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The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 : an…

The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 : an experiment in literary investigation (1974)

by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Gulag Archipelago (Volume One, Parts I-II)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,584None4,594 (4.11)35
  1. 40
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (editfish)
    editfish: A novella exploring a typical day in the life of a 'slogger' in one of Stalin's prison (Destructive Labor) camps.
  2. 21
    The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (thatguyzero)
  3. 00
    Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram (fundevogel)
    fundevogel: Reading Gulag I was compelled to finally track down this work which documents the famous experiment that exposed the cruelty ordinary people could be prodded into executing in the name of obedience. It really should be required reading especially when learning about institutionalized cruelty as seen in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.… (more)
  4. 00
    The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (editfish)
    editfish: This novel goes beyond the research of 'Gulag' and looks at life in the Sharaska (Paradise Islands) of the Archipelago.

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» See also 35 mentions

English (7)  Dutch (1)  All languages (8)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
How many "investigators" are able to document facts while still communicating "literary" values? Solzhenitsyn witnessed that which he testifies into, and he indicts Soviet injustices. The key to Soviet control is not the "new man" or humanity of any kind. The USSR is not run by or created by men of greatness or vision. The key to the Soviet Union is the secret police, operating a prison within a prison. ( )
  keylawk | Jan 13, 2014 |
Group Z
  gilsbooks | May 18, 2011 |
Group L
  gilsbooks | May 17, 2011 |
Do not open this book for a light read. Do, however, open this book and read. Solzhenitsyn bares every detail of Gulag life, from the first arrest to…well, I don’t know how far, because this edition represent just one-third of the entire work that Solzhenitsyn has created – this is only books one and two. 600+ pages devoted to the tortures that lead to unnecessary confessions (unnecessary because you will be arrested and sent to the camps even if you don’t confess), devoted to the mockery of public trials, devoted to the history of these shams (all the way back to the Tsars – showing how the dictators learned from their enemies and took it all to the next level), devoted to the various horrors of the various transportation methods, devoted to getting us to the camps. (And to think that these were events occurring prior to, contemporaneously with, and subsequent to the Nazi horrors from which we all recoil. This makes the Nazis look like pikers.) And the camps don’t really appear until after books one and two.

Here is the amazing part; here is the part that shoots this into the upper stratosphere of great writing. It would be very easy for this book to sink into its own detail – to leave the reader mired in the minutia. However, Solzhenitsyn is a writer of incomparable skill, and his interweaving of human stories within all this detail keeps the reader intrigued. And just about the time you are tempted to skim, another story surfaces which brings you back into the book and brings the book to life.

I cannot imagine trying to absorb more than this first edition without some break. So, I will move on to something else for a while to refresh myself. But, even if I were to never return to the rest of this “trilogy” (and, believe me, I will be back), I could never escape the image Solzhenitsyn has so artfully seared into my mind. ( )
1 vote figre | Mar 22, 2010 |
Very grim, naturally, but very solid. While I understand some points may be debateable, the overwhelming ugliness of the system comes through very realistically. ( )
  antiquary | Sep 28, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aleksandr Solzhenitsynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandrmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Applebaum, AnneForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peet, D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitney, Thomas P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"In the period of dictatorship, surrounded on all sides by enemies, we sometimes manifested unnecessary leniency and unnecessary softheartedness."
speech at the Promparty trial
I dedicate this
to all those who did not live
to tell it.
And may they please forgive me
for not having seen it all
nor remembered it all,
for not having divined all of it.
First words
How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago?
Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Aleksandr Solzhenistyn's The Gulag Archipelago has been published in a number of formats, and is catalogued in a variety of ways. The complete work consists of seven parts, often divided into three volumes as follow: Volume One, consisting of Part I ("The Prison Industry") and Part II ("Perpetual Motion"); Volume Two, consisting of Part III ("The Destructive-Labor Camps") and Part IV ("The Soul and Barbed Wire"); and Volume III, consisting of Part V ("Katorga"), Part VI ("Exile") and Part VII ("Stalin Is No More").


Please do not combine other copies having materially different content (e.g., Parts III-IV, Parts V-VII, the complete work, an omnibus [such as Parts I-VI], any individual Part, or the abridged version). Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060803320, Paperback)

The Soviet Union had the largest secret political prison system of its time, scattered into the most remote corners of Eastern Europe and Asia. When Solzhenitsyn came out, he told the stories of shattered lives in a shattered nation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:26 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Drawing on his own experiences before, during, and after his 11 years of incarceration and exile, Solzhenitsyn reveals with torrential narrative and dramatic power the entire apparatus of Soviet repression. Through truly Shakespearean portraits of its victims, we encounter the secret police operations, the labor camps and prisons, the uprooting or extermination of whole populations. Yet we also witness astounding moral courage, the incorruptibility with which the occasional individual or a few scattered groups, all defenseless, endured brutality and degradation. Solzhenitsyn's genius has transmuted this grisly indictment into a literary miracle.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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