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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 5, 2008 / 4 Menachem-Av 5768

How Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago changed the world

By Anne Applebaum

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Although more than three decades have now passed since the winter of 1974, when unbound, hand-typed, samizdat manuscripts of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago first began circulating around what used to be the Soviet Union, the emotions they stirred remain today. Usually, readers were given only 24 hours to finish the lengthy manuscript — the first historical account of the Soviet concentration camp system — before it had to be passed on to the next person. That meant spending an entire day and a whole night absorbed in Solzhenitsyn's sometimes eloquent, sometimes angry prose — not an experience anyone was likely to forget.


Members of that first generation of readers remember who gave the book to them, who else knew about it, and to whom they passed it on. They remember the stories that affected them most — the tales of small children in the camps, or of informers, or of camp guards. They remember what the book felt like — the blurry, mimeographed text, the dog-eared paper, the dim glow of the lamp switched on late at night — and with whom they later discussed it.


In part, his Soviet readers responded so strongly because Solzhenitsyn — who died on Sunday at 89 — was simultaneously very famous and strictly taboo. Twelve years earlier, the Soviet regime had serendipitously allowed him to publish, officially, the first fictional account of Stalin's concentration camps — A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It was also the last: Too honest for the Soviet Union's leaders at the time, the book, though a publishing sensation, was quickly banned along with its author, whose later works would be "published" illegally — or abroad.


It didn't matter: Even Solzhenitsyn's expulsion from Russia in 1974 only increased his notoriety as well as the impact of The Gulag Archipelago. That book, though based on the "reports, memoirs, and letters by 227 witnesses," was not quite a straight history — obviously, Solzhenitsyn did not have access to then-secret archives — but, rather, an interpretation of history. Partly polemical, partly autobiographical, emotional and judgmental, it aimed to show that, contrary to what many believed, the mass arrests and concentration camps of the Soviet Union were not an incidental phenomenon but an essential part of the Soviet system — and that they had been from the very beginning.


Not all of this story was new: Credible witnesses had begun reporting on the growth of the gulag and the spread of the terror from the time of the Russian revolution. But what Solzhenitsyn produced was simply more thorough, more monumental, and more detailed than anything that had been produced previously. It could not be ignored or dismissed as a single man's experience. As a result, no one who dealt with the Soviet Union, diplomatically or intellectually, could ignore it. So threatening was the book to certain branches of the European left that Jean-Paul Sartre described Solzhenitsyn as a "dangerous element." The book's publication certainly contributed to the recognition of human rights as a legitimate element of international debate and foreign policy.


In later years, Solzhenitsyn lost some of his stature, thanks partly to Soviet propaganda that successfully portrayed him as a crank and an extremist, but thanks also to his own failure to embrace liberal democracy. He never really liked the West, never really took to free markets or pop culture. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, he went back to Russia, where he was first welcomed and then forgotten. In a Russia that is no longer interested in examining its history, he came to seem outdated, a spokesman from an irrelevant past. Even his Russian nationalism, now a popular cause, had something crusty and old-fashioned about it. His vision of a more spiritual society, of Russia as an alternative to the consumerist West, doesn't hold much appeal for the supercharged, superwealthy, oil-fueled Russian elite of today. His apparent endorsement of ex-President Vladimir Putin seemed more like an old man's foible than a serious change of heart.


In the week of his death, though, what stands out is not who Solzhenitsyn was, but what he wrote. It is very easy, in a world where news is instant and photographs travel as quickly as they are taken, to forget how powerful, still, written words are. And Solzhenitsyn was, in the end, a writer. A man who gathered facts, sorted through them, tested them against his own experience, composed them into paragraphs and chapters. It was not his personality, but his written language that forced people to think more deeply about their values, their assumptions, their societies. It was not his TV appearances that affected history — it was his written words.


His manuscripts were read and pondered in silence, and the thought he put into them provoked his readers to think, too. In the end, his books mattered not because he was famous — or notorious — but because millions of Soviet citizens recognized themselves in his work. They read his books because they already knew that they were true.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

APPLEBAUM'S LATEST
Gulag: A History  

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.


Previously:

07/29/08:‘The Hour of Europe’ Tolls Again But are European politicians up to the task?
07/15/08: Why Does Obama Want To Campaign in Berlin?
07/01/08: Citizen Athletes: How did a guy who can't speak Polish end up scoring Poland's only goal of Euro 2008?
06/24/08: Why do we expect presidential candidates to be kind?
06/17/08: Pity the Poor Eurocrats
06/12/08: Is the World Ready for a Black American President?
05/28/08: The Busiest Generation: America seems to value its children's status and achievements over their happiness
05/20/08: Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end
05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness




© 2008, Anne Applebaum

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