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Gulag: A History

Recorded on June 24, 2003

The Heritage foundation's Van Andel Center

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor - unprecedented in scope - gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for The Economist and a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion…. Applebaum details camp life, including strategies for survival; the experiences of women and children in the camps; sexual relationships and marriages between prisoners; and rebellions, strikes and escapes. There is almost too much dark irony to bear in this tragic, gripping account. Applebaum's lucid prose and painstaking consideration of the competing theories about aspects of camp life and policy are always compelling…. - Publisher's Weekly

Anne Applebaum's 677-page Gulag:A History, the most authoritative - and comprehensive - account of this Soviet blight ever published by a Western writer, puts the Gulag in its rightful, horrifying place. - Andrew Nagorski, Newsweek