Katsu Kokichi (1802–1850), a middle- to lower-ranking samurai without distinction, nevertheless wrote his life story, supposedly to warn his children against his own disgraceful behavior. Yet, he brags of his mischief and rebelliousness, while relating how he dropped out of a shogunate academy, ran away from home (twice), and lived by his wits and his sword as a beggar and a hoodlum, until he... Read More »
GULAG was the acronym for the Main Administration of Corrective Labor Camps. Gulag prisoners could work up to 14 hours per day. Typical Gulag labor was exhausting physical work. Toiling sometimes in the most extreme climates, prisoners might spend their days felling trees with handsaws and axes or digging at frozen ground with primitive pickaxes. Others mined coal or copper by hand, often... Read More »
Jacques Rossi, the artist who made the following drawing in the 1960s based on his memories, spent 19 years in the Gulag after he was arrested in the Stalin purges of 1936-37. He later published several writings, including his most important, The Gulag Handbook, in 1987 (published in English in 1989).
In the last years of the regime, Pavel Câmpeanu, a prominent sociologist and a lifelong leftist and former prison cellmate of Nicoale Ceauşescu during World War II managed to smuggle out this article, which was published in The New York Review of Books. For his safety, the editors did not publish his name since it was known that the Romanian secret service was quick to punish, even assassinate... Read More »
Bonaparte’s secretary describes the religious practices, attitudes, and views of Bonaparte with regard to Islam. Accepting that the general curried favor with Muslims, he also hoped to deflect criticism of Bonaparte, claiming that what he did was good governance rather than bad Christianity, as his critics maintained.