I spent a fair chunk of my spendthrift youth reading Russian novels, among them those by Alexander Solzhenitsyn: "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (which had one of the great last lines in all of literature), "The First Circle," "Cancer Ward," "August 1914." I stopped after the first volume of "The Gulag Archipelago," which was important and necessary work but lacked the sweep of the novels.
When Solzhenitsyn was exiled to Vermont, Americans tended to greet him as a reincarnation of George Washington and James Madison. But he was nothing of the kind. His dissent was of a different sort: spiritual and intense, deep and emotional. He was in the same league, if not quite at the same level, as Tolstoy, Gogol and Dostoevsky, and a worthy successor to them, with all of their profound depth and drive for redemption. He was as much a critic of the West as of his own country, from which he was ultimately inseparable: a great, brave and uncompromising man.
UPDATE 1: You will want to read Montana Headlines on this topic.
UPDATE 2: I just remembered that when I was in the Army I used to have this quote from "Denisovich" on the barracks wall: "The great thing about prison camp was you had a hell of a lot of freedom."