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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
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...
Published on 27 Feb. 2003

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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A difficult read
Hard to rate the subject matter makes this a difficult read. Also it is written in such an unemotional way it left me unsure of how I felt about the book. It's when you come to finish and realise that Mr Szpilman wrote this immediately after the war and therefore was somewhat still in shock makes you reassess what you have read. I would like to have known more about...
Published on 8 Jun. 2009 by LadyM


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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving account of one mans struggle to survive the holocaust, 21 Oct. 2003
The Pianist is an amazing account of Wladyslaw Szpilman's struggle against all odds to live through the second world war.
The book begins just as the first news of the war begins to reach the city. Life goes on as usual and it is only when the war begins escalating so deep into Poland that it is literally knocking on the door that reality sinks in.
Wladyslaw was a popular Pianist in Warsaw before the war and desperately tries to continue with his life despite the chaos that now surrounds him. In the early stages of the book there appears to be a lack of comprehension into the severity of the situation for the Jews as the German army begin to carve up areas of Warsaw and begin the segregation of the population.
As time goes on the Germans presence becomes ever more dominant and before long life for Wladyslaw and his family is confined to the ghetto where life is uncertain and hard for everyone. As the Germans set about disposing of the 'undesirable' elements of Warsaws population in a sickenly efficient manner.
During this time Wladyslaw loses many people close to him and what follows is a relentless struggle to stay alive. On many occasions Wladyslaw defies all odds to survive in situations that appear so impossible that if this book was fictional you would more than likely find it inplausible. The reality is shocking as the story of desperation unravels into a sickening lottery of life.
The emotional undercurrent of the book evolves as the story goes on, however, Wladyslaw does very well not to get swept away with bitterness, anger or disbelief which is interesting considering he originally wrote the story almost immediately after the war had finished. Instead he tells of what kept him going, what gave him the will to live and shares moments of love and humanity that at the time were clearly few and far between. This provides for a very interesting and open account of what happened during this period in time.
It is clear from reading this book that Wladyslaw did not set out to be a hero, in many ways he was very submissive - doing what he had to do to get through the War rather than directly rebelling against the overwhelming suffering that had been forced on the Jewish population of Warsaw (see 'The Avengers')... However, Wladyslaw demonstrates overwhelming courage and determination and manages to shed some light on what is a particularly dark time in history.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting memoir, 29 Jun. 2003
The Pianist is the haunting memoir of a young Jew’s incarceration and later escape from the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. In his own words it is the true story of the famous Polish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, with extracts from the diary of the German officer who saved him towards the end of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. The book was originally printed in 1946, making it all the more poignant and tells from first-hand experience the atrocities that Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
Szpilman and his family are taken into the Ghetto and forced to live in deprivation and horrendous circumstances with the Nazi’s cold-blooded murder tactics gradually diminishing the Jewish occupants, eventually by more than three million. In February 1943 Szpilman manages to escape the Ghetto and his story becomes one of survival in almost complete seclusion until the end of the war.
The Pianist is an intense and compelling read that keeps you engrossed from the beginning, needing to know what happens to Szpilman and his family. His writing flows fluidly, undoubtedly because he needed to purge the terror he had survived.

