Read Gulag: historia de los campos de concentracion soviéticos by Anne Applebaum Magdalena Chocano Online


El Gulag aparece en la conciencia de occidente en 1977 con la publicación de la obra de Aleksandr Solzhenitsin Archipiélago Gulag. A partir de nuevos estudios, memorias publicadas tras la caída de la URSS y algunos archivos hasta ahora secretos, Anne Applebaum realiza una reconstrucción histórica del origen y la evolución de los campos de concentración soviéticos que devueEl Gulag aparece en la conciencia de occidente en 1977 con la publicación de la obra de Aleksandr Solzhenitsin Archipiélago Gulag. A partir de nuevos estudios, memorias publicadas tras la caída de la URSS y algunos archivos hasta ahora secretos, Anne Applebaum realiza una reconstrucción histórica del origen y la evolución de los campos de concentración soviéticos que devuelve este infausto e inolvidable episodio al centro de la tormentosa historia del convulso siglo XX. Con detalle y precisión asistimos a la vida cotidiana en el campo: las automutilaciones para evitar los trabajos forzados, las bodas entre prisioneros, la vida de las mujeres y los niños, las rebeliones y los intentos de fuga. El libro, documentado y riguroso, sostiene que el Gulag nació no solo por la necesidad de aislar a los elementos que el Partido Comunista consideraba enemigos, sino para conseguir, al mismo tiempo, una masa de trabajadores-esclavos que trabajara a cambio de comida en inmensos proyectos como el canal del mar Blanco o las minas de Kolimá. Tras la descripción del horror organizado por el régimen soviético, el libro narra cómo Gorbachov, cuya familia se vio directamente afectada por esta política represiva, decidió terminar con este régimen carcelario liberando a la ciudadanía de uno de los más perversos y crueles sistemas represivos que el mundo ha conocido....

Title : Gulag: historia de los campos de concentracion soviéticos
Author :
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ISBN : 9788483065785
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 670 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Gulag: historia de los campos de concentracion soviéticos Reviews

  • Karen
    2019-03-21 15:38

    I have been reading some memoirs about the Soviet Gulags, and I discovered that I didn't have enough knowledge of Russian history to process what I was reading about individual experiences. Consequently, I picked up Applebaum's book. Her book was precisely what I needed. She presents a very systematic explanation of the gulags in three sections: 1) the historical precedents prior to Stalin's regime and the rise of their power under Stalin; 2) Day-to-day life in the gulags; and 3) the dismantling of the Gulag's after Stalin's death and their diminishing presence through several other Soviet leaders and into 21st century Russia politics and judicial / penal system. At times the amount of detail was close to overwhelming, but Applebaum places all the facts into strong frameworks without losing the debates and ambiguity present in the field because of incomplete and missing information. She blends data, history, politics, personal history, and even a few exerpts from literary works to create her history. I expected to see cruelty depicted, but what shocked me the most was the arbitrary manner in which arrests, labor, torture and even releases were conducted. It would be maddening to live under a regime that weilded so much power in ways that were incomprehensible to its people. Anyone could be arrested and placed in labor / death camps: criminals, dissidents, and even members of the Communist party. Were the gulags so heavily populated because Stalin wanted cheap labor as a way to industrialize the Soviet Union? They never were cost effective. Was he trying to brow beat people into submission? They created strife between people and government. Was he trying to reform criminals and political dissidents? Few if none of the gulag prisoners became better people because of their time in the camps -- if they lived through it. The accounts made me wonder how human beings could descend into such irrational mistreatment of one another and made me wonder if such nonesense still persists in other countries - even in small ways (even in our own). Before this summer, I could fit everything I knew about the gulags on a postage stamp. Applebaum gave me a wealth of knowledge and much to ponder. I'm glad that I found this book -- even if her book was the antithesis of a "summer read."

  • Chrissie
    2019-03-11 14:38

    A third to a fourth remains when I write this. I have 8 hours left of 27 hours and 45 minutes! I am chugging along, but I'll tell you Gulag: A History is an exceptionally hard read. The topic is dark, and I am usually fine with difficult subjects, but this proves to be harder than I thought! The book is VERY thorough. Chapter after chapter covering every possible aspect of the Gulag camps. I have read a lot previously on the topic. References are made to much of what I have read before.....and yet still there is more. The material presented is well organized. The author analyzes the evidence; she doesn't simply accept what is being said but compares information with other sources. Yet there is so much information you get drowned by the details and what is discussed is so very horrible. Here is one example of the meticulous analytical manner in which facts are studied. The food eaten in the camps is discussed, so of course food portions in grams must be listed too - for each and every prisoner type. On top of that the water content, which skews the nutrient content for the given weight, is documented. See what I mean by thorough?! Phew. Thoroughness on top of being a very difficult subject makes this a hard read. It is a clinically accurate and an encyclopedic tome. Tons of references to particular individual experiences. This I like.********************************On completion I want to re-emphasize what I noted above. The book is well organized, well researched, thorough, meticulously documented and encyclopedic in content. Multiple references to particular individuals' experiences are sited. Statements are not taken at face value; instead each is evaluated to discover the real truth. How is the book organized? There are three sections. The first covers how the camps came into being and developed with time. The central section covers life in the camps divided into chapters focusing on different themes, i.e. different aspects of the camps. Here are some examples of the themes: arrest, interrogations, incarceration in prisons, transport to the camps, intermediary transit camps. Once in the camps the following themes are equally meticulously documented - freedom of movement, classification of the incarcerated, bathing, dining, food, sleeping facilities, work, propaganda, punishment and reward, communication with the outside world, spiritual issues, criminals versus political prisoners, women and children and births and nurseries and sex and rape and prostitution and love and homosexuality...... I simply cannot list everything! What is essential to understand is that every aspect is meticulously documented. There are statistics and quotes from the incarcerated. The third section is about the dismantlement of the camps and the situation at the end of the 20th century. Finally there is an epilogue that focuses on why the author felt the book needed to be written. The first and the third section are in chronological order. Numerous references are made to authors such as Aleksandr Solzjenitsyn, Yevgenia Ginzburg, Osip Mandelstam, Andrej Sacharov, and others. I found the war years and the treatment of Poles, Crimean Tartars, Ukrainians, Chechens and other Caucasians, seen from the perspective of current events, particularly interesting. Also Putin’s background. The book's organization and clear writing makes it easy to follow. can feel at points that you are drowning in all the information. It is like reading an encyclopedia section of over 600 pages. If I were writing a research paper, this would be a fantastic resource. It is itself a bit like a research paper. I would have appreciated a bit more editing. Even if it is easy to understand, it doesn't read as a book for the general public, in that it is so comprehensive! I do think there was a real need for such a book. How you rate a book depends on what you personally are looking for. My three star rating is by no means a judgment of the book’s quality; my rating only shows my personal appreciation of the book. I liked it and would definitely recommend it to others, along with a word of warning that it is at times tedious and often relates horrible events.The narration of the audiobook by Laural Merlington was absolutely excellent. I cannot judge her Russian pronunciation. I liked the speed at which it was narrated and the ease at understanding each word. Clearly narrated. This is essential in a book of non-fiction. I am giving the narration five stars.

