The Gulag Archipelago is Solzhenitsyn's masterwork, a vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators and also of heroism, a Stalinist anti-world at the heart of the Soviet Union where the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair.
The work is based on the testimony of some two hundred survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile.
It is both a thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power.
This edition has been abridged into one volume at the author's wish and with his full co-operation.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 496 pages, Illustrations, maps, ports.
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 30/01/2003
- Category: Political oppression & persecution
- ISBN: 9781843430858
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Review by shanaqui
Gulag Archipelago is not a book I think you can really read for pleasure. It's heavy, heavy stuff, and it is -- to the best of anyone's ability -- non-fiction. It contains a lot of stark truths about Russia -- Stalin's Russia, and after -- and the conditions in the camps. We know plenty about the camps in Germany, and yet even now, decades after this book was published, I knew little about <I>this</I>.<br/><br/>I could as easily shelve it as 'horror' as I could 'non-fiction' or 'history'.<br/><br/>Despite that, it's not unrelenting. There's hope -- the very fact that I read this says there's hope: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's been heard. And there's a kind of dark humour, on nearly every page, in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's analysis of events and of people.<br/><br/>Definitely worth reading, if you can brace yourself for it. I read an abridged translation, but the author worked with the translator/abridger on it, as far as I can gather, so it could be more cohesive and easier to read than the original volumes. Even just dipping in and out of it, a chapter here and there, is better than not reading it at all.