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The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1: An Experiment in Literary Investigation Reissue Edition
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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!
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.
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!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book on what happens when you remove the metaphysical subsystems that define our civilizationPublished 10 days ago by colin reily
Im still trying to figure out which books Amazon prints. This was one of them. I'm not a fan. I liked the content though.Published 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
A long and sometimes difficult book, but great insight into politics and history of Communist Russia by an eyewitness to the events.Published 17 days ago by Pratchett Fan
A great read. Solzhenitsyn tells what communism really is like , from an insiders point of view.Published 1 month ago by Donald R. Johnson
My family lived in a communist state. I relate a lot to this book, and read the 4 volumes.
You don't understand freedom and how fragile it is until you understand how an... Read more