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1. Survival In Auschwitz
2. The Periodic Table
3. If This Is a Man and The Truce
4. The Drowned and the Saved
5. The Reawakening
6. Primo Levi's Universe: A Writer's
7. The Periodic Table
8. If Not Now, When? (Penguin Twentieth-Century
9. Se questo e un uomo ; La tregua
10. The Search For Roots: A Personal
11. Survival in Auschwitz and The
12. Conversations with Primo Levi
13. The Monkey's Wrench (Classic,
14. If This is a Man (Everyman's Library
15. The Periodic Table
16. Si Esto Es Un Hombre (Spanish
17. A Tranquil Star: Stories
18. Moments of Reprieve: A Memoir
19. Primo Levi's Narratives of Embodiment:
20. If this is a man: Remembering

1. Survival In Auschwitz
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 192 Pages (2010-06-08)
list price: US$9.49 -- used & new: US$9.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9650060480
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Survival in Auschwitz is a mostly straightforward narrative, beginning with Primo Levi's deportation from Turin, Italy, to the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland in 1943. Levi, then a 25-year-old chemist, spent 10 months in the camp. Even Levi's most graphic descriptions of the horrors he witnessed and endured there are marked by a restraint and wit that not only gives readers access to his experience, but confronts them with it in stark ethical and emotional terms: "[A]t dawn the barbed wire was full of children's washing hung out in the wind to dry. Nor did they forget the diapers, the toys, the cushions and the hundred other small things which mothers remember and which children always need. Would you not do the same? If you and your child were going to be killed tomorrow, would you not give him something to eat today?"Amazon.com Review
Survival in Auschwitz is a mostly straightforwardnarrative, beginning with Primo Levi's deportation from Turin, Italy,to the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland in 1943. Levi, then a25-year-old chemist, spent 10 months in the camp. Even Levi's mostgraphic descriptions of the horrors he witnessed and endured there aremarked by a restraint and wit that not only gives readers access tohis experience, but confronts them with it in stark ethical andemotional terms: "[A]t dawn the barbed wire was full of children'swashing hung out in the wind to dry. Nor did they forget the diapers,the toys, the cushions and the hundred other small things whichmothers remember and which children always need. Would you not do thesame? If you and your child were going to be killed tomorrow, wouldyou not give him something to eat today?" --Michael Joseph Gross ... Read more

Customer Reviews (90)

5-0 out of 5 stars It All Comes Down to Luck
This book is an undeniable classic. Written with authority and control, with a kind of restrained disgust, it has so many well phrased passages. Its unconventional structure makes it seem more modern than it is: Levi plunges in and out of episodes and time periods. Some things you would expect to be focused on are not, while others are, such as small details most pertinent to individuals on the edge of survival.

Because Levi focuses so much on the daily physical privations and the work he had to do, I was continually reminded especially of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago. Interesting how both fascists and communists similarly contrived to grind millions of human beings into the ground--they took everything from them and ground them down with hunger, cold and work until they died (as of course North Korea is doing right now).

The moment it might have dawned upon Levi that people were being gassed and burned is something that is not focused on. Rather, the idea of it seeps into the text, alluded to here and there only, and then finally it is spoken of as if one of the facts of life that hangs over everyone. He has few words of hatred for the Germans, as if they are beyond contempt as forces of nothingness and evil, such that words would not be enough anyway.

It was clear Auschwitz was a very different experience depending on your nationality and religion, with the Germans at the top of the hierarchy. But something that is not explored in the book, and which I only learned about recently, is that Auschwitz was a kind of resort for the Germans. They had fun there, with girls and good times, while overseeing the gassing and slaughter of 100s of thousands.

For the prisoners, it did not matter how strong you were, or how smart you were, what mattered was luck. If Levi does not state it outright, it is nonetheless clear that he only survived through luck.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this edition
This edition appears to be a Print-On-Demand situation where the publisher has had a computer perform a very bad spelling and grammatical check, making the experience of reading this classic quite annoying and inappropriately laughable.

(One example of many: "We saw a large door with assign above it. Brightly it illuminated (its memory still strikes me in my dreams): Arbeit Macht Frei." (p. 17)

Buy an edition where a publishing house has actually paid a HUMAN to copy edit and proofread the text.Even if it costs more.I wish I hadn't gone for the bargain on this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Time to receive and quality of used book
Received within 7 days of order and quality of used book was excellent.


5-0 out of 5 stars Great service
THe book arrived exactly on the day it was supposed to, and it is in great shape.Perfect!!

