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Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956, Parts I-VII Paperback – Abridged, Jun 1985


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Paperback, Abridged, Jun 1985
£36.14 £3.51


Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; Abridged edition (Jun 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060912804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060912802
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,652,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


Product Description

Amazon Review

"Its importance can hardly be exaggerated," said Doris Lessing. "It helped to bring down an empire." For those who doubt that literature can change the world, here is evidence to the contrary. Solzhenitsyn's scorching, brilliant, part-autobiographical expose of the dreary oppressiveness and institutionalised cruelty of the Soviet regime, really did contribute to the final collapse of the Union in 1989. It also exposed how, if Hitler had the deaths of well over 6 million on his hands, the figure for Stalin might be nearer 60 million. This is not only history-in-the-making, but also an absolutely compulsive read (especially in this 400-page version abridged from the 1800 pages of the three-volume original.) From the breathtaking opening page, when Solzhenitsyn depicts starving prisoners of the Kolyma gulags, discovering a deep-frozen, prehistoric salamander in an icy stream and devouring it on the spot, "with relish," he holds you rapt, like the Ancient Mariner, with his "skinny hand" and "glittering eye." You have no choice but to listen to him, especially when he derides those who say "It would not happen here". "Alas," he says, "all the evil of the 20th century is possible everywhere on earth." One of the very few undeniable books of the century. --Christopher Hart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Synopsis

Solzhenitsyn draws upon his own life in labor camps as well as the experience of fellow prisoners and extensive research to document the workings of the Soviet secret police and prison system. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Oct 2005
Format: Paperback
This is unquestionably the best non fiction book I have ever read. It is at once profound, intelligent, affecting, exquisitely readable (excepting some of the more factual chapters, perhaps), terrifying, uplifting and occaionally - unexpectedly - very humourous. Solzhenitsyn manages to convey the details of the most outrageous atrocities without ever losing a sense of what is good about the human race and without ever losing an acutely righteous anger about what is bad about it.
Personally I have spent the last two months since reading this book all but beating everyone I know into reading it; some books, after all, should be reccomended highly, but this book should be mandatory, a rite of passage for anyone who has any opinion on history or morality - hell, for anyone who has the ability to read.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lost John TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Jun 2012
Format: Paperback
This book was published at a point of crisis in Solzhenitsyn's life. He completed the manuscript in 1968 and succeeded in getting it typed, copied and hidden in several different places. In 1973, on being tortured, his typist revealed to the KGB where one of the copies was hidden. Such was her remorse that shortly after her release she hanged herself. Solzhenitsyn's response to the knowledge that the authorities had obtained a copy of the work was to authorise its immediate publication in the West. Until that time he had intended to withhold the work until it could be published in the Soviet Union. First publication was achieved in Paris in early 1974. Six weeks later, Solzhenitsyn was deported from the Soviet Union to begin a 20 year exile in Western Europe and America.

This was not, of course, the first crisis, or series of crises, in Solzhenitsyn's life. Neither was it the most threatening to his continued existence, alarming as the situation seemed between his arrest and totally unexpected arrival in Frankfurt. The Gulag Archipelago describes many of the yet more shattering crises imposed on him by the Soviet state between his admission to the Gulag prison system in 1945 and eventual release (initially to internal exile) in 1953.

Not that the book is primarily autobiographical. Solzhenitsyn's aspiration was to provide a comprehensive account of the entire Gulag system - his metaphor of an archipelago of small islands, distributed throughout the Soviet Union, is very apt. He begins with his own arrest for criticising Stalin in a private letter. This whilst he was serving in East Prussia as an officer in the Red Army.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Spilsbury on 29 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a Monumental work by a Monumental Writer. With a Surgeons meticulousness of dissection, Solzhenitsyn lays bare the entire anatomy of the Oppressive apparatus, laying bare the workings at an Ideological, state and individual level. He uses hundreds of examples of individuals and groups of individuals experiences of the Soviet oppressive 'Organs' to create a vast network of suffering interlinked by time, place and person.
It is an unrelenting and heavy read. It demands by the nature of its grave subject deliberation and slow digestion.
The Soviet process of arrest, interrogation charge and sentencing are each painstakingly laid out. The Politicohistorical background of the (in)justice system is similarly dissected apart with reference to historical events.
It is dry writing, blisteringly sarcastic with an understanding sympathy for the forces of oppression that is unrelentingly ironic.
It is an extraordinary piece of work, immense in scope, rich in ironic understatement that can leave the reader exhausted. Stunningly detailed, and essential reading for any serious student of the Soviet era.
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