I highly recommend the book for a thought provoking journey through the horrors that were actually suffered, but thankfully survived by some.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a truly remarkable book, 5 Feb. 2006
By 
E. Pizzey "ell_1702" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having watched the film version of "The Pianist" I went in search of the book, wanting to see if the film had done the story justice.
This book is a remarkable story of what happens when one person manages to survive despite all the odds being stacked against them. Wladyslaw Szpilman's story of how he survived in Warsaw during WWII and the Nazi Occupation is moving and amazing. I managed to read the whole book in just 3 days because I couldn't put it down, it had me gripped from start to finish.
I would recommend this to anyone who liked the film/likes books about this period of history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Those Who Think That They Are Brave This May Test Them, 17 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Pianist (Hardcover)
A lot is said and written about the Warsaw ghetto and the awful life of Jews in Warsaw during WWII. Usually the picture is impersonal. Terrible things are happening to Jews as a race but, what is happening to individuals?
Few people have endured wartime terror personally and look at the happenings of wartime Warsaw from a historical point of view with little feeling of what terrible things happened to individuals.
Wladyslav Szpilman gives the reader greater understanding of the despicable experiences of war through his graphic descriptions of his own life in hiding from the German occupiers. It is only because of his own self discipline that he survives.
Unusually a contribution to his survival is made by a German officer who is uncharacteristically humane and this, too, adds to the incredibility of the tale.
We are lucky to have such examples of bravery and humanity to give us hope that in similar circumstances we would have had the courage of a Szpilman or the mercy and sympathy of the German.
This episode in Warsaw serves, once again, to illustrate how wastefully stupid man is to let his nature turn so sour when, in the end, there will be survivors and there will be heros and the efforts to snub out man's better instincts will fail. That Wladyslav Spilman goes on to a distiguished musical career is the fitting rebuttal to all the hate that Hitler spread so uselessly and fortunately, fruitlessly.
If you are curious about how you might deal with supreme adversity you might read this book and consider whether you are of he same mettle.
It would be interesting to see how film makers would deal with this story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing "The Pianist", 21 Nov. 2009
By 
Mrs. E. M. Ball (Mt Hawke, Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 (Paperback)
I watched the DVD of this film and was so affected by the story that I had to buy the book. Having seen the DVD the book was so much more real as you could see in your mind's eye all the atrocities that took place. This is not fiction, unfortunately it was fact, these things happened and it really brings it home to you what people suffered. An incredible read, thank you for the quick delivery
Elizabeth Ball
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humbling, 1 Oct. 2010
By 
This review is from: The Pianist (Audio CD)
I listened to the audio c.d. of this book.Excellently read by Stephen Greif. The sheer horror of the suffering of the Jews and later the non-Jewish residents of Warsaw are so hard to comprehend as you listen to Szpilmans account of his escape from the jaws of death. This book should be a part of all senior school curriculum, as you can learn more about the second world war and how it affected totally innocent people than most history books. I was left both shocked by the utter carnage heaped on these people and also in awe of his human spirit to survive a trip into HELL.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You must read!, 12 Mar. 2013
By 
Great book! I happened to watch the film first and then read the book. Although the film had some slight changes of the plot, it didn't affect me on reading the book and understanding Władysław Szpilman's miracle survival. I love both the film and the book at the same time. In fact, I was even more impressed by the journal confession of the German officer in the book that the audience couldn't obtain in the film. Wolf Biermann's Epilogue was even more compelling. The melancholy truth between a Jewish and Polish pianist who never thought of revenge and a kind and loving German teacher who became a Nazi officer really touched me and at the same time broke my heart.
Books of Nazis and Jews are plenties out there, most of them are about their memoirs of being the victims. I learned the cruelness of the Second World War, but I began to wonder how the nations felt as being the German and the people at the frontline ruling other civilians' lives and deaths during the war time. Did they really have no conscience to others' lives? Did they really have no remorse of killing people? Why seeing others' being tortured would make them feel happy? Or was it about the greeds of expansion that made their souls so polluted and ugly or simple religion issues?

When we recall the cruel history, we should not forget that somewhere on earth innocences are still suffering and sacrificed. What's the real return behind those victories? If there were no political threats or greeds, there would be no wars. What do people really learn from the history?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pianist, 18 Jan. 2012
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A wonderful read. It was written in an unemotional way that clearly betrays the fact that the author was still traumatised when writing it. Of particular interest were the differences between the 'big ghetto' and the 'little ghetto', and the differences in the situation of the Jewish people within them. The people were not presented as good or bad according to nationality or culture but in a much more realistic way that depicted people by their personality. This edition also contains the diary of the German soldier who assisted not only 'the pianist' but others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece Of Human Resilience and Life in the Ghetto, 1 Jan. 2013
By 
Dr. R. Brandon (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This really is compulsive reading and is one of those rare things, a book that is truly hard to put down. Szpilman wrote his memoir of life in the Warsaw ghetto and his miraculous survival in such a direct and straightforward manner, quite free of literary trills, that you race through each page in a state of anxious anticipation. The tension is quite unrelieved from the earliest chapters right through to the last page. All the time, every move, every small change in circumstances, every encounter with the various lethal agencies, is so vivid and immediate that we suspend our knowledge of his survival and remain concerned and gripped by the story. The everyday description of life in the Warsaw ghetto and Szpilman's quite unsentimental, and often not very flattering, descriptions of his fellow prisoners is most enlightening, and despite numerous television documentaries, is probably not properly understood by many. Szpilman's description of the Warsaw Uprising is naturally limited by the fact of his being a fugitive but is, nevertheless, most interesting. It is perhaps a pity that few books of such merit have been published about the subsequent period of Communist terror but as any observant visitor to Warsaw will soon learn, the arrival of the Russians did not mean freedom or the absence of threat and deportation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story of the really great musician, 5 Feb. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Pianist (Hardcover)
I found this book unforgettable. The author writes in a very detached style, and the effect that this has, can only be described as "haunting." We have to keep reminding ourself that the events in this book really happened,and that those were real people who were killed.
I saw Polanski's "THE PIANIST" last weekend,was very impressed and wanted to learn more about the real hero of the movie. I searched online for his recordings. After two days I received two CD's from Amazon related to Wladyslaw Szpilman: One with his beautiful songs sung by Wendy Lands (wonderfully arranged, smooth, some jazzy, some kind of pop, very american-like music, which I love to hear in the mornings) and another one with the original recordings of his great classical interpretations - Chopin ( i.e. the Nocturne from the final scene of the movie ), Rachmaninoff, Bach and his own music - Concertino for Piano and Orchestra composed in the Warsaw Ghetto in a time of deepest repressions by the Germans (I was surprised how optimistic this music sounds). He was a great pianist and composer. After I learned his story through the book, the movie, now I also got in touch with this man personally, through his music and artistry. Great feeling!!
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The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45
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