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Survival in Auschwitz [Paperback]

Primo Levi
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Mar 2013
SURVIVAL IN AUSCHWITZ (or If This Is a Man), first published in 1947, is a work by the Italian-Jewish writer, Primo Levi. It describes his arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, and his incarceration in the Auschwitz concentration camp from February 1944 until the camp was liberated on 27 January 1945.

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Survival in Auschwitz + Eyewitness Auschwitz: Three Years in the Gas Chamber + Five Chimneys: The Story of Auschwitz
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Product details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 148267114X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1482671148
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,863,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


David Caute, "New Statesman" "Survival in Auschwitz" is a stark prose poem on the deepest sufferings of man told without self-pity, but with a muted passion and intensity, an occasional cry of anguish, which makes it one of the most remarkable documents I have ever read. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy, in 1919, and trained as a chemist. He was arrested as a member of the anti-Fascist resistance, and then deported to Auschwitz in 1944. Levi's experience in the death camp and his subsequent travels through Eastern Europe are the subject of his two classic memoirs, "Survival in Auschwitz" and "The Reawakening" (also available from Collier books), as well as "Moments of Reprieve." In addition, he is the author of "The Periodic Table, If Not Now, When?, " which won the distinguished Viareggio and Campiello prizes when published in Italy in 1982, and most recently, "The Monkeys Wrench." "The first thing that needs to be said about Primo Levi," as John Gross remarked in "The New York Times, " "is that he might well have become a writer, and a very good writer, under any conditions; he is gifted and highly perceptive, a man with a lively curiosity, humor, and a sense of style." Dr. Levi retired from his position as manager of a Turin chemical factory in 1977 to devote himself full-time to writing. He died in 1987. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Holocaust memoirs 18 Sep 2007
There has been much great literature written by holocaust survivors, and this one is just about as good as any.

Primo Levi describes in "Survival in Auschwitz" the scheme by which those who could were able to maintain some sort of existance. Those unable to work are gassed, shot or beaten to death. Those who manage to survive are those who find ways to make themselves useful, without actual serioius exertion on the meagre rations. The lifeblood of the camp is "organising" - a black market where a stolen bar of soap is traded for a slice of bread; a potato for a scarf.

One difference between Levi and other Holocaust memoirs, is that he does not rely on an emotional appeal. He produces a trully excellent and insightful disposition of the the psychology of genocide. The emotional effects stems from Levis astute analysis, rather than being explicity given, an as such and as such are probably actually more effective.

It is a strange aspect of holocaust literatre, that in describing such terrible events they can engender such positive feelings in the reader. The way that those such as Levi can survive the horrors and somehow come out the other end as full human beings is inspiring to us all.
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79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
It would be easy to bluntly horrify the reader in a book about life in a death camp, but Levi is not content to appeal to the emotions. He has an intellectual fascination with details, and the psychology of genocide. By a dispassionate and careful treatment of the very difficult material, he manages to write a compelling book about a terrible subject. And the emotional effect does not suffer from this approach--because Levi does not manipulate them, the reader's feelings are deeper and more lasting.
In one chapter, Levi describes how many of the prisoners, after fourteen hours of manual labor, would assemble in one corner of the camp in a market. They would trade rations and stolen goods. Levi describes how the market followed classical economic laws. Whenever I remember this I am freshly amazed at the resilience of life, and the ability of people to live and think and work in the most adverse conditions. It is remarkable that I finished a book about the Holocaust with a better opinion of mankind than I started with; I think the fact that the book affected me this way is the best recommendation.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy 'If This Is A Man' Instead 7 July 2008
A great work, but 'Survival in Auschwitz' is just the American name for 'If This Is A Man', which is published in Britain together with 'The Truce' in a single volume. Amazon has it, and it's better value as well as a better title.
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92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In a more perfect life, this book should be science fiction. Primo Levi deposits us in a world where the typical convivality that makes human society bearable has been eliminated and replaced by a horrible premise: humans may only live if they can do work useful to the state. "Survival in Auschwitz" plays the theme out. Those who are unable to work are immediately killed, using the most efficient means possible. Those who survive must find ways to maintain the illusion of usefulness with the least possible exertion. Instead of brotherhood, there is commerce, a black market where a stolen bar of soap is traded for a loaf of bread; the soap allows the owner to maintain a more healthy appearance while the bread feeds its owner for another day. We see property in its most base form. A spoon, a bowl, a few trinkets cleverly used, that is all a person can hold at a time. It's instructive to read this book as an insight into homelessness. What kind of place is this where we create humiliated zombies, shuffling behind their carts containing all their worldly possessions? How long can we let the State fight against the innate emotion that tells us that no-one should go hungry while we eat and no-one should be homeless while we have shelter?

