It's one of the ironies of modern history, or history itself, that the most vaunted form of world brotherhood, the doctrine of Communism, has produced accounts of inhumanity equalling the Fascist horror. A further irony, which Eugenia Ginzburg's memoir suggests, but strangely does not comment upon, is that a faithful Party member could be subjected to eighteen years of incarceration in Soviet prisons and concentration camps, and still remain loyal to the Party. Mrs. Ginzburg's case is not uncommon, and it would take an Hegelian (or Freud) to discover why, in the face of so many demeaning events (at one point, rioters are boiled alive under a barrage of hoses filled with scalding water), disillusionment or disgust did not win out over other considerations. But there's little philosophic or analytical contour here--the book's too ""immediate"" for that, an extremely emotional, detail by dreadful detail recording of persecution and survival, held together by an almost ritual stoicism (""Prison, and especially solitary confinement, ennobled and purified human beings...""), and--the truest feeling--an unmediated hatred of Stalin. He is the serpent in Eden, the monster of the ""personality cult,"" the NKVD, and the purges (Mrs. Ginzburg describes only the first three years of her imprisonment, from 1937 to 1939). Yet, again ironically, isn't Stalin's ""rehabilitation"" inevitable? A large and compelling work.