The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2004 - History - 418 pages
0 Reviews

The human cost of the Gulag, the Soviet labor camp system in which millions of people were imprisoned between 1920 and 1956, was staggering. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and others after him have written movingly about the Gulag, yet never has there been a thorough historical study of this unique and tragic episode in Soviet history. This groundbreaking book presents the first comprehensive, historically accurate account of the camp system. Russian historian Oleg Khlevniuk has mined the contents of extensive archives, including long-suppressed state and Communist Party documents, to uncover the secrets of the Gulag and how it became a central component of Soviet ideology and social policy.

Khlevniuk argues persuasively that the Stalinist penal camps created in the 1930s were essentially different from previous camps. He shows that political motivations and paranoia about potential enemies contributed no more to the expansion of the Gulag than the economic incentive of slave labor did. And he offers powerful evidence that the Great Terror was planned centrally and targeted against particular categories of the population. Khlevniuk makes a signal contribution to Soviet history with this exceptionally informed and balanced view of the Gulag.


What people are saying - Write a review

The history of the Gulag: from collectivization to the Great Terror

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The Soviet Union's labor camp system, the gulag (Chief Administration for Camps of the OGPU-NKVD) dates from 1920 to 1956; for those who endured its punishments, the acronym became an adjective ... Read full review


Chapter 1 Origins of the Stalinist Gulag
Chapter 2 Famine
Chapter 3 Stabilization of the System
Chapter 4 The Great Terror
Chapter 5 Berias Reforms
Chapter 6 Mobilization and Repression
Chapter 7 The Victims
The Price of Terror
Brief Biographies
List of Selected Camps and Projects of the OGPUNKVD
Excerpts from the Criminal Codes of the RSFSR and the Constitution of the USSR
Index of Documents
General Index

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

Oleg V. Khlevniuk is senior researcher at the State Archive of the Russian Federation, Moscow.

Bibliographic information