This gripping book tells the largely unknown story of longtime Russian dissident Alexander Ogorodnikov — from Communist youth to religious dissident, in the Gulag and back again. Ogorodnikov's courage has touched people from every walk of life, including world leaders such as Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher.
In the 1970s Ogorodnikov performed a feat without precedent in the Soviet Union: he organized thousands of Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic Christians in an underground group called the Christian Seminar. When the KGB gave him the option to leave the Soviet Union rather than face the Gulag, he firmly declined because he wanted to change "his" Russia from the inside out. His willingness to sacrifice himself and be imprisoned meant leaving behind his wife and newborn child.
Ogorodnikov spent nine years in the Gulag, barely surviving the horrors he encountered there. Despite KGB harassment and persecution after his release, he refused to compromise his convictions and went on to found the first free school in the Soviet Union, the first soup kitchen, and the first private shelter for orphans, among other accomplishments.
Today this man continues to carry on his struggle against government detainments and atrocities, often alone. Readers will be amazed and inspired by Koenraad De Wolf's authoritative account of Ogorodnikov's life and work.
Koenraad De Wolf
||Koenraad De Wolf is the author of many books and articles on various facets of history and art history. For this book he personally interviewed Alexander Ogorodnikov several times and extensively researched numerous sources, including secret documents from the KGB archives in Moscow. He lives and works in Belgium.
Alexander Ogorodnikov's life story is far from over, but it testifies to a rare courage and sacrifice. It is our duty to tell it to all generations.
- Lord David Alton (from foreword), former member of British Parliament
A terrific book about a remarkable man. . . . Ogorodnikov is one of the most courageous of the Soviet dissidents. His extraordinary life is testimony to the way faith can emerge and grow even in the most difficult circumstances.
- Philip Boobbyer, University of Kent
Simply one of the most inspiring biographies I have ever read. If you want to know what it takes to be a modern-day saint in Russia, read this story. Your life will never be the same.
- Perry L. Glanzer, Baylor University
Who would have thought that heroes — moral and spiritual heroes — still exist in our world? But from the 1970s Alexander Ogorodnikov has been such a hero, first as a dissident battling the anti-human Soviet state and then as a crusader for religious and social rights in post-Communist Russia. Some men are born to sacrifice their personal happiness for the common good. Ogorodnikov is such a man.
- Boris Jakim, translator of Dostoevsky's Notes from the House of the Dead
Alexander Ogorodnikov is a towering character in the history of the human rights movement in Russia. . . . His stand for the truth in a system of lies and his courage and faith are an inspiration to us all. Ogorodnikov is an authentic voice for freedom and justice. This book tells his story and explains why we hold him in such esteem and why he commands our affection and respect.
- Danny Smith, cofounder, Jubilee Campaign