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Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria

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Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria Cover

ISBN13: 9780271019611
ISBN10: 0271019611
Condition:
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the most terrible legacies of our century is the concentration camp. Countless men and women have passed through camps in Nazi Germany, Communist China, and the Soviet bloc countries. In Voices from the Gulag, Tzvetan Todorov singles out the experience of one country where the concentration camps were particularly brutal and emblematic of the horrors of totalitarianism—communist Bulgaria. The voices we hear in this book are mostly from Lovech, a rock quarry in Bulgaria that became the final destination for several thousand men and women during its years of operation from 1959 to 1962. The inmates, though drawn from various social, professional, and economic backgrounds, shared a common fate: they were torn from their homes by secret police, brutally beaten, charged with fictitious crimes, and shipped to Lovech. Once there, they were forced to endure backbreaking labor, inadequate clothing, shelter, and food, systematic beatings, and institutionalized torture.

We also hear from guards, commandants, and bureaucrats whose lives were bound together with the inmates in an absurd drama. Regardless of their grade and duties, all agree that those responsible for these "excesses" were above or below them, yet never they themselves. Accountability is thereby diffused through the many strata of the state apparatus, providing legal defenses and "clear" consciences. Yet, as the concluding section of interviews—with the children and wives of the victims—reminds us, accountability is a moral and historical imperative.

The testimonies in Voices from the Gulag were written specifically for this volume or have been published in the Bulgarian press or on Bulgarian television. Todorov compiled them for this book and has written an introductory essay—a lucid and troubling analysis of totalitarianism and the role that terror and the concentration camp play in such a world. He reflects upon his own experience living in Bulgaria during the years when Lovech was in operation. It is through that experience that Todorov has sought to understand the totalitarian horrors of our century.

Although Lovech and the other camps of Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe have been closed down, concentration camps still exist in the countries whose communist regimes remain in power—Vietnam, China, North Korea, and Cuba. The voices in this book remind us that we are never completely safe from the threat of totalitarianism, a threat that we all must face. As Todorov writes, "I cannot say that these stories do not concern me."

Book News Annotation:

Survivors remember the back-breaking labor, beatings, inadequate food and clothing, and institutionalized torture of the concentration camps of communist Bulgaria in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The inmates, though drawn from various social, professional, and economic backgrounds, shared a common fate: beaten by secret police, charged with fictitious crimes, and shipped to Lovech, a rock quarry. There are also accounts from the guards, commandants, and bureaucrats of Lovech. Todorov is director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche, France. Zaretsky teaches at the University of Houston.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Born in Sofia, Tzvetan Todorov left Bulgaria in the early 1960s and moved to Paris, where he established himself as a literary theorist, historian of ideas, and world-renowned essayist. He is a director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the author of numerous books. Several of these have been translated into English, including: Facing the Extreme (1996), A French Tragedy (1996), On Human Diversity (1993), and The Conquest of America (1984).

Robert D. Zaretsky is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston where he holds a joint appointment in the Honors College and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages. He is the author of Nimes at War: Religion, Politics, and Public Opinion in the Department of the Gard, 1938–94 (Penn State, 1995), which won the 1997 Hans Rosenhaupt Memorial Book Award of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

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fungus_27, August 16, 2007 (view all comments by fungus_27)

Interesting and very realistic.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780271019611
Author:
Todorov, Tzvetan
Author:
Zaretsky, Robert
Publisher:
Penn State University Press
Location:
University Park :
Subject:
Biography
Subject:
History
Subject:
Eastern Europe
Subject:
Political prisoners
Subject:
Political persecution
Subject:
Bulgaria
Subject:
Concentration camp inmates
Subject:
Eastern Europe - General
Subject:
Bulgaria History 1944-1990.
Subject:
Political prisoners -- Bulgaria -- Biography.
Subject:
World History-Eastern Europe
Subject:
Former Soviet republics
Subject:
Voices from the Gulag
Subject:
Tzvetan Todorov
Subject:
Robert D. Zaretsky
Subject:
Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria
Subject:
0-271-01961-1
Subject:
European
Subject:
concentration camp
Subject:
Nazi Germany
Subject:
Communist China
Subject:
Soviet bloc
Subject:
Totalitarianism
Subject:
Lovech
Subject:
rock quarry
Subject:
1959-
Subject:
1962-
Subject:
Social
Subject:
Professional
Subject:
economic backgrounds
Subject:
Secret police
Subject:
brutally beaten
Subject:
fictitious crimes
Subject:
backbreaking labor
Subject:
inadequate clothing
Subject:
shelter
Subject:
Food
Subject:
systematic beatings
Subject:
institutionalized torture
Subject:
Guards
Subject:
commandants
Subject:
bureaucrats
Subject:
Accountability
Subject:
legal defenses
Subject:
clear consciences
Subject:
Children
Subject:
Wives
Subject:
Victims.
Subject:
Moral
Subject:
historical imperative
Subject:
Bulgarian press
Subject:
Bulgarian television
Subject:
Vietnam
Subject:
China
Subject:
North Korea
Subject:
Cuba
Subject:
Soviet bl
Subject:
O.C.
Edition Description:
Library binding
Series Volume:
8281
Publication Date:
19991231
Binding:
LIBRARY BOUND
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
8.78x5.72x.78 in. .96 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe
History and Social Science » World History » European History General

Voices from the Gulag: Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria New Library Bound
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Product details 192 pages Pennsylvania State University Press - English 9780271019611 Reviews:
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