The eight decades from the Bolshevik Revolution to the collapse of the Iron Curtain brought a wave of anti-religious repression comparable to anything seen in the fabled persecutions of the first Christian centuries. It inflicted sufferings and agonies equalling those of the darkest periods; and it stimulated writings and reflections paralleling the most insightful and moving from Christian history. This first volume of The God of the Gulag shows how the paradigms of persecution and martyrdom were established in the Early Church, when Christians were hounded by the Roman state as a threat to the established order-and how they reappeared when anti-Christian persecution returned on a mass scale after the French Revolution, as new hostile states and popular movements tried again to dismantle the power and influence of the Christian Church. Drawing on accounts and documents in many languages, it examines the first phase of communist rule after the 1917 Russian revolution, when a ruthless campaign was launched to destroy all organised religion and redirect spiritual strivings towards an absolute subservience to the Marxist vision. It looks at how Christians attempted to defend the Church and witness to their faith as the communist dictatorship was extended under Stalin to post-War Eastern Europe, bringing a new wave of arrests, trials and purges.