1-0 out of 5 stars This edition (Classic House's) is a failure
This is one of the great books in Western Literature. That being said, the edition published by Classic House is absolute junk! There are typographical errors all over the place. Every other page has a mistake. Additionally, the way that the text is justified is terrible; there are large spaces between the words-making it difficult to read. This edition offers an object lesson to always go with a large publisher, as they have the means and experience to create a book that is an accurate and well laid out version of the author's original intent. This book looks like it was printed by a ninth-grade student and I urge you not to buy it. I will be returning my copy for a refund. ... Read more

2. The Periodic Table
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 240 Pages (1995-04-04)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805210415
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

The Periodic Table is largely a memoir of the years before and after Primo Levi’s transportation from his native Italy to Auschwitz as an anti-Facist partisan and a Jew.

It recounts, in clear, precise, unfailingly beautiful prose, the story of the Piedmontese Jewish community from which Levi came, of his years as a student and young chemist at the inception of the Second World War, and of his investigations into the nature of the material world. As such, it provides crucial links and backgrounds, both personal and intellectual, in the tremendous project of remembrance that is Levi’s gift to posterity.But far from being a prologue to his experience of the Holocaust, Levi’s masterpiece represents his most impassioned response to the events that engulfed him.

The Periodic Table celebrates the pleasures of love and friendship and the search for meaning, and stands as a monument to those things in us that are capable of resisting and enduring in the face of tyranny.

From the Hardcover edition.Amazon.com Review
Writer Primo Levi (1919-1987), an Italian Jew, did not come tothe wide attention of the English-reading audience until the lastyears of his life. A survivor of the Holocaust and imprisonment inAuschwitz, Levi is considered to be one of the century's mostcompelling voices, and The Periodic Table is his most famousbook. Springboarding from his training as a chemist, Levi uses theelements as metaphors to create a cycle of linked, somewhatautobiographical tales, including stories of the Piedmontese Jewishcommunity he came from, and of his response to the Holocaust. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars A surprise, a delight, a writer you'll be glad you met.
Unique and magical, a chemist's life, each chapter centered on one element and its relationship to the author and those around him. Mercury, Lead and Carbon are imaginary, the rest autobiographical. My favorite chapter is the story of the chemists at lunch, and the slice of onion in the linseed oil. But they're all good, even "Argon", the inert gas that serves in Levi's gentle portrait of his family. (Aren't most of our families, well, pretty inert? Yeah.) I wish I could write about MY life and work with half the beauty that Levi writes about his. Practice, man, practice!

Levi is Italian and writes in Italian- the book I read was a translation and I heartily commend the translator for a superb job. To produce something so concise, so laugh-out-loud funny, so telling and reflective, in a different language than it was originally written in! Nearly as skillful as writing the original book. Well done!

4-0 out of 5 stars sometimes inaccessible, but sometimes lovely
Like other reviewers, I sometimes found the science in this book a bit hard to follow. But that was made up for by the general loveliness of Levi's dry wit.My favorite examples-

- "a livered [solidified] paint is much more rebellious, more refractory to your will than a lion in its mad pounce; but, let's admit it, it's also less dangerous."

- "Gina then made a cruel decision: if she couldn't bind herself to the man she cared for, the only one, there would not be any other . . . she forbade herself marriage forever in a refined and merciless manner, that is, by getting married."

-"It was clear that Bonino's story would be far from brief; but I remembered how many long stories I myself had inflicted on people, on those who wanted to listen and those who didn't.I remembered that it is written [Deuteronomy 10:19] 'Love ye therefore the stranger; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.' and I settled back comfortably in my chair."

- [before the start of the book] "Troubles overcome are good to tell."

This is not a Holocaust memoir like some of Levi's other works; it is a group of [mostly autobiographical] little essays, almost all about Levi's pre- and post-Holocaust life, by a great writer who just happened to have been in Auschwitz.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetry and Prose in one volume
Entertaining, sad, and insightful.What a loss to the world."Carbon" chapter is fascinating. Began second reading immediately following the first.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Periodic Table.
It's an emblematic title for a book designed whit tales that confection a whole history. The book is a metaphor of the periodic table: elements conform substance so words conform ideas.

Primo Levi is a mentor; he begins a melancholic tale, connecting us with characters and at less expected time we receive a little lesson about chemistry, -it's a good way to spread science, didn't it?-but that's not enough for him so we also get his testimony about how he suffered WWII.

