The Gulag Archipelago, in short, is about the horror and tragedy of the Soviet forced labor camps. Gulag, the nickname for the prisons, is an acronym for the political organization running the camps. The title actually rhymes in Russian. The book starts with Solzhenitsyn's arrest, and a discussion about the many purges made on the Russian people. Mass arrests were common. There was no trial. They would pull up next to you in a Black Maria, and you'd never see your family again. Your house could be searched without warrant. You could be arrested if even the slightest suspicion came upon you. You would be taken from your home in the middle of the night.
It's truly a horrifyingly dark story, but also a cautionary tale. In a discussion I had, we talked about this book's impact on the Soviet regime. It's incredible to think that this man, alone and with the testimony of of others, played a huge part in the toppling of the oppressive government. Solzhenitsyn had to include so many testimonies and witnesses so the KGB couldn't refute his evidence. He spread the book far and wide. He fought the establishment. He fought the power. He probably would've been a Rage Against the Machine fan.
The Gulag Archipelago is an example of a book that clearly changed the world. Solzhenitsyn's bravery and resoluteness is astounding. Many other survivors who read this book said that they couldn't tell their experiences apart from his. Solzhenitsyn's experiences are only a very small part of the millions of oppressed, imprisoned, and enslaved people that were subject to a tyrannical despot and a corrupt and broken system. It is important to remember this; a government did this to its own people, not more than 50 years ago. Our government would do this to us. Stay vigilant. Stay informed and aware. Rip the system. Fight the power. Stay free.