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Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life Paperback – Jan 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312198264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312198268
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 14.5 x 4.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,621,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I must confess I only read this because I am a great fan of DM Thomas, but what an inspirational choice he was to put together a biography of Solzhenitsyn. His knowledge of Russia and the intense relationship between Russian literature and Russian history is self-evident, and he brings an extra dimension of literary class and poetry to what could otherwise be the sometimes staid work of plotting a person's life. Solzhenitsyn's life however was far from mundane, and as others have said his experiences really mirror the tragic story of 20th century Russia right through from the Revolution, through the 2nd World War and then into the horrors and absurdities of communism. Thomas uses his psychological insights to great effect to paint a vivid portrait of a complex and at times exasperating man, but it is his brilliant illumination of how Solzhenitsyn's experiences were linked to the bigger picture of Russian history that lingers in the memory. Even if you haven't read any Solzhenitsyn this will still enthrall, and it has made me determined to read the masterpieces (esp the Gulag Archipelago) that I haven't got to yet (I've only read Denisovich and Cancer Ward). Great book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Solzhenitsyn and Russia Come Vividly Alive 9 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
D.M. Thomas does a masterful job in showing the world a great writer, a great Russian, and a, oh so human, man. I was not left with a bad taste for Sanya or his writings. On the contrary, I am now even more an admirerer of the great man "Alexander Solzhenitsyn". Mr. Thomas is most fair in his criticism of Sanya's life and mistakes. He does not try and glorify or vilify the man. He has put together a story that moves the heart in all directions. You feel distaste for Sanya's character, then sorry for him, then you rise to the glorious heights of his literary endeavors. Mr. Thomas makes Solzhenitsyn very human and, I believe, prophetic. I am an admirerer of Solzhenitsyn and after reading this book my devotion to his truths are firmer. The book is long, but, I believe, readable. Much more than just one writer is eloquently portrayed and satisfactorily explained as to their importance to Russian literature. If you are interested in just how important men like Alexander Solzhenitsyn are to Russian literature and the world at large then this is a must read book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Thomas hits the mark... 4 Oct 2000
By Caz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you're a student or fan of the Russian poet/novelist, then this book is a must-read. It is a superb critical biography of the man who is a giant in the literary world. The book enlightens the reader on Solzhenitsyn's life and politics, in his timeless as well as his contemporary significance.
As is the subject of being written about, this is a giant read - 559 pages in hardcover edition. This is not only a finely wrought literary biography but also a chronicle of twentieth-century Russian history.
Thomas was masterful in his research, ferreting out the myriad substance that forms the great Russian author/writer. A rich and rewarding read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Shockingly Beautiful Biography of a Powerful Man! 27 Jun 2003
By Christiana Washington - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book touched me in ways I had not anticipated! The author brings Solzhenitsyn's life to the lay man in easy-to-understand terminology and fascinating facts. I could not put this very thick book down; from the moment I got it I was enthralled. The rich characters and cultural reflections given in this book are enough to make any Russian history buff salivate! I was inspired and truly blessed by this amazing biography.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant work 10 Mar 1998
By Jon D. Katz - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Can't say enough about this book. The subject's life is truly epic, spanning the Russian Revolution, World War II and the cold war. Thomas is right when he says that if you judge a writer by how he affects history, Solzhenitsyn is the greatest writer of our century. Plus his life is riveting. I loved this biography as much as any I've read since Robert Caro's wonderful LBJ Volume One. It's neat to have a novelist doing a biography too, as that seems to add a dimension here. Anyway, this is a brilliant work about a riveting subject. Can't say enough about it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A finely crafted work of art 30 May 2001
By "petersonreviews" - Published on
Format: Paperback
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's life began in 1918, near the start of a thirty-six-year bloodbath in which the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and its leaders, Lenin and Stalin, murdered more than sixty million people.
They committed most of their murders in out of the way places, in islands of secrecy. They buried the details beneath a petrified forest of lies.
Often, the murder victims themselves did not know that they were being murdered. They just knew that they were cold, tired, sick and starving. Then they died.
Little toads from the west, among them New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty, French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and many others, hopped through the petrified forest and said it was a paradise.
Meanwhile, Lenin and, after him, Stalin gradually bled Russia nearly to death. It was a butcher bill so horrific that today, if the victims of Communist Party of the Soviet Union had lived to have children, there would be 300 million Russians alive. Instead, there are 150 million.
Following his arrest in 1945, Alexander Solzhenitsyn gradually became the chief excavator of truth about this butchery.
His "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," which describes a day in the life of one of Stalin's prisoners, sped the collapse of the Soviet Union. His "Gulag Archipelago," which describes the Soviet Communist Party's vast network of death camps, left Stalin's western colleagues and admirers nowhere to hide.
In his finely crafted biography, "Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in His Life," D.M Thomas, the English poet and novelist, unveils the personality and work habits which made it possible for Solzhenitsyn to write his story.
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