Sunday, August 03, 2008

R.I.P. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian author whose books chronicled the horrors of dictator Josef Stalin's slave labor camps, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.
This man was living proof that the written word is far more powerful than any weapon, method of torture, or system of repression. Beginning in 1943, he was imprisoned for 10 years for the simple act of writing badly about Stalin in a letter to a friend. For the next decade, he managed to survive the labor concentration camps of the Soviet criminal system. This system of camps was likened to a string of islands, hence the title of his most well-known work, The Gulag Archipelago.

After his release, he wrote profusely and secretively, afraid to allow his friends to read them in case the KGB got wind of his work. When his works began to surface in the west - earning him the Nobel Prize - they brought the gruesome realities of the Stalinist gulag out of the darkness of Siberia and into the view of the world. Nothing the KGB did could possibly discredit the amount of information and eyewitness accounts contained within his work.

Solzhenitsyn reenacting a search from his gulag incarceration.

For anyone that is interested in the history of Russia and the Cold War, this man's works are essential reading. They provide a unique perspective of life behind the Iron Curtain and how horrifically the communist governments treated their populace. The methods and abuses inflicted on innocents rival those of the Spanish Inquisition and the Salem Witch Hunts, where the accused were always guilty despite evidence to the contrary.

Books by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

No comments: