The camp life is graphically depicted; political prisoners resided with common criminals, who beat them as savagely and relentlessly as the sadistic guards. The poorly clothed, starving inmates were forced into hard daily labor in even the most punishing winter weather. Minor infractions brought disproportionately harsh punishment: solitary confinement in small metal sheds, additional beatings, withheld rations. All of this cruelty will be familiar to readers of other first-person accounts and official revelations of the routine atrocities of the Soviet era. What redeems the book and astonishes the reader is Father Arseny’s response. Even when barely able to move about, and often from his own sickbed, he ministered selflessly, blessed and prayed for the other prisoners, nursed even those ill and injured who had abused him, refused to retaliate in kind, prayed for his oppressors, and shared or gave his short rations to those he saw as even needier. His decency and goodness, his love for others, and his unwavering devotion to his priestly ideals won converts and believers. Many of these converts, particularly guards and officials, kept their feelings of awe and respect concealed, but others became openly ardent and evangelical on behalf of Father Arseny and his faith. After his prison release, Father Arseny lived with a family in a small Russian village and continued his officially forbidden ministries. The town’s terrifying and corrupt Police Inspector was eventually transformed by his meetings with the priest, left his lucrative official position, and ultimately risked his own imprisonment by requesting final confession and communion for his dying mother.