peasants were far, far, far better off before Lenin and Stalin came along. Yes, the peasants were slaves prior to 1867 but they got Sundays off and several Christian Holidays off. There were far fewer political prisoners and capital punishment was relatively rare. Ironically, all of these things – abject slavery, political prisoners, and capital punishment – inspired the Revolution. Lenin – who had never pushed a wheelbarrow or worked a pick or shovel – thought it was a good thing for prisoners to work rather than sit idle. The gulag was his idea. Millions upon millions of the former peasants – some who had even fought in the revolution - were rounded up and convicted as political prisoners for such terrible crimes as “having a defeatist attitude.” Many were executed there on the spot but others were executed very slowly in the work gangs of the gulag. I found the following argument very interesting: Solzhenitsyn remarks about how West Germany had convicted former Nazis for war crimes and crimes against humanity. By 1966, West Germany had convicted 86,000 of them. He said that the Soviets loved to read about this in the paper. Each person would express glee each time a Nazi was sentenced. He said if the West Germans convicted 86,000 than the Soviet Union should proportionately convict 250,000. However, only 10 men total in the Soviet Union were ever convicted of crimes against citizens. Solzhenitsyn cries out in the pages of this book that the killers of millions of people walk among us every day. He said that when he brings this up, he is told that he shouldn’t dredge up the past. Solzhenitsyn contends that Soviet society needed the healing that it would provide when these men and women would repent and confess for their terrible sins for incarcerating, torturing, and murdering their own citizens. He argued that the Soviet Union needed this healing just like the Germans experienced. I could go on and on about the destruction of the Kulaks, political prisoners as young as 6-years old, a system of informants and stool pigeons, prison demonstrations and work stoppages that were settled under the tracks of T-34 tanks and strafing planes… but I have had enough. Communism disgusts me. Gulag Archipelago is a fifty year old book. But it is timely reading. Over 40% of millennials surveyed say that they would prefer a socialist form of government over capitalism. Inside Russia, I am told that the youth yearn for the old days. Closer to home, the local high school has allowed the children to start a communist club. Isn’t that nice? Imagine the outrage if the school allowed the students to start a Nazi club? Maybe all the world’s “useful idiots” (as Lenin used to call them) have need to read Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sean Blake

    "They have tightly bound my body, but my soul is beyond their power." Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago is probably the greatest and most disturbing account of human rights violations and political oppression. Now I look around me and see other people stress over nothing, and am disgusted by their egotistical self-centeredness.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amor Towles