What always amazes me about the Holocaust is the sheer improbability of the story of each of its survivors. This is the horror. For every shining genius of the stature of Primo Levi, there are thousands of other amazing people, gassed and murdered in the showers filled with Zyklon-B.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing... 5 July 1998
By A Customer
An incredible book... Levi's straightforward and almost unemotional tone often disguises the horror of what he is describing. I'd recommend reading it at least twice... I've read it three times now and each time I get something more. Few of us can truly understand the circumstances Levi lived through, but it is important to try.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended read 22 Feb 2005
Following the Auschwitz anniversary, I decided to read a lot more about the holocaust than I knew. Survival in Auschwitz by primo Levi was one of the books I read and loved. I consider it to be one of the most well-written, touching and compelling memoirs about the holocaust. Promo Levi is an excellent writer, with deep, lucid and compelling prose and insightful writing style. This book is one of the most influential books of my life.
After reading this book, I can't imagine any person not honestly feeling for humanity, and becoming compassionate no matter what the circumstance is. This well-depicted book is a recommendation for those interested in the plight of mankind in wars and other man-made and natural disasters. Read it and you will rave and pass it on to your friends.
This is a well recommended Holocaust book along with DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE,PERIODIC TABLE, NIGHT
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars totally loved it
I read a lot about the NAZIS and this was a very interesting book of one mans personnel experience, not at all what you expect and far too short but a must read,
Published 5 months ago by adam
5.0 out of 5 stars Levi tells it as it was and a fine example of how the intellectual...
Levi tells it as it was and a fine example of how the intellectual mind can analyse the facts but present the horror of the time. Excellent
Published 9 months ago by MS
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious
I bought this as a gift for my mum whose father was Polish and died at the end of the war. Mum really enjoyed it and would recommend
Published 19 months ago by Carol A Fairley
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad
I Bought This Book Because I have An Intrest In World War 2 And In Particular The Plight Of The Jewish People This Book Gives You 1 Mans Story And The Fact It is More Of A Diary... Read more
Published 20 months ago by J. F. Mcgeachy
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and necessary reading
Everyone should read this book. Books like this show us how easy our lives are now. Without hearing true survival stories like this it is impossible to imagine what people went... Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2012 by SHARON GALE
5.0 out of 5 stars Primo Levi Masterpice
excelent book. highly recomended
a must read for everyone interested in human rights and how human beings can keep their dignity and values
even in the more difficult... Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2011 by argy reader
5.0 out of 5 stars The reality is in the detail.
I know it's a cliche but I really could not put this book down. Primo Levi gives you the details of Auschwitz life as a Jewish prisoner and often these details can mean the... Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by Ian Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars poignant read
After a visit to Auschwitz in March 2010 this book was recommended to me. Extremely moving and thought provoking- all the more vivid because of visiting.
Published on 22 April 2010 by Cathy R
5.0 out of 5 stars JUST READ IT
It will give you an insight, you might think you understand, you might think you feel the pain, you might think you feel the fear, but you are not even close. Read more
Published on 19 Dec 2008 by Helpless
5.0 out of 5 stars A testament to the strength of the human spirit !
I have been interested in WW2 for many years, a friend bought me this book and said it was a "must read. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2006 by Stephen Mcguigan
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