- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue, Abridged edition (August 7, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061253804
- ISBN-13: 978-0061253805
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 410 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Gulag Archipelago Abridged: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (P.S.) Paperback – Abridged, August 7, 2007
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“Best Nonfiction Book of the Twentieth Century” (Time magazine)
“The greatest and most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever leveled in modern times.” (George F. Kennan)
“It is impossible to name a book that had a greater effect on the political and moral consciousness of the late twentieth century.” (David Remnick, The New Yorker)
“Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece. ... The Gulag Archipelago helped create the world we live in today.” (Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag: A History, from the foreword)
From the Back Cover
Solzhenitsyn's gripping epic masterpiece, the searing record of four decades of Soviet terror and oppression, in one abridged volume, authorized by the author
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Obviously, this book (in hardcover form with the notes) is essential reading-- everyone who is able should invest the time to absorb this important, very moving, stereotype-shattering, great/classic work of non-fiction. According to Wikipedia, since 2009 this book (in Russian) has been required reading by Russian high school students (in Russia).
A few quotes:
"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. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and sometimes it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various circumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn't change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil. Socrates taught us: Know thyself! Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way things worked out that they were the executioners and we weren't.”
“Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations. Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed.”
“There is a simple truth which one can learn only through suffering: in war not victories are blessed but defeats. Governments need victories and the people need defeats. Victory gives rise to the desire for more victories. But after a defeat it is freedom that men desire—and usually attain. A people needs defeat just as an individual needs suffering and misfortune: they compel the deepening of the inner life and generate a spiritual upsurge."
This is not true. This version, the red-covered Volume 1 of the Gulag Archipelago DOES have authors notes, and lots of them. However, the abridged version which is by the same publisher and has a similar cover to this book, does not have author's notes obviously. Just clearing up this confusion. This Volume 1 does have the original author's notes.
Solzhenitsyn calls the book "An Experiment in Literary Investigation", and there really isn't a better way to refer to it. Due to the lack of available documentation Solzhenitsyn was forced to piece all of this information together from official soviet propaganda, books which had been banned that he was able to get his hands on, and the personal account of many, many people.
The second aspect of the book, and perhaps the more powerful one is the Book's analysis of the nature of humanity. IT is difficult to summarize this aspect, but the ideas contained herein deserve consideration.
Please read this book, if you read it seriously it may give you insights into human nature that you need.