  • AnaVlădescu
    2019-03-02 11:46

    I read history books because of my undying belief that as a human being, I am responsible for anything that humans do. If murder happens, it is because I have it in me as well. If kindness happens, it is because I am capable of kindness. This belief does not put me or humanity at the center of anything - I think anthropocentrism is one of the worst ways of explaining our existence - but rather connects me to every other human being that has ever lived, or will ever live. I believe in patterns - and totalitarian patterns have a particular tendency to devolve into heinous, soul-crushing, lethal regimes, run by maniacs who indulge in their darkest sides. Applebaum seems to think along the same lines. This book is written with such delicacy towards the victims and innocents, but it also lays down facts with the weight of iron with regards to what actually happened. Myths are debunked, correctness is preserved, truth above all is searched for, because in knowing the truth about things such as the Gulag, we are better prepared to deal with ourselves in the future. Applebaum believes the Gulags will exist again (albeit in any future form they might morph into), she believes massacres, genocides, totalitarianism, mass murder happen and will continue to happen for as long as we are human - and I agree. That is why we must read history, that is why we must expose ourselves to the most uncomfortable facts about ourselves - because we will meet with this again. And the best weapon against anything human-made is knowledge of everything human-made.

  • Eric
    2019-02-22 07:36

    This is a fantastic book. It is a must-read for anyone who has any illusions about communism. It sucks. It is evil. It belongs in the dustbin of history.Anne Applebaum tells the story of the gulag in fascinating detail, using newly available Soviet archives and published and unpublished memoirs from those who survived the camps. Their stories are chilling, to say the least.In the Introduction, Applebaum discusses the differences and similarities between the Nazi death camps and the Soviet camps. She also explains why so many on the Left were willing to excuse Soviet communism (and particularly Stalin) for its crimes.She then delves into a general history of the camps, explaining that they were, at heart, an economic enterprise. The first official camp, Solovetsky, spread out over a group of islands in the White Sea, was meant to be profitable. Later, Stalin insisted that the entire gulag must turn a profit, which it never did. But no one had had the guts to tell Stalin that.But I'm getting ahead of myself. Applebaum shows how many prisoners were used for grand construction projects like canals and railroads, with the predictably disappointing results and thousands of lives lost (suffice to say that OSHA would not be pleased with the working conditions).She writes how the camp system expanded throughout the 1930s until it obtained its permanent form. By 1940, hundreds of camps imprisoned millions of people, many of them criminals, many of them politicals, those whose only "crime" was some sort of dissent against Stalin and the Soviet Union. Many of these politicals were innocent, of course.In Part Two, in my opinion the heart and most compelling section of the book, Applebaum delves into the minutiae of the camps, chronicling prisoners' experiences through the arrest, transport, and imprisonment in the camps. This is where you get the sense of the monstrosity of the system and the government that ran it. Space doesn't permit me to go into all the details. Suffice to say that as a horror writer, there's enough material to write dozens of short stories and novels, with no need for any supernatural element to make them scary.In the third section, she switches back to general history and covers the rest of the 20th century, from the death of Stalin to the death of the Soviet Union. The gulag survived Stalin's death, but it did shrink as Soviet leaders were then free to address the unprofitably of the system. Many camps were closed and many prisoners were released, though many of those were later re-arrested.But the suppression continued. Innocents were still jailed for speaking out for freedom and still forced to endure hard labor in horrific conditions.This is the story of oppression on a massive scale. But it's also a collection of gritty and inspiring stories of survival by those lucky enough to live through the experience. Unfortunately, millions did not.

