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The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1: An Experiment in Literary Investigation Reissue Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 265 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061253713
ISBN-10: 0061253715
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reissue edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061253715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061253713
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By George Coppedge on January 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
"The line between good and evil runs through the heart of every human being."

This abridged edition of Solzhenitsyn's hauntingly intimate portrait of his own arrest, interrogation, imprisonment, rebellion, and eventual release during Stalin's purges is a book like no other. This book, written by a constantly watched and persecuted dissident - bent but not broken by the brutality of Stalinist work camps, shares the author's (and his other inmates') personal experiences falling into this dark, usually fatal, abyss. Solzhenitsyn's original work was published in 1971 and produced an absolutely damning indictment of communism in Russia. Indeed, the stunning quality and importance of his writing earned him a Nobel prize.

Besides his own experiences, Solzhenitsyn collected personal stories from hundreds of his fellow inmates. The sadism of interrogators, the cruelty of guards, the indifference of neighbors, the paranoia of the public, the betrayal of stoolies, and the true comradery of innocent inmates are presented in vivid, factual detail. In addition to this, the author also presents an encyclopeadic knowledge of the entirety of the gigantic Stalinist security apparatus (normal labor camps, special labor camps, transfer camps, railroad transfers, prisons, holding cells, interrogation cells, NKVD, SMERSH, commissars, exile communities, and still more).

But at the heart of it all, the book remains an unforgettable journey through man-made hell. Stalin meant to destroy every man, woman, and child arrested, regardless of their innocence, and he largely succeeded. But survivors like Solzhenitsyn did truly 'tear down the wall' and made this world a far better place to live in. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For any who have any nostalgia for the Soviet Union, this book should put it to rest. This book is hard to categorize; it is more than one man's opinion, but less than an objective history. It is, as Solzhenitsyn puts it, "an experiment in literary investigation": a combination memoir and dissertation on the evils of Communism and its inevitable product, the forced labor camp. Some have criticized Solzhenitsyn as an anti-Communist/pro-Western polemicist, but that is not an accurate description. He is a realist, showing not only the faults of Communists, but also those of the West and Western leaders. This should be required reading for European and world history classes. Volume 1 (of 3) describes the arrest and interrogation procedures, as well as life in the Gulag.
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Format: Paperback
How thin is the veil we call Civilization!! This book is indeed a tedious read by virtue of its length. However, Solzhenitsyn's history is written with the prosaic style of a Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Captain in the Soviet Army as it charged through Nazi occupied Poland when he was arrested on trumped-up charges in February 1945. Thus began his odyssey through Gulag, "the country within a country". The perpetually weak economy of Communism could not survive without the forced labor of millions of is own citizens who became prisoners for one reason or another, or no reason at all. Solzhenitsyn relates his own experiences as well as those of other prisoners with whom he became acquainted while incarcerated. He relates how ordinary Russians were arrested and charged with fraudulent charges (if charged at all), interrogated, tortured and forced to confess under extreme duress, and sent off to labor for the good of the Motherland.
Throughout the book, Solzhenitsyn asks the reader incredulously, "how did we let this happen?" That is no doubt one of the most important questions posed in all of human history. If we study history in order to prevent the repetition of our mistakes, then Solzhenitsyn's work should be required reading of all residents of Planet Earth.
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Format: Hardcover
Gulag Archipelago is the award winning expose that shocked the world with its revelations about the true nature of life in the, "worker's paradise," a.k.a, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) The author, a once dedicated Communist himself, shows how millions of Soviet citizens were arrested, tortured into "confessing" various "crimes against the state" and imprisoned for long periods to satisfy Josef Stalin's paranoia concerning the threat posed by his "enemies" both real and imagined. His personal experience forms the basis for this saga, perhaps, the saddest of all time.

Solzhenitsyn takes the reader through the arrest and brutal interrogation process that broke the strongest of men. He then carries them with him in grossly overcrowded "Stolypin" prison rail cars and prison ships called "Black Maria's" into transit camps where prisoners were deprived of almost all the basic necessities of life. God help the attractive, female prisoner sentenced to ride in either!

At the transit camps prisoners are fed only "gruel" which often had to be eaten by hand as no eating utensils were provided. The strongest men ate well. The weak starved. A trip to the latrine was the highlight of ones day! Almost unbelievable is the fact, the worst was yet to come.

Life in the camps was unbearably hard. Prisoners performed back-breaking labor including digging canals and logging forests by hand in sub-zero temperatures wearing only summer weight clothing. Their "crimes:" One man got a tenner (i.e. a ten year prison sentence) for being the first to stop applauding after a Stalin speech. Others included being a Priest/Nun who refused to renounce his/her faith. A third was being female and telling a State Security Officer, "No!
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