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If this is a man: Remembering Auschwitz Hardcover – 1986


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 377 pages
  • Publisher: Summit Books; Book Club ed edition (1986)
  • ASIN: B00070WLUU
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,410,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an older edition (1986 Summit Books Book Club Edition) which compiles 3 volumes of Primo Levi's work about the Holocaust, i.e. Survival in Auschwitz, The Reawakening, and Moments of Reprieve. "Survival in Auschwitz" (1947) recounts Primo Levi's personal experiences during the 10 months he spent in Auschwitz. "The Reawakening" (1963) narrates his journey after liberation. In both works, what struck me as amazing was the absence of self-pity. Instead, Levi writes with fervor and the dark (and there's plenty of that) is offset by the rare tinges of humor. The Nazis' mission to completely dehumanize their incarcerated prisoners and exterminate the Jews is well-documented. Also compelling are accounts of how survival could sometimes be determined by the strangest circumstances and coincidences and where the presence of fear, pain,mortality, and uncertainty is always prevalent."Moments of Reprieve" (1979) is a collection of stories about some of the characters that made an impression on Levi during those dark years. How did Levi recall these people and their stories more than 30 years after the war? The author addresses this in his foreword to "Moments of Reprieve". I am glad to have all three volumes in one work (the only copy I had previously was "Survival in Auschwitz") and it goes without saying that Levi's works describing his Holocaust experiences are a must-read in the annals of Holocaust literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have been to Auschwitz and Birkenau, not as a prisoner, but as one of the millions of visitors who have passed through those camps since World War 2. This was a valuable aid to me as I read Primo Levi's book.

At Birkenau one can see huts basically as they were in Levi's time, minus the prisoners, of course. There is far more open space there than at Auschwitz, so the throngs of tourists are more spread out. One has space and silence in which to evoke in one's mind the conditions of former days.

You can place yourself in the positions where familiar wartime photos were taken of trains arriving and prisoners being sorted into two groups - those destined at once for the Chimney and those capable of working. It is quite an odd feeling.

Of course, one is well fed and safe, so it is impossible to really relate to the constant hunger and insecurity of Levi's day. Even when not explicitly expressed, hunger and insecurity are ever-present themes in all the stories in Levi's book. Camp life was a ceaseless struggle to reduce hunger and danger.

The book is actually a series of stories linked by an ill-defined time line. Time in fact ceased to exist for the prisoners. They were herded into the present. The past was an impossibly remote condition and old prisoners (those with low numbers) reacted against new arrivals who thoughtlessly dwelt upon their former lives. The future, of course, was never discussed. The Chimney hung over everyone's head.

Each individual in the camps faced the struggle to survive alone. Such friendships and alliances as did arise were "joint ventures" to get extra food, extra clothes and items to trade for those necessities.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Kettlewell on January 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Incredible account.

Levi deliberately takes the neutral tone of a witness in the stand recounting the 11 months he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz, from his arrest in Italy, transportation, internment, and the random mess of liberation. Much as the biblical Easter accounts (unlike many preachers and depictions) don't dwell on or try to evoke or milk the brutality of the crucifiction, Levi dispassionately relates what happened. There's a profound tension in this: any half-functioning human can only have an appropriately deep emotional reaction. Levi doesn't deny this, but seeks an intellectual and philosophical response as well. That the events of the holocaust could ever have happened should not only bring us to tears, but it should make us think - and centrally about this question, "If this is a man". Many of the Germans responsible had decided that it was possible to define Jews as less than human and to treat them that way. In some ways Levi might seem to suggest that they succeeded in reducing their victims to a sub-human state, where there was no longer any defining characteristic of humanity - whether it be sentience, morality, communication, self-consciousness, whatever - merely an awareness of hunger, pain and fatigue. One chapter, for example, is entitled, `The Good Day' - a day that for anyone else would be completely appalling - but through the inevitable quirks of occasional administrative glitches (even in Germany) Levi and a few others managed an hour or two of escape from extreme hunger and discomfort ... to briefly slip back into awareness of the grief of the knowledge of their murdered wives and children. Bizarrely, however, every page of this dry account screams out the opposite: these are real people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Gee on August 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What impressed me most about this book, is the almost clinical approach of Primo Levi's experience. There is much to learn and understand, if you are open, much can be applied to other conditions about human behavior over the past several decades since this tragic event occurred. Primo Levi tells of his ordeal without emotions, the insights, and wisdom he has gained in being in a concentration camp. He is a survivor because he was relatively young at the time, adapted to horrible conditions, and knew what he had to do to stay alive. Most did not, in fact 90% to 98% died, were gassed, within three months. He attributes his survival for several reasons. And he became a writer, remember he was a Phd Chemist from Turin, Italy, when he was captured, but the experience was so our whelming to him that he felt the need to write it all down and share with others his true story. It is three books in one and you will not be disappointed in reading this book from cover to cover.
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