Primo's statement is hard: "... I felt guilty at being man, because man had built Auschwitz..." at last it's not clear if he got peace at his mind; but, I must recognize he is honest, because somewhere in the book he says that Primo Levi writes for Primo Levi.

In conclusion, it's a gentle book wrote to present a testimony of a man who was born Jewish in Italy, studied chemistry and suffered the war.

5-0 out of 5 stars good chemistry!
I didn't know what to expect when picking up this book.I'd recently finished the not unrelated Garden of the Finzi-Continis and thought I might find some variant on this.Yes, both books consider Jewish-Italian culture in the years surrounding WWII, with the specter of the holocaust in the background (mainly).But they are quite different.F.C. has at its roots the humanities, and P.T., the sciences.And what I most enjoyed about P.T. was the chemistry. It's a rarity in literature to find a subtle appreciation for the career of the scientist, and Levi succeeds admirably.This book would be an outstanding choice for any science and engineering student to read just to see how one can ply a trade, be it in the laboratory, the mine, or the consulting business.Bravo, Dr. Levi. ... Read more

3. If This Is a Man and The Truce
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 400 Pages (1988-01-01)
list price: US$18.60 -- used & new: US$9.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0349100136
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
'With the moral stamina and intellectual pose of a twentieth-century Titan, this slightly built, duitful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose. He was profoundly in touch with the minutest workings of the most endearing human events and with the most contempible. What has survived in Levi's writing isn't just his memory of the unbearable, but also, in THE PERIODIC TABLE and THE WRENCH, his delight in what made the world exquisite to him. He was himself a magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I've ever known' PHILIP ROTH ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that needs to be read!!!!!!
This is a masterpiece that everybody should read. It detailed the way of living in the horrific Auschwitz.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful book
This book grabs you from the moment you start to read. It is so sad that this time in history occurred & that human's were treated in this fashion. It is almost unbelievable. It is so sad for me to read these books but I find it so educational to hear it from someone who withstood these horrors & lived to tell about them. This authors writting is great & I cannot wait to read his other books, I have ordered all his books & am sorry to hear of his passing. We have lost a great person, I hope after his release from the Germans hell on earth that he enjoyed his life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mandatory Reading
As a package, though written many years apart, these two texts provide formidble testament of the human spirit; man reduced in appalling circumstances, and perchance surviving as witness of them. For all the dour grittiness of life under the Nazis, the most impressive realisations, for me, come at the beginning of their evacuation from the camps in the first chapter, 'The Thaw' of,'The Truce' as the Russians arrive to liberate them. The few survivors have the awesome task of reigniting their diminished humanity. In describing this process, Levi is unchallenged as a writer and thinker.The prose takes a more expansive mode without ever losing its grip. Not a word wasted; the pitch, tone perfect. Horrifying, but never numbing, these essential pages should never go out of print. Read them and tell your friends they must also.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moving, powerful book
This is a moving, powerful pair of books about the Holocaust. The author survived Auschwitz, and chronicles the time there and then, in The Truce, the second of the books in this pair, chronicles his experiences afterwards during the journey back to his home in Italy.

This book is remarkable in that it is emotionally wrenching and honest, yet it is not sensationalist or bitter. It is a stark, first person, intense and wonderful story, written beautifully.

The Holocaust is a terrible part of modern history, and sadly genocide is oft repeated. As those who lived through the Holocaust pass on, it is even more important that memories are preserved, and this book should be a must read for anyone interested in the subject, along with the Black Book.

Note that in the US this book is called Survival in Auschwitz, and that is the only way you will find it in print.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Really Great and Important Book
A truly wonderful book by a great author.In this volume you get Levi's If This Is a Man, his story of his trials in one of the satellite camps of Auschwitz, and The Truce, the story of his long journey from Auschwitz back home to Turin.In the "Afterword" included with this edition (Abacus edition of 1987) you also have Levi's answers to the questions his readers had posed to him over the years.These are also revealing.

I've read many books about the Holocaust and WWII.I could not put this one down.I picked this up after reading Levi's The Periodic Table (also excellent).Here, Levi bears witness to the horrors of the Lager system of Nazi Germany.He is very specific about bearing witness.This is not a history or a commentary, though he does give his opinions.You can't call this a memoir really:it is testimony.In The Truce, he describes the long, strange journey he took back to Italy, through Poland, Russia, Bjelorus, Ukraine, Rumania, Hungary, Austria, and Germany, in the care of, mostly, the Russians.This is also a fascinating tale and follows on naturally:If This Is a Man ends with the arrival of the Russians to liberate the Auschwitz Lager and you want to know how he gets home and gets on with his life.

