In this masterpiece, Solzhenitsyn has orchestrated thousands of incidents and individual histories into one narrative of unflagging power and momentum. Written in a tone that encompasses Olympian wrath, bitter calm, savage irony, and sheer comedy, it combines history, autobiography, documentary, and political analysis as it examines in its totality the Soviet apparatus of repression from its inception following the October Revolution of 1917.
This volume involves us in the innocent victim's arrest and preliminary detention and the stages by which he is transferred across the breadth of the Soviet Union to his ultimate destination: the hard-labor camp.
©1973 Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (P)1989 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I find this book to be much like like life itself. It is difficult. It is a slog. There is much that is tedious (It is even exhaustive to passively listen to while one does other things like drive across country or the dishes). But it is also many other things. It can be oddly beautiful. At times there are moments when Solzhenistsyn stops, breaks from the narrative history that he is relaying, and gives exquisite moments to the reader. They are beautiful and heartbreaking and make it all worthwhile. I know no other work like it. Like anything that is worthwhile, it takes work. It is not easy. But it is highly rewarding. I did not always enjoy the book while i was listening to it, but I was very happy I did listen to it, when I was finished with the work
This is the latest in a string of books I’ve read about the early years of Soviet communism. I continue to be dumb struck with the cruelty and inhumanity of Lenin and Stalin. I just can’t get my mind around how many millions Stalin killed. Between his purges, his Gulags and the starvation of the Ukraine he killed more innocent people than Hitler, yet the world chose to ignore his crimes and in this century there are those who still hold him up as an example of a great leader.
Solzhenitsyn catalogs the gulag experience. He talks about how efficient the machine was in consuming human life in Russia. Even when the Soviets were about to lose WWII to the Germans he continued to kill and purge, destroy and starve his people. Cruelty without bounds in the name of an economic theory is outlined by Solzhenitsyn. Simply putting the day to day life of a “Polital” caught in the machine designed to chew them up and destroy them was his objective. I think he achieved this end. This is a powerful account of a man’s surviving a trip through hell in all of its vivid detail. Dante missed this level of hell.
There are no possible ends that could be perversely rationalized that would justify this cruelty. One would have a more simple time explaining the ethnic cleansing of the American Indians from the United States than you will justifying Lenin’s or Stalin’s purges and activities.
“The Gulag Archipelago” is an important literary work. This is a powerful part of world history and we are lucky that Solzhenitsyn risked his life to bring it to us. We are lucky that his friends were also willing to risk their lives to contribute to and to protect the work. Solzhenitsyn compiled stories of many of his fellow “58s” and he weaves those into what seems to give the reader a complete picture of Soviet Gulag History. Most importantly, Solzhenitsyn reminds us of what can happen when good people remain silent, when we allow tyrants to reign, when the citizens allow the government to run their lives.
It was not enjoyable, but informative and consoling in the fact that this tragedy and suffering has been documented.
Yes, he persents a realistic story of certin aspects of the human condition.
No, I haven't listened to him before.
Felt a real compasion for what the people had to endure.
I wish I could say that this book ended mankinds's inhumanity to mankind. But we
know it hasn't and need to do what we can to correct this contiued calamity.
This is an important work, but the writing style takes some getting used to. I am amazed that the Soviet Union lasted as long as it did when the powers treated the citizens so brutally.
Frederick Davidson's sing-song narration gets on my last nerve, but that didn't stop me from getting Volume 2 of this work.
The book is a classic - very dense and painful, but a masterpiece of reporting.
This book is read in a monotone with no variance for material or situation. Mr. Davidson sounds like he has a foul taste in his mouth that he is trying to get rid of as he reads. A particularly poor choice for an already difficult work.
I am listening slowly, due both to the difficult material and the terrible narration.
Nothing personal, but Mr. Davidson should retire, or to stick to light fiction. His sour voice is a terrible choice for history, philosophy, or classic literature - anything someone might want to linger over. I can't imagine who would enjoy listening to this voice.
I would try another book from Solzhenitsyn... Frederick Davidson's pretentious accent is incredibly annoying and ridiculous for this type of book. I finished volume 1 because I was so interested in the book but Davidson really made it hard on me.
Pretentious, annoying, unbearable.
I have enjoyed this book much more than I would have felt possible, given the bleak subject material. The narration is excellent, well paced and clearly articulated. Highly recommended!
I remember when this first came out in paperback in the seventies. My friends and I asked each other could such a system really exist? We sort of knew that the Soviet government was was repressive. But couldn't conceive a government organizing such insanity against its own people.
I have listened to it several times. It's a frightening portrayal of a hypocritical system and a browbeaten society that together were complicit in locking up a vast number of their fellow citizens who did nothing wrong.
The authors wit in describing the insanity of what he went through often makes me laugh.
On of my favorite parts of the book was where he described the the show trials of the scientists.
It's like bizzaro world. Engineers are held in scorn. Even the lowliest janitor would think nothing of giving a good smack upside the head of an Engineer. Meanwhile, in the Gulags the hardcore criminals are the kings. They sit around all day joking and playing cards while all the wrongly imprisoned average citizens are forced to do hard labor.
Imagine if the government randomly grabbed people on their way to work and threw them in the middle of Attica where the guards would curse them and force them into hard labor while all the other inmates stood around and laughed.
I think Reagan was very precise when he called Russia the Evil Empire.
Yes, I like Davidson's work and this is no exception. I doubt I would have listened to this so many times if it were not for Davidson's excellent narration. I think he speaks with a tone that the author would approve of.
It just blows me away. It's hard to come to grips that this is a true story. It sort of reminds me of Orwell and Rand, but in this case it's not fiction.
"Oh, Bertrand Russell! Oh, Hewlett Johnson! Where, oh where, was your flaming conscience at that time?"
— Alexandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Harper & Row, 1974.
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