    FIVE EXPANSIVE BOOKS SET IN CLOSE QUARTERS (#3) This summer, the Wall Street Journal asked me to pick five books I admired that were somehow reminiscent of A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. To that end, I wrote on five works in which the action is confined to a small space, but in which the reader somehow experiences the world. Here is #3: In 1945, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an officer of the Russian army and recipient of the Order of the Red Star, was arrested for including criticisms of Stalin in his personal FIVE EXPANSIVE BOOKS SET IN CLOSE QUARTERS (#3) This summer, the Wall Street Journal asked me to pick five books I admired that were somehow reminiscent of A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW. To that end, I wrote on five works in which the action is confined to a small space, but in which the reader somehow experiences the world. Here is #3: In 1945, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an officer of the Russian army and recipient of the Order of the Red Star, was arrested for including criticisms of Stalin in his personal letters. Having been interrogated in the Lubyanka, he was sentenced to eight years of hard labor and shuttled off to the remote and inhospitable wilds of his own country where, as he puts it, “the sooner you get used to being without your near and dear ones, and the sooner they get used to being without you, the better.” But faced with interment under unspeakable conditions, Solzhenitsyn makes an extraordinary choice: rather than succumb to bitterness and despair, he determines to pursue the richness of the human experience through conversations with his fellow inmates. Where are they from? Why were they arrested? What happened at their trial? Who did they leave behind? What do they miss? And what keeps them going now? Years later, the vast catalog of these interviews stored away safely in Solzhenitsyn’s memory became the basis for one of the most harrowing, inventive, and subversive works of the 20th century: the “experiment in literary investigation” he called The Gulag Archipelago. With every element of liberty, every sensation of color, every hint of festivity stolen from him, Solzhenitsyn uncovers the richness of the human experience and the resilience of the human spirit. Though you may never face incarceration, the author’s advice to the new prisoner is valid just the same: “Own only what you can always carry with you. Know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag… Look around—there are people around you. Maybe you will remember one of them all your life and later eat your heart out because you didn’t make use of the opportunity to ask him questions. And the less you talk, the more you’ll hear.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    I am surprised, no, shocked actually, at how perfectly constructed, researched and organized Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's 'The Gulag Archipelago' is. He methodically describes the entire scheme developed in the Soviet Union from being arrested to examination and conviction in a legal court of judges to transportation to the awful Siberian prisons. Stalin perfected this legal political police state in order to legally murder or enslave millions of Russian citizens, but he only continued what other I am surprised, no, shocked actually, at how perfectly constructed, researched and organized Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn's 'The Gulag Archipelago' is. He methodically describes the entire scheme developed in the Soviet Union from being arrested to examination and conviction in a legal court of judges to transportation to the awful Siberian prisons. Stalin perfected this legal political police state in order to legally murder or enslave millions of Russian citizens, but he only continued what others began. I have no doubts the Communist revolutionaries used communism as a front to develop a religious and sexual ecstasy (lots of nakedness involved - to break down pride in the victims - and do what to watchers, hmmmm), and as a legal tool to utterly destroy any independent brain cell in any human head resistant to religious ecstasies, like those in intelligent people. The novel '1984' 1984 is based on historical fact, gentle reader. The Soviet Union's history. This is a stomach-churning story of insanity and torture, gentle reader. Solzhenitsyn's scholarship cannot deaden the horror of a police state. Unlike the Nazis, the Communist revolutionaries passed laws which were totally bonkers. This was done in order to ensnare ANYONE who actually expressed any sort of opposition, or who might be thinking in the future of opposing, or maybe they simply cross their legs looking like they oppose the revolutionaries. These insane laws fed victims into an assembly line of institutionalized slavery madness by Stalin and his government. Perhaps the communists were trying to literally create metalic robots from living flesh through torture and starvation. Survivors were certain to be broken mentally after the systemic methodologies the revolutionaries developed to make human brains incapable of all thought. Honestly, if the revolutionaries and Stalin really wanted to only transform people into the type of citizen they wanted, they should have driven spikes into the eyes of their entire population. It works. Lobotomy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobotomy Instead, I think they WANTED to keep their people busy in the daily work of torture and killing. What, I can hear you say, that is crazy! Yes, gentle reader, I agree. Yet it happened and was sustained by a human government and an entire country of compliant citizens. The Soviet Union later invaded all of eastern Europe and influenced many countries all over the world to change their governments into similar police states the Soviets had perfected. It is a mistake to blame the political theory of communism for this, gentle reader, in my humble opinion. This is male genetics gone wild. These are men given license to act on those impulses to make war on their fellows and control other people's bodies through violence. In 'The Gulag Archipelago' it was a Communist government. This madness has also been expressed by: -the Catholic Church https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisi..., -America's Red Scares https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sca... and Salem witch trials https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_w..., -Idi Amin's Uganda https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idi_Amin, -Cambodia's Khmer Rouge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khmer_R..., -China's Cultural Revolution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultura... -North Korea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_K... and many many many many many other instances of human history, too numerous to list. Truly. Too numerous to list. Think about it. The insanity of these systemic institutionalized regimes of terror is clear to see. The mistake you might be making every day, gentle reader, is to assume this stuff could never happen again. It will happen again. It will. I strongly recommend reading 'The Gulag Archipelago' at least once in your life. At minimum, read '1984', a shorter fictional read which nonetheless mirrors the reality of many many many instances of human history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    what Solzhenitsyn and Orwell knew..... “Nothing makes with greater certainty the earth into a hell, than man’s wanting to make it his heaven.” -Friedrich Hölderlin =========== new article: the author who brought down an empire... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/11/op... a story from Solzhenitsyn's opus... The audience exploded into applause. Every person in the room jumped up and began to wildly clap, as if racing each other to see who could get to their feet the fastest. The applause was all to honor what Solzhenitsyn and Orwell knew..... “Nothing makes with greater certainty the earth into a hell, than man’s wanting to make it his heaven.” -Friedrich Hölderlin =========== new article: the author who brought down an empire... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/11/op... a story from Solzhenitsyn's opus... The audience exploded into applause. Every person in the room jumped up and began to wildly clap, as if racing each other to see who could get to their feet the fastest. The applause was all to honor the dictator Joseph Stalin at a 1937 conference of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. But the big question soon became: Who would have the nerve to be the first person to stop clapping in honor of Comrade Stalin? No one had the courage, so the clapping went on…and on…and on. You might be wondering why in the world anyone would be afraid to stop clapping for any leader. To understand this, you need to know Joseph Stalin. Stalin was a ruthless dictator who ruled the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1952. Although no one knows the precise number of political prisoners he executed, estimates usually reach well over a million. Historian Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev estimated that Stalin had about 1 million political prisoners executed during the Great Terror of 1937-38 alone. That doesn’t even count the 6 or 7 million who died in the famine that Stalin created through his policies, or the millions who had to do long, hard sentences in the Gulag labor camps. So when people were afraid to stop clapping for Stalin, they had good reason. Here is how the Nobel Prize-winning writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn described the surreal scene in his great book, The Gulag Archipelago: “The applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly…Nine minutes! Ten!…Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers.” At last, after eleven minutes of non-stop clapping, the director of a paper factory finally decided enough was enough. He stopped clapping and sat down—a miracle! “To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down,” Solzhenitsyn says. That same night, the director of the paper factory was arrested and sent to prison for ten years. Authorities came up with some official reason for his sentence, but during his interrogation, he was told: “Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding!”

