The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

bookshelves: autumn-2012, slavic, nonfiction, ouch, nobel-laureate, fraudio, epic-proportions, autobiography-memoir, boo-scary, bullies, execution, gangsters, holocaust-genocide, lifestyles-deathstyles, philosophy, politics, published-1958, racism, recreational-homicide, true-grime

Read from September 08 to October 28, 2012


blurb – The Gulag Archipelago is Solzhenitsyn’s attempt to compile a literary-historical record of the vast system of prisons and labour camps that came into being shortly after the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in 1917 and that underwent an enormous expansion during the rule of Stalin from 1924 to 1953. Various sections of the three volumes describe the arrest, interrogation, conviction, transportation, and imprisonment of the Gulag’s victims by Soviet authorities over four decades. The work mingles historical exposition and Solzhenitsyn’s own autobiographical accounts with the voluminous personal testimony of other inmates that he collected and committed to memory during his imprisonment.Upon publication of the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn was immediately attacked in the Soviet press. Despite the intense interest in his fate that was shown in the West, he was arrested and charged with treason on February 12, 1974, and was exiled from the Soviet Union the following day.

Map of the Gulags

Image: An abandoned guard tower in one of hundreds of gulags (prison camps) across the Soviet Union, remains as a symbol of profound human suffering. First instituted by Lenin to imprison priests, political opponents, and common criminals, Stalin was then responsible for sending 12-15 million people to these camps. The prisoners were used as forced labor to work on massive industrial projects. As more laborers were needed for bigger projects and those falling behind schedule, Stalin justified the arrests of more people to be sent to the gulags. Millions were executed in these camps or perished as they labored on massive modernization schemes. It is said of the Siberian railroad project that the work was never done, nothing was achieved and it went nowhere. (credit: Jonathan Lewis)

Gruelling yet important; shocks one to the very core. Some books are best left unrated.

Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

bookshelves: published-1958, play-dramatisation, radio-4, spring-2014, mystery-thriller, families, fraudio, britain-england, classic

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from March 14 to April 02, 2014

 

Along with Crooked House, Ordeal by Innocence was Agatha Christie’s favourite of her own works. It is easy to see why. Eschewing the traditional detective format, it takes an original idea – how the innocent suffer more than the guilty when a crime goes unsolved – and explores it to the full within a family where everyone has a motive and means to have done it.

Episode 1: Doctor Calgary comes to visit the Argyle family with good news, or so he thinks. He tells the family he is there to clear the name of Jacko, who was convicted of the murder of his mother. But his news is not greeted with the enthusiasm he expects.

Episode 2: Dr. Calgary joins forces with Inspector Huish to try to find out the truth about Rachel Argyle’s murder. But the family is still resisting his investigation.

Episode 3: Now Philip has been found dead, most of the family members now believe that Dr. Calgary was right when he said that their late mother’s killer is still amongst them and everyone is on their guard.

Whoa – adopted children take some demonizing here and wonder what happened to the collective psyche after Dickens urged us all to be kind. That said, this was a fab psychological suspense and I can see that Highsmith must have enjoyed Christie.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03y0l8y