Hailed an important work upon it’s publication in 1967, Journey into the Whirlwind is Ginzburg’s personal account her years in a Soviet prison during the reign of Josef Stalin.
As a teenager I read Solhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, and was stunned at the brutality and inhumane treatment of political prisoners during the Stalin era. Ginzburg’s work brought back all those memories and more. It’s a detailed narrative of how easily a public can be manipulated to turn on their friends and neighbors, through fear, and also through propaganda. This alone makes it a valuable piece of literature – the fact that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.
But Ginzburg also reveals a few equally important messages. First, that hope springs eternal. Even in the darkest moments, the prisoners held onto the belief that something good was going to happen, and to appreciate even the smallest of blessings. And second, human kindness doesn’t cease to exist – even in the hell of a Soviet prison.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1967
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