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Journey Into the Whirlwind

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  1,941 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
Both witness to and victim of Stalin's reign of terror, a courageous woman tells the story of her harrowing eighteen-year odyssey through Russia's prisons and labor camps. Translated by Paul Stevenson and Max Hayward. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
ebook, 432 pages
Published November 4th 2002 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1967)
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Aug 29, 2009 Buck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After beavering away like a good little boy on a review of Into the Whirlwind, I got so disgusted with the falseness and inadequacy of my response (even more so than usual) that I eventually gave up in despair. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to elaborate on some comments I made below, since I’m still kind of hung up on the ethics of reading ‘survivor literature’ – a topic of zero interest to anyone who’s not a complete tool like myself. So fair warning.

Despite all my prissy scruples, I thi
Dec 05, 2011 Dem rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Journey into the whirlwind recounts the story of active member of the communist Party for many years, Eugenia Semonovna Ginzburg, who was arrested like many of her fellow citizens during Stalin's reign of terror on trumped up charges of being a Trotskyist terrorist counter-revolutionary and sentenced to prison. This book recounts her many years spent in prison and labour camps.

This is a insightful story and sometimes while reading this book you may sometimes think " This has to be exaggerated so
Nel 1937, quando tutto ebbe inizio, avevo poco più di trent’anni; ora ho di parecchio superato i cinquanta. Diciotto degli anni compresi in questo periodo li ho trascorsi là.

è dove viene confinata dalla repressione staliniana (di solito si usa l’espressione “purghe staliniane” che mi pare infinitamente riduttiva) che per Evgenija inizia nel 1937, ma per tanti altri era già iniziata da tempo.

è il carcere duro e il lager, la Kolyma, mitica parola che evoca terrore.


Ma Evge
A fantastic and heart rendering book. Evgenia Ginzberg had a comfortable life in the 1920s and into the 1930s in Kazan, For reasons unknown she was arrested in one of the early purges and sentenced to prison. Due to the continuing purges and concomitant necessary changes to accommodate all the people who were imprisoned her solitary confinement was interrupted and she was forced to share a cell (prison wasn't bad - there was a library service), later the two are deported to a labour camp in Sibe ...more
Apr 24, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Into the Whirlwind is really an extraordinary book, I had never heard of Eugenia Ginzburg, and frankly felt very ignorant of the terror unleashed by Stalin during the 1930s. Into the Whirlwind doesn’t always make for easy reading, but for those interested in Russian history it must surely be required reading. In the 1930’s Ginzburg was a loyal communist party member, a university teacher and journalist. A wife and mother, living a life surrounded by people who thought as she did, Eugenia (Jenny) ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, russia
In places, Ginzburg's tone seems oddly casual for a memoir with such horrifying subject matter. Maybe this is of-a-piece with her stating several times that prisoners laughed, joked, or were gleeful in certain situations, even prisoners who had been ripped from their families and small children. It's not my place to judge....and I don't fully understand human behavior. It just seems to me that laughter and glee might be hard to come by if you hadn't seen your kids in three years. And Ginzburg do ...more
Sep 22, 2016 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
Part I (63%), covering her arrest and her period in solitary, is extremely moving and effective. The second part of the book (Part II) is duller and not written as well. I am not sure if these two parts correspond to her two books (presented as one), as kindle does not supply that information.

Good, but a bit over-rated
Oct 11, 2011 Wayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone whose Democracy is under siege by its politicians, radio jocksn tea parties and sarah Palins
Recommended to Wayne by: The Holy Spirit in an Athens bookstore
Discovered while teaching in Athens in 1978 in a treasure of a bookshop, this story has just STUCK in my head!!!

It made me realise that our idealistic ideologies from Democracy to Communism to Christianity to Workers' Unions have to be guarded and defended with rigour since Human Nature being what it is, will hijack it and twist it to its own purposes - usually perverted and hiding behind the original to practise the exact opposite.

Communism had its origins in Early Christianity...just read the
Jul 29, 2014 Eve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marisol García
Es más testimonio que literatura (a diferencia de, por ejemplo, los recuerdos sobre el gulag ordenados por Shalamov), y en cuanto tales son valiosos por su cercanía y carga emotiva (cómo lo hace una mujer condenada a Siberia para no pensar en los dos hijos de 4 y 6 años que ha dejado atrás, por ejemplo), no por particulares recursos de estilo ni su síntesis. El prólogo de Antonio Muñoz Molina para esta edición es extraordinario, vale buscarlo por sí solo. En comparación con otros testimonios de ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colleen Clark
Fascinating. I can't remember where or when I picked this up - it looks used - but I selected it from one of my numerous "to-be-read" stacks to take with me to my annual sojourn to an island in Maine where I have time to read uninterruptedly.

Riveting from start - Dec. 1934 to arrest in Feb 1937. One of the early victims of Stalin's insane "purges." Ginzburg was a professor of literature in Kazan, mother of two and stepmother of one, in her 30's and an avid Party member from day 1. Nonetheless, s
Dec 11, 2015 Rosemary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
Eugenia (or Yevgeniya) Ginzburg was a member of the Communist party accused of political crimes along with many thousands of others during Stalin’s purges in the 1930s. She was sentenced to 10 years solitary confinement, the standard sentence for any party member who wasn’t shot, but after two years Stalin must have realised he’d locked up too many people of working age – not only were they not producing, but they had to be fed and guarded – and she and many others were sent to do physical labou ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Katherine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a mind-boggling read (if only it were fiction!) but I found little in the book to appreciate other than the author’s seemingly inexhaustible ability to endure and will to live. The narrative is clumsy and alternates between flashbacks and flashes forward. It’s slow and monotonous, even when describing true torture and horror—and perhaps this pace accurately reflects the experience of life in the various prisons and labor camps she describes. I would recommend reading a bit about the Rus ...more
Sep 09, 2010 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read very little non-fiction that stayed with me for any length of time. This is one I still think about today. Russian history is so completely engrossing to me, it's amazing to me that I got to take an entire class in college on just this country's history, and this is where I read this book.

