Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970 principally for his novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962), which describes in stark and innovative language one man’s experience in a Soviet “gulag” (labor camp) towards the end of Stalin’s rule. The novel is based on Solzhenitsyn’s own experience.
- George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) is a striking and insightful glimpse of a possible totalitarian future. Orwell was Koestler’s friend and a prominent critic. The novel has a powerful political argument, and its vision of the future makes a number of predictions that have, even in modern democracies like the United States and Britain, come true.
- Koestler’s The Gladiators (1939) is a retelling of Spartacus and the Roman slave revolt. As in Darkness at Noon, Koestler uses themes of revolution and “ends versus means” to discuss political ethics.
- Edvard Radzinsky’s Stalin: The First In-Depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia’s Secret Archives (1997) stresses the extent of Stalin’s brutality.
- One of the best and most readable histories of the Soviet Union is Robert Service’s A History of Twentieth-Century Russia (1997).