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Captain of the Steppe

by Oleg Pavlov

A powerful novel of politically-induced suffering in the Soviet Union in its dying era. Previous sympathy for the victims of the Gulag system was for the political prisoners - this book offers an alternative view. Pavlov shows from clear, bitter first-hand experience how the nightmarish bureaucracy of military incompetence, raised to insane levels by political enforcers, made life insupportable for the rank and file soldiers guarding the zeks.

Extract

Agitation began among those ailing soldiers who were suffering for lack of a hospital. There were around a dozen of them; chilled, frostbitten and emaciated. An order had recently gone round the regiment that anyone who fell ill should be treated on the spot, not sent to hospital. The order had gone out because the very existence of hospital beds significantly weakened discipline.
Translated by Ian Appleby

Parallels

How the Two Ivans Quarrelled by Nikolai Gogol
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
 

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