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-18 11:28

    Jesus Christ. With the possible exception of a few books on the Holocaust, this is the single most painful work of non-fiction I've ever encountered. The portrait of the Soviet work camp system that Applebaum develops examines, in painfully minute detail, every single aspect of life in and around the Gulag system, from the highest levels of Soviet politburo administration, down to the lowliest starving, walking damned in the most far flung Siberian penal cell. And she brings a staggering deluge of historical records and personal testimonies from people involved at all levels of the Gulag system to bare witness and de-mystify what was for decades an almost completely hidden world.And what a nightmare of a world it all was, all the more so because the criminal unfairness of the whole enterprise was never mandated, never required, never written into laws or decrees in any way, they just didn't care at all what really happened to all of these people they arrested for nothing and charged with nothing and shunted around the Russian wastes and sent to dig limestone out the arctic with their bare hands with no shelter or warm clothing...In some ways, and I doubt Applebaum intended this, this is a work of supreme political nihilism. It doesn't merely call into question the practical ramifications of the ideology of the soviet union/socialism, it calls into question the entire concept of sane, humane governance in the modern age period. As long as something this crushingly atrocious is able to sustain itself for decades on end, how can we possibly have faith in anything that any national entity ever does?

  • Tasha
    2019-02-18 14:25

    A 5 star read without a doubt. This book impacted me on so many levels, I was absorbed and utterly fascinated with every word I read. My family is from Russia (I am a first gen American) and many of the events and situations which occurred in this book related to my family history. It's impact was tremendous as I learned so much of what had happened and what it must have been like for my family living (and eventually escaping) during Stalin's reign. As a young girl I heard stories of my grandfather having been in a "labor camp" but until I read this, I never knew what that really meant. My family knew a dissident who vacationed in the same resort we did every year, until I read this I truly did not understand what that meant either. Of course, we all can intellectually know what that means but Applebaum brings it to light on so many levels. I feel like I had the best Russian history lesson yet was emotionally engaged the whole time. What better way to learn about history?! Anne Applebaum is truly a talented writer. It is evident how well-researched this book is and she is able to present it in such a wonderfully engaging and readable format. Speaking for myself, other than knowing that labor camps existed, I had NO idea to the extent and to the length of time they existed. I am sure I am not alone in this and this book brings so much to our understanding of the world. I feel it is a very important contribution to history and a wonderful memorial to those who experienced these miserable situations. I feel it also brings an understanding of the Russian people both past and present.I highly recommend this book.

  • Dawn
    2019-02-28 10:44

    I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the era, country, politics, WWII or even just the Gulag itself. The vastness of the Gulag is astounding. From small camps to giant and from city prisons to tents in Siberia and all sizes in between. The variety of work that was required was also quite extensive, from manufacturing to logging to mining to channel building. With the quality of life that prisoners had to endure and how unprepared both they and their captures were I am surprised that so many people survived to tell their tales.I had no issues with the history, it was extremely well researched but the layout of the book held a few issues for me. Part 1 was a great introduction but I found Part 2 was a bit confusing as it switched from years and camps with such rapidity. I couldn't always remember what had happened in that year or that camp as it switched from subject to subject. But I loved the epilogue and the summation was very thought provoking. The story was depressing and shocking and disturbing. At the same time it was fascinating, enthralling and makes me want to know even more about the legacy of Lenin, Stalin and the Communist Party.

  • William1
    2019-02-20 15:51

    Read 60% of this then my interest precipitously flagged. To recall a line from Candide: The book fell from my hands.

  • Nathan
    2019-03-05 10:42

    In one of my college history classes, a student asked the professor who killed more people - Stalin or Hitler? The answer: we don't know and it doesn't matter - they were both the embodiment of evil. This book is very detailed history of the physical form of that evil and does an amazing job of detailing both the causes and effects that the system had on everyone involved from the police, to the guards, to the horrific effects on the prisoners. It is extremely well written - I had a hard time putting it down during all 600 detail filled pages.

