Friday, August 22, 2008


From the September 1st National Review (subscription only):
The Gulag Archipelago, in three volumes, was a travel book, a Fodor’s for the heart of darkness. He added the second word of its title to everyone’s vocabulary. Before him, the modern rhetoric of despotism was all drawn from the Nazi experience: Auschwitz stood for all extermination, Gestapo meant any uniformed murderer (or even any cop you disliked). Hitler had lost, so it was safe to hold him up as a bad example. Solzhenitsyn showed the world—which in truth had been shown often enough before, though it had not paid attention—that Communism, which still swaggered, was equally bad; and he showed them by telling this story, and this, and this. Philip Rieff called the Gulag “the greatest book of remembrance, the greatest martyrology, ever written.”

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