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54 of 55 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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12 of 17 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
(REAL NAME)   
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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly incredible, sensitive survival autobiography, 13 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Pianist (Hardcover)
The work is remarkable in many ways. I will remark upon the story's simultaneous, many different interwoven stories on several levels. First of all it is precious history. A tale of utter horror, but not depressing or abhorent in its presentation. The author is a bright young artist; warm and family-loving. He is a first hand observer of the most brutal physical and mental horrors perpetrated by the germans. In a world of killing and killed, he is ingenuously trusting and pacifist; yet he survives as not one in ten thousand did, over six years. He is befriending and befriended; never naive but never dehumanized, either. And the mysterious officer who saves the pianist, is himself subsequently and ironically destroyed psychologically and physically by experiences similar to those borne by the pianist. It is a story of hope and love. All the more remarkable for being both true, and for being written immediately after "liberation", uncoloured by reflection or attempted insights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Story!!, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 (Kindle Edition)
Being 85 years old I of course remember the awful stories that we heard during the period 1939_ 1945 well. I knew several Jewish people in London and got on well with them. This is avery good picture of the events at this time. A superb read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing true story, 6 July 2012
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This review is from: The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 (Kindle Edition)
This book was humbling - how easy my life has been by comparison to this man's! I was captivated by his strength, his strong sense of community, his pride in Warsaw - I wish I had met him!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence, 25 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 (Kindle Edition)
I could not put this book down; I found it gripping in the extreme and I was sorry to finish reading it.
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