If This Is a Man and The Truce by Primo Levi

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...in any of its forms, Holocaust denial kills the victims a second time. Strong though the words of If This is a Man are, they are still weak before the will to deny or forget.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Primo Levi's account of life as a concentration camp prisoner falls into two parts. If This Is A Man describes his deportation to Poland and the twenty months he spend working in Auschwitz. The Truce covers his long journey to Italy at the end of the war through Russia and Central Europe. Levi never raises his voice, complains or attributes blame. By telling his story quietly, objectively and in plain language he renders both the horror and the hope of the situation with absolute clarity. Probing the themes which preoccupy all his writing - work love, power, the nature of things, what it is to be human - he leaves the reader drained, elated, apprehensive.
 

About Primo Levi

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Primo Levi was born on July 31, 1919 in Turin, Italy. He pursued a career in chemistry, and spent the early years World War II as a research chemist in Milan. Upon the German invasion of northern Italy, Levi, an Italian Jew, joined an anti-fascist group and was captured and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. He was able to survive the camp, due in part to his value to the Nazis as a chemist. After the war ended, Levi did chemistry work in a Turin paint factory while beginning his writing career. His first book, If This Is a Man (title later was changed to Survival in Auschwitz) was published in 1947 and its sequel, The Truce (later retitled The Reawakening) came out in 1958. These two books recount Levi's story of surviving concentration camp life. Levi also published poetry, short stories, and novels, some under the pen name Damianos Malabaila. His 1985, largely autobiographical work, The Periodic Table, cemented his world fame. Awards in tribute to his writing included the Kenneth B. Smilen fiction award, presented by the Jewish Museum in New York. Ironically, despite his surviving Auschwitz, Primo Levi appears to have died by suicide, in Turin on April 11, 1987.
 
Published April 16, 1992 by Abacus. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Travel.
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Guardian

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Reviewed by Howard Jacobson on Apr 05 2013

...in any of its forms, Holocaust denial kills the victims a second time. Strong though the words of If This is a Man are, they are still weak before the will to deny or forget.

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