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    An eye-opening book, the first one that showed me what gulags were...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    One of the most monumental accounts of one of the cruellest ideologies of history,this book should be read by all Layer by layer Solzhenitsyn exposes the hideous system of imprisonment ,death and torture that he refers to as the 'Gulag Archipelago' He strips away that the misconception of the good Tsar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs and exposes how it was Lenin and his henchmen who put into place the brutal totalitarianism , which would be inherited and continued by Stalin In fact the only thing One of the most monumental accounts of one of the cruellest ideologies of history,this book should be read by all Layer by layer Solzhenitsyn exposes the hideous system of imprisonment ,death and torture that he refers to as the 'Gulag Archipelago' He strips away that the misconception of the good Tsar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs and exposes how it was Lenin and his henchmen who put into place the brutal totalitarianism , which would be inherited and continued by Stalin In fact the only thing that Stalin really did differently was to introduce a more personalised ,Imperial style of rule but otherwise carried on the evil work of Lenin It was Lenin who imprisoned the Cadets (Constitutional Democrats) , Mensheviks,Social Democrats,Social Revolutionaries Anarchists and independent intelligentsia and had many killed In this way he completely destroyed all opposition to Bolshevik hegemony Under Lenin the persecution started of anybody convicted of religious activity and the complete destruction of the church in Russia And it was Lenin who began the genocide of whole ethnic groups that would later gain momentum under Stalin Under the Communist system all that is spiritual or not purely material in nature is destroyed.And we discover what a horror Marx's idea of 'dialectic materialism ' really is But I cannot describe the horrors which Solzhenitsyn outlines in this book :the hideous torutres,the slave markets selling of young women into sexual slavery Solzhenitsyn describes how the prison system of the Tsarist system was compassionate by comparison but the mild abuses of Tsarist imprisonment where reacted to with a shrill outcry that never greeted the horrors of Bolshevism and Communism As he says in his ever present biting sarcasm "Its just not fashionable,just not fashionable And even today,even after the fall of Communism in Europe (though its iron grip remains strong in parts of Asia,Africa and in Cuba) its still not regarded as fashionable to highlight the horrors of Comm

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Farebrother

    What can be said about this book (or books, it comes in three volumes) that hasn't already been said? As well as the inside story of Stalin's prison camp system, it's practically the author's autobiography, he spent so long in there (eight years, for criticising Stalin in a letter to a friend while fighting in the battle of Berlin) or campaigning against the system as a result of his experiences. The vastness of his work reflects the scale of the prison system, through which I've heard say up to What can be said about this book (or books, it comes in three volumes) that hasn't already been said? As well as the inside story of Stalin's prison camp system, it's practically the author's autobiography, he spent so long in there (eight years, for criticising Stalin in a letter to a friend while fighting in the battle of Berlin) or campaigning against the system as a result of his experiences. The vastness of his work reflects the scale of the prison system, through which I've heard say up to a third of the Soviet population passed at one time or another. The story details the tough regime he had to endure himself, as well as anecdotes about other prisoners he did time with, and rumours about even tougher regimes, up in the Arctic circle, from whence few returned. But he did come out of it alive (as did 81% of convicts, I've heard), and so some of his allegations, such as that the purpose of the camp system was extermination, are exaggerated. Nor should it be forgotten that the US imprisons dissidents. An important historical and social document, that few people will actually read because of its sheer size.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Owen

