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Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    A survivor of one of history's worst terrors tells his tale.

    Accredited with helping create the avalanche that caused the ultimate downfall of Soviet communism with his bold and revealing publication, Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn brings the horrors of the Stalinist regime to readers everywhere with his own testimony of his life in the Soviet corrective labor camps of the last century. Beginning with that fateful day of his arrest when his life changed forever, Solzhenitsyn brings the reader into the hell known as the Gulag and describes in detail the stages of torture and interrogation, transition and encampment, and the hard labor and life in forced servitude and unimaginable destitution suffered by millions of innocents like him, arrested for the pettiest of fancied offenses perceived by the ever-paranoid and intolerant Soviet State. With the help of eyewitness accounts of those who lived through it, the author discloses to the West the brutal methods employed in the name of 'reeducation' of their own citizens: the widespread arrest of free persons throughout the cities creating an epidemic of fear and paranoia, and entire towns dragged from their homes in the cold dark and relocated to the wilderness to die of starvation; harsh sentences given to children as young as six, and these learned the corrupt life of the thief and gangster in the survival-of-the-fittest world of the death camps; hard construction labor in the freezing tundra, all done by hand with little or no tools and twelve-hour work days with no rest and severe malnourishment, a deplorable condition in which millions died, either on site or in the grossly overcrowded prisons. He also brings to light one of the hidden secrets of World War 2: the forced return of Soviet soldiers and displaced families back into the tyrannical Bolshevik regime they had desperately sought asylum from, turned away from freedom at gunpoint by allied forces in Europe, and here is one of the greatest sorrows of all. The heroes that saved the Fatherland from the Third Reich returned not to a hero's welcome but were shackled in chains for fear that they harbored anti-Soviet sentiments, an injustice of egregious proportions. Ex-POWs were not freed but found themselves returned to incarceration by their own country. While the West applauded the fall of Hiterism and all its terrors, a regime that was far worse both in numbers killed and in duration was occurring just over the border - indeed a genocide of the country's own backbone - seemingly beyond concern or even belief of the allies and the civilized world which turned a blind eye to it. Here, the atrocities which far outweighed any other in the history of the country are documented, in small part. The author splashes the icy cold water of truth on the ignorant and oftentimes delusional West, with its progressive thinkers, in a grand indictment of one of the greatest miscalculations of the human spirit, a twisted and imparted social experiment in a misguided attempt at a greatness guised as a utopian fantasy, a system conceived by the indolent and well-fed who desire power on the backs of the ones who provide it, only to crush them mercilessly in the end, a failed and atheist theory which contradicts every aspect of existence, known as - COMMUNISM.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2003

    Excellent!

    Solhenitsyn's language can be at times perplexing and his mannerisms range from cryptic to outright vulgar, but there is no better account of the horrors of opression than this book. This massive 'book' (seven volumes in all-whoo!) deals not only with Sozhenitsyn's personal experience but the experience of a whole slew of other '58's' (people arrested under Section 58 of the criminal code) that he meets along the way. Overall a very good, if complex, read that will keep your mind occupied far long after you turn the final page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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