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on 15 August 2014
Not yet read but I've wanted to read it for a long time.
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on 31 October 2017
Good true life experience of the author and the sufferings he endured under the cruel Marxist Socialist regime
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 June 2011
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.
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on 21 August 2017
Excellent book, I found it hard of times due to the very vivid descriptions but that's history in a nutshell.
Probably not as extensive as the original but brilliant and a must-read
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on 24 June 2017
Excellent book, bought this for my partner and he hasn't put it down! Very interesting insights.
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on 26 July 2017
Terribly sad - but essential reading for everyone - an important part of history
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on 15 January 2014
This is not a dry and depressing chronicle of suffering in prison camps. Solzhenitsyn certainly conveys very well the appalling inhumanity of the Soviet penal system, but this book is so much more than that. Written around a loose semi-autobiographical structure, this is really a series of essays about different aspects of Solzhenitsyn's own experiences, the history of the Soviet prison camp system, and life in the Soviet Union. It may well be one of the great works of its kind.

The writing comprises vivid descriptions, passionately-held views, forceful arguments, irresistable logic, compassion, honesty, insight and humour. Yes, humour - Solzhenitsyn tells several funny stories, notably the story of the provincial party meeting where the assembly stood to drink a toast to Stalin, and no-one dared to be the first to stop clapping.

I found the book truly inspirational, and I only wish I had read it many years ago. The abridgers of this extraordinary book have done the world a great service.
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on 18 November 2010
I had been quite naive to the atrocities carried out during the Russian communist regime under Joseph Stalin until I read Child 44 - the epilogue of which detailed a number of facts and numbers about those who died, who were imprisoned and those (literally millions) who were sent to various gulags to suffer years of torment and abuse. Tom Rob Smith also cites the Gulag Archipelago as one of his sources and I decided to learn more.

Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago is an astounding work. And even more astounding is that what was done in the name of communism has essentially been whitewashed by history, bar books such as this. It is terrifying to think that what Hitler was doing for 2 years was being done to the populace of the USSR for almost 40. To put it in perspective, around 60 million Russians (and Finnish, Germans, Ukrainians, Jews...the list goes on) died during this period - the population of Britain! This was 40 years of execution, starvation, torture, fear and denouncement. No one was ever brought to account (unlike the majority of the Nazis) and the perpetrator of all of this died of a stroke at the ripe old age of 75.

Solzhenitsyn encompasses all of this and more. The main focus is the Gulag system however he begins with the fear of arrest, the torture and imprisonment, and then moves to the archipelago. The subject is understandably an emotional one and the prose is punctured by asides from the author berating the system and also berating those who - as late as the 70's - were obviously still trying to keep a lid on what had happened. This makes the book incredibly personal and all the more interesting from a person who lived through all of this (along with stories and quotes from other witnesses and victims) rather than a more objective modern view.

The only negatives for me are that the book sometimes feels slightly disjointed. It is an abridged version of the earlier publications which were 4 books covering the entire period - and there are areas where chapters have been taken out which might (in my view) have been better kept in. Particularly a chapter on an escape attempt which I would have loved to have read (and will look up). Also, Solzhenitsyn sometimes goes into very descriptive chapters on the Russian system which - whilst necessary - can be a little dry. All of this aside, this book should be read by everyone.
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on 26 November 2017
Crazy! How are the youth are still considering socialism
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on 17 December 2014
The famous Gulag Archipelago, a must read for anyone interested in the Gulag's. I recommend you read this alongside Gulag Boss as you are then able to see both sides of the story.
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