  • Mikey B.
    2019-03-03 13:37

    Page 102 (my book) from Stalin and Beria“an enemy of the people is not only one who commits sabotage, but one who doubts the rightness of the Party line.”... women were arrested as “wives of enemies of the people” and the same applied to children.Page 241 Vladimir Bukovsky“In our camps, you were expected not only to be a slave laborer, but to sing and smile while you worked as well. They didn’t just want to oppress us; they wanted us to thank them for it.”This is a book that is horrific in scope as it details the history of the Gulag in the Soviet Union from its beginnings under Lenin.The author, who writes with great eloquence, takes us through the various stages of what occurred. The Gulag itself was a vast slave labour system that had two basic purposes: to incarcerate anyone who was perceived as a threat to the system and to use the slave labourers (the prisoners) to industrialize and modernize the Soviet Union – to build roads and railroads, work in mines, chop down trees for lumber – in other words to exploit the almost endless resources of the country.Ms. Applebaum takes us through the entire sequence of events: the arrest, interrogation, imprisonment, transport to a camp, and the camp itself. Millions passed through this system, some more than once.When examined individually these steps could be compared to imprisonment in other countries – for instance the food is atrocious. But it is the vast scale of the Gulag that sets it apart - not only in terms of human dignity, but as a crime against there own citizens. One aspect that is beyond the compare is the transport to the labour camps. Many would die during this long journey to the outer reaches of the Soviet Union where they could be locked in cattle cars or the bottom of ships and given little food and clothing. Many of the prisons were in the far north where the prisoners were forced to work long hours in the cold with inadequate clothing and small rations, even in the summer they were decimated by hordes of mosquitoes. Of interest is that the camps were controlled by the Russian mob which has a long history, as they started in the days of the Czar. These real criminals held brutal sway over the political prisoners. The number and types of prisoners were vast – “political” prisoners, exiles (as in a national group relocated for ethnic cleansing) consisting over the years of Poles, Lithuanians, Chechens, religious people, kulaks... One is never quite sure of the distinction between an exile and prisoners – in remote locations neither, due to geography, had freedom of movement. Maybe prisoners had an advantage because they were fed, usually with a bowl of watery soup.Page 421 in 1939With no warning, the NKVD had plucked these newcomers – Poles, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Moldavians – out of their bourgeois or peasant worlds after the Soviet invasion of multiethnic eastern Poland, Bessarabia, and the Baltic States, and dumped them in large numbers, into the Gulag and exile villages.What is most sad and atrocious is the treatment of the children (which I dare say was even worse than the way women were treated). They were at the bottom of the ladder in a “society” where work was rewarded with food. Page 333Decades of propaganda, of posters draped across orphanage walls, thanking Stalin “for our happy childhood”, failed to convince the Soviet people that the children of the camps, the children of the streets, and the children of the orphanages had ever become anything but full-fledged members of the Soviet Union’s large and all-embracing criminal class.Ms. Appleton humanizes all with emotional quotes from several people, including Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Varlam Shalamov. The author discusses how the Gulag changed after Stalin. For instance, during the Brezhnev era Joseph Brodsky (a poet) was arrested and imprisoned on charges of “parasitism”.This book furthered my understanding of the Soviet Union and its’ successor Russia. This is not a book of numbers. It is intense and extremely well written. We are provided not just with a history of the Gulag, but of the entire country. Highly recommended for any who are interested in this important historical era. As the author mentions, it gives us another view of the Cold War – and why there was a Cold War.Page 515 Olga Adamo-Sliozberg arrested in 1936 – released in 1956“There was no one home and finally I was able to weep freely.To weep for my husband, who perished in the cellars of the Lubyanka, when he was thirty-seven years old, at the height of his powers and talent; for my children, who grew up orphans, stigmatized as the children of enemies of the people; for my parents, who died of grief; for Nikolai who was tortured in the camps; and for all of my friends who never lived to be rehabilitated but lie beneath the frozen earth of Kolyma.”

  • Scottnshana
    2019-03-01 12:40

    It would be easy to stop reading after the introduction, where she tells us that "the Gulag did not emerge, fully formed, from the sea, but rather reflected the standards of the society around it. If the camps were filthy, if the guards were brutal, if the work teams were slovenly, that was partly because filthiness and brutality and slovenliness were plentiful enough in other spheres of Soviet life. If life in the camps was horrible, unbearable, inhuman, if death rates were high--that too was hardly surprising. In certain periods, life in the Soviet Union was also horrible, unbearable, and inhuman, and death rates were as high outside the camps as they were within them." Applebaum argues through the narrative--describing heartbreaking transits on boats full of mass rape and murder to desolate corners of the USSR; families shattered as spouses break it off at conjugal "House of Meetings" visits and orphans end up on the streets as a festering class of homeless/brutal/carnal criminals; and the awful/truly gross things people would do to smuggle grain alcohol into the camps--that when there were periods war and famine outside the system deaths inside it would spike. Along the way, there are some very interesting historical gems, too. I've been to Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst many times, but I didn't know that in 1945 145 Russian prisoners of war housed there rioted and killed themselves rather than go back to the USSR and atone for their collaboration with the Nazis via the Gulag. I didn't know that in 1944 U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace visited the camp at Kolyma and was completely duped Potemkin-style into thinking it was a worker's paradise in "the Wild West of Russia". I learned that if you're a fat guy and two other prisoners suddenly invite you to do a big cross-country escape opportunity you're probably going to get eaten. I think that, after accompanying Applebaum on this well-researched history--meeting Solzhenitsyn, seeing the comparisons and contrasts to the Nazis' camps, and watching the ways that every Soviet leader after Stalin's death tried to deal with this system that absolutely wasted so much blood and treasure--that the ugliest but most useful part of this book occurs in the epilogue. After describing all the soul-searching and efforts to heal that took place in Germany in the wake of the Holocaust (which are ongoing, by the way), she points out that "Half a century after Stalin's death, there were no equivalent arguments taking place in Russia, because memory of the past was not a living part of public discourse... the goal has been to end discussion of the past, to pacify the victims by throwing them a few extra rubles and free bus tickets, and to avoid any deeper examination of the causes of Stalinism or of its legacy." While Applebaum laments the fact that Russians don't want to talk about the crimes of the past, she doesn't let the other Cold War camp off easy, either: "Already, we are forgetting what it was that mobilized us, what held the civilization of "the West" together for so long: we are forgetting what it was that we were fighting against. If we do not try harder to remember the history of the other half of the European continent, the history of the other twentieth-century totalitarian regime, in the end it is we in the West who will not understand our past, we who will not know how our world came to be the way it is." I found this book insightful and interesting, if a little depressing (I read it in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, one of the most beautiful places in the world, so that I could occasionally take a reality break from the uglier bits in the pages like forced feedings and self-mutilation) and I think that its subject matter is timely, given what we're seeing lately in the international news.

  • Raymond
    2019-03-08 10:49

    I probably never will get all of, "Gulag," read. Anne Applebaum's awesome, masterful, 586-page history of the Gulag, the labor/concentration camps of the Soviet Union, overwhelms me. A key question which must arise in the minds of most American readers is how and why we know and hear so much of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany's assault upon millions of people, but we know and hear so little of the Gulag. There is at least one important distinction. The German camps came to be outright death camps; people were herded to mass executions. The Soviets - by no means benign - did maintain their camps (mostly) as labor/banishment camps, albeit untold millions died of the cruelty and inhumanity which became their lot. There were no trials of the Gulag perpetrators or the guards or the informers. There were no state probes or official inquiries. When at last the Gulag ended, it was done. With exceptions (with Applebaum's notable exception), the Gulag was not even history. In part this may explain - incredible - Josef Stalin "deported the Chechen nation to the wastes of Kazakhstan where half of them died and the rest were meant to disappear, with their language and culture." Then - twice in the 1990s - the Russian federation launched wars against the Chechen people, killed tens of thousands, and destroyed the Chechen capital of Grozny. Applebaum notes this is the moral equivalent of Germany invading Poland twice in the 1990s. Focus on the Gulag and its consequences becomes withering.

