Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2004
The Gulag - a vast array of Soviet concentration camps that held millions of political and criminal prisoners - was a system of repression and punishment that terrorized the entire society, embodying the worst tendencies of Soviet communism. In this magisterial and acclaimed history, Anne Applebaum offers the first fully documented portrait of the Gulag, from its origins in the Russian Revolution, through its expansion under Stalin, to its collapse in the era of glasnost.
Applebaum intimately recreates what life was like in the camps and links them to the larger history of the Soviet Union. Immediately recognized as a landmark and long-overdue work of scholarship, Gulag is an essential book for anyone who wishes to understand the history of the 20th century.
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Riveting story, flawed performance
Perhaps parts of it. I will consult a hard copy in order to digest and remember some of the many facts, statistics and quotations cited by the author.
Holocaust histories. Applebaum's history is based on newly opened archival information.
Not if it's a performance of a Russian-related subject. Her style was over-dramatic in inappropriate places, but worse was her horrendous pronunciation of Russian names, places, and gulag terminology. And it was inconsistently horrendous -- she pronounced the same name two or three different ways -- almost always incorrect.
Way too long for that but in places it was definitely hard to stop. The author livens up her chronological historical survey of the prisons and camps with the fascinating, if dismal, tragedies of individuals.
I find other reviewers' negative comments interesting. Applebaum opens her history with an instructive analysis of the contrast between the west’s cultural fascination with Nazi atrocities and its willful ignorance and disregard of Soviet evils. The details of the story are grisly and mind-boggling, but all too true and they deserve attention. The gulag is an important part of 20th century history and it is still relevant in Russia.
- E. R. Rothenberg
informative to a degree
- James A. Bretney