from the stranger-than-fiction dept
Some stories, you just couldn't make up. Like this one, reported on the UK site Reprieve, about a failed attempt to pass some reading material to one of the people detained at Guantanamo Bay. Something unsuitable you might guess, perhaps advocating terrorist ways? Well, not exactly:
The legal team for Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has been detained in Guantanamo without charge or trial for 11 years, attempted to deliver a copy of The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn during a recent visit.
Of course, this isn't the first time that 'The Gulag Archipelago' has had problems with the authorities: when it was completed in 1968, it had to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union on microfilm so that it could be published in the West. Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the book and its importance:
However, Mr Aamer has now told his lawyers that he never received the book.
Solzhenitsyn argued that the Soviet government could not govern without the threat of imprisonment, and that the Soviet economy depended on the productivity of the forced labor camps, especially insofar as the development and construction of public works and infrastructure were concerned.
Now why on earth would any of that be problematic for the Guantanamo Gulag, er, Bay authorities, I wonder...?
This put into doubt the entire moral standing of the Soviet system. In Western Europe the book eventually forced a rethinking of the historical role of Lenin. With The Gulag Archipelago, Lenin's political and historical legacy became problematic, and the factions of Western communist parties who still based their economic and political ideology on Lenin were left with a heavy burden of proof against them. George F. Kennan, the influential U.S. diplomat, called The Gulag Archipelago, "the most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever to be levied in modern times."