The prisoners of Stalin’s gulags tattooed anti-Stalin slogans into the skin of their faces. The tattoos were cut out and the skin stitched up, again and again, to the extent, they tell us, that one prisoner was known as The Stare because he had so little skin left that he could not close his eyes.

Resistance, yes, and on a heroic scale, but usually we’re headlong in the danger of focusing so closely on the heroism that we fail to see the surrounding gulag.