GULAG: A History

GULAG: A History is a narrative account of the origins and development of the Soviet concentration camps, from Lenin to Gorbachev. Based on archives, interviews, new research and recently published memoirs, the book explains the role that the camps played in the Soviet political and economic system. It also describes daily life in the camps: how people lived, worked, ate, slept, fought, died and survived.

GULAG: A History won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-Fiction, as well as Britain’s Duff-Cooper Prize. The books was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the LA Times Book Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize. It has appeared or is due to appear in more than two dozen translations, including all major East and West European languages.

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Reviews of "GULAG: A History"

The Gulag: Lest we Forget

  • Material from pages 178–91 adapted from the book Gulag,
    by Anne Applebaum,
    published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.

The more we are able to understand how various societies have transformed their neighbors and fellow citizens from people into objects, and the more we know of the specific circumstances that led to each episode of mass torture and mass murder, the better we will understand the darker side of our own human nature. Continue reading “The Gulag: Lest we Forget”

The coldest circle of hell

  • By
  • Roy Hattersley

The story needed to be told and Anne Applebaum tells it with admirable attention to detail, proper restraint and a generally successful attempt not to allow horror to drive out objectivity. But, as I read Gulag, I experienced what is, for me, a rare emotion. Normally I cannot open a book without wishing that I had written on the same subject. With Gulag, I felt from start to finish, ‘Rather her than me’. Continue reading “The coldest circle of hell”

Camps of Terror, Often Overlooked

  • By
  • Michael McFaul

In visiting Poland last month, President Bush took the time to go to Auschwitz and tour one of the most ghastly assaults to humanity in the history of mankind. After finishing his tour, he remarked: “And this site is also a strong reminder that the civilized world must never forget what took place on this site. May God bless the victims and the families of the victims, and may we always remember.” Continue reading “Camps of Terror, Often Overlooked”

Inside Soviet Labour camps

  • By
  • Alison Roberts

While Anne Applebaum was researching her extraordinary history of the Soviet labour camps, simply titled Gulag, she began to suffer the same recurrent nightmare: she would be climbing the steps of a wooden bell tower in the old Solovetsky monastery on an island in the White Sea, the site of the first permanent Soviet concentration camp – and at the same time climbing over, and on, the bodies of the dead. “It happened on numerous occasions,” she says, “and it’s the only time I’ve ever had that kind of repetitive nightmare in my life.” Continue reading “Inside Soviet Labour camps”

A world built on slavery

  • By
  • Richard Overy

The word Gulag (an acronym from the Russian for the more cumbersome “Main Administration of Labour Camps”) has become synonymous with the accumulated evils of 70 years of Soviet dictatorship. Yet the West knows little about the Soviet concentration camp system. Even to call them “concentration camps”, equivalent to the much better-known Nazi system, will come as a surprise to some. Continue reading “A world built on slavery”

Could it happen again?

  • By
  • Vladimir Bukovsky

Anyone who writes a history of the Gulag after Solzhenitsyn must have a special reason — beyond a simple interest in historical detail — before taking on such a monumental task. It is true, of course, that at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, when Solzhenitsyn was writing his famous book, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956, he had no access to the documents that are now available, and political repression was still continuing, albeit on a much smaller scale than it had under Stalin. Continue reading “Could it happen again?”

The Other Killing Machine

  • By
  • Steven Merritt Miner

In the introduction to this important book, Anne Applebaum, a columnist for The Washington Post, ponders why the Soviet and Nazi regimes are treated so differently in the popular imagination. Young people who would never purchase Nazi regalia think nothing of sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the Communist hammer and sickle. Continue reading “The Other Killing Machine”

The World of the Gulag

  • By
  • Andrew Nagorski

During a couple of tours as a correspondent in Russia and Germany, I was struck by a remarkable contrast. Visitors to Moscow are happy to snap up memorabilia featuring hammer-and-sickle emblems and images of Lenin and Stalin, but visitors to Berlin wouldn’t dream of buying swastika trinkets or Hitler portraits—even if they were on offer, which they aren’t. Continue reading “The World of the Gulag”

Seasons in Hell – How the Gulag grew.

  • By
  • David Remnick

On a winter afternoon just before the collapse of the Soviet regime, I paid a call on Dmitri Likhachev, an eminent scholar of medieval Russian literature and an embodiment of the tragic history of his city. (The city was called St. Petersburg when he was born, Petrograd when he was growing up, Leningrad through his long adulthood, and, for the last eight years of his life, St. Petersburg again.) Likhachev was then eighty-four and a director of the literary institute known as Pushkin House. Continue reading “Seasons in Hell – How the Gulag grew.”

Circles of Hell

  • By
  • Lars T. Lih

What was the Gulag? It was a massive prison labor system, erected in the U.S.S.R. during the Stalin years, whose unique characteristic was a strange and volatile combination of punitive hysteria, economic exploitation and heartbreaking waste. During the 25 years or so from its full realization until its dismantling after Stalin’s death in 1953, the Gulag made substantial contributions to the Soviet economy at the cost of the grotesque suffering of millions. Yet ultimately, it was a costly drag on the economy as a whole. Continue reading “Circles of Hell”