Alexander Dolgun’s story An American in the Gulag

Biographies

Alexander Dolgun, “Alexander Dolgun’s story: An American in the Gulag”
George Orwell: Into the Twenty-first Century edited by Thomas Cushman, John Rodden
In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist by Robert Klitzman
Fear and the Muse Kept Watch: The Russian Masters—from Akhmatova and Pasternak to Shostakovich and Eisenstein—Under Stalin by Andy McSmith
Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator by Solomon Volkov

Alexander Dolgun, “Alexander Dolgun’s story: An American in the Gulag”

Alexander Dolgun, from embassy employee, to prisoner, then falsely convicted of being a terrorist against Russia and sentenced to hard labor. Released after eight long years he is finally able to recount the experience of being transported to and between prisons, interactions and friendships with other prisoners, the day to day drudgery of trying to stay alive under horrendous conditions which involved trying to meet ridiculously high work quotas for extremely strenuous jobs while in a constant state of starvation and often, sickness.

George Orwell: Into the Twenty-first Century edited by Thomas Cushman, John Rodden

The year 2003 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of George Orwell, one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century. Orwell’s books are assigned today in over 60,000 classrooms annually. In this book essays by prominent writers and scholars explain why his impact continues in a world much changed from his own. The essays explore new aspects of Orwell’s life and work and his continuing relevance for the interpretation of modern social, political, and cultural affairs. Thematic topics include: the use and abuse of 1984; ideas, ideologues, and intellectuals; biography and autobiography; literary and stylistic analyses; and the reception of Orwell’s work abroad. The volume is an ideal secondary source for those who continue to be influenced by Orwell’s insights and for teachers of Orwell’s work.
Contributors: Christopher Hitchens, Jonathan Rose, Ian Williams, Morris Dickstein, John Rodden, Thomas Cushman, Ronald F. Thiemann, Lawrence Rosenwald, Todd Gitlin, Erika Gottlieb, Dennis Wrong, Daphne Patai, Jim Sleeper, William Cain, Lynette Hunter, Margery Sabin, Vladimir Shalpentokh, Miquel Berga, Gilbert Bonifas, Robert Conquest.

In a House of Dreams and Glass: Becoming a Psychiatrist by Robert Klitzman

Fresh from medical school, Robert Klitzman began his residency in psychiatry with excitement and a sense of mission. But he was not prepared for what he found inside the city psychiatric center where he was to spend three grueling years.
In truth, as Dr. Klitzman’s absorbing account of his apprenticeship reveals, he never ceased to be surprised–by his patients, by the senior psychiatrists’ conflicting advice on how to help them, and by the unpredictable results of the therapies, both psychoanalytic and biologic, that he and his fellow residents practiced.
Nights in the emergency room, professional controversy, the minefield of hospital politics, the stress of his own therapy–everything is here, in a passionate and illuminating analysis of a doctor’s struggle against tremendous odds to banish his patients’ demons.

Fear and the Muse Kept Watch: The Russian Masters—from Akhmatova and Pasternak to Shostakovich and Eisenstein—Under Stalin by Andy McSmith

In this dazzling exploration of one of the most contradictory periods of literary and artistic achievement in modern history, journalist Andy McSmith evokes the lives of more than a dozen of the most brilliant artists and writers of the twentieth century. Taking us deep into Stalin’s Russia, Fear and the Muse Kept Watch asks the question: can great art be produced in a police state? For although Josif Stalin ran one of the most oppressive regimes in world history, under him Russia also produced an outpouring of artistic works of immense and lasting power—from the poems of Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam to the opera Peter and the Wolf, the film Alexander Nevsky, and the novels The Master and Margarita and Doctor Zhivago.
For those artists visible enough for Stalin to take an interest in them, it was Stalin himself who decided whether they lived in luxury or were sent to the Lubyanka, the headquarters of the secret police, to be tortured and sometimes even executed. McSmith brings together the stories of these artists—including Isaac Babel, Boris Pasternak, Dmitri Shostakovich, and many others—revealing how they pursued their art under Stalin’s regime and often at great personal risk. It was a world in which the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, whose bright yellow tunic was considered a threat to public order under the tsars, struggled to make the communist authorities see the value of avant garde art; Babel publicly thanked the regime for allowing him the privilege of not writing; and Shostakovich’s career veered wildly between public disgrace and wealth and acclaim.
In the tradition of Eileen Simpson’s Poets in Their Youth and Phyllis Rose’s Parallel Lives, Fear and the Muse Kept Watch is an extraordinary work of historical recovery. It is also a bold exploration of the triumph of art during terrible times and a book that will stay with its readers for a long, long while.

Shostakovich and Stalin: The Extraordinary Relationship Between the Great Composer and the Brutal Dictator by Solomon Volkov

“Music illuminates a person and provides him with his last hope; even Stalin, a butcher, knew that.” So said the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, whose first compositions in the 1920s identified him as an avant-garde wunderkind. But that same singularity became a liability a decade later under the totalitarian rule of Stalin, with his unpredictable grounds for the persecution of artists. Solomon Volkov—who cowrote Shostakovich’s controversial 1979 memoir, Testimony—describes how this lethal uncertainty affected the composer’s life and work.
Volkov, an authority on Soviet Russian culture, shows us the “holy fool” in Shostakovich: the truth speaker who dared to challenge the supreme powers. We see how Shostakovich struggled to remain faithful to himself in his music and how Stalin fueled that struggle: one minute banning his work, the next encouraging it. We see how some of Shostakovich’s contemporaries—Mandelstam, Bulgakov, and Pasternak among them—fell victim to Stalin’s manipulations and how Shostakovich barely avoided the same fate. And we see the psychological price he paid for what some perceived as self-serving aloofness and others saw as rightfully defended individuality.
This is a revelatory account of the relationship between one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers and one of its most infamous tyrants.