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Gulag : A History Paperback – Bargain Price, April 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The work is both massive and comprehensive, dealing not only with the ways in which the Gulag came into existence and then thrived under the active sponsorship of Lenin and Stalin, but also with a plethora of aspects of life within the Gulag, ranging from its laws, customs, folklore, and morality on the one hand to its slang, sexual mores, and cuisine on the other. She looks at the prisoners themselves and how they interacted with each other to the relationships between the prisoners and the many sorts of guards and jailers that kept them imprisoned. For what forced the Gulag into becoming a more or less permanent fixture within the Soviet system was its value economically in producing goods and services that were marketable both within the larger Soviet economy as well as in international trade. As it does in China today, forced labor within the Gulag for the Soviets represented a key element in expanding markets for Soviet-made goods ranging from lamps to those prototypically Russian fur hats.Read more ›
As it happened, however, the documents were not destroyed; they remained locked away in files and archives. Nor did Solzhenitsyn foresee the coming of Mikhail Gorbachev and the advent of glasnost, his policy of openness, much less the unfettered availability of Gulag information and the flood of memoirs by camp survivors.
It was an American Sovietologist-turned-journalist, Anne Applebaum, now a Washington Post columnist, who embraced the unexpected opportunity to undertake this vast and daunting project from which whole universities of ordinary researchers might have slunk away in dismay.
Lenin himself, the founding father of Russian communism, established the first 84 camps of the Soviet Gulag almost immediately after the Russian Revolution, basing their design on tsarist precedents. Lenin's successor, Josef Stalin, presided over the Gulag's development into the far-reaching "archipelago" of which Solzhenitsyn wrote.
Transport to the camps was no less nightmarish in many cases than the camps themselves. Prisoners en route to distant camps are said to have frozen to death even before they were loaded into the cattle cars, where they would sometimes remain crowded together for more than a month. Memoirs tell of trains being stopped to take off corpses, which were thrown into ditches.
The struggle for survival was part of daily life in the camps, the struggle for bits of food, edible but often revolting, and for enough water to sustain life.Read more ›
Why is this book so important? Because while dignitaries and heads of state visit Auschwitz, no one is visiting Vorkuta, Norlisk, Kolyma and other camps. Putin probably did not tell his esteemed visitors that St. Petersburg was built with bones and rests on bones. Russia has forgotten the past. Russia is ignoring the past. Russia wants the past to go away. Why else is there no official mourning or remembrances? No one mourns for the Gulag innocents in the West. Other than the survivors, no one cares about them in Russia. The author brings this up as an example that the Russia has not learned from its past. "...if we really knew what Stalin did to the Chechens, and if we felt that it was a terrible crime against the Chechen nation, it is not only Vladimir Putnin who would be unable to sit back and watch with any equanimity" page 575.
If the topic of this book were not so serious, then most of what happened sounds like the "theatre of the absurd." For example, the camp administration was "supposed" to take good care of the prisoners. For the camps were an "economic" asset to the State. However, the author points out that there was no incentive, for the most part, to make sure inmates did not die. There was an "official" written policy. Then there was what really happened.
I hope I am still alive, if and when the rest of the Gulag archives are opened. I am sending this book to Latvia.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is truly a monumental piece of scholasticism. Applebaum writes with remarkable clarity, and convincingly extrapolates both quantitative data and intimate personal stories that... Read morePublished 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
I had already read various books about the Russian prison system, BUT this book just blows me totally away. The Things that went on in the camps was enough to make me sick! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
An excellent compendium of the various individual accounts that have been published. She puts them together in a single narrative that seems very thorough. Read morePublished 4 months ago by E. Elaine Sutherland
Your knowledge of 20th century Russia isn't complete unless you understand the place that the Gulag had in the Soviet Union. Read morePublished 5 months ago by David Burch
This is a tremendous study. Very well written and incorporating the latest research, Applebaum's "GULAG" is the best modern source of information on the subject. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mark
Excellent reference in studying Russian history during the Stalin era.Published 7 months ago by Judy Walker
I couldn't get past her belief in the fake Holocaust and the gassing of Jews. This much is clear to me. Not one Jew died in a gas chamber in Hitler's Germany. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Daniel