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Drawing on his own incarceration and exile, as well as on evidence from thanfellow prisoners and Soviet archives, Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn reveals the entire apparatus of Soviet repression the state within the state that ruled all powerfully Through truly Shakespearean portraits of its victims men, women, and children we encounter secret police operations, labor camps and prisons the uprooting or extermination of whole populations, the welcome that awaited Russian soldiers who had been German prisoners of war Yet we also witness the astounding moral courage of the incorruptible, who, defenseless, endured great brutality and degradation The Gulag Archipelago a grisly indictment of a regime, fashioned here into a veritable literary miracle has now been updated with a new introduction that includes the fall of the Soviet Union and Solzhenitsyn s move back to Russia I view people that cling to the tenets of communism the same way I view Holocaust deniers From the Bolsheviks of 1917 to the turmoil in Venezuela of 2017 Communism is as Churchill said the equal sharing of misery The pages of Solzhenitsyn s Nobel Prize winning masterpiece are full of misery Solzhenitsyn paints a picture for the na ve westerner of the backbone and main pillar of Soviet Socialism The gulag The purpose of the network of gulags in the Soviet Union is to 1 Intimidate the mass I view people that cling to the tenets of communism the same way I view Holocaust deniers From the Bolsheviks of 1917 to the turmoil in Venezuela of 2017 Communism is as Churchill said the equal sharing of misery The pages of Solzhenitsyn s Nobel Prize winning masterpiece are full of misery Solzhenitsyn paints a picture for the na ve westerner of the backbone and main pillar of Soviet Socialism The gulag The purpose of the network of gulags in the Soviet Union is to 1 Intimidate the masses so that they dwell in a constant state of fear and 2 To provide the nation state with an endless supply of slave labor From the pages of this book you will learn that communism is probably the cruelest form of government in the history of humankind Solzhenitsyn s writing is first hand He was imprisoned for 8 years after being accused of writing letters that were critical of Stalin He wrote these letters while serving in the Red Army during WWII Being able to tell his story and that of his fellow zeks convicts was the motivation used by Solzhenitsyn to survive a brutal prison system designed to systematically kill it s inhabitants His writing style is angry and he uses sarcasm to describe the system of Soviet Gulags that make Tsarist Russia look like the Cub Scouts in comparison It is not an easy read One thing that makes it a difficult read is that that the author rambles on and repeats himself Solzhenitsyn apologizes for this but he explains he was never able to proofread the manuscript In fact, he never saw all of his notes in one place He had written this book and hid it in pieces all over the Soviet Union He was raided by the KGB while in the process of smuggling the pieces out of the country for publication So please forgive the author if he repeats himself and makes a few errors He wrote the book while living in a police state and didn t have the luxury of being able to proofread it THIS IS HOW YOU HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE SOVIET UNION For this reason, make sure you select the abridged version This book is full of horrific but interesting stories Many are laughable if they weren t so cruel The NKVD the precursor to the KGB would observe a mass meeting Clapping would commence at the mere mention of comrade Stalin s name The ovation would last for 15 minutes orPeople applauding would quite literally pass out rather than be the first one to stop clapping Finally, one of the factory general managers stopped clapping because, after all, this was ridiculous There was an agenda to keep After the gathering the factory manager was arrested This was how the NKVD separated out the leaders The Soviet Union only wanted sheep Leaders were dangerous and sent to the gulag There is another story about the man who was struggling carrying a mass produced bust of Stalin The bust was too heavy and he had no way to carry it properly so he tied a rope around Stalin s head and slung it over his shoulder The man was given a 10 year sentence for terrorism Still another man was given 10 years for draping his hat and coat on a bust of Lenin There are endless stories about how the zeks convicts and the 58 s political prisoners were coerced into confessions and sentenced without a trial for political crimes they didn t commit When the suspect were charged with a crime it would be in code When the citizen asked what is code 58 XYZ they were told by their interrogators that is for us to know During interrogations, the arrested argued that they had fought against the Germans or fought in the Revolution and their interrogators would say that that is another matter Please note that I did not use the term suspects because there were no suspects If arrested, you were guilty These were not isolated incidents Solzhenitsyn said that almost every family had at least one family member orincarcerated in one of the many islands of prisons throughout the Soviet Union The zeks were fed a ration that could not sustain them when subjected to backbreaking labor They were forced to work hard labor 7 days a week and often 16 hour days even if temperatures fell to 60 F The author tells of a canal built to the black sea where a quarter million zeks were killed in the process Solzhenitsyn refused to compare the building of the canal to the building of the pyramids because, as he says, the difference was that the Egyptian slaves were at least given contemporary technology while the Soviets used only primitive technology Trees were cleared by tying ropes to the tops of them and having gangs of zeks wiggle the tree until it could be toppled over The canal was dug by pick and shovel and the frozen earth was carried away in wheel barrows or in a sack carried over the shoulder People were dead from exhaustion, starvation, and by exposure and froze to death where they fell The useless canal that ended the lives of so many was never even utilized This and other things built by slave labor and managed by central government planning were most often inferior and shoddy Solzhenitsyn argues that peasants of Tsarist Russia were far better off than peasants living under Soviet rule He cites the outrages that led to revolution and uses statistics to demonstrate how these outrages pale in comparison to the modern Socialist State and the system of Gulags The Russian peasants were far, far, far better