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Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0520221529 ISBN-10: 0520221524 Edition: New edition

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Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag + War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (Critical Issues in World and International History) + Survival In Auschwitz
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New edition edition (September 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520221524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520221529
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"An enthralling record of often dreadful experiences in what Solzhenitsyn has called 'the pole of cold and cruelty' of Stalin's labor camp system: a saga of human endurance."—Robert Conquest

"An extraordinary story of human brutality, human kindness, and human ability to survive under the most inhuman conditions imaginable. It should demonstrate to anyone who still entertains illusions about Soviet Communism how closely it resembled Nazism."—Richard Pipes

"Beneath the layers of history and the ideological divisions, Man Is Wolf to Man is a glorious testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and a celebration of the tragic improvisations which are sometimes required to save a human life. After several generations, J. Bardach has opened another window into the tragic world first explored by A. Koestler in Darkness at Noon. This is a worthy and affirmative book."—James A. McPherson

"Being spellbound by Dr. Bardach's vivid and richly detailed recollections, you become a fellow companion of a Jewish youth from Poland in his head-spinning odyssey across eight time-zones eastward with the Kolyma gold mines as the final destination. Through Bardach's experiences, one understands the feelings of countless other victims of history who found themselves between a rock and a hard place, as the relentless and senseless forces drove them from the Nazi gas chambers into the killing fields of Communism."—Vassily Aksyonov

About the Author

Janusz Bardach is a world-renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He lives in Iowa City with his family. Kathleen Gleeson is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program and also lives in Iowa City. Adam Hochschild is the author of King Leopold's Ghost.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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His story is riveting.
SK
He never spoke of this personal nightmare to his trainees, but reading this book helped me understand him so much better.
WineGuy
I read this book without putting it down.
Lori Tull

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By SK on January 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I grew up in Iowa City around the corner from Dr. Bardach. I delivered his newspaper when I was a kid and used to see him and his wife at local tennis clubs. That's all I knew about him-until I was 30 and my parents were reading his book. When they told me what it was about, I was stunned! I couldn't put the book down. His story is riveting. How on earth does a Polish Jew in WWII go from a hard labor camp in Siberia to being a renowned surgeon at a large teaching hospital in the middle of Iowa? It puts life into perspective and will remind you that anything is possible. Dr. Bardach truly lived the American dream.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Cashew Son on January 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of those rare non-fiction books reading more like a gripping novel that's hard to put down. As with most books, it's best if you save the foreword for last. The second chapter is one of the most depressing accounts that you'll ever come across, but it's worth sticking with the story to the end.
The writing and translation is absolutely impeccable. I felt like I personally experienced each of the author's highs and lows in the Gulag as they were related. This is a rare look inside the system that swallowed up so many of the best and brightest people.
It is too bad that Hollywood is so obsessed with the dozen or so screenwriters who lost their jobs in 1950's America to the anti-communist investigations because any one of the many films devoted to their plight would have been better served by profiling just a single member of the millions who perished in the Soviet Gulag.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Blah on November 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is the most daunting first hand account of the Gulag that I have read. Voices from the Gulag and Through the Whirlwind are also well-written accounts. Man is Wolf caputures the brutal experience with power and eloquence. From a literary standpoint it is a simple read but from a human perspective it is devastating. I had to stop reading on anumber of occasions to keep from being in enveloped by the horror of the book. This book will change your perspective on human nature, WWII and Eastern Europe.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ancient_Fossil on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extraordinary book for several reasons. It torments us with calm descriptions of terrible events, challenges us metaphysically by covertly asking how we might retain our own dignity in the same instances, and still manages to leave us a sense of hope and encouragement that someone could have survived such depravities and remain a sensate human.
Americans have never really appreciated the horrors visited upon the Soviet people by Lenin and completed by Stalin and Beria. Is twenty million dead an accurate number? How about thirty? The numbers are impossible for the mind to register. Dr. Bardach brings one of these experiences vividly into the reader's frame of references. I wondered several times during my reading, with an awful feeling of foreboding terror, whether it could ever happen here.
Dr. Bardack's book is more than simply shocking. I am perfectly convinced that the author, by simple use of understatement, refrained from amplifying his personal set of horrors. His use of contrasting descriptions of beautiful scenes while on route-beaches, forests, mountain steppes-forces us to carefully reassess how men of reason could generate such hostility.
This book is not light reading, yet it is difficult to put down. The writing style is excellent and is a pleasure-if one can describe terror as "pleasure." It is a forceful commentary, an unique historical document, and Dr. Bardach should be congratulated for his willingness to relive and present it to us.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "rtnsilver" on October 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is devastating in its depictions of the gulag's horrors, the bizarre and fascinating societal elements of the gulag, and the courage of its survivors. Bardach endured hell and then converted his experiences into a work worthy of deep contemplation. Although I read his account about a year ago, certain passages are still extraordinarily vivid in my mind -- an effect that few books can deliver. Bardach's memoir compelled me to read more gulag literature. I rank his remarkable contribution ahead of Ginzburg's Journey Into the Whirlwind and behind only Varlam Shalamov's amazing Kolyma Tales.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Soviet history on October 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read "Man is Wolf to Man" three years ago, and it haunts me to this day. I had read many accounts of WWII Europe, the Holocaust, and the Gulag, but none so acutely personal and sensitively written as Bardach's. Currently I'm reading "When God Looked the Other Way" by Wesley Adamczyk, a narrative of Polish deportees to the Soviet Union told from a similarly youthful perspective. Historians, soldiers, politicians, and students should place these books at the top of their reading list.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grey Wolffe VINE VOICE on June 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
The most important thing that I gained by reading Janusz Bardach's book is that the will to survive is as important as food when it come to survival. More times that he imagined, he survived because he felt that he would, like he had a special angel or just more "good luck" than other people. It doesn't matter if it's true, it only matters that you believe it.

Luck is also helped by brashness and the will to succeed. His story about becoming a medical assistant, though he had absolutely no formal training, reminds me of Solsenitsyn's tale of how he survived the Gulag by lying about having training as a nuclear engineer. It's the ability to adapt that keeps you alive. Goebbels said that if you told a big enough lie enough times, people would begin to believe it. The only way to survive in the Gulag was to lie to yourself and everyone else.

Since so many of the NKVD were corrupt and brutal, the only way to survive in there world was to also appear to be corrupt. Stalin sent so many of the NKVD and those who worked for them to prison, that they were well cared for by their ex-comrades, because they knew they had a good chance of joining them. Who could survive better in a criminal state within a state then a criminal?

This is a story of hope without all the 'hearts and flowers'. It just the true story of what went on, warts and all (lots of warts).
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