Gulag Letters Arsenii Formakov, Emily D. Johnson

Yale-Hoover Series on Authoritarian Regimes
Publication date:
08 Jul 2017
Yale University Press
304 pages: 235 x 156 x 25mm
15 b-w illus.
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A poignant collection of letters written by the Latvian poet, novelist, and newspaper editor Arsenii Formakov while interned in Soviet labor camps

Emily Johnson has translated and edited a fascinating collection of letters written by Arsenii Formakov, a Latvian Russian poet, novelist, and journalist, during two terms in Soviet labor camps, 1940 to 1947 in Kraslag and 1949 to 1955 in Kamyshlag and Ozerlag. This correspondence, which Formakov mailed home to his family in Riga, provides readers with a firsthand account of the workings of the Soviet penal system and testifies to the hardships of daily life for Latvian prisoners in the Gulag.

Emily D. Johnson is associate professor of Russian at the University of Oklahoma. She lives in Norman, OK.

“This volume provides an exciting new type of primary source in translation that will be of interest not just to Soviet scholars but also to a general public that remains fascinated by the history of the Gulag and of the concentration camps in general. Gulag Letters represents an absolutely unique contribution to the historiography of the Soviet Union, the Gulag, and Soviet Latvia.” —Alan Barenberg, author of Gulag Town, Company Town