I have begun reading an interesting book called “Gulag” by Anne Applebaum. The book is quite large, almost 600 pages, and the subject may not be one of the best to study. But ever since going to Karaganda I have heard much more about Gulags (which literally means, Main Camp Administration). However, according to the book it also has come to signify the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself.

According to her research there came into existence by the 1950’s at least 476 camps across all of the former Soviet Union. Each of these camps performed duties to help the industrial aspects of the Soviet times.

She points out that her illumination into the problem happened while observing westerners in Prague purchase pins and stuff with the hammer and sickle on them. I, myself, am guilty of this. Recently, I purchased a t-shirt with the hammer and sickle and gave it to my nephew who is in high school. Is it “cool” to purchase products with the hammer and sickle while one is disgusted by the swastika? A question I am struggling with myself.

I am looking forward to the journey through this book and learning more about the Russian culture, albeit through the eyes of a western writer.