#60 – The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn (My 100 Favorite Books)


The fact this book exists is a staggering accomplishment.  Aleksander Solzhenitsyn survived the horror of the Soviet Gulag and put together his own memories along with reports from others.  The result was a three volume working totaling nearly 2,000 pages.  Much of it is a historical narrative, from the beginnings of Soviet Communism to the creation of the prison camps and the show trials that got it going, on through life in the camps and stories of escapes.

The narrative ends in 1956 and the book was first published in 1973 but it was not until the 1980s that the camps were widely talked about.  At first, the book had to be circulated secretly.  This is not surprising, for it demolishes the ideas the ideas that Communism was any sort of good and unveils the deep evils that are systematic within the system.

It is not an easy read, but it is a must read.  In my experience, those of us in America are very conscious of the extremes from the far right, with the Nazis remaining in our memory as an evil foe.  But the evils of the extreme left ought not be forgotten either.

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