The book I read to research this post was Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century In His Life by DM Thomas which is an excellent book that I bought from a car boot sale. This book is around 530 pages so is a pretty decent length. Solzhenitsyn was a dissident author who is on a par with authors like Tolstoy and Pasternak. He was expelled from Russia in 1974 but did later go back there to live. He was born a month after the Russian Revolution and has seen first hand many of the problems with implementing communism. One problem was God to them officially didn’t exist which basically meant they could do as they liked. Particularly under Stalin people were regularly tortured and killed often with methods like being boiled alive or having there heads twisted off. In the revolution the white and red Russians were as bad as each other and often whether someone took one side or the other was simply a matter of survival. Alexander was sent to a Gulag under Stalin and later released under the presidency of Kruschev. He served in the army in World War 2 when Germany launched a surprise invasion and the Russian soldiers couldn’t get confirmation to fire back. In fact they were so taken by surprise they were trains still taking and laden with supplies for the German soldiers. Whilst in Gulag Solzhenitsyn got a job studying the phonetics in the Russian language and it might sound boring to us but he really got into it with relish and did such a good job they released him. He did have novels like The First Circle & August, 1914 published in the west in secret. The fact that he had fans in the west probably saved him later from being killed. He wasn’t particularly outspoken against communism probably like a lot of Russian authors it was just the themes he wrote about in his books upset them. It’s worth noting when Terry Waite was kidnapped in the Lebanon the kidnappers gave him The First Circle to read and it became his all time favorite book. With the situation he was in he identified with the themes in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is extremely well written and would definitely recommend it.