  • John
    2019-03-08 10:49

    Among the best accounts of Stalin's system of concentration and labor camps that I know of. She describes not only the organization, operations of the camps as well as life within them, but she also explains the role of slave labor in the development of the Soviet economy and in war production. Very well written, and entirely engaging - despite the horror in the tale. Clearly deserving of the Pulitzer Prize that she was awarded - if I recall correctly.

  • Rick
    2019-03-05 08:50

    This is first rate history but difficult reading as you might suspect from its topic. Applebaum presents a strong, unblinking examination of the history of the Soviet gulag, the system of Communist prison camps that in Solzhenitsyn’s metaphoric naming spread across the Soviet Union in a vast archipelago of intentional brutality, targeted murder, malign indifference, exposure, overwork, disease, deprivation, and starvation. Everything, including the heroically stubborn survival of prisoners suffering the insufferable, enduring the unendurable, and simply outlasting this rarely mitigated evil, is hard to read but necessary for understanding.The gulag’s inmates were political opponents, real and imagined, of Stalin. They were random citizens turned in for telling a joke or making a disparaging remark about Soviet leaders or the Soviet system—or for listening to someone else make a joke or a remark. Others were citizens who were merely suspected of something because they received mail from abroad, spoke a language other than Russian or bought something on the black market. Other prisoners were reported to authorities by someone who was angry or jealous of them for any reason; and still others were implicated by friends, colleagues or acquaintances in response to interrogations about non-existent conspiracies. There were also criminals in the camps, thieves and murderers and sexual predators, who sometimes were allowed to or were used by camp wardens to victimize the political prisoners. And at times there were spouses and children of political prisoners, swept up for the crime of being family members of “an enemy of the people.”The gulag existed from immediately after the Bolshevik Revolution until the collapse of the Soviet Union, though it was at its worst during the reign of Stalin. For many of its original prisoners it was surprisingly familiar because as revolutionaries themselves (Mensheviks, anarchists, socialists, etc.) they had spent time in the czarist prisons. But the Soviet gulag was worse than its czarist model. Periodic purges resulted in mass executions, particularly but not exclusively in the Great Terror of 1937 and 1938. For all of Stalin’s reign the work camps were a significant, if totally unsuccessful, part of the Soviet economy. Prisoners were slave labor with unreachable quotas of work to be attained under extreme conditions with crude and inadequate tools. Food rations were close to minimal levels to avoid starvation and those who didn’t meet quotas were fed below minimal level. Disease and death were rampant. During periods of famine and after the Nazi invasion, when conditions were so awful that millions of free Soviet citizens died from cold, starvation, and related diseases, life, of course, was even worse in the camps.Applebaum tries to put verifiable figures on all of this but documentation, the methodology and reliability of record keeping, in the camps makes that challenging. Applebaum’s relentless research and interview efforts are inspiring—if you are wondering how difficult is it to read almost 600 pages of such unimaginable brutality, pause to consider how difficult it is to spend intense years examining the histories, memoirs, documents, and oral accounts of this dark, decades-long era of evil. Pause further to consider how we can adequately understand and remember what happened if all we know is a simple, brief textbook summary? You can’t. Anne Applebaum’s Gulag, A History is essential reading for any meaningful understanding of the 20th century.

  • Joanna
    2019-02-23 11:46

    She's a fine journalist, but she's no historian. It seems well researched, and certainly well-footnoted, but it basically comes across as a mind-numbing tale of how millions of people, represented by a group of selected memoirists, suffered terribly for dubious political/philosophical reasons. I think it's a good attempt at trying to approach a historical era from the point of view of the victims, rather than the perpetrators, but it also shows how difficult that is to carry off. I'm still waiting for the book that can give me what feels like real insight into the phenomenon of early-to-mid-century European social and political tumult. But maybe I will just have to dig it out for myself from fact-packed tomes like this one (given that I'm limited to English-language sources). Also, she does a pretty good job of not letting her own political biases take over (they are there, particularly if you know her background, or are sensitive to clues) but she seems to be letting facts speak for themselves on the whole. I would say, howver, that her conclusions in the epilogue are not well supported. Also, the prose, while certainly readable, can be clunky.

  • Rick Boyer
    2019-02-26 10:25

    An absolutely brilliant and crucially important work, which details the history of the Soviet Gulag system of forced labor camps, from the end of the First World War to the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. Exhaustively researched and containing numerous reminiscences from camp survivors, and details from official government archives, Anne Applebaum presents a picture of Soviet repression that is equal parts horrifying, sobering, educational, and nearly beyond belief. This is an important work for what it teaches us historically, for the lessons it brings to us about the reality of evil, for what it tells us about ourselves, and for the hope it gives that, with understanding, perhaps future descents into the horrors of ideological and political violence and repression can be mitigated, if not avoided altogether.I strongly, strongly recommend this book.

