Modern history


No book is ever really the work of one person, but this book truly could not have been written without the practical, intellectual, and philosophical contribution of many people, some of whom count among my closest friends, and some of whom I never met. Although it is unusual, in acknowledgments, for authors to thank writers who are long dead, I would like to give special recognition to a small but unique group of camp survivors whose memoirs I read over and over again while writing this book. Although many survivors wrote profoundly and eloquently of their experiences, it is simply no accident that this book contains a preponderance of quotations from the works of Varlam Shalamov, Isaak Filshtinsky, Gustav Herling, Evgeniya Ginzburg, Lev Razgon, Janusz Bardach, Olga Adamova-Sliozberg, Anatoly Zhigulin, Alexander Dolgun, and, of course, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Some of these number among the most famous of Gulag survivors. Others do not—but they all have one thing in common. Out of the many hundreds of memoirs I read, theirs stood out, not only for the strength of their prose but also for their ability to probe beneath the surface of everyday horror and to discover deeper truths about the human condition.

I am also more than grateful for the help of a number of Muscovites who guided me through archives, introduced me to survivors, and provided their own interpretations of their past at the same time. First among them is the archivist and historian Alexander Kokurin—whom I hope will one day be remembered as a pioneer of the new Russian history—as well as Galya Vinogradova and Alla Boryna, both of whom dedicated themselves to this project with unusual fervor. At different times, I was aided by conversations with Anna Grishina, Boris Belikin, Nikita Petrov, Susanna Pechora, Alexander Guryanov, Arseny Roginsky, and Natasha Malykhina of Moscow Memorial; Simeon Vilensky of Vozvrashchenie; as well as Oleg Khlevnyuk, Zoya Eroshok, Professor Natalya Lebedeva, Lyuba Vinogradova, and Stanisław Gregorowicz, formerly of the Polish Embassy in Moscow. I am also extremely grateful to the many people who granted me long, formal interviews, whose names are listed separately in the Bibliography.

Outside of Moscow, I owe a great deal to many people who were willing to drop everything and suddenly devote large chunks of time to a foreigner who had arrived, sometimes out of the blue, to ask naïve questions about subjects they had been researching for years. Among them were Nikolai Morozov and Mikhail Rogachev in Syktyvkar; Zhenya Khaidarova and Lyuba Petrovna in Vorkuta; Irina Shabulina and Tatyana Fokina in Solovki; Galina Dudina in Arkhangelsk; Vasily Makurov, Anatoly Tsigankov and Yuri Dmitriev in Petrozavodsk; Viktor Shmirov in Perm; Leonid Trus in Novosibirsk; Svetlana Doinisena, director of the local history museum in Iskitim; Veniamin Ioffe and Irina Reznikova of St. Petersburg Memorial. I am particularly grateful to the librarians of the Arkhangelsk Kraevedcheskaya Biblioteka, several of whom devoted an entire day to me and my efforts to understand the history of their region, simply because they felt it was important to do so.

In Warsaw I was greatly aided by the library and archives run by the Karta Institute, as well as by conversations with Anna Dzienkiewicz and Dorota Pazio. In Washington, D.C., David Nordlander and Harry Leich helped me at the Library of Congress. I am particularly grateful to Elena Danielson, Thomas Henrikson, Lora Soroka, and especially Robert Conquest of the Hoover Institution. The Italian historian Marta Craveri contributed a great deal to my understanding of the camp rebellions. Conservations with Vladimir Bukovsky and Alexander Yakovlev also helped my comprehension of the post-Stalinist era.

I owe a special debt to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Märit and Hans Rausing Foundation, and John Blundell at the Institute of Economic Affairs for their financial and moral support.

I would also like to thank the friends and colleagues who offered their advice, practical and historical, during the writing of this book. Among them are Antony Beevor, Colin Thubron, Stefan and Danuta Waydenfeld, Yuri Morakov, Paul Hofheinz, Amity Shlaes, David Nordlander, Simon Heffer, Chris Joyce, Alessandro Missir, Terry Martin, Alexander Gribanov, Piotr Paszkowski, and Orlando Figes, as well as Radek Sikorski, whose ministerial briefcase proved very useful indeed. Special thanks are owed to Georges Borchardt, Kristine Puopolo, Gerry Howard, and Stuart Proffitt, who oversaw this book to completion.

Finally, for their friendship, their wise suggestions, their hospitality, and their food I would like to thank Christian and Natasha Caryl, Edward Lucas, Yuri Senokossov, and Lena Nemirovskaya, my wonderful Moscow hosts.

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