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THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, 1918-1956

AN EXPERIMENT IN LITERARY INVESTIGATION (VOLUME THREE)

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn uses the final volume of his epic account of the Soviet penal camp system—covering the years from World War II to the present—to remind us that the Soviet peoples are not "such slaves as all those studies by liberal historians contemptuously make us out to be." Especially after the war, the Archipelago's inhabitants, the zeks, ceased to accept their fate with resignation. Once a zek himself, Solzhenitsyn bears witness to their escapes and revolts. In 1954, at Kengir, they mutinied for 40 days, using balloons and kites to communicate with the outside, until crushed by assault troops and tanks. Despite the passing of the "Great Deceased" (Stalin), the Archipelago continues, albeit in a reduced form, and so does vigilance: the Party cannot err. Those who staffed the Archipelago in its worst days "sit with other pensioners on social service councils looking out for any lowering of moral standards" and railing against any easing of camp conditions. Solzhenitsyn notes that, in the absence of free public opinion, former warders who feel the need to justify themselves plead they were merely following orders—a defense the USSR rejected at Nuremburg. How, he asks, can a society hope to avoid future abuses if it fails to identify past injustices and punish those responsible? Once more Solzhenitsyn contends that the Archipelago, harsher by far than Tsarist katorga, was founded by Lenin and is essential to the survival of the Soviet regime. This is not a consensus opinion; Roy A. Medvedev and other Eastern and Western historians disagree with Solzhenitsyn's condemnation of Lenin. His work is, in any case, too aggressively polemical to be sound history. But, in a fitting conclusion to the other two volumes, it is a powerful memorial to those who refused to become slaves in a nation gone awry.

Pub Date: May 24, 1978

ISBN: 0813332915

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1978

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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