Just in terms of general prison narrative, this is an amazing find. The details of prison life are really what I remember most about it. How she would tell entire stories from start to finish to her
Dianne Oliver
Dec 03, 2014 Dianne Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-auto-bio
Always stunning to read the horrors that people endured, this is a well written account of Genia's "crimes" against Stalin, and her 18 years of imprisonment. This was a bit different from other accounts I have read as she describes more than just the state of her own situation. She includes the inner workings of the prison systems- how things were communicated and the way the mind recalls so much information- and some of the politics of her day (of which I am vastly undereducated) as well as the ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A horrifying journey into what may have been the most corrupt and repressive regime in human history. While Solzhenitsyn may be more effective in evoking disgust and terror in the reader, Ginzburg's novelistic style and tendencies toward understatement produce an equally effective pathetic appeal. This is a deeply human perspective on an inhuman apparatus, and one that strives to recount not just the nightmares of the GULAG but also the bonds of love and friendship that often flourished between ...more
Sep 17, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deeply disturbing and consciousness-expanding. Ginzburg is gifted with a brilliant memory for detail, and she uses it to startling effect in describing her experience as a prisoner during Stalin's reign.

I think it's valuable to periodically remind one's self that humans are capable of great evil, though I'm not sure what to do with this information other than develop my continually hardening shell of cynicism about governments.

Emotionally, this book made me want to start stockpiling weapons --
Nov 18, 2016 Ally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In her powerful autobiography, INTO THE WHIRLWIND, Eugenia Ginzburg shares her experiences of being arrested in 1937, imprisoned, and eventually sent to do grueling manual labor in a Siberian gulag. She was “officially” convicted as a political terrorist and enemy of the people. Naturally, none of this was true - she was part of Joseph Stalin's "Great Purge" campaign. While her experiences were unbelievably harrowing and heartbreaking, it is her unrelentingly strong spirit that shines through th ...more
I'm so glad this book was assigned for my Soviet Union history class. Mrs. Ginzburg was a woman who showed extraordinary resilience during one of history's most trying times, and I feel privileged to have been able to read her memoirs. The book shows the raw cruelty that humans are capable of, but also juxtaposes it with the immense strength also possible. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be inspired.
Dec 29, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe
Wow. I've got to remind myself to only read a maximum of one horrible prison-camp memoir per month. The story would be unbelievable if I didn't already know Russian history. But, the author really personalizes the purges, prisons, and work camps. A good book - a terrible story.
По свидетельствам очевидцев, в этой книге много лжи. Но это все равно очень сильная и необходимая к прочтению книга.
This book is really gripping. Her story is so grim. It has taught me that I need to memorise as much poetry as possible, in case I end up in prison.
بهمن بهمن
ghablan englisisho add karda.yadam bashe beram oono remove konam.kheili tekan dahandeh bood baram.avalin ketabi ke dar bareye ordoogah haye stalini khoondam,sale 1371 bood:(
Irina Smyshlyak
Nov 21, 2016 Irina Smyshlyak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Книга трогает до глубины души, поражая современного читателя кошмарами прошлого. Каждая глава держит в постоянном напряжении, оно долго не спадает даже после прочтения эпилога. Писатель (она же главное действующее лицо произведения) настолько глубоко и ярко передает свое эмоциональное и физическое состояние, что ты поневоле погружаешься в каждое происходящее событие. Книга без всякого сомнения подлежит прочтению. На моей "книжной полке" она займет достойное место.
Jan 24, 2016 NapoleonSplit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Full review also at

I have never read a book that captured both absolute human cruelty and human compassion so well. Ginzburg’s memoir is so unforgettable, and recounted so precisely with such honesty that it is not only a critical record of a disastrous time, but a true triumph of human strength.

Eugenia (Yevgenia) Solomonovna Ginzburg (1904-1977), a Russian author and teacher, was falsely accused of being part of a “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist group” in 1937 at
Rachel Jackson
Sep 02, 2013 Rachel Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evgenia Ginzburg's memoir Journey into the Whirlwind is a fascinatingly terrifying look at the infamous Russian Gulag system under Joseph Stalin's "reign of terror," and it's a most interesting account of the horrors that she endured there.

Ginzburg has a flair for writing, having been a fairly prominent journalist before her arrest, and a keen eye for detail and recollection, which brings the story to life in a horrifying way. She describes her treatment in the prisons and camps, her suffering a
Aine Nic Charthaigh
Outstanding account of a human experience.
This was a curious book, I've read several others by Gulag survivors.
But there was an ambiguity in this book that puzzled me to the end.

Starting out, I thought, she thought,
that the entire insanity of the purges was the fault of Stalin.
And that she still believed in communism,

But as I continued through the book,
more and more I began to wonder if she was hiding her real feelings,
perhaps because, while it was possible to denounce Stalin in the 1960's,
it still wasn't possible to denounce comm
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Yevgenia Ginzburg (Russian language: Евгения Семёновна Гинзбург) was a Russian historian and writer. Her latinized name Eugenia is frequently used in the West.

Soon after Yevgenia Ginzburg was born into the family of a Jewish pharmacist in Moscow, her family moved to Kazan. In 1920 she entered the social sciences department of Kazan State University, later switching to pedagogy.

She worked as a rabf
More about Evgenia Ginzburg...

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