In 1940, Gustav Herling was arrested after he joined an underground Polish army that fell into Russian hands. He was sent to a northern Russian labour camp, where he spent the two most horrible years of his life. In this book he tells of the people he was imprisoned with, the hardships they endured, and the indomitable spirit and will that allowed them to survive. Above all, he creates a portrait of how people - deprived of food, clothing, proper medical care, and forced to work at hard labour - can come together to form a community that offers hope in the face of hopelessness, that offers life when even the living have no life left.
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Gustav Herling was born in 1919 in Kielce, Poland. After the war, he lived in London and Munich, finally settling in Naples. He was one of the founding editors of Kultura, a magazine conceived as 'a forum for independent thought and imagination'.
Anne Appelbaum studied Russian history and literature at Yale and International Relations at the London School of Economics and St Antony's College, Oxford. She has been a writer at the Economist, foreign and deputy editor at the Spectator and columnist for the Evening Standard and Sunday Telegraph. She is now a columnist and a member of the editorial board for the Washington Post. She is the author of the Pulitzer prize-winning Gulag: A History (Penguin, 2003).
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