off before Lenin and Stalin came along Yes, the peasants were slaves prior to 1867 but they got Sundays off and several Christian Holidays off There were far fewer political prisoners and capital punishment was relatively rare Ironically, all of these things abject slavery, political prisoners, and capital punishment inspired the Revolution Lenin who had never pushed a wheelbarrow or worked a pick or shovel thought it was a good thing for prisoners to work rather than sit idle The gulag was his idea Millions upon millions of the former peasants some who had even fought in the revolution were rounded up and convicted as political prisoners for such terrible crimes as having a defeatist attitude Many were executed there on the spot but others were executed very slowly in the work gangs of the gulag.I found the following argument very interesting Solzhenitsyn remarks about how West Germany had convicted former Nazis for war crimes and crimes against humanity By 1966, West Germany had convicted 86,000 of them He said that the Soviets loved to read about this in the paper Each person would express glee each time a Nazi was sentenced He said if the West Germans convicted 86,000 than the Soviet Union should proportionately convict 250,000 However, only 10 men total in the Soviet Union were ever convicted of crimes against citizens Solzhenitsyn cries out in the pages of this book that the killers of millions of people walk among us every day He said that when he brings this up, he is told that he shouldn t dredge up the past Solzhenitsyn contends that Soviet society needed the healing that it would provide when these men and women would repent and confess for their terrible sins for incarcerating, torturing, and murdering their own citizens He argued that the Soviet Union needed this healing just like the Germans experienced I could go on and on about the destruction of the Kulaks, political prisoners as young as 6 years old, a system of informants and stool pigeons, prison demonstrations and work stoppages that were settled under the tracks of T 34 tanks and strafing planes but I have had enough Communism disgusts me Gulag Archipelago is a fifty year old book But it is timely reading Over 40% of millennials surveyed say that they would prefer a socialist form of government over capitalism Inside Russia, I am told that the youth yearn for the old days Closer to home, the local high school has allowed the children to start a communist club Isn t that nice Imagine the outrage if the school allowed the students to start a Nazi club Maybe all the world s useful idiots as Lenin used to call them have need to read Solzhenitsyn s masterpiece Solzhenitsyn systematically goes through the horrors of the Soviet slave labour camps, one of the blackest chapters in world history I read this book as a teenager, not long after it came out, and I was appalled that my parents had presented the Soviet Union as anything other than a monstrosity For some reason, leftist people wouldn t properly admit it for a long time I still can t quite understand why If you feel any shadow of sympathy for Soviet Russia, read Solzhenitsyn and you will be cu Solzhenitsyn systematically goes through the horrors of the Soviet slave labour camps, one of the blackest chapters in world history I read this book as a teenager, not long after it came out, and I was appalled that my parents had presented the Soviet Union as anything other than a monstrosity For some reason, leftist people wouldn t properly admit it for a long time I still can t quite understand why If you feel any shadow of sympathy for Soviet Russia, read Solzhenitsyn and you will be cured One of the first myths he explodes is that it was all Stalin s fault, and that Lenin was basically a good guy Lenin just happened to die early, so it wasn t as obvious that he was equally to blame Solzhenitsyn recounts a comparatively minor and unknown incident from the revolution, where Lenin brutally orders some railway workers to be executed for not fully cooperating with the Bolsheviks As he comments just for this one episode, Lenin fully deserved to be shot He was responsible for dozens of much worse things I can not in clear conscience say that I really like a book about Soviet Gulags To be honest, I repeatedly reached my limit of emotional energy The story of any one of the 20 million people directly affected would haveimpact.Oh, right He tried that first, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich In a lot of ways, this a response to critics and deniers of his earlier book I can not in clear conscience say that I really like a book about Soviet Gulags To be honest, I repeatedly reached my limit of emotional energy The story of any one of the 20 million people directly affected would haveimpact.Oh, right He tried that first, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich In a lot of ways, this a response to critics and deniers of his earlier book I read this in 1974 in a bad situation in my life This put a bad situation in America in a totally new light I wishAmericans would listen and have listened to Solzhenitsyn.Update I don t know how many of you have followed thediscussion that has been going on here but it inspired me to extend this review a little The above is the original review in which I simply urged people to read the book for themselves as it has much to say and is applicable in many ways to events happening no I read this in 1974 in a bad situation in my life This put a bad situation in America in a totally new light I wishAmericans would listen and have listened to Solzhenitsyn.Update I don t know how many of you have followed thediscussion that has been going on here but it inspired me to extend this review a little The above is the original review in which I simply urged people to read the book for themselves as it has much to say and is applicable in many ways to events happening now.The book traces the history of the Soviet Gulag and then the willing refusal to look at the Gulag system that went on till the 80s well after the book s publication.I still recommend this book I doubt anyone will have trouble seeing the resemblance between the Gulags and the Concentration Camps of the Third Reichunless of course by willful ignorance There has also been a suggestion that Solzhenitsyn was antisemitic This apparently came from the controversy over his book Two Hundred Years Together where he says that some Jews were as much perpetrators as victims in Russia I can t take a stand on this but so far as I can see it s not antisemitism it s simply part of the book It was intended to be a comprehensive history of Jews in Russia.So far as THIS book goes I still recommend it and suggest as I do about all books that it be approached while thinking