In the First Circle

Narrated by: Derek Perkins
Length: 31 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (243 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Moscow, Christmas Eve, 1949. The Soviet secret police intercept a call made to the American embassy by a Russian diplomat who promises to deliver secrets about the nascent Soviet Atomic Bomb program. On that same day, a brilliant mathematician is locked away inside a Moscow prison that houses the country's brightest minds. He and his fellow prisoners are charged with using their abilities to sleuth out the caller's identity, and they must choose whether to aid Joseph Stalin's repressive state - or refuse and accept transfer to the Siberian Gulag camps...and almost certain death.

First written between 1955 and 1958, In the First Circle is Solzhenitsyn's fiction masterpiece. In order to pass through Soviet censors, many essential scenes - including nine full chapters - were cut or altered before it was published in a hastily translated English edition in 1968. Now with the help of the author's most trusted translator, Harry T. Willetts, here for the first time is the complete, definitive English edition of Solzhenitsyn's powerful and magnificent classic.

©2009 Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[An] indelible novel of towering artistry, caustic wit, moral clarity, and spiritual fire." (Booklist, starred review)

Featured Article: Essential Russian Authors to Know in Audio


Don’t be daunted by the towering reputations of Russia’s literary giants. Listening is the perfect way to appreciate the masters. Russia is a sprawling country with a rich and complex history, which is reflected in its literature. Whether you’re keen on brushing up on classic Russian literature or you want to find a new author to explore, we’ve rounded up 13 of the best Russian authors, classic and contemporary, whose work you should know.

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One of the five finest novels written in the 20th Century

If you want to understand where we are going you have to look at where we have been. This novel does that and the echoes of Stalin’s totalitarian rule of the USSR and his ambitions for the world still echo loudly today.

On top of that, “In The First Circle” is also a cracklingly told story which richly drawn characters.

It also does not hurt the narration is terrific.

Highly recommended.

20 people found this helpful

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The debate

Life in a socialist state run prison system - should be required reading as a warning about an overpowering omnipresent state

17 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!

An outstanding narration of one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I very much hope we will see other works by Solzhenitsyn from Audible (e.g. Cancer Ward).

19 people found this helpful

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Fiction based on fact

I've read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich twice, but really began to understand the power of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's genius as I listened to this book. The chapters delving into Stalin's inner thoughts (starting with Chapter 19, The Birthday Hero) are fascinating and entertaining even as that part of the novel steps away from the main plotline. And the narration is outstanding!

8 people found this helpful

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Powerful

A very important work. Incredibly well written. I was concerned that it would be hard to follow the story line on audio, but that was not the case. Living in a western democracy, we take so much for granted.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent fictional history.

He engagingly relates the oppression of the Workers Paradise. A history of our future (2019) with Progressives on the rise.

8 people found this helpful

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Masterpiece is an Understatement

I've never read anything like this. I have heard a lot of the author in recent years and this seemed to be a good place to start as Gulag Arch is still in production in Audible.

The awareness of some characters and the complete lack of awareness in others paints a picture that is just incredibly terrifying. Once you read a book of this quality it really reshapes the way you view literature and what "quality" actually means.

One tip to anyone about to start the audible version - PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE NAMES OF CHARACTERS! Being a non-Russian speaker, I did at times have a difficult time remembering all of the characters because they are quite complex and there are quite a few. They are all very important and needed, it just took me some time to remember who was who and once you pick up on the story line it becomes easier. But I've actually thought about listening again and making note cards for myself with quick bullet points about each and which sub-plot the character is involved in.

This is no way, I repeat, no way takes anything away from the book AT ALL.

Calling the novel a Masterpiece does not even begin to do it justice. Thank you to the Solzhenitsyn for giving all of us this!

2 people found this helpful

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Names are hard to follow

Book is very good, but it would help early on to take down the names with quick descriptions, make sure you use all 3 names because the author uses them almost interchangeably

1 person found this helpful

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Enduring lesson

Folly of government control

Hardness of eternal soul

Illumination of Fake News

Read & weep now

1 person found this helpful

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An astonishing achievement

When one thinks of ALeksandr Soltzhenistsyn one automatically thinks of the Gulag Archipelago. That in itself is the achievement of one’s writing career. However, “In the First Circle” is as stunning a literary achievement. It’s a factionalized autobiography involving prisons, Soviet espionage, and the brutalities of Communism. Derek Perkins is the perfect narrator for this work. Truly one of the best audiobooks out there.

1 person found this helpful