At the height of his power in the 1930's and 1940's, Joseph Stalin sent millions of the citizens of the Soviet Union into forced labor camps. All it took was a chance word heard by the wrong person and you were sent to a camp. It is not an exaggeration to say that at the time, the entire economy was based on slave labor. This book is about Shukhov, one of the inmates in a camp located in the frozen north. The day described here is a typical day, as he and his fellow prisoners all engage in the daily struggle to survive. Simple things such as managing your food allotment, keeping your clothes and footwear intact and just keeping warm are the primary focus of his life. Yet, there is still humanity in him, his pride in doing a good job, having friends and his thoughts for the future. Much of Shukhov's life can be summed up by his trip to the infirmary. After speaking to an attendant there and being judged fit for work, Shukhov thinks to himself, "How can a man that's warm understand a man that is cold." This book was a major part of the effort by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's program of de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union. It was a sensation in the Soviet Union and also made the reputation of Solzhenitsyn in the west. A basic novel of survival, it also contains a much more powerful message, that of a state policy of economic success through slave labor. The Soviet Union under Stalin was a brutal regime and some of that is captured in this novel.
While there were many earlier sources that described the existence of the Soviet Gulag, this book was the first document that described the camps that was sanctioned by the Soviet authorities. To readers of books about the German and Japanese camps of World War II, the descriptions of life in the Soviet Gulag are all too familiar. Hunger is a constant companion and the inmates jostle and curry favors for slight improvements in food. Even something as simple as an extra pint of watery soup, a small … more
"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" is Alexander Solzhenitsyn's first book, a classic of modern Russian literature and the title that propelled him onto the literary world stage. As for the plot - well, the title itself serves as a synopsis. The story, such as it is, describes a single day in the life of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov who is serving a term in a Stalinist labor camp for offenses against the state. That they were never clearly described is surely Solzhenitsyn's method of making … more
"Hell" is a pre-Christian concept, adopted and adapted from the religion of Odin and Thor. In Old Norse, Hel was an underworld deity as well as a place of bleak afterlife. Hell was not an inferno, a fiery punishment for sinners, but rather an icy cold limbo. The various Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin words in the King James translation of the Bible that are translated as "Hell" chiefly have the more fundamental meaning of "the grave." The forced labor camp for 'special' … more
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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From the icy blast of reveille through the sweet release of sleep, Ivan Denisovich endures. A common carpenter, he is one of millions viciously imprisoned for countless years on baseless charges, sentenced to the waking nightmares of the Soviet work camps in Siberia. Even in the face of degrading hatred, where life is reduced to a bowl of gruel and a rare cigarette, hope and dignity prevail. This powerful novel of fact is a scathing indictment of Communist tyranny, and an eloquent affirmation of the human spirit.