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on 23 August 1999
The Pianist is Szpilman's personal account of the incremental loss of his home, his family and his will to live in German-occupied Warsaw. From 1939 to 1945, the Jewish population in Warsaw fell from 500,000 to less than 50,000. During these years, German soldiers and Ukrainian thugs-for-hire taunted, tortured, mutilated and murdered an innocent and defenseless people. Initially Szpilman's status as a celebrity kept him alive but ultimately it was his raw survival instinct that was the key to his endurance.
The power of this work stems from Szpilman's personal yet detached manner of telling his story. It seems a nearly impossible task to describe in words the kind of horrific events that took place during this time. Humanity must always be aware of the evil that lurks within our nature. We must never forget the horrors we are capable of perpetrating, observing, tolerating and permitting. This book should be required reading for every citizen of the modern world. The world must never forget the Holocaust.
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on 22 December 2003
The Pianist, the true story of Polish-Jew Wladyslaw Szpilman, that inspired the Academy-Award winning movie with Adrien Brody, is truly wonderful.
The book is written in a very simplistic form which parallels the simplicity in which Szpilman's life is barbarically ruined by the invasion of the Nazis. His story is told in a style free of hatred or bitterness that makes you, as a reader, respect him, especially considering the awful, tragic and harrowing events that plague him throughout the text.
The Pianist is an unforgettable account of one man's struggle under Nazi oppression. One of the messages that Szpilman communicates in the book is that it is not where we come from, for example Poland, or what religion we are, for example Jewish, or even our politics, that defines us; it is what we do with our lives. Szpilman is taken by the Nazis and is defined as a Polish Jew; nothing else, but by the end of the novel the reader understands him as being a pianist, simply a pianist. We learn this lesson also in the Nazi Captain, Wilm Hosenfeld. He saves Szpilman, proving that though he is a Nazi, the oppressor of Szpilman's world, he has the power to be good.
When you reach the end of the book you will be shocked, horrified and outraged at what Szpilman suffered and endured. But the most outrageous part, for a modern reader, is that it is all true, and that is what makes The Pianist a must-read. People must never forget the tragedy we are all, somehow, capable of commiting.
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on 27 May 2017
Brilliant book
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on 3 June 2014
this is not a book for entertainment, it's reality at it's harshest, but if you don't care about disney movies and meaningless entertainment, and you like to learn something instead, this is a book you want to read.
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on 7 March 2000
The Pianist is a moving eye-witness account of one man's survival in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Wladyslaw Szpilman--a Jew and famed pianist for Polish Radio--relates his memories of the unutterable and unrelenting horrors of the Holocaust in Warsaw--the random executions, starving children, mass deportations--with a sober, almost uncanny detachment. And though the machinery of extermination is all around him, he somehow evades his pursuers through friends willing to risk their lives to hide him. His father, mother, two sisters and a brother are all deported and sent to their deaths in concentration camp. And, when it appears, near war's end, that he is at the end of luck, trying to still keep himself concealed in a part of Warsaw that his been systematically destroyed by the Germans, he finds an unexpected saviour: Wilm Hosenfeld, a German Army captain who, rather than kill Szpilman, provides him with a hiding place and necessities to kept him alive until the Soviet Army finally liberates the city. This slim volume written with in a kind of terse, no-nonsense style that will keep the reader riveted to each episode in Szpilman's incredible Odyssey, is probably one of the best books I have read in the area of Holocaust literature.
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on 21 October 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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on 5 June 2008
The Pianist is the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman and his remarkable story survival in Warsaw during the years of Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945.
It tells how he survived against the odds , hiding in various parts of the city , before his life was saved by a German officer , who despised the Nazis brutality and genocide , a true righteous gentile , Captain Wilm Hosenfeld.
Unlike many personal holocaust accounts , which are of concentration and death camps , this one is an account of life and death in the Warsaw ghetto.
Szpilman describes life and death in the ghetto : the disease , the starvation and the Nazi mass murders of hundreds of thousands of men , women and children , including how the Nazis killed Jewish children , by seizing them by the legs and swinging their heads into brick walls.

Next to Szpilman's account are moving extracts from Hosenfeld's diary.

In his diary Wilm Hosenfeld described his conscience and his hatred of totalitarian brutality , describing the horrors of the French Revolution and the horrific atrocities of the Bolshevik revolution , who'se leaders and footsoldiers acted without compassion or conscience , believing in the totality and infinite importance of their causes. It was a war against Christianity and against descency , as was the Nazi war to destroy the Jews and other entire nations. He speaks of the total moral bankruptcy of Nazism and his disgust at it's rotten moral core and bloodthirsty savage evil.

Hosenfeld was captured by the Soviets after the war and died seven years later in a hideous Soviet Gulag.

Similarly voices of conscience have arisen from time to time against evil systems , such as Andrei Sakharov , who challenged the ultimate tyranny of the Soviet Union and more recently Walid Shoebat , a former Arab terorist turned Christian apostle of love and co-existence , who now condemmns Arab terror , and the war of destruction and hideous propaganda against Israel.

In the epilogue by Wolf Biermann , Biermann describes how "everyone knows how horribly the infection of anti-Semitism traditionally raged among 'the Poles' , but few know that at the same time no other nation hid so many Jews from the Nazis. If you hid a Jew in France , the penalty was prison , or a concentration camp , in Germany it cost you your life - but in Poland it cost the lives of your entire family".

Lastly Hosenfeld makes the plea that a tree is planted at Yad Vashem in the honor of Wilm Hosenfeld , among those of the thousands of other righteous gentiles honoured at the holocaust museum in Jerusalem.
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on 29 June 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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on 17 May 1999
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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on 5 February 2006
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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