One man perhaps more than any other made it impossible in the second half of the 20th century to defend Soviet communism. That man was Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Douglas Burch at Time magazine writes:
Solzhenitsyn's unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the Soviet Union's slave labor camps riveted his countrymen, whose secret history he exposed. They earned him 20 years of bitter exile, but international renown.
And they inspired millions, perhaps, with the knowledge that one person's courage and integrity could, in the end, defeat the totalitarian machinery of an empire.
Beginning with the 1962 short novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Solzhenitsyn devoted himself to describing what he called the human "meat grinder" that had caught him along with millions of other Soviet citizens: capricious arrests, often for trifling and seemingly absurd reasons, followed by sentences to slave labor camps where cold, starvation and punishing work crushed inmates physically and spiritually.
His Gulag Archipelago trilogy of the 1970s shocked readers by describing the savagery of the Soviet state under the dictator Josef Stalin. It helped erase lingering sympathy for the Soviet Union among many leftist intellectuals, especially in Europe.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was one of the greatest heroes of the last century. His books are a must read for anyone who wishes to catch a glimpse of the hell to which atheistic totalitarianism leads. He is dead at the age of 89.RLC