Written by Anne Applebaum

Published By Doubleday 2003

Hardcover, 577 pages.

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From inside front cover “The Gulag – the vast array of Soviet concentration camps – was a system of repression and punishment whose rationalized evil and institutionalized inhumanity were rivalled only by the Holocaust.

Anne Applebaum first lays out the chronological history of the camps and the logic behind their creation, enlargement and maintenance. The Gulag was first put in place in 1918 after the Russian Revolution. In 1929, Stalin personally decided to expand the camp system, both to use forced labour to accelerate Soviet industrialization and to exploit the natural resources of the country’s barely habitable far northern regions. By the end of the 1930s, labour camps could be found in all twelve other the Soviet Union’s time zones. The system continued to expand throughout the war years, reaching its height only in the early 1950s. From 1929 until the death of Stalin in 1953, some 18 million people passed through this massive system. Of the 18 million, it is estimated the 4.5 million never returned.