Nov 18

The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ★★★★★

This book details the Soviet prison system between the years 1918 and 1956. It was written based in part on the personal experience of the author, as well as the numerous contacts that Solzhenitsyn had with Zeks (prisoners) in the system. The book was originally written as three large volumes, but later abridged by the author to be one volume, though still fairly large. I read the book on Kindle.

I won’t labor to detail chapter by chapter the contents of this book, but note instead that the author offers a mix of very detailed history of the soviet prison system, as well as a commentary as to the effects of this system on the Zek. Solzhenitsyn offers deep insights into the philosophic effects of the brutality of the system, that condemned those to prison for no good reason and no respectable trial, and lead to the death of countless, perhaps millions of innocent people. Solzhenitsyn shows how when the state becomes more important than the individual, absolute tyranny occurs.

Solzhenitsyn writes in a very moving, heart-felt manner. His insights are most valuable. The parallels with the way the US is going leaves me no doubt that the Gulag story will someday (perhaps soon) be seen in America. Solzhenitsyn does not appeal to revolution, as he saw first-hand how revolution only leads to deeper tyrannies. Instead, he calls for an internal revolution, a realization that ones’ relation with God is the only thing of importance, responding to the world in a moral fashion, which they will not be able to know how to handle. Those who are politically active would be well-served with a copy of this book in their hand.

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One Response to “Gulag Archipelago”

  1. Elizabeth F. says:

    A great book. A too-little-read book. Thanks for the encouragement to re-read it.

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