If This Is A Man/The Truce (Abacus 40th Anniversary) Paperback – Special Edition, 4 Apr 2013
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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)
A life-changing book. (Daily Express)
THE TRUCE: ('One of the century's truly necessary books.')
Philip Roth ('One of the greatest human testaments of the era.') --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
In "If this is a man", Levi describes the conditions at Auschwitz, right from his arrival, at which point he has no idea what a concentration camp is, let alone that such things exist, until his departure 11 months later by the hands of the russians. The conditions are, obviously, horrendous. Levi describes this unemotionally and soberly, and the lack of hyperbole makes the account all the more eerie and unpleasant. The most notable property of the account is his description of the effect of the camp on himself and his fellow prisoners. He analyzes what traits make people liable to die quickly, what traits make people liable to degenerate to animals, and what traits make it possible for people to survive Auschwitz without losing their humanity. In this sense, Levi turns the story of Auschwitz into a profound parable of the basest and the noblest in human nature.
The second book, "The truce", describes Levi's journey home. The conditions are not as dire as those encountered in the camp. What makes the book very interesting is the description of the breakdown of society after the war. The russian administration appears to have very little coordination as regards their transportation of the concentration camp victims. The small societies which Levi and his companions pass through are often ravaged by war and abandoned.Read more ›
Levi describes the nearest thing to Hell. Working to exhaustion in the freezing cold of winter, the beatings to which prisoners have become accustomed, lice and dirt, perpetual hunger and having to go to the 'toilet' several times during the night because of the heavily watered down soup. This latter task involves a hobble through the snow in a pair of wooden shoes (one pair per hut) to use a bucket which, if full, must be emptied by the unfortunate prisoner, who will try in vain not to spill the contents on his feet. Levi puts everything of our lives into the perspective of his as a prisoner. As prisoners slept head to foot next to each other, it was always better to empty the pail than to sleep next to someone who has just emptied it.
Levi deatils the average life expectancy of a healthy human being who does not find himself a niche or with something unique to offer. It is a shocking read, and while desperate to reach the end and find something to be optimistic about, the book held my attention from cover to cover.
At the end of the book are several questions put to the author by his readers (for instance, why did the prisoners not revolt against the Nazis?). The two titles are best read together, but of the two, If This Is Man is the more profound. An essential read for anyone interested in the subject.
Levi describes his time in Auschwitz with such clarity and objectivity it's as if he wanted to report the facts and let the world make it's own mind up. Having said that this is not a cold, clinical account, as with reportage, as Levi describes great compassion in friendships he makes and horror he sees.
His story is similar to many others (obviously as they all shared an experience) but I felt as though I was given a different perspective with this book.
This becomes clearer at the back of the book when Levi sets out a series of questions that he has been asked since he wrote the first edition. Here he gives answers to letters asking "Do you hate the Germans" and so on. I won't spoil the book by revealing any of his answers but they show why Levi is so respected as a writer of the Holocaust.
Since reading this I have read many of Levi's works and would suggest reading the 'Drowned and the Saved' which goes deeper into the people he met and contains an excellent chapter on how he survived while his friend was sent on the Death March when the camp was liquidated.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Probably the best book I have ever read. The author's non-judgemental and philosophical account of his time in Auschwitz and tortuous return to his Italian home. Read morePublished 29 days ago by andrew parkinson
If there is such a thing as a "best" book about the Holocaust, this must be it. No drama, no anger - just a chronicle of day to day life and how to get through it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kathryn
The brilliance of this author is that he is able to restrict himself. He presents facts, events, consequences, and method - almost as a detatched observer. Read morePublished 1 month ago by V. Anderson
I've always read about this book and never found time to get it and read it. I wish I had done it much earlier. Read morePublished 3 months ago by MM
One of the most important books ever. A non-sensationalised, hyper-vigilant, and surprisingly non-mallicous account of life inside a concentration camp. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
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