    The Gulag Archipelago was one of the most potent and touching books I have ever read. I laughed so I wouldn't cry. And on a roadway construction site at age 20, no less. I always list it any time someone asks for my favorite books, and it narrowly edges Homage to Catalonia for my favorite piece of non-fiction. It encompasses the absolute worst of human nature, the inconceivable tragedy of an intra-national genocide (for "security") on a greater scale than even the Holocaust, yet Solzhenitsyn is The Gulag Archipelago was one of the most potent and touching books I have ever read. I laughed so I wouldn't cry. And on a roadway construction site at age 20, no less. I always list it any time someone asks for my favorite books, and it narrowly edges Homage to Catalonia for my favorite piece of non-fiction. It encompasses the absolute worst of human nature, the inconceivable tragedy of an intra-national genocide (for "security") on a greater scale than even the Holocaust, yet Solzhenitsyn is never self-pitying or hesitant, and always funny. The sarcasm drips right through the decades and the translation; you never know whether to laugh or cry, because you desperately want to do both. Indeed, Solzhenitsyn's pity seems to be reserved for the monsters responsible, the interrogators who traded away their souls for faked confessions, police forced to meet their quotas of political prisoners block by block (literally), and the citizens who informed or fabricated information to save their lives and their family. Stalin is never a mastermind or genius- he is just a cruel thug with too much power. Solzhenitsyn stood against this all, wrote warmly and with great humanity. and, for his troubles, he was banished for twenty years, (after his original prison term, and subsequent masterpiece) It warms my heart that Solzhenitsyn lived a long life- I can think of few who deserved it more. God Bless him. ("Tenner" sentences usually ran to however long they wanted to keep you, which was pretty much when you worked yourself to death in the Siberian work camps. I recall Solzhenitsyn's sentence running to 17 years, but I read the book a while ago, I just read online it was 8, perhaps it was his pen pal, the one he got put away with. The two of them exchanged letters with (by his own admission) thinly-veiled references to Stalin. The letters were exchanged along the front lines, and all the mail was being read, of course, so they were sent to the Gulag. The concept of licking the frost off your prison door to stay alive since they didn't bother to feed you tells you all you need to know about the human will to survive)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    I was primarily drove to this book as a result of my interest in the Soviet Union and in the misfortunes of actual communism. But I think that the right way to see this book is through its spiritual insights. The experience in camp had a deep impact in Solzhenitsyn. I believe that nobody can pass for such experience and don't be affected in some way. The discussion of this topic, in particular, is done in the chapters 1 ("Ascent") and 2 ("Or Corruption?") from the part IV of the book ("The Soul I was primarily drove to this book as a result of my interest in the Soviet Union and in the misfortunes of actual communism. But I think that the right way to see this book is through its spiritual insights. The experience in camp had a deep impact in Solzhenitsyn. I believe that nobody can pass for such experience and don't be affected in some way. The discussion of this topic, in particular, is done in the chapters 1 ("Ascent") and 2 ("Or Corruption?") from the part IV of the book ("The Soul and the Barbed Ware"). These two chapters are my favorite in the book and I recommend to anyone who doesn't want to read the whole book but has an interest in a deep and insightful discussion about human nature, suffering, and religion.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Undeniable as an important historical text—now, do you need to read important historical texts? That depends: what's your PhD on? As long as you know, like, The Soviet Union had a fuckton of labour camps. They treated workers/prisoners very poorly and tortured them in imaginative ways. Nobody even bothered to prosecute the bastards that did it, stating that it would be "digging up history." An incredible, unfathomably disgusting and cruel era in history. How many have to die to prove that communi Undeniable as an important historical text—now, do you need to read important historical texts? That depends: what's your PhD on? As long as you know, like, The Soviet Union had a fuckton of labour camps. They treated workers/prisoners very poorly and tortured them in imaginative ways. Nobody even bothered to prosecute the bastards that did it, stating that it would be "digging up history." An incredible, unfathomably disgusting and cruel era in history. How many have to die to prove that communism just doesn't work? MORE than 100 MILLION? Yeah, take your one crappy life and multiply it more than you can be bothered counting! BAM! FUCK communism. I cite Solzhenitsyn as proof. There's your takeaway, and it's been taken away from this, so, you're good. You don't have to read this. There's some solid Wikipediage on it. The chapter about arrests was interesting in that it was borderline farcical how they trapped people. Here to buy your morning bacon again sir? I'm not a butcher! Arrested! Hey, let's go out on a date! Good sir, take us to—JAIL! Arrested! You asleep yet? Arrested! But then it breaks down my above statement. And if you'd like I can give you some more detailed answers. Where were the camps? Literally everywhere. What were the officers like? Bastards. Did they get them to the camps humanely? Nah. Did they sentence them fairly for crimes they actually did? Nope. How did they get confessions out of prisoners? Freely volunteered, or...? Tortured. How did they torture them? In nice ways? No. How did the prisoners react to these tortures? Surely not ADVersely? PROVersely, right?? Buddy, I got awful news for ya... I mean, you assumed, right? I'm too conditioned, I believe, to what constitutes, in this age, writing that is of a quality and readability deemed acceptable for the layman's eye to graze its textuality—that is to say, good writing. All these Russian longueurs, and commas, and sentences—why, yes! Sentences, I say, replete with multitudinous exclamation points, for Solzhenitsyn's was an undeniably hyperbolic ordeal!—that take a very long time—quite an age, I would wager! And in these times we move ever faster!—to reveal, indeed, what they are even about! And how important does each exclamation become when each page is littered with them? Why, very not important indeed! Hold your breath, Reader, for here comes another long sentence! I could start my own Wikipedia, right? Call it Worthafuckia? Solid "Maybe" in this case ;)

