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If This Is A Man/The Truce (Abacus 40th Anniversary) Paperback – Special Edition, 4 Apr 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; 40th Anniversary edition edition (4 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349139016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349139012
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 381,603 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

Book Description

The book that made us bear witness: Primo Levi's classic memoir of The Camps is being reissued with a stunning new cover for Abacus's 40th anniversary year.

From the Back Cover

'With the moral stamina and intellectual poise of a twentieth-century Titan, this slightly built, dutiful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose. He was profoundly in touch with the minutest workings of the most endearing human events and with the most contemptible. What has survived in Levi's writing isn't just his memory of the unbearable, but also, in The Periodic Table and The Wrench, his delight in what made the world exquisite to him. He was himself a magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I've ever known' Philip Roth

'The death of Primo Levi robs Italy of one of its finest writers . . . One of the few survivors of the Holocaust to speak of his experiences with a gentle voice' Guardian

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 13 Jan. 2004
Format: Paperback
Levi survived a year in Auschwitz and these two books describe that year and the journey home afterwards. They are not histories of the holocaust, or political or religious essays. They are merely the story of one person and what he saw. The scale of death in the camps was so enormous that it is easy to forget that each life and death was a real, living person, and that is what Levi achieves brilliantly, and why this book deserves to be widely read.
One of the most powerful aspects 'If This is a Man' is that Levi never judges. He doesn't use adjectives like 'horrific' of 'evil', he just describes what he saw and what he went through in rather dry language, and leaves you to decide what you feel about them. This, in part, is because, as Levi points out, he was so close to death on a daily basis that he stopped thinking about his situation as a whole and just concentrated on staying alive one day at a time. This was the dehumanising effect of the camp, where so much energy was spent staying alive that the prisoners had little left with which to remember that they were human beings. The book is the story of Levi's survival and his attempts to cling to humanity.
The second book ('The Truce') is surreal by comparison. I had always imagined that once the camps were liberated then the story was over, and that the prisones would be swiftly treated and sent home. This was not true. The Russians that liberated them were poorly equipped and starving and the remaining prisoners (only the sick were left behind by the Germans) died in their dozens. They were eventually sent to camps in Cracow where they waited for repatriation. They were still starving and sick. They spent several months there before being transferred to another inside Russia.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Mcguinness on 28 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First thing. This book is not an enjoyable read. It is a painful read of what day to day life is like in Auschwitz but I felt I had to read it. It avoids any sentimentality, any analysis of why the holocaust happened or any anger or resentment on the part of the author. It's a very direct read and gets straight to the point. It really helps you to come close to the author and his experiences and it helps you to put yourself in the authors shoes and how you would feel if you were put in the same situation. It affects you even more when you discover that the author died in a suspected suicide later in life due to depression.

The man who was Primo Levi died in Auschwitz and Auschwitz claimed his life four decades later. It's easy to feel very disconnected to the holocaust as we feel it occurred so many decades ago, but this book brings it right back home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Vincent Moran-mchugh on 8 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
These books are quite simply..well what? What word to use to describe them? Great? Wonderful? Stunning? None of those words work as they sound too crass.
Quite simply they should be read as history, as a story and as a testament to man's capacity for evil but also as man's ability to survive as a human being.
I don't have the capacity of language to review this book as i would like but Primo Levi certainty can write (could write) with great skill about his visit and (slow) escape from hell.
As an educational tool, forget getting children to just watch Schindler's List but also encourage them to read these books.
Not a happy read but not depressing. I am so glad i have read them. You should too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Speedy Reader on 22 Jun. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A deeply humbling experience. We should all read this quiet account by Primo Levi, a young Jewish Italian chemist, who bore witness to the unspeakable horrors of incarceration in Monowitz-Buna, one of several camps which were collectively 'Auschwitz'. His youth and fitness spared him from extermination.
Segregation - 'How old? Healthy or ill? - Thus, in an instant, our women, our parents, our children disappeared.'
'Indifferent SS men with faces of stone behaved with the calm assurance of people doing their normal duty of every day. A man staying an instant too long to say goodbye to his fiancée was knocked with a single blow to the ground. It was their everyday duty ............'
And so it began. They arrive at the camp. A brightly lit sign over the door reads Arbeit Macht Frei - work gives freedom.
Four days without water has given them a hideous thirst but a sign in the vast empty room, above the only tap reads Wassertrinken Verboten. He sees the sign as a joke for 'they' know we are dying of thirst - so he drinks but the water is tepid and sweetish with the smell of a swamp.
'This is hell. Today, in our times, hell must be like this. ......... a huge empty room with a tap which drips while we cannot drink the water, and we wait for something which will certainly be terrible, and nothing happens and nothing continues to happen. What can one think about? One cannot think any more, is like being already dead. .......... The time passes drop by drop.
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