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Journey into the Whirlwind

4.32  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,823 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
Eugenia Ginzburg's critically acclaimed memoir of the harrowing eighteen years she spent in prisons and labor camps under Stalin's rule

By the late 1930s, Eugenia Semyonovna Ginzburg had been a loyal and very active member of the Communist Party for many years. Yet like millions of others who suffered during Stalin's reign of terror, she was arrested—on trumped-up charges o
Paperback, 418 pages
Published November 4th 2002 by Harvest Books (Harcourt, Inc.) (first published January 1st 1967)
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Aug 29, 2009 Buck rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 17, 2012 James rated it it was amazing
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
Andreea Lucau
May 10, 2015 Andreea Lucau rated it it was amazing
I started to read this book without knowing it was an autobiography. After a few chapters I started doing some research about Kazan, Tatarstan, Stalin and the Gulag. It was then that I realized the book was real: people were actually send to labor camp for 10 years after fake trials. Innocent people, whose only fault was being born in the wrong time, were caught 'into the whirlwind' and they could not do anything else but go with the flow.
What impressed me the most about Genia, the women telling
Jul 29, 2014 Eve rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, survival
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 24, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 11, 2011 Wayne rated it it was amazing
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
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
Ginzburg drags the reader with her from a comfortable life through accusation and imprisonment, solitary confinement to Siberian labour camp up to the point of impending death commuted at the end of the book by becoming a nurse. At which point the translation abruptly ends. There is a second part to Ginzburg's autobiography, I believe untranslated, detailing her years as a nurse in the labour camp, relationship with the Doctor (who if I recall correctly was a homeopath and seventh day Adventist) ...more
Jan 15, 2011 Molly rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
Sep 09, 2010 Beth rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
По свидетельствам очевидцев, в этой книге много лжи. Но это все равно очень сильная и необходимая к прочтению книга.
Sep 17, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
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 --
Roger King
Aug 25, 2015 Roger King rated it really liked it
There are many brutal first-person accounts written by Gulag survivors, particularly in the Kolyma gold fields, but all are men except Evgenia Ginzburg. She was a loyal Communist Party member swept up in the 1937 Purges, eventually followed by her accusers and probably then their accusers. She did not understand the program until too late: everyone up the line had to denounce their quota of “counter-revolutionaries” to the secret police. Ginzburg brings a female view to the genre. They memorized ...more
Jan 24, 2016 NapoleonSplit rated it it was amazing
*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
Nov 02, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 27, 2015 Susann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
The facts are almost unbelievable: loyal and faithful Party member Ginzburg was rounded up on baseless charges during Stalin's Great Purge of 1937 and spent the following 18(!) years as a prisoner. Some of her time was in a prison; most of it was in the Gulag; the "good" years were spent in exile.

This memoir captures Ginzburg's prison years and some of her labor camp time. I feel silly stating the obvious–that this is a vital historical document. But I previously knew nothing about this period
Sep 07, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A good description of life under Stalin, bringing to vivid life the knowledge that you never knew when it would be your turn to be arrested, accused of 'crimes', and punished. Evgenia has a very rough time while imprisoned: isolation, starvation, torture, false accusations, and long slow trips into Siberia. But right in the middle of her story, when she is in Siberia about halfway through her sentence, the book ends. There were lots of tantalizing hints in the book such as "...and that was the l ...more
Dec 29, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it
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.
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:(
Jun 16, 2010 Jeseven rated it it was amazing
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.
Edmond Dantes
May 15, 2014 Edmond Dantes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
18 anni vissuti là...

la dove si lotta per un pezzo di pane, una minestra acquosa, un posto sul tavolaccio, una pezza per coprsi i piedi dai -50 della Kolyma; sopravvivere all'inferno nell'inferno dei campi di punizione per i condannati ....etc.. tutto questo senza mai perdere l'umanità dell'uomo..
Splendido Romanzo che alterna al racconto delle traversie le riflessioni personali della Ginzburg, simili e assonanti a quelle di Grossman di Vita e Destino e di Tutto scorre.
Pietra Miliare imperdibile
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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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