Gulag: A History

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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.

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. Applebaum intimately re-creates 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 twentieth century.
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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.
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4.4
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Additional Information

Publisher
Anchor
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Published on
Dec 18, 2007
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Pages
736
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ISBN
9780307426123
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Communism, Post-Communism & Socialism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In The Gulag after Stalin, Jeffrey S. Hardy reveals how the vast Soviet penal system was reimagined and reformed in the wake of Stalin's death. Hardy argues that penal reform in the 1950s was a serious endeavor intended to transform the Gulag into a humane institution that reeducated criminals into honest Soviet citizens. Under the leadership of Minister of Internal Affairs Nikolai Dudorov, a Khrushchev appointee, this drive to change the Gulag into a "progressive" system where criminals were reformed through a combination of education, vocational training, leniency, sport, labor, cultural programs, and self-governance was both sincere and at least partially effective.

The new vision for the Gulag faced many obstacles. Reeducation proved difficult to quantify, a serious liability in a statistics-obsessed state. The entrenched habits of Gulag officials and the prisoner-guard power dynamic mitigated the effect of the post-Stalin reforms. And the Soviet public never fully accepted the new policies of leniency and the humane treatment of criminals. In the late 1950s, they joined with a coalition of party officials, criminologists, procurators, newspaper reporters, and some penal administrators to rally around the slogan "The camp is not a resort" and succeeded in reimposing harsher conditions for inmates. By the mid-1960s the Soviet Gulag had emerged as a hybrid system forged from the old Stalinist system, the vision promoted by Khrushchev and others in the mid-1950s, and the ensuing counterreform movement. This new penal equilibrium largely persisted until the fall of the Soviet Union.

AN ECONOMIST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag and the National Book Award finalist Iron Curtain, a revelatory history of one of Stalin's greatest crimes—the consequences of which still resonate today

In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization—in effect a second Russian revolution—which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them.

Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: after a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. The state sealed the republic’s borders and seized all available food. Starvation set in rapidly, and people ate anything: grass, tree bark, dogs, corpses. In some cases, they killed one another for food. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil.

Today, Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more. Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.
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