08
Oct
08

On This Day, 10-8-2008: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

October 8, 1970

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wins the Nobel Prize in literature

The best-known living Russian writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, wins the Nobel Prize for literature. Born in 1918 in the Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn was a leading writer and critic of Soviet internal oppression. Arrested in 1945 for criticizing the Stalin regime, he served eight years in Russian prisons and labor camps. Upon his release in 1953 he was sent into “internal exile” in Asiatic Russia.

After Stalin’s death, Solzhenitsyn was released from his exile and began writing in earnest. His first publication, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963), appeared in the somewhat less repressive atmosphere of Nikita Khrushchev’s regime (1955-1964). The book was widely read in both Russia and the West, and its harsh criticisms of Stalinist repression provided a dramatic insight into the Soviet system. Eventually, however, Soviet officials clamped down on Solzhenitsyn and other Russian artists, and henceforth his works had to be secreted out of Russia in order to be published. These works included Cancer Ward (1968) and the massive three-volume The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956 (1973-1978). The Soviet government further demonstrated its displeasure over Solzhenitsyn’s writings by preventing him from personally accepting his Nobel Prize in 1970. In 1974, he was expelled from the Soviet Union for treason, and he moved to the United States. Although celebrated as a symbol of anticommunist resistance, Solzhenitsyn was also extremely critical of many aspects of American society; particularly what he termed its incessant materialism. He returned to Russia in 1994. Solzhenitsyn died of heart failure in Moscow on August 3, 2008. He was 89.

“Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wins the Nobel Prize in literature.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Oct 2008, 12:28 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2446.

 

On This Day

1871 – Peshtigo, WI, was destroyed by a forest fire. Over 1,100 people were killed by the fire that eventually burned across 6 counties.

1918 – U.S. Corporal Alvin C. York almost single-handedly killed 25 German soldiers and captured 132 in the Argonne Forest in France. York had originally tried to avoid being drafted as a conscientious objector. After this event his was promoted to sergeant and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

1934 – Bruno Hauptmann was indicted for the murder of the infant son of Charles A. Lindbergh.

1938 – The cover of “The Saturday Evening Post” portrayed Norman Rockwell.

1945 – U.S. President Truman announced that only Britain and Canada would be given the secret to the atomic bomb.

1950 – U.N. forces crossed into North Korea from South Korea.

1966 – The U.S. Government declares that LSD is dangerous and an illegal substance.

1982 – In Poland, all labor organizations, including Solidarity, were banned.

1993 – The U.S. government issued a report absolving the FBI of any wrongdoing in its final assault in Waco, TX, on the Branch Davidian compound. The fire that ended the siege killed as many as 85 people.

 

October 8, 1871

Great Chicago Fire begins

On this day in 1871, flames spark in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, igniting a 2-day blaze that kills between 200 and 300 people, destroys 17,450 buildings,leaves 100,000 homeless and causes an estimated $200 million (in 1871 dollars; $3 billion in 2007 dollars) in damages. Legend has it that a cow kicked over a lantern in the O’Leary barn and started the fire, but other theories hold that humans or even a comet may have been responsible for the event that left four square miles of the Windy City, including its business district, in ruins. Dry weather and an abundance of wooden buildings, streets and sidewalks made Chicago vulnerable to fire. The city averaged two fires per day in 1870; there were 20 fires throughout Chicago the week before the Great Fire of 1871.

Despite the fire’s devastation, much of Chicago’s physical infrastructure, including its water, sewage and transportation systems, remained intact. Reconstruction efforts began quickly and spurred great economic development and population growth, as architects laid the foundation for a modern city featuring the world’s first skyscrapers. At the time of the fire, Chicago’s population was approximately 324,000; within nine years, there were 500,000 Chicagoans. By 1893, the city was a major economic and transportation hub with an estimated population of 1.5 million. That same year, Chicago was chosen to host the World’s Columbian Exposition, a major tourist attraction visited by 27.5 million people, or approximately half the U.S. population at the time.

In 1997, the Chicago City Council exonerated Mrs. O’Leary and her cow. She turned into a recluse after the fire, and died in 1895.

“Great Chicago Fire begins.” 2008. The History Channel website. 8 Oct 2008, 12:50 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5411.

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