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The Drowned and the Saved Paperback – April 23, 1989
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Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
He begins with the concept of "good faith", wondering whether believing a lie excuses it. He notes that oppressors lie to save themselves from believing they are evil, and victims lie to save themselves from believing they suffer. He explores the moral zone between black and white, noting that anybody can be a tough killer or a foolish victim: we are all tyrants and victims in our own way.
He examines survivor's guilt, and reflects on the roles of luck versus blessing in life, and discusses the ways humans need communication to survive, including the way victims bend language to disguise their intentions, and tyrants twist it to cause confusion among their victims.
He tries to distinguish between rationalized evil and collective madness. He believes the spirit and mind can be injured just as the body can, and wonders how a person's perspective plays a role in their survival and psychological health. He describes the various stereotypes people hold when they imagine the stories of those who lived through WWII, e.g., the romantic hero, the evil Nazi, the prisoner who always plots escape, and so on, but explains why they are rough and inaccurate.
Each chapter is like a conversation with an intelligent and qualified author. It is thoughtful, and a pleasure to read. It reflects on psychological and historical themes which are important not only to our understanding of the Holocaust, but also more generally human nature.Read more ›
In The Drowned and the Saved, Levi provides a discerning and articulate exposition of the psychological and sociological peculiarities of the Auschwitz camp--ideas virtually unexplored in popular literature and movies. Throughout the work, he discusses the collective responsibility of nonvictims (in his view, the entire German population) and of the moral dilemmas that arose in a horribly victimized, imprisoned community that was wildly pluralistic (in nationality, language, religion, education, trade, and individual personality). (Tensions between the disparate concepts of collective and individual responsibilities are mostly implicitly explored and not fully crystallized, however, by the author.Read more ›
Primo Levi died in spring 1987, in a still unclear accident (someone say a suicide) in his Turin house - few hundred yards from where I lived at the time, and not far away from where I'm writing now. I don't really know if he really killed himself (he didn't leave any note, and staircase rail was low, very low) but I know that his last book ("The Drowned And The Saved") is a book that trasceend any human notion of absolute, unblinking truth.
Primo Levi was a men obsessed by truth. He lived trough one of the most extreme experience a XX century's man could live - one year in Auschwitz. After coming back home, he resume is life as a chemistry expert (he was the director of a small company). He became a writer almost by chance. He was urged to tell the truth about the Holocaust - not the trascendental, nobilitating, almost religious experience movies like "Schindler's List" had make us believe, but something horrible, degrading, a donward spiral in a world where only the worst survive - and the best, the good people, the one deserving survival, die. It called it "the grey zone". It wrote that he came back because he was lucky, because he compromised with the lager system (altrough what saved him was only being a chemistry graduate in a death camp that needed chemistry experts to produce synthetic rubber). He tried, in the mosth unflinching and direct way, to tell the world that being an Auschwitz survivor wasn't a badge of goodness. Actually, it was exactly the reverse.
In "If This Is A Man" (his memories of Auschwitz), he wrote about his experience in a neutral, documentary style. Thirty years laters, he returned (for the first and last time) on the subject.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is one of the best books I have ever read. Could not put it down. Would recommend it to anyone. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gail Y. Macdougall
I don't always agree with his conclusions, but Primo Levi's insights are amazing. While it is impossible to comprehend the enormity and barbarity of the holocaust, reading... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Timothy
A truly sobering book. It is hard to read for long periods of time -- a break is needed just to clear one's head a bit before re-entering that time and place. Read morePublished 11 months ago by DGB
An exceptionally moral man - a wonderful companion and guidePublished 18 months ago by Evelyn Waugh