Levi was a master story teller.You just want to keep reading and hear what will happen next.He was obviously a very intelligent man.These books are very restrained and humane, towards all the people in them, even the evil-doing Germans.Levi states that he does not want revenge and doesn't hate the Germans.His concern was that civilized people everywhere do not allow this to happen again.(We've let him down there:Cambodia, Myanmar, Rwanda, The Balkans, Darfur, ...)

I've read numerous books on the Holocaust, and I find some of them just too tough (emotionally) to read (especially after my kids came along), for example The Nazi Doctors.Levi tells you the bad stuff but somehow makes it bearable and a thoroughly wonderful read.

When I finished this book, I was very moved by my admiration for the humanity of Levi (not to mention the wonderful writing.)I kept repeating to myself, "that was a real man ..."Too bad we lost him at such a young age. ... Read more

4. The Drowned and the Saved
by Primo Levi
 Paperback: 208 Pages (1989-04-23)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067972186X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Levi wrote of the moral collapse that occurred in Auschwitz and the fallibility of human memory that allows such atrocities to recur. Levi's last book published before his death in 1987.Amazon.com Review
This book, published months after Italian writer Primo Levi's suicidein 1987, is a small but powerful look at Auschwitz, the hell where Levi wasimprisoned during World War II. The book was his third on the subject,following Survival inAuschwitz (1947) and TheReawakening (1963). Removed from the experience by time and age, Levichose to serve more as an observer of the camp than the passionate young manof his previous work. He writes of "useless violence" inflicted bythe guards on prisoners and then concludes the book with a discussion of theGermans who have written to him about their complicity in the event. In all,he tries to make sense of something that--as he knew--made no sense at all. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Gray Zone...
This is Primo Levi's last reflections on the Holocaust. His most famous book, published shortly after his experience in it, is entitled in the English language version, Survival In Auschwitz This collection of essays was written almost 40 years later, shortly before his death. It will never be definitely determined if he committed suicide in 1987, but the possibility that he may have adds poignancy to the various passages in these essays in which he discusses the suicide of other survivors of the Holocaust, including his friend, and fellow intellectual, Jean Améry. In the essay fittingly entitled "Stereotypes," Levi was quite clear about why he felt these essays were necessary: "... the gap that exists and grows wider every year between things as they were `down there' and things as they are represented by the current imagination fed by approximative books, films, and myths. It slides fatally toward simplification and stereotype, a trend against which I would like here to erect a dike."

To that end, one of the very strongest essays in this collection is entitled "The Gray Zone." Levi says "It is a gray zone, poorly defined, where the two camps of masters and servants both diverge and converge. This gray zone possesses an incredibly complicated internal structure and contains within itself enough to confuse our need to judge." The author goes on to describe a system - a `primitive' one, to use his word, where humans have regressed towards earlier societal models, where the first blows and kicks that a new arrival receives are all too often delivered by their fellow inmates, some with the status of "Capos," as opposed to the individuals who are normally considered the ultimate in sadistic behavior, the SS. As Levi says: "Vying for prestige also came into play, a seemingly irrepressible need in our civilization: the despised crowd of seniors was prone to recognize in the new arrival a target on which to vent its humiliation, to find compensation at his expense, to build for itself and at his expense a figure of a lower rank on whom to discharge the burden of the offenses received from above." As Levi describes, much of the experience of a new arrival would parallel that of a new conscript to basic army training, including the haircut. In the same essay there is an excellent depiction of Chaim Rumkowski, who was the self-styled leader of the Lodz ghetto, before he too was deported to the concentration camps, or, to use the author's word, the "Lager."

Should the Holocaust be capitalized, and none of the others, such as the Armenian or Cambodian?To Levi's credit, he does refer to the others; and in particular mentions the auto-genocide in Cambodia a few times. But Levi, perhaps naturally, leans towards the primacy of the evil of the one that almost killed him. I consider this a sterile debate, and often think of the young soldier in the movie "Hearts and Minds" who took some form of solace in stating that he lost both his legs in one of the "largest ambushes of the war." And I compare that to Remarque's treatment of his protagonist, who died on a day that was so quiet and still that the high command confined itself to a single sentence: Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations) The evil has occurred to the individual; does the magnitude of the context make it more or less tragic? For Americans, the greater responsibility should lay with the holocaust that we helped provoke rather than the one we helped to stop.

