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The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45
 
 

The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 [Kindle Edition]

Wladyslaw Szpilman
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman's account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inflicted on the Jews of Warsaw and on Warsaw itself, related with a dispassionate restraint borne of shock. Szpilman, now 88, has not looked at his description since he wrote it in 1946 (the same time as Primo Levi's If This Is A Man?; it is too personally painful. The rest of us have no such excuse.

Szpilman's family were deported to Treblinka, where they were exterminated; he survived only because a music-loving policeman recognised him. This was only the first in a series of fatefully lucky escapes that littered his life as he hid among the rubble and corpses of the Warsaw Ghetto, growing thinner and hungrier, yet condemned to live. Ironically it was a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, who saved Szpilman's life by bringing food and an eiderdown to the derelict ruin where he discovered him. Hosenfeld died seven years later in a Stalingrad labour camp, but portions of his diary, reprinted here, tell of his outraged incomprehension of the madness and evil he witnessed, thereby establishing an effective counterpoint to ground the nightmarish vision of the pianist in a desperate reality. Szpilman originally published his account in Poland in 1946, but it was almost immediately withdrawn by Stalin's Polish minions as it unashamedly described collaborations by Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews with the Nazis. In 1997 it was published in Germany after Szpilman's son found it on his father's bookcase. This admirably robust translation by Anthea Bell is the first in the English language. There were 3,500,000 Jews in Poland before the Nazi occupation; after it there were 240,000. Wladyslaw Szpilman's extraordinary account of his own miraculous survival offers a voice across the years for the faceless millions who lost their lives. --David Vincent

Review

OSCARS - The Pianist has won three OSCARS (count 'em!) for BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST LEADING ACTOR... and you can't miss the coverage in the national and regional newspapers, radio and TV...! BAFTAS- You'll remember The Pianist won the BAFTA for BEST FILM beating Gangs of New York, Chicago, The Hours and Lord of the Rings. It also won the BAFTA for BEST DIRECTOR.It has also just won BEST FILM at the inaugural LONDON JEWISH CULTURE CENTREAWARDS FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO JEWISH CULTURE. It is also number 15 on the US Bestseller lists. Just such a shame that the author never lived to see his story being so widely acclaimed. Many of you will remember the author, Wladlyslaw Szpilman, who came over to promote the book in hardback and who sadly died before the film was realised. With such a brilliant Director and the amazing true story of how Wladyslaw survived because of his love of music, the film is attracting a huge amount of attention and the reissued paperback is also receiving good reviews. As THE MAIL ON SUNDAY says:"This edition of the book has been released to coincide with a new Hollywood film, but I strongly recommend reading it first." "One of the most human of stories" JEWISH CHRONICLE "Szpilman pays testament to the strange magic of music, without which he would have dies alongside his family." SUNDAY HERALD "a remarkable book... no-holds-barred... fascinating." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0312244150
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (8 Dec 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006ITXQGW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 27 Feb 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This account of life in the Warsaw ghetto allows the reader to view the 're-settlement' of Jews during WW2 from a completely different perspective than the one usually portrayed in literature of the period, penned by holocaust survivors.
This is simply because it is not a recollection of concentration camp life, but that of a young man who managed to escape the net constantly threatening to close in around him.
The tale is told from a somewhat detached point of view, which indeed makes it all the more compelling in my mind. The matter-of-fact manner in which the author embraces his horrific experiences, brings his shattering ordeal home to the reader in horrifyingly blunt detail.
This is the type of subject that should never be ignored or brushed over; the heroism of the people who lived through the Nazi regime should always be addressed as a statement to mankind; and 'The Pianist' in its own way, indeed makes such a statement.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Wonderful 22 Dec 2003
Format:Paperback
The Pianist, the true story of Polish-Jew Wladyslaw Szpilman, that inspired the Academy-Award winning movie with Adrien Brody, is truly wonderful.
The book is written in a very simplistic form which parallels the simplicity in which Szpilman's life is barbarically ruined by the invasion of the Nazis. His story is told in a style free of hatred or bitterness that makes you, as a reader, respect him, especially considering the awful, tragic and harrowing events that plague him throughout the text.
The Pianist is an unforgettable account of one man's struggle under Nazi oppression. One of the messages that Szpilman communicates in the book is that it is not where we come from, for example Poland, or what religion we are, for example Jewish, or even our politics, that defines us; it is what we do with our lives. Szpilman is taken by the Nazis and is defined as a Polish Jew; nothing else, but by the end of the novel the reader understands him as being a pianist, simply a pianist. We learn this lesson also in the Nazi Captain, Wilm Hosenfeld. He saves Szpilman, proving that though he is a Nazi, the oppressor of Szpilman's world, he has the power to be good.
When you reach the end of the book you will be shocked, horrified and outraged at what Szpilman suffered and endured. But the most outrageous part, for a modern reader, is that it is all true, and that is what makes The Pianist a must-read. People must never forget the tragedy we are all, somehow, capable of commiting.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Easy to Forget 4 Jun 2003
Format:Paperback
The Pianist is a deeply moving tale of repression and survival which highlights the plight of Jews in Warsaw over the course of the second world war and particularly the journey of one man, Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose courage and determination to survive should inspire awe in every reader.
It is always incredibly humbling to read accounts of the atrocities during the war and the Pianist is no exception. I feel torn when writing about this book as it is hard to write positively about such a awful period of time, but the narrative is heart breakingly effective and although one experiences great relief when the war is over, the plight of millions of Jews less fortunate than our Pianist is brought back into the picture by the moving excerpts from the diary of Wilm Hosenfeld.
It is a must-read in order to fully understand what went on and to appreciate what so many gave.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unforgettable Story of Survival 7 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Pianist is a moving eye-witness account of one man's survival in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Wladyslaw Szpilman--a Jew and famed pianist for Polish Radio--relates his memories of the unutterable and unrelenting horrors of the Holocaust in Warsaw--the random executions, starving children, mass deportations--with a sober, almost uncanny detachment. And though the machinery of extermination is all around him, he somehow evades his pursuers through friends willing to risk their lives to hide him. His father, mother, two sisters and a brother are all deported and sent to their deaths in concentration camp. And, when it appears, near war's end, that he is at the end of luck, trying to still keep himself concealed in a part of Warsaw that his been systematically destroyed by the Germans, he finds an unexpected saviour: Wilm Hosenfeld, a German Army captain who, rather than kill Szpilman, provides him with a hiding place and necessities to kept him alive until the Soviet Army finally liberates the city. This slim volume written with in a kind of terse, no-nonsense style that will keep the reader riveted to each episode in Szpilman's incredible Odyssey, is probably one of the best books I have read in the area of Holocaust literature.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miracle in Warsaw 2 Jun 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As quite a few reviewers did, I read this book after watching the film. I found the book, as I do most holocaust based books, to be horrific, sad and terribly tragic. Wladyslaw Szpilman is a pianist working for a Polish radio station when Poland falls to the German invaders in 1939. The subsequent segregation and systematic annihilation of the Warsaw Jews is then described with Szpilman and his family being the obvious fulcrum of the story.

