This book offers a powerfully matter-of-fact description of life in the Soviet gulag system in the aftermath of World War II. Reading about people whose daily reality involved struggling and scheming for even the tiniest fraction of respite and sustenance made me thankful for the privileges I enjoy, yet apprehensive about society's fragile nature. It's a good, quick read that provides a timely reminder that life goes on and we must do our best regardless of the obstacles placed before us.
A sadly timely read.
At first, the book seems to drag. It doesn't take long for that to become the point, as the reader is dragged completely into a world from which there is no escape. People known to their guards only by their numbers wake in the bitter Siberian winter, and spend the entire day working completely to exhaustion building nothing, trying only to survive on minimal gruel and filthy crusts of bread, insufficient sleep, harassment or worse, counting the days until their release. Yet during this one dreadful day, Ivan has moments of sheer happiness. H even thinks that perhaps spending the rest of his life in this labor camp atoning for something he didn't even do would be preferable to release to a world that's passed him by. It took me several weeks to read, as the horror of it made me put it down, only for the fascination to make me pick it back up again. An incredible book.
We are all familiar with the Hollywood Second World War films, where a bunch of grunts of different ethnicities and faiths are wielded into a cohesive unit. Think, for instance, of ("The Thin Red Line". Oddly, Solzhenitsyn's masterpiece in some ways conforms to this genre. His hero, Ivan, is in fact, a Red Army soldier, perversely serving a 10-year term for succeeding in escaping Nazi captivity. His unit is multi-ethnic, containing a Western Ukrainian, an Estonian, a Balt, someone of mixed Greek, Jewish and other ethnicity, and a Russian Baptist, Alyosha, stands out from the other ethnic Russians given Russia's Orthodox traditions. As in the Hollywood movies, the unit is held together by a brave, strong-willed unit leader. Where it differs from Hollywood is that the unit is not bent on defeating the Japanese or the Germans, but simply on surviving the brutality of the camps.
I first read this book in the early 70's. Every few years I pick it up and re-read it. Such a poignant story with great depth and clarity. I will be reading this book again in the coming years.
One of the best books I've ever read. Read this translation- no other. All the litery tools are kept by this translator. He keeps it a work of art. It does have Strong language but is a must read for all literature lovers like myself. Please read it and i promise you wont regret it.(Aprx: 150 pg)
This story was beautifully told - very simple and direct. It left the reader reminded about what is really important in life and how man is equipped for survival. Rather upbeat considering the setting. Next time I sit to eat a meal, I'll be thinking of this book.
This book is VERY VERY boring. This book drags on and on and doesnt have things that would catch your attention. I know it is only 139 pages and that seems short but with how uninteresting the book is, it may take you forever to read those 139 pages. Bad Read.
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