The essays are only 200 pages long, but are so rich in insights. Levi stresses that those that survived in the Lagers invariably were in some "special circumstances," as he was, both being a chemist, and having contracted scarlet fever just as all the others were forced on a death march prior to the liberation of the camp by the Soviet Army. He has an entire essay on the gratuitous "useless" violence in the camps. The author has the eye for the telling, and often times ironic details: for example, the Jews were forbidden from playing music that was composed by Aryans, yet, since there were no other musicians available, in the camps they were permitted, even compelled, to play the requisite band marches.I found the final section particularly significant: the letters that Levi had received from his German readers, which presented a broad range of responses, from continued rationalizations to compelling sorrow from those with "hands that were clean."

Should be required reading in all our schools. An excellent 5-star plus read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Final Ruminations By A Humane, Thoughtful Intellectual Survivor
In his final book, Primo Levi returns to the Lagers and the occupation to deliver a series of ruminations on life, love, hardship, pain, brutality, and the essential mystery of living.

Thoughtful, humane and exceedingly intelligent, Levi looks back, considers the fate of friends, foes, nations, letter-writers and everything else and reflects on just how man got to be how we are.

As a Philosophy graduate I am especially grateful to Levi for bringing a fresh, powerful, and deep perspective to the horrors of WWII.Thank you for your remembrance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Witnesses for the Lost
"The Drowned and the Saved" by Primo Levi, is different in one aspect from his earlier works dealing with his experiences in Auschwitz: in the previous books, he was still an impassioned young man, racing as it was to record his memories and experiences.For later in life, memory can become less exact and true, as he recounts in this book, a collection of reflections and observations about his experiences and what they have to say about that time and humanity in general."The Drowned and the Saved" is a bibliography of sorts, an examination of one man's search to make sense out of the senseless, to open the eyes of those who were not there, to make sure that this horror is never forgotten, or repeated.

Primo Levi, while Jewish by birth, was agnostic by the time he was taken as a political prisoner to Auschwitz.He survived, thanks in part to his job as a chemist, but was still just as affected by the savagery around him.Levi explores different topics within the Lagers, and while distanced by time and experience, his observations are still cutting.Levi deftly talks of various topics - the useless violence inflicted upon prisoners, the shame that they felt in their situation, how language itself became degraded within the camp system, and how there are grey areas where blame and judgment are not necessarily easy or concrete.Levi closes his book with a look at correspondence he has received from Germans after the translation of "Survival in Auschwitz": almost all of them try to explain away their lack of knowledge and courage, and while Levi may be able to forgive, he isn't able to forget.

Primo Levi and other writers who share their experiences about the Holocaust are often referred to as witnesses: but Levi insists that the true witnesses of the darkest horrors are those who did not survive.It is truly impossible to know what their experiences were like because they are not here to tell.Levi also admonishes the easy and placating stereotypes that have arisen in recent times, offering that the actions of the Germans and the world during WWII cannot be judged by the standards of today."The Drowned and the Saved" is an informative and thought-provoking book, offering insights into lessons that should never be forgotten, but existing in a world where this is a very real and terrifying possibility.

4-0 out of 5 stars Trying to Understand the "Un-Understandable"
How does anyone explain the murder of hundreds of thousands by other human beings? Whether it's Armenians by Turks, Poles by Germans, Soviets by Soviets, Rwandans by Rwandans, Cambodians by Cambodians, Croats by Serbs, Serbs by Croats, Bosniaks by Serbs, Darfuris by Sudanese; the cruelty involved in the murders far outweights the "reasons" for the crimes.

No matter how angry one is with his fellow human beings, the systematic murder of ones neighbors is unfathomable.The murders in the ex-Yugoslavia are as random and systematic as those by Nazi Germany.Ethnic cleansing (to give it a title like a TV commercial) is no less horrendous than religious zealousness.To search out you fellow human being, and then murder them without rhyme or reason, except for their religion or the language they speak (is Serbo-Croatian that different from Croato-Serbian?) or the religious hierarchy they follow seems as absurd as to murder all the left-handed blonds with blue eyes.

Primo Levi spent the forty years after the Holocaust trying to fathom how one (anyone) survived in the "Lagers" (his name for the Camps).He was 'lucky' in that he was taken in 1944, when some prisoners were kept for their 'knowledge' as opposed to the immediate extermination of all who came off the trains.But even then, how does one live with the knowledge of what one human being can do to another, sometimes out of no other reason than boredom?

