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Gulag: A History
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About the Author

Anne Applebaum is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Washington Post. A graduate of Yale and a Marshall Scholar, she has worked as the foreign and deputy editor of the Spectator (London), as the Warsaw correspondent for the Economist, and as a columnist for the on-line magazine Slate, as well as for several British newspapers. Her work has also appeared in the New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, and the Wall Street Journal, among many other publications. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Radek Sikorski, and two children.

Reviews

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion. By the gulag's peak years in the early 1950s, there were camps in every part of the country, and slave labor was used not only for mining and heavy industries but for producing every kind of consumer product (chairs, lamps, toys, those ubiquitous fur hats) and some of the country's most important science and engineering (Sergei Korolev, the architect of the Soviet space program, began his work in a special prison laboratory). Applebaum details camp life, including strategies for survival; the experiences of women and children in the camps; sexual relationships and marriages between prisoners; and rebellions, strikes and escapes. There is almost too much dark irony to bear in this tragic, gripping account. Applebaum's lucid prose and painstaking consideration of the competing theories about aspects of camp life and policy are always compelling. She includes an appendix in which she discusses the various ways of calculating how many died in the camps, and throughout the book she thoughtfully reflects on why the gulag does not loom as large in the Western imagination as, for instance, the Holocaust. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

More than a full-scale history of the Soviet Gulag, this work by the Spectator's deputy editor asks why it is so little remembered in both Russia and the West. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"An important book. . . . It is fervently to be hoped that people will read Anne Applebaum's excellent, tautly written, and very damning history." --The New York Times Book Review "The most authoritative--and comprehensive--account of this Soviet blight ever published by a Western writer." --Newsweek "A titanic achievement: learned and moving and profound. . . . No reader will easily forget Applebaum's vivid accounts of the horrible human suffering of the Gulag." --National Review "A tragic testimony to how evil ideologically inspired dictatorships can be." -The New York Times "Lucid, painstakingly detailed, never sensational, it should have a place on every educated reader's shelves." -Los Angeles Times "Magisterial. . . . Certain to remain the definitive account of its subject for years to come. . . . An immense achievement." --The New Criterion "An excellent account of the rise and fall of the Soviet labor camps between 1917 and 1986. . . . A splendid book." --The New York Review of Books "Should become the standard history of one of the greatest evils of the 20th century." --The Economist "Thorough, engrossing . . . A searing attack on the corruption and the viciousness that seemed to rule the system and a testimonial to the resilience of the Russian people. . . . Her research is impeccable." -San Francisco Chronicle "An affecting book that enables us at last to see the Gulag whole. . . . A valuable and necessary book." -The Wall Street Journal "Ambitious and well-documented . . . Invaluable . . . Applebaum methodically, and unflinchingly, provides a sense of what it was like to enter and inhabit the netherworld of the Gulag." -The New Yorker "[Applebaum's] writing is powerful and incisive, but it achieves this effect through simplicity and restraint rather than stylistic flourish. . . . [An] admirable and courageous book." -The Washington Monthly "Monumental . . . Applebaum uses her own formidable reporting skills to construct a gripping narrative." -Newsday "Valuable. There is nothing like it in Russian, or in any other language. It deserves to be widely read." -Financial Times "A book whose importance is impossible to exaggerate. . . . Magisterial . . . Applebaum's book, written with such quiet elegance and moral seriousness, is a major contribution to curing the amnesia that curiously seems to have affected broader public perceptions of one of the two or three major enormities of the twentieth century." -Times Literary Supplement "A truly impressive achievement . . . We should all be grateful to [Applebaum]." -The Sunday Times (London) "A chronicle of ghastly human suffering, a history of one of the greatest abuses of power in the story of our species, and a cautionary tale of towering moral significance . . . A magisterial work, written in an unflinching style that moves as much as it shocks, and that glistens with the teeming life and stinking putrefaction of doomed men and rotten ideals." -The Daily Telegraph (London) "No Western author until Anne Applebaum attempted to produce a history of the Gulag based on the combination of eyewitness accounts and archival records. The result is an impressively thorough and detailed study; no aspect of this topic escapes her attention. Well written, accessible...enlightening for both the general reader and specialists." --The New York Sun "For the raw human experience of the camps, read Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich or Irina Ratushinskaya's Grey is the Color of Hope. For the scope, context, and the terrible extent of the criminality, read this history." --Chicago Tribune

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