The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a book I grabbed because of my interest in the work of Dr. Jordan Peterson (see my review of his book “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos“) He recommended it in several of his lectures.

Be prepared, as this is not an easy read. It is written in Russian for Russians and translated into English. It is full of idioms that just do not translate well. It is also extremely dense. I had to go over several sections when I found my mind wandering away from comprehension of ideas Solzhenitsyn was trying to get across.

It is a grand book when you think of its ability to change the world. As Peterson points out in a lecture, Solzhenitsyn’s book has out-lasted the tyrannical government that imprisoned him and murdered millions of others. Much more than an exposé of the true face of socialism/communism, it is a tragic tale of humanity and our tendency to move toward darker and darker treatment of each other.

Before you decide this is just a rant on the evil of a particular political idea, it is more than that as well. In it, he weaves his personal tale of survival in a gripping and sometimes sickening way. Yes, it paints a dismal view of humanity (particularly of those ideologies that purport to “help the little guy) but hidden in this tale is the story of overcoming.

Read it to understand just what man is capable of doing to their fellow-man. Read it to be reassured of man’s ability to survive amidst the worst of conditions. Read it so that the next time some comes pitching socialism (even so-called Democrat Socialism) as the antidote our current corrupt political situation, you won’t do as the millions dead under socialism did in falling for this con-job.

by Chris Doelle


Also published on Medium.