  • Nicholas
    2019-02-19 07:39

    Eye opening. Amazing how this part of history seems to be left alone, especially in the West. Applebaum acknowledges this when she visits the prisons on her own. An interesting read and one that includes the power that literature and poetry has when many great Russian writers were finally able to get their works pertaining to these camps published decades later.

  • Alper Çuğun
    2019-02-18 07:33

    Caught this review from my old Dutch blog:Gelukkig weer een boek uitgelezen (de stapel naast mijn bureau wordt alleen maar hoger, niet lager): het schokkend indrukwekkende “Gulag” van Anne Applebaum. Ik weet dat de dingen die in het boek staan grotendeels echt gebeurd zijn, maar het leest weg als een Kafka-esque beschrijving van de Inferno.Het is bizar hoe normaal corruptie, marteling, diefstal en moord toen waren. Hoe normaal het was om mensen te reduceren tot minder dan mensen, tot objecten. Dat je naar een strafkamp werd verbannen als je drie keer te laat op je werk kwam, dat je dan in de isoleercel gegooid kon worden als je je overhemd niet helemaal had dichtgeknoopt.Hier een paar voorbeelden van dingen die echt gebeurden:Verhaal #1: als twee gevangenen wilden ontsnappen, namen ze een derde mee. Deze wist het zelf niet maar hij was lopende proviand. Wanneer onderweg het eten op was dan was het de bedoeling dat de twee hem dood zouden maken en zijn vlees zouden verdelen en opeten.Verhaal #2: om alcohol het kamp binnen te smokkelen lieten ze iemand een condoom inslikken met daaraan een buis. de buis stak dan half uit de mond. via die buis werd dan zo'n 3 liter alcohol in het condoom gepompt. in het kamp konden ze daar weer 7 liter wodka van maken. ging er onderweg iets mis dan stierf de koerier aan alcoholvergiftiging, anders werd hij binnengehaald als held.Verhaal #3: het noorden was in de winter compleet bevroren. in de korte zomers werd alles een groot moderrig moeras en stikte het er van de muggen. een straf was om een gevangenen naakt aan een boom vast te binden tussen al die muggen. daar werden ze gestoken tot ze flauw viel van het tekort aan bloed.En zo kan ik nog wel een tijdje doorgaan. Het boek zit er vol mee.Het hele systeem heeft vanaf ergens in de jaren '20 (Solovetsky in 1923) tot ver in de jaren tachtig bestaan (waar ze in Perm nog dissidenten opsloten). Stalin was een hevig gelover in dwangarbeid om mensen te beteren en om het land vooruit te helpen. Niemand durfde hem te vertellen dat dat allebei niet echt lukte.Na zijn dood (in 1953) werd de boel wel milder onder Beria, Kruschev (niet onder Andropov) en uiteindlijk kwam er een eind aan onder Gorbachev.In Rusland wordt er niet veel meer over de Gulag gepraat. Weinig mensen weten er meer dan een beetje van, er wordt nauwelijks over gepraat en er wordt al helemaal geen recht gedaan. Een belangrijke reden hiervoor is dat Rusland nu nog wordt geregeerd door de mensen die toen ‘fout’ waren. Poetin (Bush zijn friend, Vladimir) is zelf een ex-KGB agent. De communisten van toen hebben er veel belang bij om de waarheid te begraven.Het falen om de misdadigers van toen te berechten en de verzetshelden te eren werkt nu nog door in de samenleving.Hier in het Westen is de volledige lading helemaal niet bekend. Er waren hier mensen die voor het communisme waren en de kampen ontkenden maar het is waarschijnlijk tot niemand doorgedrongen hoe fout dat soort mensen eigenlijk waren. Achteraf bekeken is die Koude Oorlog dus ontzettend terecht geweest.Applebaum eindigt daarom pessimistisch met:[…] For if we go on forgetting half of Europe's history, some of what we know about mankind itself will be distorted. Every one of the twentieth-century's mass tragedies was unique: the Gulag, the Holocaust, the Armenian massacre, the Nanking massacre, the Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian revolution, the Bosnian wars, among many others. Every one of these events had different historical, philosophical and cultural origins, every one arose in particular local circumstances which will never be repeated. Only our ability to debase and destroy and dehumanize our fellow man has been — and will be — repeated again and again: our transformation of our neighbours into ‘enemies’, our reduction of our opponents to lice or vermin or poisonous weeds, our re-invention of our victims as lower, lesser or evil beings, worthy only of incarceration or expulsion or death.The more we are able to understand how different societies have transformed their neighbours and fellow citizens from people into objects, the more we know of the specific circumstances which led to each episode of mass torture and mass murder, the better we will understand the darker side of our own human nature. This book was not written ‘so that it will not happen again’, as the cliché would have it. This book was written because it almost certainly will happen again. Totalitarian philosophies have had, and will continue to have, a profound appeal to many millions of people. Destruction of the ‘objective enemy’, as Hannah Arendt once put it, remains a fundamental object of many dictatorships. We need to know why — and each story, each memoir, each document in the history of the Gulag is a piece of the puzzle, a part of the explanation. Without them, we will wake up one day and realize that we do not know who we are.

