This is a stark vision for Bernie’s America. True, Solzhenitsyn couldn’t have known that, but it fits nonetheless. This book doesn’t have the raw,electric force of Gulag Archipelago. To be fair, Gulag is a near-perfect read. Solzhenitsyn was a fair writer when he wrote Ivan. He was a perfect writer when he wrote Gulag. I would probably start here, but you can mostly understand Gulag without Ivan.
You can find freedom or prison in any circumstance. Alyosha the Baptist, because he has been raised with Christ, isn’t given over to despair like other prisoners. Elsewhere, while they are slaving (and remember, socialism is slave labor) in the snow, Shukhov actually enjoys his work. It is a routine. The routine is what gives you the ability to endure.
Nevertheless, the Gulag is dehumanizing. Men are reduced to caring more for an extra crumb of bread than they are for their fellow men. I think that is deliberate.
The last two pages are worth the entire read. Shukhov asks Alyosha why he doesn’t pray for freedom. Alyosha counters “Why should he?” God is testing him, and Shukhov would probably waste his freedom on trash, anyway.