Szpilman describes in depth the formation of the Jewish Ghetto, the Ghetto uprising, the Warsaw uprising, the `relocation' of his family to the gas chambers, the beatings, shootings and the random murder of so many of his race. A story of pure savagery that even after so many books, films and documentaries still shocks the reader to the core.

The main theme of this book however concerns the miraculous survival of the author. He is picked out from the `relocation' queue by an old friend who is now a Jewish Ghetto policeman and then embarks on a hide and seek escapade through various safe houses in Warsaw. Living with an instant death sentence if discovered, Szpilman is hidden at these various locations for weeks at a time, always alone and often without food. Eventually in the courageous Warsaw uprising the author is forced to take refuge in an abandoned building which catches fire, he is then discovered by the Germans and shot at but escapes. In what is a virtually a now abandoned Warsaw he takes refuge in other abandoned buildings and is eventually caught in one foraging for food by a German Captain namely Wilm Hosenfeld. Expecting the worse Szpilman finds the opposite and his life is saved by this kind and honourable German officer. Hosenfeld befriends Szpilman, hides him, feeds him and provides him warm clothing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and moving story wel told.
This was a powerful story written in a totally matter of fact first hand style which makes it all the more real. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ralph Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
everybody must read it
Published 1 month ago by kevin bamforth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fabulously done
Published 1 month ago by Josie Surgenor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good indeed..... gripping story
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read
This is a compelling read. Thoroughly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by Johnston
4.0 out of 5 stars war atrocity
eye opening book about the atrocities of the 2nd world war in occupied Poland
Published 1 month ago by elsie
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly brilliant and heart breaking
Gripping from the first page. Far more harrowing and descriptive than the film, particularly the depiction of the kindness given by Captain Hosenfeld..
Published 2 months ago by John B.
4.0 out of 5 stars The good thing about the book is that it is frank ...
This is a short book that can be read in a couple of days. The good thing about the book is that it is frank and takes you chronologically right from the start of WW2 to the end. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Creaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - recommended read
Excellent book - true story - could not put it down - used book at great price and was in excellent condition - seller dispatched book immediately so delivery was as stated
Published 3 months ago by annneibow
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Vg
Published 3 months ago by davidsmith
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