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Playing for Time Paperback – December, 1997


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Playing for Time + Music of Another World (Jewish Lives)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd); New edition edition (December 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815604947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815604945
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Jessica A. on November 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Playing for Time, a grade-A book by Fania Fenelon, is a document not only about the Holocaust, but one that goes deeper: it shows how music brought redemption of spirit in the Hell of Hells. When Fania and her friend are brought to the death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, she is recognized by a girl in the camp's orchestra as a Parisian caberet singer. She is accepted in to the orchestra, where she is forced to sing the opera Madame Butterfly for the SS. Fania does not let the hardships of the camp take over her spirit, though. She uses music as a weapon, and, as an orchestrator as well as singer for the group, she orchestrates marches by Jews and anti-Nazis right under the noses of her captors, who never catch on. Fania's love of music allows her to survive Auschwitz, and when she is sent with the rest of the "Orchestra Girls" to Bergen-Belsen near the end of the war, her passion for life pulls her through a severe case of typhus. One day she learns that the Nazis are going to shoot the prisoners of Bergen-Belsen at 3:00 that afternoon. The English arrive at the camp at 11:00 that same morning. Fania just barely survived the war, and afterwards she returned to Paris and started again as a caberet singer. She died of cancer in her hometown in 1983. Playing for Time teaches us many things. It teaches us that the human spirit cannot be killed. It teaches us that good always wins over evil. And it teaches us that if you have a love, stick to it. One day it might just save your life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Allexandra Hollander on December 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
Fenelon's complete disregard for facts makes this book a very subjective interpretation of her experiences not a true account of events. Her comments and descriptions of inmates seem filled with contempt and hatred for all, particularly for Poles, who in the author's mind, against all logic were the same as Germans (she always mentions them side by side and often mixes up in context). She seems to ignore crucial elements of the context of Auschwitz's reality, for example the fact that Jews were not the only victims dying the exact same death in the German concentration camps, non-Jewish Poles being the most glaring example. In her description all Poles in her story are "fat, ugly, and devoid of any intelligence." She describes them as mindless animals oriented mainly to torture her. Some descriptions seem pathological, for example her insistence on portraying Polish women as homosexual deviates. Her refusal to observe beyond her limited direct surroundings takes away a chance for the reader to get a truly deep glimpse into the horror of the German plans to systematically annihilate roughly 50 million Slavs, in addition to most of the minorities such as Jews.Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an absolutely incredible book. An already powerful story it is taken to a new level by the constant reminder that this is first hand experience.
It is perfect for nearly anyone, the musician will relate to the music, the historian to the accuracy and the avid reader will simply latch on and be unable to let go.
It brought tears to my eyes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HuskyHaveninMD on December 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book, even though the content is difficult to comprehend with all of the horrors of Auschwitz/Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen. According to several orchestra members, a good portion of Fania's "memoirs" is inaccurate, which I think is a shame. This was brought to light in the book Alma Rose: From Vienna to Auschwitz. I would recommend reading both Playing for Time and Alma Rose: From Vienna to Auschwitz to get a better picture of what life was like for the orchestra. I was also very disappointed to read Fania's degrading names she used for the Polish prisoners, which sadly shows her racist views.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book a number of years ago. It left an indelible mark. It is the story of women survivors in a concentration camp. They literally "played for time," with musical instruments. The movie "Life is Beautiful" brought this book to mind this week. That is why I looked it up. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about courage in the face of adversity. The remarkable will to survive demonstrated by the women portrayed in this book is inspiring and unforgettable.
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By Pat Hale on January 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another great movie re the Holocaust. I think Vanessa Redgrave is one of the greatest actors in this world. Everyone in this movie were fantastic! I pray nothing like this will ever happen again.
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Harte C. Crow on October 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a French singer who spent 2± years in a Nazi concentration camp. Saved because of her musical abilities, FF spent her internment as a member of an all-women's orchestra which played for the camp's leaders. It is a strange tale, not especially well or clearly written--essentailly stuff for a holocaust junkey. Compared to Martin Goldsmith's The Unestinquishable Symphony, this book is definitely second tier.
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