What is interesting in this volume is his discussion of the reaction of 'everyday' Germans, to the original volume, "Survival in Auschwitz".While most of his letters of from 'young Germans', born during and after The War, those by the older Germans are most enlightening.This book is important in the unbridled descriptions or the uselessness of torments for no use other than the pleasure of the torturers.

Zeb Kantrowitz

5-0 out of 5 stars A Note
Just a note to correct the Amazon book description that states that Levi committed suicide. He did not. He fell to his death down a staircase in his apartment house. ... Read more

5. The Reawakening
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 240 Pages (1995-12-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684826356
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Review
Product came as advertised, but it took longer to ship than I was expecting. I still received the book in time though, and it came as advertised.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
This work tends to be overshadowed by Levi's earlier Survival in Auschwitz even though this is a very important book as well.Too often when people study WWII they tend to stop their research at the end of the war in 45.The problem with this is that the war is really only one chapter in the story.The same is true of the Holocaust as well.For the victims "liberation" was often anything but, and many times the road of liberation could be just as cruel and merciless as the camps themselves.

This is the importance of The Reawakening.It tells the rest of the story.This book gives readers a first hand look at the world of post hostilities Europe, and shows readers the difficulties faced by those few to survive the horrors of Auschwitz.Levi gives us a personal account of what life was like trying to pick up the pieces of shattered lives in the chaotic and sometimes anarchic world in which survivors found themselves after their "liberation".Readers are left to understand that the world did not magically revert back to sanity when the Nazis were pushed back from territories formerly under their control.Instead with cruel irony thousands succumbed to the deprivations of the camps in the days and weeks that followed their liberation so that liberation cruelly came too late.

Primo Levi does an exquisite job detailing life after liberation and the long, tortuous journey home.His eloquence in describing the mundane, while at the same time opening a window to the psychological aspects of his experiences, makes the reading experience both enlightening and entertaining.There are thousands of studies that have been done detailing the experiences of survivors, but in little more than 200 pages Levi does as much to enlighten as many of these.His ability to describe the boredom and monotony of post liberation life for a survivor while at the same time enthralling his reader is a unique gift possessed by few writers.This is what makes his story so powerful.He brings readers into his world effortlessly, and it is so natural to find the humanness in his story and his characters that one does not have to put forth any effort whatsoever to empathize with him and his characters.

A person can read hundreds of thousands of pages detailing the history of these events, yet they will still lack a fundamental understanding of these events if they neglect these two books.These are essential books for understanding this history.

4-0 out of 5 stars Uneven, but still important
Not nearly as compelling as Survival in Auschwitz, but Levi still comes through in using his stories as vehicles to highlight the bigger issues of human life.What really sold me on the book was the last chapter and the addition.The latter is a series of short answers to questions which have been posed to Levi since first publishing SinA. He addresses such issues as "what did the Germans know", "do you hate the Germans", etc.Really worth the price of the book just for this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
I was surprised to see so few reviews for this book on Amazon."The Reawakening" is one of the great works of literature of the 20th century - and one of the most enjoyable.Levi's "Survival in Auschwitz" is a good book, and obviously a very important historical document.But with "The Reawakening," Levi becomes a truly great writer.His writerly gifts are impressive on so many levels -- but it is his uncanny, Chekhov-like ability to sketch characters and situations with astonishing vividness that is most impressive.And what characters, what situations.After his release from Auschwitz, Levi was faced with an epic, roundabout journey through the Soviet Union before he was finally able to return to his Italian homeland.Although fraught with difficulties on every side, Levi was free -- and the book reflects the joie de vivre of his suddenly newfound freedom.There are astonishing, unforgettable characters on these pages - rogues and saints.I envy the reader encountering the pleasures of this book for the first time.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Important and Entertaining Memoir
The Reawakening opens in January 1945, when author Primo Levi is released from a Nazi concnetration camp by Russian troops.His health almost ruined, suffering from unbearable knowledge of the crimes committed in the camps,Levi re-enters the world to find that it has been turned upside down by the war.Improbably - he explains in an afterword that it is not in his nature to hate - he finds in himself a capacity to see the world afresh, almost as a child would.

In the rest of the book, we accompany Levi and his companions on a picaresque through postwar Europe and Russia as they try to make their way back to their native Italy.While their sufferings are legion, Levi takes great pleasure in food, in his fellow man, and in nature.In particular, he displays a fine appreciation for the absurdities visited on the refugees by their well-intentioned but inept Russian rescuers.

