Top positive review
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dispassionate but moving account of the durability of life
on 10 June 1997
It would be easy to bluntly horrify the reader in a book about life in a death camp, but Levi is not content to appeal to the emotions. He has an intellectual fascination with details, and the psychology of genocide. By a dispassionate and careful treatment of the very difficult material, he manages to write a compelling book about a terrible subject. And the emotional effect does not suffer from this approach--because Levi does not manipulate them, the reader's feelings are deeper and more lasting.
In one chapter, Levi describes how many of the prisoners, after fourteen hours of manual labor, would assemble in one corner of the camp in a market. They would trade rations and stolen goods. Levi describes how the market followed classical economic laws. Whenever I remember this I am freshly amazed at the resilience of life, and the ability of people to live and think and work in the most adverse conditions. It is remarkable that I finished a book about the Holocaust with a better opinion of mankind than I started with; I think the fact that the book affected me this way is the best recommendation.