  22. 4 out of 5

    George

    Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is an important, powerful book. If you are interested in 20th Century history or interested in the future of humanity - this book is required reading. Although this book played a significant role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, its primary importance is the message it proclaims to the present and to the future. Its message transcends time and place: It reveals the weakness of human character and the strength of the human spirit. It demonstrate Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is an important, powerful book. If you are interested in 20th Century history or interested in the future of humanity - this book is required reading. Although this book played a significant role in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, its primary importance is the message it proclaims to the present and to the future. Its message transcends time and place: It reveals the weakness of human character and the strength of the human spirit. It demonstrates the dangers of powerful government, the fragileness of individual freedom, and the never-ending battle between them. This book is a masterpiece. It is at once despairing and optimistic, tragedy and comedy. This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. At times I was saddened by human cruelty. At other times I was amazed by acts of courage and determination. And at other times I simply laughed out loud. This is the kind of book that forces you to look into your own heart and to think about how you can become a force for good in your world - at least it did that for me. I'll conclude with a quote from Volume Two: "The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." Note: I think many people would benefit from reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Solzhenitsyn's short 1962 novel) before reading Gulag Archipelago. I listened to the unabridged Blackstone Audio version (Release Date: 08-30-2011) narrated by: Frederick Davidson.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    It's been awhile since I read this one but I don't think I read an abridged version at the time. I just can't remember what version I did read. It had just been published in the US. Solzhenitsyn was a fantastic writer and he went through so much. I highly recommend this book and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It's been awhile since I read this one but I don't think I read an abridged version at the time. I just can't remember what version I did read. It had just been published in the US. Solzhenitsyn was a fantastic writer and he went through so much. I highly recommend this book and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

  24. 5 out of 5

    ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️

    A chilling account of life in the Gulag. And one that should be read by everyone.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    An emotional ride as Solzhenitsyn charts the history of the Gulags, then goes through a sequence of retelling his and others experiences in pre-arrest mode, initial arrest and interrogation, sentencing, travelling to the camp, the various camps, escapes and revolts, release and exile and a review of what was happening in the mid-60s. How anyone survived this mad world amazes me. The author was flabbergasted himself as to some of the ridiculous ways his country treated his countrymen. Frightening An emotional ride as Solzhenitsyn charts the history of the Gulags, then goes through a sequence of retelling his and others experiences in pre-arrest mode, initial arrest and interrogation, sentencing, travelling to the camp, the various camps, escapes and revolts, release and exile and a review of what was happening in the mid-60s. How anyone survived this mad world amazes me. The author was flabbergasted himself as to some of the ridiculous ways his country treated his countrymen. Frightening behaviour of the Western countries also. No one comes out of this well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    I

