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Journey into the Whirlwind Paperback – November 4, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


In 1989, the Sovremmenik Theatre in Moscow brought Eugenia Ginzburg's autobiography to the stage for the first time. When the curtain came down an emotional audience rose up and applauded for twenty-four minutes. The tragedy of an entire nation had finally been dramatized in one woman's poignant account. 1937, the year that Eugenia Ginzburg was arrested and falsely charged as a Trotskyist terrorist counterrevolutionary, was only the beginning of Stalin's purges. Nearly six million people were arrested on trumped up charges, and millions were executed or perished in prisons and camps. Eugenia Ginzburg, an historian and loyal Communist Party member, chronicles her own terrifying arrest, interrogation, and eighteen-year imprisonment. She speaks with brutal honesty; her ability to recount the minutes and hours of her internment is surpassed only by her extraordinary will to survive. These memoirs are important for those who wish to understand Russian history and for anyone who has ever wondered how they might survive in a maelstrom, facing constant betrayals, overwhelming physical hardship, agonizing loneliness, and a longing for the past. Eugenia Ginzburg shows us "how thin the line is between high principles and blinkered intolerance" and yet she emerges from these pages as a compassionate woman with the "conviction that dignity and honor are not just empty words." -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Rebecca Sullivan

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027519
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #187,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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This book is a must read for all those interested in the history and the character of mankind.
This book is the fascinating memoir of Eugenia Semyonova Ginsburg, who lived through the reign of terror that was unleashed by Stalin from 1937 onwards.
This book really tells about human nature and the strength of the human spirit to endure, without being preachy at all.
Kasey M. Moctezuma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on February 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Humanity of men and women is inversely proportional to their Numbers. A Crowd is no more human than an Avalanche or a Whirlwind. A rabble of men and women stands lower in the scale of moral and intellectual being than a herd of Swine or of Jackals." So wrote Aldous Huxley. Evgenia (Eugenia) Ginzburg's Journey Into the Whirlwind is a powerful memoir of one woman's descent, along with hundreds of thousands of others, to the rabble of men and women that were arrested, brutally interrogated and send to the Gulag in the Soviet Union during the great purges of the 1930s.

Sergei Kirov's assassination in 1934 provided one of the pretexts for the great Soviet purges of the 1930s. The purges and great show trials began in earnest in 1937. Eugenia Ginzburg was a loyal party member, a teacher, and the editor of her local newspaper in Kazan, about 500 miles southeast of Moscow. When she first heard of the mass arrests and imprisonments of loyal party members she was astonished that criminal elements had made their way into her party. This astonishment increased when she (and her husband) was arrested. As with thousands of other victims, Ginzburg was taken to jail, subjected to repeated interrogations and, over the course of the next year or so, traveled from prison to prison where the process of interrogation and mistreatment was continued. Ginzburg's memoirs in this volume continue through this initial imprisonment and her eventual transfer in cattle cars and a cargo ship to the frozen wasteland of Siberia. The second volume covers her years in exile, her Siberian reunion with her sole remaining son Vasily Aksyonov (a tremendous writer in his own right), and her eventual `rehabilitation'.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Anna Netchitailova on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read this book many years ago in Russian, and now I wanted my husband, who doesn't speak Russian, to read it too. Nobody would be able to describe how upset I was when I actually received the book and found out that this was only the first part of it. Having looked through your site I realized that there is no second part sold here,and I am wondering who took the liberty of deciding how much of the original book is acceptable for the English speaking public to read.Can somebody enlighten me on that? This book is too precious to be cut!I'd rather think that it would be better not to sell it at all, then to offer a cut version of a misterpiece.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By mwreview on January 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
In her work Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg gives a personal account of the first three years of her eighteen-year ordeal during the Stalin purges of the 1930s. Teacher and editor of the Communist paper "Red Tartary," Ginzburg was accused of being a Trotskyist counter-revolutionary by a colleague and was thrown in jail, interrogated, dragged from prison to prison, kept in solitary confinement, and finally sent to a labor camp in the Siberian taiga. Ginzburg's position reveals the fact that party members (especially of high rank) were the first victims of the purges. Also, her past camaraderie with such people as the daughter of the notorious Soviet jurist Andrey Vyshinsky allows Ginzburg to offer the reader information about the important players of the purges that other victims may not have been able to provide.
Politically, it must be noted that this is not an anti-Communist book. The author remained loyal to her party. If anything, this book reveals how very strong party loyalties were to the men and women who were victimized as "enemies of the people." Throughout the book, Ginzburg refers to her cell mates by their party affiliation. Old party rivalries even persisted in the prisons. Communists often refused to believe that their government was arresting loyal party members and would never question the "conspirator" accounts in the Soviet newspapers. Ginzburg's husband, for example, remarked after seeing such a report: "Have you heard? Petrov has turned out to be an enemy of the people! How cunning he must have been to get away with it for so long." Out of this loyalty to the party came a loyalty to Stalin.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Julee Rudolf VINE VOICE on September 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Eugenia "Genie" Semyonovna Ginzburg spent seventeen years in the Soviet prison system, escaping death, unlike millions of others. She never again saw her husband after being imprisoned. The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn, Man is Wolf to Man by Bardach, Kolyma Tales by Shalamov and Journey into the Whirlwind all include overlapping and similar information, but differ in format and style (although hers is most similar to Man is Wolf to Man in its telling). Her memoir of life in the Gulag is one of few written by women and so provides a unique and interesting perspective. All are fantastic books, well-written, often unbelievable and mesmerizing, but there is a noticeable difference between the multi-volume The Gulag Archipelago and Journey into the Whirlwind (seemingly short at just over 400 pages).

Genie is first brought in for questioning in 1934. With her young children in the other room and her husband away on business, she takes the call. Her beliefs at that time are such that she would willingly die for the party. Soon thereafter, she is incarcerated at Black Lake and is eventually sentenced to ten years of solitary confinement for not denouncing a coworker who had written an article offensive to the party.

During her interrogation sessions, in which she repeatedly refuses to "denounce" that is, lie, about the activities of acquaintances facing the same fate, she comes face to face with people who she thought were friends, but who have willingly denounced her in hopes of receiving special treatment, or lighter sentences. She herself never caves.
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