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Paperback The Gulag Archipelago Three Book

ISBN: 0060803967

ISBN13: 9780060803964

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"BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE 20TH CENTURY." --TimeVolume 3 of the Nobel Prize winner's towering masterpiece: Solzhenitsyn's moving account of resistance within the Soviet labor camps and his own... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

The Gulag Archipelago: A Couragous Gift

This book is a beutiful piece of literature and history. It was also written while on the run from the most devastating goverment in existence. The book is much more intresting to read, literature wise, than most academic works. The truth of the horrible soviet conditions in the gulag and the horrible and equally evil denial of the west that these things happened. This is a book that should be read in many places, at least in Russia, and for anyone else who truly wants to understand human life and the history of humanity.

this book changed my life

It is a marvel to flip through this book again, though the abridged version is nothing compared to the original 3-volume trilogy. Though it is very difficult to get into - in the original v1 there is a long abstract section on gulags as a sewage system in turbid prose - once the reader gets swept into thos narrative of suffering there is no other reading experience like it. Solzhenitsyn spent his youth as a gulag prisoner for having criticized Stalin on a postcard. V1 covers his arrest and interrogation and transport into despair and disillusionment. What he experienced, from his start as a strong and idealistic young war leader, can only be described as hell on earth. Only Hitler's death factories could compare, and yet Stalin's slave labor camps were being held up as marvels of social policy and redemption. The cruelty of treatment, the insights into the astonishing characters around him, and the compilation of other people's stories - Solzhenitsyn describes his experience as only one gulp from an ocean of bitterness and shattered lives - are unequalled in the modern literature on totalitarianism. My experience was to be utterly transported into this realm, to look at my life and values and think about what mattered most to develop within myself. No other book ever had a deeper impact on me. That makes this, in my opinion, essential reading to understand the last century at its very very worst.The second volume follows Solzhenitsyn as he becomes a hardened and grief-stricken prison slave, indifferent to whether he is killed by a stray bullet during riots and abandoning his faith in communism. A central pert of the book is his religious conversion - the only one I ever read about that I truly understood on an emotional level - at the deathbed of perhaps his greatest freind. V3 covers his relesase from prison and his attempts to rebuild his life. All three volumes offered to me the experience of living totally outside of myself and in the reality of a totalitarian state. I first read these in EUrope when they appeared, and the debates on the merits of the communist sytem were very much alive at the time. Now they are only of historical interest, but I still think they are must reading for anyone who wants to understand the worst of one of the most tumultuous centuries in the history of mankind.Highest recommendation.

Not a novel, an indictment

The point can't be made forcefully enough: this book is *not* a novel! It is not even literature, in any meaningful sense. It is a 2,000 page indictment for crimes against humanity. Chief among the accused is of course Stalin who, if justice exists, is currently serving 60 million consecutive life sentences in Hell. But as Solzhenitsyn abundantly documents, the Gulag death-camps were part of Lenin's vision from the very beginning. (In January 1918, he stated his ambition of "purging the land of all kinds of harmful insects", in which group he included "workers malingering at their work".) But it is not only the architects of Bolshevism who stand accused. It is also all the collaborators with oppression, from the camp guards who summarily executed prisoners too exhausted to stand to the people who informed on their neighbors. Complicit even are the passive victims of the Terror who, as Solzhenitsyn says, "didn't love freedom enough" to fight for it from the beginning.Needless to say, "The Gulag Archipelago" is not beach reading. (Although Solzhenitsyn's searingly sarcastic style makes it anything but a dry collection of facts.) The evil that it obsessively documents is so dark that even reading about it is often difficult to bear. But anyone with pretentions of understanding the world we live in needs to go through it from first page to last.But if you aren't willing to make the effort, here's the lesson boiled down for you: Totalitarianism doesn't begin with a Stalin or a Hitler. It begins with *you*, on the day that you let a government become more powerful than the people it governs. Remember that or someday it might not be the Russians or the Jews or the Serbs that the men with guns come for. It just might be you...

Someone has to tell the truth

This is probably as significant a book as has been published in the 20th century. Not because it changed the course of history or influenced a huge number of people. It did neither of these things. The history it deals with was already long passed and its size and severity kept it from being read by a mass audience. Still, it is significant because it tells a story that otherwise could not have been told. The full extent of what happened during the half century of Soviet rule to millions of Soviet citizens is the focus of this book and Solzhenitsyn's narrative, often numbing in the regularity of repeated cycles of arrests, 'trials', and imprisonment, seems to be his effort at repaying those who perished - at insuring that they are remembered and that those who subjected them to lives of torture are remembered for what they did.Solzhenitsyn is a true hero of the 20th century. A military officer of the Soviet Union during WWII, he was imprisoned for writing a letter that included a joke about Stalin. During his time in prison he met numerous others who had been in different camps - different places and different types - and started piecing together in his mind the full scale of the vast Gulag enterprise which eventually consumed more of his contrymen than the total count of those of all countries who died in WWII. That the size and scope of this mass internment was kept virtually a secret to most of the world (and to most Russians)for so long is only part of the horror to which Solzhenitzyn is responding.From his first book, A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovitch, a small volumn about a single day in the life of a typical Gulag prisoner - smuggled out of Russia and published in the West - he has devoted his life to various tellings of his country's recent history. Most of it to do with the Gulag. This isn't pleasant stuff. It isn't tight fiction like Darkness At Noon. This is the real stuff with no prettifying. He feels that someone had to tell the truth. We owe it to him to listen.
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