This book is an entertaining read.Beyond that, it is an important document of the Holocaust.And beyond that, it is an important resource for modern readers who are finding their own way through an often absurd world.Highly recommended. ... Read more

6. Primo Levi's Universe: A Writer's Journey
by Sam Magavern
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2009-07-07)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$7.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0230606474
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Primo Levi is best known for his memoir, Survival in Auschwitz, but he was also a scientist, fiction writer, and poet: in short, a Renaissance man, who did not want to be known exclusively as a Holocaust writer. Using Levi's own words as a springboard, Sam Magavern offers here for the first time a multi-faceted portrait of the man - as a writer. By exploring all of Levi's writings—including his short stories, poems, his delightful novels about blue-collar workers—Magavern introduces us to a talented writer who had a profound love of humanity, a sharp wit, a passion for his profession as a chemist—a man inspired by variety of things beyond his Holocaust experience. Magavern brings a fresh, personal sensibility to the way we think about Levi and produces a hybrid book—part life story and part literary biography, finally doing justice to the man's calm rationality and essential beliefs.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book
Author Sam Magavern's book is enjoyable and thought provoking, offering a glimpse inside the world of writer, scientist, thinker and auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. As a writer's biography it examines both the author and his literary works, tracing the author's development as a man and a writer.It provides interesting insights on the impact and influence of the historical backdrop and other literary works on the writer and man. Primo Levi's Universe has broad appeal for those who enjoy biography and history. Great book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging erudite literary bio of Primo Levi
This engaging and erudite work is as much an exploration of the creative urge as it is a literary biography. Sam Magavern examines Primo Levi's quest to synthesize a system by which to make order of his eventful life and give shape to ethical inquiry. Magavern writes his fresh, thoughtful study of Levi so clearly and cogently that this book offers great appeal to an audience beyond Levi-readers or literature scholars. This is one of the best books I've read this year.

5-0 out of 5 stars Splendid... Spectacular... Riveting... Illuminating...
is what I'm convinced I'll be exhorting when I read this masterpiece. There is no end to Magavern's incite. He remains the sharpest thoughtful man alive. Don't steal this book, buy multiple copies. Now! ... Read more

7. The Periodic Table
by Primo Levi
Perfect Paperback: 233 Pages (1984)

Asin: B002ZO859W
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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THE PERIODIC TABLE won the Kenneth B. Smilen Award sponsored by the Jewish Museum and two Present Tense Literary Awards - for autobiography and for excellence in translation - and was nominated for the 1985 Los Angeles Times Book Award. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Achemist's dream;a review of the periodic table
Primo Levi
Translated by Raymond Rosenthall
This book is not, as the title might suggest, a chemistry textbook. It is in fact a collection of short stories, many of them autobiographical, though some stories of pure imagination are included. The episodes are linked historically and by the fact that the title of each is the same of one of the chemical elements. Some feature in each story illustrates or resembles the chosen elements properties and the search for such collections is part of the fascination of this unusual book.
The purpose of this review is to bring this book to the attention of any science teachers (particularly chemists) who have not come across it before. It is the most enjoyable book I have read for some time and I would like to share its chemical attractions with others who would appreciate them.
Levi manages in his writing to form a bridge between his experiences as a chemist and as a human being in a similar fashion to the way C. P. Snow's books tended to bridge "the two cultures". Primo Levi was an Italian of Jewish origin who made chemistry his profession. In the latter part of the Second World War he was incarcerated in Auschwitz before being liberated by the advancing Soviet forces. He worked again in various posts in Italy as an analytical chemist, but also wrote a number of autobiographical works of different types, his main theme being reconciliation after the horrors of the concentration camps.
The Periodic Table was first published in Italian in 1975 and translated into English in 1984. It received enthusiastic reviews for its easy combination of literary and scientific views of life and was praised as "a beautiful gem of a book" (The New Leader, 26 November 1984), "a work of healing, even buoyant imagination" (New York Times Book Review, 23 December 1984) and "one of the most intelligent books to have come along in years" (Washington Post, 30 December 1984).
Each of the reviewers above has his or her own favorite stories. Particularly praised are Vanadium and Carbon. In Vanadium, Levi investigates the chemistry of the raw materials in a varnish factory. He discovers from an error in the way the raw materials arc described by the chemist in charge of their export from Germany that this man was his overseer in the concentration camp during the war. The exchange of letters between the two men indicates the transitory and variable values of the German chemist - perhaps the easy colorful changes of valency of vanadium explain the title. In Carbon, Levi imagines an atom of carbon released by heating limestone and the many transformations it undergoes. Eventually embedded within his brain, it helps to make the decision to form the final full-stop of the story. This story, and perhaps others, could be used on an appropriate occasion to stimulate children's imaginative writing in science classes.
My own favorite story, Chromium, is also set in the varnish factory and is also concerned with the analysis of the raw materials. An impurity in these materials prevents the varnish from drying when used. Levi, by clever analysis solves the chemical problem (which takes one back to the systematic quantitative analysis many of an older generation will have done at school. The twist in the story is that he learns a long while later that the ingenious solution he found for this particular batch of varnish is still being used many years later when the impurity is no longer present in the starting materials. No one can understand the unusual formula for the varnish yet they still go on making it the same way.
I thoroughly recommend this book. It provokes thought, yet helps to reconcile the most refractory of differences.
W. P. Palmer
Origially published in The Australian Science Teachers Journal, May 1988, Volume 34. No.1, pp.91-92
... Read more