    (execrable) Anti communist fanfiction by the friend of Apartheid and Franco. Even Mrs. A.S. was surprised at the purchase of Solzhy's regurgitations. Everyone's a critic I suppose. http://www.idcommunism.com/2018/01/gu... (execrable) Anti communist fanfiction by the friend of Apartheid and Franco. Even Mrs. A.S. was surprised at the purchase of Solzhy's regurgitations. Everyone's a critic I suppose. http://www.idcommunism.com/2018/01/gu...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Navessa

    I can't really think of much to say about this book other than to encourage you to read it. It will open your eyes and then blow your mind.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Camilla

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was arrested for criticizing Stalin in a private letter and punished for 'Anti-Soviet Agitation' in accordance with the article 58:10 Soviet criminal code and sent to the Gulags 1945-1953. It’s worth noting that Stalin died in 1953 This book is a treasure, a collection of testimonies that was almost silenced forever. The book contains multiple life stories intertwined with Solzhenitsyns and the over-arch of the stalinist period is ever present. Solzhenitsyn guid Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) was arrested for criticizing Stalin in a private letter and punished for 'Anti-Soviet Agitation' in accordance with the article 58:10 Soviet criminal code and sent to the Gulags 1945-1953. It’s worth noting that Stalin died in 1953 This book is a treasure, a collection of testimonies that was almost silenced forever. The book contains multiple life stories intertwined with Solzhenitsyns and the over-arch of the stalinist period is ever present. Solzhenitsyn guides you very gently and patiently through the history and workings of the camps, the laws and punishments, atrocities committed and the release from camp. Despite the pain Solzhenitsyn faced he revisits all that which he can remember, and it’s a lot! I’m allured by this considering the lack of food, destructiveness of labour and the torture that he endured…How could his mind stay somewhat unscathed and intact enough to memorize anything?! I couldn’t help but look for clues about this as I was reading, and he actually tells me about it!…Well firstly he was born with a heart light not heavy, and early on as a Zek in the Gulags he kept himself busy by 'writing' this book. His inquisitor nature made use of the precious moments he had with people to gather testimonies of arrests, escapes, the life of female zeks, the ’kids’ and the life of a poet in the archipelago.. and he memorized it. He took particular care to the names and facial features of his fellow inmates. But one face he cannot remember.. which is the face of his interrogator and tormentor when he was first arrested. Despite standing face to face with the man for hours on end, his features are blurred and vanished forever. Solzhenitsyn ultimately bears the burden of transforming this collective trauma, which he is not separate from, into this piece of persecuted literature (as he refer to this book himself). He writes for about 9 years and finishes the book during his time in exile, all the while not sure if he would be able to finish it or if he would be ’interrupted’. He was awarded the Alfred Nobel Price in Literature in 1970. /Camilla