  • Frank Stein
    2019-02-21 12:40

    This is an eye-opening look at a dictatorial bureaucracy run amok, and the consequences of that bureaucratic nightmare on real human beings.Applebaum writes about the Soviet Gulag first as a narrative history and then as a social history. Her narrative history begins with the early Cheka (or pre-KGB) prison on the Solovetsky island monastery, in the White Sea, where a former prisoner named Naftaley Frenkel became a manager of the prison and, in true Soviet fashion, tried to turn it into a source of economic production, mainly of lumber. By 1930 the Soviet secret police took over most of the nation's prisons and turned them into massive versions of Solovetsky, just as Stalin began filling them with "kulak" peasant resisters and political opponents. Over the course of the next 20 years, almost 29 million people traveled through the camps, with about 2 million people in them at any one time. One report estimates at least 2.8 million people died in them. After Stalin's own death, millions were set free, but over 10,000 dissidents were kept in similar camps and psychiatric hospitals right up to the collapse of the country.In her social history of life in the camps Applebaum highlights the paradoxes that were everywhere part of Soviet life. The camps were supposed to be engines of economic productivity, but from Solovetsky on they almost always lost money, or cost more than the relatively more "free" enterprises in the Soviet Union, which is why Lavrentia Beria moved to close them so quickly after Stalin's death. Yet during the Gulag's height, no place could seemed so capitalist-minded or obsessed with profit and production. Gulag prisoners were divided into brigades, led by a "brigadier," which competed to fulfill output quotas of lumber or coal or, in the deathly Kolyma complex, gold. Those brigades that fulfilled their quotas got up to 700 grams of bread a day, while those who failed got starvation rations of 300 grams. The irony was that 700 grams of bread was often not enough calories to complete a hard day's work, so many brigades failed and fell back to the lower level of rations, which was then not even enough to survive on, so many starved. In attempting the "maximize output" at the lowest cost, the Gulag was in fact eating itself alive. In fact, hunger was the overwhelming concern and cause of death throughout the Gulag's history. Its the main reason they turned into little forms of hell.The strangest part of the Gulag in Applebaum's tale, however, was that most of the time the authorities truly hoped to run it "by the book." There were legal "commission" decisions and confessions that accompanied just about every absurd arrest and sentence. There were inspector reports which described the horrendous conditions and demanded reform. The central Gulag administration ("Gulag" was a Russian acronym for "main administration of camps") set strict requirements on the amount of clothes and boots and living spaces prisoners should receive (one regulation set the height and width in centimeters of the bucket to defecate in), and demanded the camps nurture sick prisoners to health, so they could produce more of course. The fact that these camps tortured and killed so many innocents seems more like an example of riotous incompetence combined with ridiculous ideology. Unlike some of the Nazi concentration camps, the Gulag was not meant to be a factory of death and terror, they just turned out to be (although they never reached the death rates of the Nazi "KLs," they did have many more people travel through them). In this tale, the Soviet Union's leaders were certainly corrupt and malicious, but mostly they were ideological, and their ideology and obsession with Soviet development allowed a hateful system to spin out of control, turning into something its own creators did not exactly want, but that few had the courage to challenge.

  • Michael Gerald
    2019-02-28 11:37

    A great complement to the books "The Gulag Archipelago" and "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea", this book provides the bigger picture as well as the individual level of the evil that was the Soviet gulag.Showing the history of the gulag system from the Bolsheviks' appropriation of the existing camps under the Tsarist system to its massive expansion by Stalin and his minions, "Gulag" proves that the "concentration camp" system had its roots not in Nazi Germany but in the Soviet Union. In fact, the Nazis actually got the inspiration for their own extermination camps from their Soviet counterparts.The banality of evil and the institutionalized criminality of the Soviet gulag system did break the souls and bodies of millions of Soviet citizens and other nationalities. But the system can never defeat the people. In the end, it was the people who won over it.

  • Marisol García
    2019-03-04 10:32

    La investigación es impecable, con una explicación que acude todo el tiempo a datos, contexto y citas para instalar el por qué, cómo, dónde y para qué de tanto (tanto, tanto) horror. Es justo que la autora reserve al principio y al final una opinión personal sobre el tema, pues la deshumanización no puede relatarse en una descripción objetiva. Pero esto es periodismo, y el gulag tiene un correlato literario y testimonial muy importante en los trabajos de varios novelistas y ensayistas rusos, y quedaría coja la comprensión del tema si uno se salta a Solzhenitsyn o Shalámov. Si hay tiempo, y ganas, lo ideal es combinar los dos enfoques.

  • Repix
    2019-03-12 12:47

    Un libro con pasajes muy duros pero al que, en cambio, le falta un poco de emotividad y le sobra un mucho de frialdad. Aun así, lo recomiendo. Trata un tema bastante desconocido y es muy fácil de leer.

  • Pamela
    2019-03-07 15:31

    I expected to like this much more than I finally did. It was well and extensively researched and dealt with every conceivable aspect of the Soviet prison camp system from 1918 until its end. Unfortunately, Ms. Applebaum suffers from a unique ability to say basically the same thing in a multiplicity of diverse ways until you become so caught up in the minutiae of the bureaucracy she's describing that you lose sight of the horror. Each camp begins to sound very much like another and each new project devised by Stalin is just as bizarre as the last one. Applebaum points out several times that the intention was not the same as Hitler's. There was not the intent to deliberately kill these inmates; they died mainly due to indifference and neglect but is that really enough of a point to make a moral distinction? They were dead all the same and for the same reason. They were not fed enough, not given enough health care and worked until they died. Those that managed to survive did it through some strange twist of fate, or act of god, or sheer ability to hold out. Who knows. One of the things that Ms. Applebaum does point out is that many of the same things that were going on in the camps also went on in Soviet society at large. Shortages, fear, disarray was the order of the day. The inherent incompetence of the Soviet system itself finally brought it down. However, for a more readable and powerful version of this story read Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

