Customer Review

88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shines a light on some deeply disturbing aspects of 20th Century history, 6 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Gulag Archipelago [Abridged] (Harvill Press Editions) (Paperback)
A reader from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK, writes:

Bearing in mind Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel prize for literature principally for this book, this might help you draw your own conclusions about its merit. This is the abridged version of the full 3 volume book, abridged by an American academic with the author's consent and cooperation, in a conscious effort to increase its readership and alert the wider world of the tyrannical regime experienced by the people of the Soviet Union under Stalin and others. The fact that the book has been shortened makes for gaps and omissions that are fairly apparent to the reader and as a result the book does lose its way a little, and parts of the book towards the end I found fairly heavy going. However for those of us who don't read the full version this is perhaps the price that we pay.

Despite the abridgment, the book remains a weighty tome yet like other books by Solzhenitsyn remains surprisingly accessible. Furthermore it is a hugely significant historical document, bringing to light the system of prisons, transit and work camps of the Soviet Union, generally focusing on the 1930s-1950s period, though with some overlap at either end. The sheer scale of this cruel operation is almost unbelievable to the modern reader, partly because we live in an age in which this whole enterprise seems to have been swept under the carpet. Anyone interested in 20th century history will find this book a remarkable insight.
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Initial post: 19 Aug 2008 01:53:24 BDT
Howard Bates says:
Point of information : Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1970, but Gulag Archipelago was not published until 1973. My memory is that the Nobel Prize was awarded mostly for Cancer Ward and The First Circle.
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