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Book Overview

The Russian Nobelist's major work, back in print for the centenary of World War I and the Russian Revolution In his monumental narrative of the outbreak of the First World War and the ill-fated... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

I really liked it. . . A Great Book

August 1914Alexander SolzhenitsynI remember when my son was little. He would bring me August 1914 and ask me to read it to him. There were no pictures in this book, but he knew that it was a book that I loved. So we would lie on his bed and as I opened the book and read to him about a world he could only discover in a book. Solzhenitsyn is one of my hero?s, a moral voice speaking against the tyranny of Soviet repression. This book about the battle of Tennenberg in August 1914 is not only a brilliant historical novel, but also a critique of the forces that lead to the October Revolution in Russia. Let?s talk about the story, before we continue the review.The story is about the entrance of Imperial Russia into World War I. War is declared and Russia in its hurry to honor its commitments to France, invades Prussia. Its army under the leadership of General Samsonov is unprepared for war and Russia suffers a humiliating defeat as the army is surrounded and destroyed. The story is told through the eyes of a Colonel Vorotyntsey who alone sees the coming disaster and vainly tries to avert it. It is a story of an Army that did not understand modern warfare. Samsonov, a cavalry officer, is used to sitting on his horse and viewing the battlefield; this battlefield, however, stretches for hundreds of miles. Communication is non-existent; supplies are scarce. The Germans, however, understood the new technology and were able to listen in on all the Russian communications. Samsonov makes one blunder after another; he is out classed and doesnt know what to do. With his army collapsing around him, he is lost. Lost in a forest, he ends his life with a bullet as he and his staff are attempting to escape the encirclement.It is a wonderfully written book. One can hear the hoof beats of the charging cavalry, see the sabers glistening in the sun, sense the terror of the soldiers huddle in their trenches as thousands of shells fall around them and smell the cordite as it drifts across the fields. But Solzhenitsyn?s purpose is more than giving us a history of a battle fought long ago, we wants to expose the corruption of a Czarist Russia that lead to an even greater corruption of the Soviet System. This is a novel about truth and the attempt to conceal it. The old Czarist regime and the Soviet one that followed could only survive by the suppression and the corruption of the truth. No wonder that this book was banned in the Soviet Union.It is a great book; I have read it at least a half dozen times over the years.

20th Century Tolstoy explains 20th Century Russia

August 1914 is a historical novel examining the causes for the decline of 19th Century aristocratic Russia to a 20th Century Russia of Socialist experimentation. Solzhenitsyn (AS) picks up his 20th Century analysis of Russia where Tolstoy left off his 19th Century point of view. This is a powerful novel displaying history, as it defines its causality. It grapples with the character of the Russian who is about to face revolutionary change which will deliver the country and its people from an agrarian peasant society to an industrialist monstrous social catastrophe. AS examines how and why Russia went socialist. For students of the French Revolution, August 1914 is another manifestation of how that earlier revolution influenced and occurred in Russia. For students interested in the transition of a culture from 19th Century behavior and values to extreme expiramental 20th political practices, this book is mandatory. August 1914 best demonstrates Henry Adams' forecast that the 19th century mode of life would change radically in the 20th century. AS' dynamo is a war, a romantic urge and a people who are ready for change and have the temperment to change as they did. This is truly an absorbing book and an important book to anyone interested in the influence of Russia in the 20th century. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in Russian history. In fact, it is a great place to start for anyone who is beginning a survey of Russia of history.

A window into Russia's heart of darkness

Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn's ("A.S.") August 1914: The Red Wheel paints a marvelous portrait of Russia at the crossroads of the 20th century. By way of background, I read David Remnick's Resurrection about Russia's post -USSR struggles. Remnick writes a beautiful chapter on A.S., his life, his exile, Western Europe and the U.S. intelligentsia's dismissive treatment of him, and his return to Russia. Reminick's extraordinary discourse on A.S. is the perfect prelude to this work because it allows the reader to view the work with a greater respect for the man and his vision. The work itself is compelling in its own right. Some have suggested that it would be helpful to have some background knowledge of the events leading up to W.W. I, the revolutionary ferment enveloping Russia between 1901 and 1917, and the "players' involved in that process. Fair enough comment, but not essential. The reader should not be scared off from this work merely because he/she does not consider themselves particularly knwoledgeable aout Russia. A.S.'s descriptions of the Battle of Tannenburg, the life and times of Stolypin and Bogrov, his assassin ,make for both beautiful writing and a deeper understanding of the events the made the October revolution a foregone conclusion. Finally, A.S.'s focus on the disastrous Battle of Tannenburg sheds great light on a critical battle that has not been more than cursorily examined by eminent historians such as Maritin Gilbert or even Winston Curchill in his classic World Crisis. My sole disappontment was with A.S.'s use of what may be called the 'camera-eye' or multi-media type inserts. It seemed stale compared to its breathtaking freshness when used by Dos Pasos in his U.S.A.. trilogy. It also seemed to detract from the beauty and flow of the writing itself. (Looking back, Dos Pasos didn't suffer from the distraction.) The reader with any interest in Russia, world history, military history, or just plain good literature should seriously consider reading this work.

Ten times better than the original August 1914

If you have the original August 1914, you'll want to sell it to a used book store and use the money to buy this version. The original pales in comparision to Solzhenitsyn's complete effort in the revised version. The new version displays all of Solzhenitsyn's mastery of language and description, while the original was choppy and incomplete. Using Solzhenitsyn's screen directions, the original was in black and white, and the revised version is in living color. This book clearly qualifies Solzhenitsyn for Tolstoy status.
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