  • Riovogan
    2019-02-20 09:29

    老大哥会梦见古拉格吗?!到2016年圣诞节,苏联解体已经过去25年了。在这个时代说起纳粹的集中营,几乎没有人会为之辩护。但是说到古拉格,你可以找到一堆奇谈怪论的说词。我觉得任何人谈到古拉格应该像谈到纳粹的集中营一样。马加丹,沃尔库塔,诺里尔斯克这样的名字应该与奥斯维辛,布痕瓦尔德,崔布林卡一样永远让人们铭记,永远让人们唾弃。 科罗廖夫曾自述错过“因迪吉尔卡河”号的幸运。此船载着1939年所谓被“释放”的“技术犯”从马加丹港前往符拉迪沃斯托克途中触礁,并导致1000多人的死亡。这个故事仿佛就是古拉格的缩影——即对于苏俄当局来说,这些“技术犯”——政治犯的生命毫不可惜,党的目的是尽可能地榨干他们。 古拉格建立的目的是为了一箭双雕,既消除了党内外的异己分子——所谓“异己”的标准非常模糊;又让这些人开拓了广袤的俄罗斯荒原——这就成了一些人替古拉格合理存在辩护的一个理由。可古拉格和苏联的其他一切一样,在叠床架屋的苏联式官僚体制下,毫不意外成为一个严重亏空的项目——当然谁也不敢直接取消它,而是编造谎言,继续制作充满水分的统计表欺上瞒下,自我安慰。 许多人将苏联人——俄罗斯人,或者俄罗斯男人看做“战斗民族”。试问一个真正的“战斗民族”居然让这种可怕的制度存续了60多年,并将其归到斯大林的伟大功绩里面,实在是可笑至极。就像某些中国人对文革,对知青的看法——毕竟锻炼和教育了一代人。一些苏俄怀念者也将古拉格称之为“拓荒先锋”——或曰必要的牺牲。 真正锻炼和教育一代人的其实是四十年的冷战。作者在后记里也谈到现在有些人已经认为冷战毫无必要。真的毫无必要吗?答案显而易见。HUAC不能和NKVD相提并论。 古拉格,毫无存在的必要,它既不是法律的体现,也不是无私的爱国热情的产物。它就是野蛮,黑暗,暴力的化身。可是,古拉格今日依然以各种形式存在。也许就在你的身边。

  • Susie
    2019-02-25 10:49

    I was just going to give it five stars and write, "Gulag! Nuff said," but then I thought that might be a little disrespectful to the 28.7 million people who went through the Gulag or related camps, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, exile and deportation, and the somewhere between 10 and 20 million who lost their lives as a result. People were sentenced to years in the Gulag for such "crimes" as being late to work, or because someone informed on them, or for literally nothing at all. Some people were sentenced in the '30s, served their sentences or were released through amnesties during the war, and then were re-arrested in '48 when Stalin began a new wave of repression. They lived in inhuman conditions and were worked to death. The magnitude of the suffering is almost incomprehensible. I could go on, but I'll just say that the book was excellent in readability and scope. It gave me an understanding of a subject that was previously very vague to me. There are still forced labor camps in North Korea and China; they are direct descendants of the Gulag.

  • Keith
    2019-03-16 13:26

    This was definitely and eye-opening, thought-provoking and at many point a very disturbing read for me. I truly had no idea why these "Gulags" were established and the immense amount of people (soviets and foreigners) that were prisoners in these labor camps. Nor did I know that there were staggering amounts of "Gulags" spread out across the USSR, especially ones very close to the Artic. There was one chapter in this book that astonished me and left me horrified with an actual lump in my throat. It was chapter 15 titled "Women and Children" which opened with a shocking excerpt from a memoir of a survivor named Olga Adamova-Sliozberg. I won't go into any detail about this excerpt because it must be read by anyone interested in learning about these Gulags. In this chapter you read about the depravation, demoralization and inhumane way these women and children were treated and witnessed on a day to day, month to month and for most of them year to year basis, left me utterly gobsmacked.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-07 09:40

    So this is good, but it's a bit TMI for this reader. About three hundred pages in, I was like, "Okay, I get it. Being in the Gulag really sucked, and these camps weren't well-run. Wow, are we really gonna run through how bad it was in even more detail??" I mean, you pick up that it sucked pretty quickly, and then there's like five hundred more pages describing how MUCH it sucked. So again, yeah, the casual student of the Gulag might be savvy enough to avoid the 600 page history, and might not need my advice that perhaps she should pick a shorter book or more of a Stalinist Russia overview, which I guess probably would've been a bit more my speed.I might finish this at some point, but the fact is that it's been sitting untouched and half-finished in my desk at work since around the time that the weather got warm (it was a more appropriate winter book), so for now I'm putting it on my abandoned-efforts shelf of shame.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-02-21 12:50

    Release Date: April 9, 2004 | ISBN-10: 1400034094 | ISBN-13: 978-1400034093 | Edition: First EditionThe 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 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.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-21 09:51

    Gulag: A History is an amazingly detailed overview of a system I knew nearly nothing about. The writing, while being dry, is full of amazing, rich facts and, while it can become overwhelming at points, it’s spiced up nicely by personal accounts and literature Applebaum uses to underline the points she’s making. This is an incredibly important account of a dark period of history, and will leave readers with a fresh and well-rounded understanding of life in Soviet Russia if they are willing to wade through the length of it.Read my full review here:

  • Luis Brudna
    2019-02-27 14:35

    Impressionante história sobre os campos de trabalhos forçados que existiam na antiga União Soviética. Em torno de 18 milhões de pessoas passaram por sofrimento, privações, fome, tortura e morte.No YouTube tem uma entrevista com a autora do livro o livro em inglês)