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This will be a somewhat complex review because I am going to intertwine comments on Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago with the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I'm reading The Gulag Archipelago right now and have just returned from a discussion of the dissolution of the Soviet Union conducted by five genuine experts: Former U.S. ambassadors and students of Soviet Affairs Tom Pickering, Mark Palmer and Arthur Hartman and veteran journalists Marvin Kalb and Ted Koppel. Let This will be a somewhat complex review because I am going to intertwine comments on Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago with the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. I'm reading The Gulag Archipelago right now and have just returned from a discussion of the dissolution of the Soviet Union conducted by five genuine experts: Former U.S. ambassadors and students of Soviet Affairs Tom Pickering, Mark Palmer and Arthur Hartman and veteran journalists Marvin Kalb and Ted Koppel. Let me put it this way: The Gulag Archipelago is the clear prelude to and explanation of why the USSR crumbled as it did. It is a detailed, almost novelistic account of industrialized terror that began in 1918 and extended right through Stalin's death in 1953. Solzhenitsyn lets the incidents, episodes, tactics, and horrors speak for themselves with the power of a locomotive. He is dry, brutally honest, and a faithful witness to sadism beyond comprehension. the fact that he can go on and on underscores his veracity. He couldn't have made these things up. This was paranoid Russia executing itself over a period of decades, drawing Russians into the machinery of imprisonment, stamping out the most trivial forms of rebellion against the system, and yielding agonies that are something like black humor--at least in Solzhenhitsyn's hands. I won't get into a comparison of the Holocaust with Stalinism. I'll just note that millions upon millions of Russians (and other nationalities living within the USSR's sphere of control) died under Stalinism while trapped in the continental-scale Gulag...or en route to it. As a writer, Solzhenitsyn, who suffered horribly within the Gulag, is relentless, sardonic, sarcastic, and merciless towards the USSR's jailers. Comparable writing shows up in some of William Manchester's books, some of Norman Mailer's books, and only a few others: it never lets up, there's always another miserable feature of the torment to document. How, you ask yourself, could Solzhenitsyn have had the personal strength, indeed power, to survive to tell the tale, and many other tales? If you are interested in this kind of writing, or Russia, or the USSR, or the general issue of inhumanity underpinned by genocidal cunning, then The Gulag Archipelago is an indispensable book. Now, to today's discussion: Vladimir Putin just having had himself reelected, was the demise of the USSR for naught? Most of the panelists struck notes of hope, focusing on Putin's surprisingly narrow margin of victory. There seemed to be a rough consensus that social media, a globalized younger generation, and Russia's economic strength (build on oil and gas reserves) may slowly...slowly...bring about a post-Putin era wherein an autocrat does not rule Russia. But there were two dissents. Ambassador Hartman related a wonderful story about preparing to go to the USSR in the mid-1980s and first consulting with the sage of Soviet affairs, George Kennan. Implicitly disavowing the wisdom of his own writing, Kennan told Hartman to forget what had been written about Russia in the last 50 years. Instead, he advised Hartman to go back to the memoirs of Russians in the early part of the 1800s. There he would find the core of Russia's self-doubt and need for domination from within. So Hartman did not join the others on the panel (Koppel was pretty skeptical, too) in thinking fair thoughts about Russia's future. He said there wasn't a general liberalism afoot in Russia; people who were making money just wanted to be left alone; people who weren't making money just wanted to make money; everyone wanted certainty in power. A young Russian then stood up and said he agreed 100% with what Kennan had told Hartman and what Hartman said now. The magnitude of Solzhehnitsyn's Gulag Archipelago adds weight to these dissenting views. The issue isn't entirely "soul," but something persists through centuries of snow that seeks complete control over a disparate populace, and that populace knows itself and its history better than we in the West know it. So should we continue to work hard to make nuclear superpower Russia less dangerous, even though the Cold War is over and the USSR dissolved twenty years ago? The answer, all agreed, is yes.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katya Mills

    Get a vivid picture of the work camp life in Siberia from a great author who was sent there and subjected to horrors most people could not survive. Solzhenitsyn's triumph over his bitter and cruel life circumstance gave him a second lease on life, as he made he way to New England and lived out the remainder of his life in respectable fashion, known the world over and cherished for his spirit and writings. The story and history of Russia and Russian literature cannot be whole without mentioning t Get a vivid picture of the work camp life in Siberia from a great author who was sent there and subjected to horrors most people could not survive. Solzhenitsyn's triumph over his bitter and cruel life circumstance gave him a second lease on life, as he made he way to New England and lived out the remainder of his life in respectable fashion, known the world over and cherished for his spirit and writings. The story and history of Russia and Russian literature cannot be whole without mentioning the tragedy of the hundreds of thousands of intellectuals, activists, artists, citizens, and poets who were 'disappeared' by an authoritarian regime. This resounding text, The Gulag Archipelago, is a must read to round out the picture - the reality - and honor those who suffered and never made it home. Solzhenitsyn lived to tell, and became not only author but historian. Hopefully after reading this work, you will become excited (as I was) to locate the many other great works of his contemporaries. There is a treasure chest of art, poetry and literature. Brilliant lives, abbreviated and extinguished. One quality will surely be enhanced by reading Solzhenitsyn: a deeper appreciation for the great freedoms of speech and expression!

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