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The Gulag Archipelago

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr

1973, January 1

Gulag Archipelago

From Britannica:

The Gulag Archipelago, history and memoir of life in the Soviet Union’s prison camp system by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in Paris as Arkhipelag GULag in three volumes (1973–75). The word Gulag is a Russian acronym for the Soviet government agency that supervised the vast network of labour camps. Solzhenitsyn used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the camps, which were scattered through the sea of civil society like a chain of islands extending “from the Bering Strait almost to the Bosporus.”

The Gulag Archipelago is an exhaustive and compelling account based on Solzhenitsyn’s own eight years in Soviet prison camps, on other prisoners’ stories committed to his photographic memory while in detention, and on letters and historical sources. The work represents the author’s attempt to compile a literary and historical record of the Soviet regime’s comprehensive but deeply irrational use of terror against its own population. A testimonial to Stalinist atrocities, The Gulag Archipelago devastated readers outside the Soviet Union with its descriptions of the brutality of the Soviet regime. The book gave new impetus to critics of the Soviet system and caused many sympathizers to question their position.

The first two volumes describe the arrest, conviction, transport, and imprisonment of the Gulag’s victims from 1918 to 1956. Solzhenitsyn alternates dispassionate historical exposition with harrowing personal accounts from prison life. The third volume documents attempted escapes and subversions from within the system.

The Gulag Archipelago:

Volume 1: Parts 1 (Prison Industry) & 2 (Perpetual Motion)
Volume 2: Parts 3 (The Destructive Labor Camps) & 4 (The Soul and Barbed Wire)
Volume 3: Parts 5 (Katorga), 6 (Exile) & 7 (Stalin Is No More)

Where to Find Resource Online

The book is available for purchase online, both as a single volume with all three books, or as 3 separate books:

     Amazon — abridgement of volumes I, II, and III

     Amazon — Volume 1

     Amazon — Volume 2

     Amazon — Volume 3

Digital versions are available online:

     Internet Archive

A complete collection of all 7 parts from the 3 book volumes is available as downloadable audiobook with text — 64 mp4 files. As a correction, please note that what are listed as the 7 volumes are actually the 7 “Parts” which comprise each volume.

     Internet Archive

PDF Document

     The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1: Parts 1 (Prison Industry) & 2 (Perpetual Motion)

     The Gulag Archipelago Volume 2: Parts 3 (The Destructive Labor Camps) & 4 (The Soul and Barbed Wire)

     The Gulag Archipelago Volume 3: Parts 5 (Katorga), 6 (Exile) & 7 (Stalin Is No More)

Greater Context

Visit The Gulag Archipelago page at the Aleksandr Sozhenitsyn Center:


Check out these pages about other books by Aleksandr Sozhenitsyn:

     Two Hundred Years Together

     Warning to the West

Filed under the following tags: communism history

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