The Gulag Archipelago: 50 Years Later

On February 8, 2024 the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago.” Solzhenitsyn, a twice-decorated captain in the Soviet Army, was stripped of his rank, arrested, and convicted in 1945 for privately criticizing Stalin. The gripping epic masterpiece is a moving account of his resistance within the Soviet labor camps and his own release after eight years. He would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature for “The Gulag Archipelago” which was intended to serve as a condemnation of not just of the Soviet camp system, but of the Soviet Union itself.

The event opened with remarks from Dr. Lee Edwards followed by remarks from Dr. Daniel J. Mahoney covering the background, main contours, and enduring significance of “The Gulag Archipelago.” A panel discussion provided an opportunity to discuss the book, the impact of Solzhenitsyn’s thought and writing more broadly, and its enduring contribution to a spiritually rich and politically wise anti-totalitarianism. There was an opportunity for questions from the audience.


Dr. Lee Edwards is the Founding Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He is the Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation, and an adjunct professor of politics at the Catholic University of America. Edwards is a leading historian of American conservatism and author or editor of over 25 books, including biographies of President Ronald Reagan, Senator Barry Goldwater, Attorney General Edwin Meese III, and William F. Buckley. He was the founding director of the Institute of Political Journalism at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and has also served as President of the Philadelphia Society and been a media fellow at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Edwards holds a Ph.D. in world politics from the Catholic University and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Grove City College. He did graduate work at the Sorbonne and holds a B.A. in English from Duke University.

Dr. Daniel J. Mahoney is Senior Fellow at the Claremont Institute, Senior Writer at Law and Liberty, and professor emeritus at Assumption University and serves on the Academic Council for VOC. He has written extensively on Solzhenitsyn, including “The Other Solzhenitsyn: Telling the Truth about a Misunderstood Writer and Thinker,” which has been available in paperback from St. Augustine’s Press since 2020. He is presently completing a book entitled “The Persistence of the Ideological Lie,” to be published by Encounter Books. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Catholic University of America (CUA), a M.A. in Political Science from CUA, and a B.A. from Holy Cross.

Dr. Elizabeth Spalding is Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and Founding Director of the Victims of Communism Museum. Dr. Spalding teaches subjects ranging from U.S. foreign policy, national security, and international relations to the presidency, religion, and politics as Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and Visiting Fellow at the Van Andel Graduate School of Government at Hillsdale College. A frequent public lecturer on numerous topics, especially communism and the Cold War, she is also a core faculty member in VOC’s National Seminar for Middle and High School Educators. She is the author of “The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism” and the co-author of “A Brief History of the Cold War.” Dr. Spalding holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in international politics and political theory from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in politics from Hillsdale College.

Dr. Flagg Taylor IV serves on the Academic Council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and is an Associate Professor of government at Skidmore College. Taylor specializes in the history of political thought and American government, especially the question of executive power. He is the co-author of “The Contested Removal Power, 1789-2010,” author of numerous articles, and editor of “The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism” and “The Long Night of the Watchman: Essays by Václav Benda, 1977-1989.” He holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in political science from Fordham University and a B.A. from Kenyon College.

Dr. David Walsh is a Professor of Politics, at the Catholic University of America. His expertise is in political theory, liberal democracy, and the philosophical revolution of the modern world. His works include “The Growth of the Liberal Soul,” “The Modern Philosophical Revolution: The Luminosity of Existence, and Politics of the Person as the Politics of Being” followed by a companion volume, The Priority of the Person. His current book project is “The Invisible Source of Authority: God in a Secular Age.” His education includes a B.A. and M.A. from the University College of Dublin and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Robert Williams is Director of Academic Programs at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. Previously he had a 32-year career in the U.S. Army with various assignments in Germany and Estonia including an assignment as an instructor at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu. He had multiple assignments in the intelligence field including the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Service Intelligence Center for the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Memphis and a M.A. in Russian Studies from Florida State University.