Cultural Revolutions

Finally Returned

Solzhenitsyn has finally returned to Mother Russia after 18 years in the United States. Given that he did more than any other individual to help bring down communism, it is strange that so many Americans are still puzzled by this man and unfamiliar with his work. This is partly due to Solzhenitsyn's decision to live a reclusive life deep in the woods of Vermont. When leaving, he thanked his fellow Vermonters for respecting his seclusion. For a state so respectful of individual liberties and privacy, that was not such a hard thing to do. But for a man who helped bring down the Soviet Empire, why does his name remain a mystery to some, and an enigma to others? The answer, as it so often does, lies in the lower depths of politics.

Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet soldier during World War II when he was arrested for expressing frustrations about the war in private letters. The fact that he was arrested was not unusual, for millions of his fellow countrymen were also carted off to the Gulag. What distinguished Solzhenitsyn was the fact that he lived to tell his tale about Stalin's purges and the Soviet reign of terror. His words shook the foundations of history's most brutal regime. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was a fictional account of what the average day was like for someone in a Soviet concentration camp. As chilling as that story was, nothing was so terrifying and monumental as his masterful work, The...

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