Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956, Parts I-VII Paperback – Abridged, 1 Jun 1985
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"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 alternate Paperback edition.
"Best Nonfiction Book of the Twentieth Century" -- Time magazine
"Best Nonfiction Book of the Twentieth Century"--Time magazine
Best Nonfiction Book of the Twentieth Century --Time magazine" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
The abridgement is a bit disjointed in places, but I imagine it makes it much more readable than the original three volume work.
A well written and important piece of literature.
I was happy to find the book at a reasonable price.
However, having read the complete and original book (n Russian) I was a little disappointed with the fact that the offer was only for an Abridged version of the novel.
Nevertheless I am happy to recommend amazon to friends and family in the future.
If you don't know what beautiful promise energised the masses to lend their support to future tyrants, here is the short version of it (Solzhenitsyn won't tell you): End to exploitation, immediately – from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, eventually.
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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