Paul Aslanian's Reviews > Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
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's review
Apr 21, 2012

it was amazing

This is a timeless little book that came out about 1940. Koestler, a German, was active in the Communist Party in Germany but was run out of the party and moved on to the same activity in France where he again was imprisoned and eventually moved to England where he lived out his life. This book like so much of Vassily Grossman's writing focuses on the flaws of both the Nazis and Russian Communism--both ideologies at their core assume a position of the state prevailing over the individual. In this book the leading character is a now old guy who was a revolutionary helping the movement in Russia throw out the Czar and taking the helm of the state. But, we soon learn that Stalin did not want, reward, or keep around those who had revolution in their genes. No, Stalin wanted bureaucrats around him who posed no threat to him. Hence the secret trials of 1936-1938. The main character in this book is imprisoned and spends much time thinking about why he is in prison and when, not if, he would be taken down the hall and shot (which happens) Among other things I learn the universal code for communication between prisoners (Think John McCain in the Hanoi Hilton) In English think of a 5 x 5 matric the first row is a, b, c, d, e, the second row f,g,h,i,j and so on z being the first cell in row 6. So, if you occupy the cell next to me and I want to sent the word "CAT" to you I would use the universal code: the first tap on your wall is the row, the second tap is the position on that row. So C would 1 tap for the first row and 3 taps for C, A would be 1 tap space 1 tap and T would be 4 taps for row 4 and 5 tops for the position of T in that row. Pretty neat. Any way our hero has many "conversations" with his fellow prisoners via this code. I spoke with an 88 year old friend of mine who said he read this book the year it came out--he said it made a major impact on the west when it came out. A very good read--short, too.

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