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If Not Now, When? (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 7 Sep 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (7 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118390X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183909
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Primo Levi was born into a Jewish family in Turin, Italy, in 1919. He spent time in Auschwitz and his novel If This Is a Man is a harrowing account of his ordeal. Levi died in 1987.


Product Description

Review

This book achieves many things - too many, really, to itemise ... yet one is left with an enormous sense of optimism and gratitude to the author (LISTENER)

Levi is a master whose hand never slips... I was convinced by every detail, and absurdly shaken to realise at the end that it was indeed fiction, however well grounded in fact. I knew these people, and I wanted to know more (THE TIMES)

Levi writes of unimaginable hardships ... and of exhilaration... (FINANCIAL TIMES)

A novel full of horrors, but wonderfully uplifting and optimistic in its tribute to the human spirit. (SUNDAY TIMES) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

*The story of a group of Partisan guerillas in Poland during WW2 - by the master of holocaust writing. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Medea Dingo on 11 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This work of fiction from Primo Levi documents the journey accross Europe of a band of partisans caught behind enemy lines during World War Two. The story is based upon truth, after Levi himself encountered young, hopeful Zionists whilst trying to get back to Italy after his internment in Auschwitz. The novel pulls no punches; it gives an honest account of the conditions the partisans find themselves in; often starving and hungry, living in underground camps or shot down aeroplanes, they are relentlessly brave and determined to survive. It may be a work of fiction, but as an insight into the war of the largely unsung heroes of the resistance movement of Eastern Europe, and the survival story of the Jewish community that lived upon their wits in the woods of Poland and Russia, it is noteworthy. It took Primo Levi over a year to return home to Italy after the war, and on the way he was to hear many stories of survival, as well as having his own adventures.It is written in a style those who have previously read Levi will be familiar with, it is both compelling and compassionate, whilst retaining the distance a scientist puts between himself and his work. Levi addresses one of the recurring themes of his work - how does man act during adverse circumstances? What happens to our morality during war? Relationships are forged and broken, and both the best and the worst of human nature is depicted and, ultimately, that is what makes Levi one of the most important writers of the twentieth century: his examination of the human condition. I would recommend this book, and all his other works, to anyone.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Smyth VINE VOICE on 9 Nov. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'If Not Now, When?' is a novel from a man better known for non-fiction, and Primo Levi shows awesome ability to build character, describe landscape and develop atmosphere. His subject is the Jewish partisans who harried German forces in eastern Europe - perhaps, as Mark Mazower suggests in his introduction - to recall a history of resistance that is less well-known than the history of suffering and in effect to mark an alternative life that Levi himself did not have the chance to live.
Levi has taken much trouble in his historical research (and includes a short bibliography for further reading) but it is the selfsame piercing humanity that lifts his non-fiction to such heights that also makes this fiction so compelling. 'If Not Now, When?' remains very much a book about the Jews while expressing wider human truths about friendship, compromise and survival.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
Of all his books, this is the one I found the most heart wrenching. How such a small group of people, Russians and Poles, in an extremely dangerous situation i.e. trapped in occupied territory, found the courage to continue the fight of resistance. It is all the more remarkable because it is based on a true story.
This is a heart wrenching yet inspiring story of courage and solidarity and my favorite Primo Levi book, with some of the most poignant lines of poetry . . .'If not now when, if not this way how? if I am not for myself who will be for me . . . '
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Williams VINE VOICE on 18 April 2007
Format: Paperback
My review of 'Mila 18' by Leon Uris seems to have got lost somewhere in cyberspace. Never mind. If you want to read a book about a group of Jews fighting back during WWII, this one is much better, anyway. It starts rather slowly, but as more characters are introduced, a tapestry of pictures and stories emerge from what begins as a rather grey fabric. By the end of the book they had become my family. They are a small band of men and a few women who carry on small scale guerilla warfare on the German side of the eastern front during the Russian advance across eastern Europe. They tramp from White Russia, through the Pripet Marshes, through Poland and Germany, eventually ending up in post-war Italy. They fight no great battles, and are under no illusions about their place in history. They are poor, ordinary people. Neither their sex lives nor the horrors they have witnessed are dwelt on in detail, so if you want a 'blockbuster' maybe you should try Leon Uris in stead. But for me this is the greater book. Although a novel, it seems nevertheless to be 'true'.
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