8. If Not Now, When? (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 352 Pages (1995-07-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140188932
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Primo Levi was among the greatest witnesses to twentieth-century atrocity. In this gripping novel, based on a true story, he reveals the extraordinary lives of the Russian, Polish and Jewish partisans trapped behind enemy lines during the Second World War. Wracked by fear, hunger and fierce rivalries, they link up, fall apart, struggle to stay alive and to sabotage the efforts of the all-powerful German army. A compelling tale of action, resistance and epic adventure, it also reveals Levi's characteristic compassion and deep insight into the moral dilemmas of total war. It ranks alongside "The Period Table" and "If This is a Man" as one of the rare authentic masterpieces of our times. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Art as a Weapon
I can hear what you're thinking - "Great, another book about the Holocaust!"I can understand your impatience, actually.Books and plays and movies have dealt with the Holocaust since only a few years after it was over, and even compassionate people can only stand so many images of misery and cruelty.Nevertheless, I'm going to ask you to go ahead and read "If Not Now, When?" for two reasons.First, it's not really about the Holocaust itself.Second, it's by Primo Levi.

Taking these points in order, this novel takes place not in or around the concentration camps, but among groups of Eastern European partisans fighting the Nazis during the period from 1943 to 1945.Now, let's assume that you've read books or seen movies about the camps, and you may be ready to encounter more of the same in future because you're a decent person and prepared toconfront human evil.Even so, I bet you'd love to read an account of people fighting back, even when those people have to struggle at times with cold, hunger, Russian or Polish or Ukrainian partisans who don't like Jews, and occasionally with each other.There's a time to accept one's fate and a time to pick up a gun - if nothing else, "If Not Now, When?" gives us some variety in our knowledge of the war years.That it's based on fact just makes it all the more delicious.

To repeat, then, I urge you to read this novel because it's not about the Holocaust, but rather about a different response to the Nazi horror.I also urge you to read it because it's by Primo Levi, who not only experienced that horror but wrote about it as well as or better than anyone else.He was not a partisan nor an Eastern European - he was an Italian who didn't even speak Yiddish - but I can't think of anyone better suited to give us these adventures, partly because of his approach to Holocaust narrative.He always insisted upon his role as a witness, not a commentator, because there's no comment you can make about such atrocities that would be the least bit adequate.As a result, you get not only the struggles and horrors of partisan warfare, but also the inventiveness, the creativity, the satisfactions and even the humor.

Levi survived eighteen months in Auschwitz, and when it came to writing about that, he had the advantage of a central character to concentrate on - that is, himself.Sensibly, he realized that he needed a central character in writing about the partisans if he wasn't to produce a disconnected series of vignettes.So this novel focuses on a Russian watchmaker named Mendel, an artilleryman in the Red Army who fires his gun once before the action of the book begins, gets separated from his unit, and spends the rest of the war moving from group to group, meeting and losing companions, harassing the Nazis and grabbing a moment from time to time to grieve for his wife and family.

Here's where we learn that Levi was indeed a novelist, or even an artist."If Not Now, When?" is an act of witnessing, all right, particularly in its style; it's always hard to know how accurate a translation is, but at least in English Levi uses plain words and sentences for the most part.So far, this piece resembles journalism as much as literature.Structurally, however, the story grows and develops.Levi chose his events, his characters and his plot in such a way that the partisans, and Mendel in particular, end up in a different psychic environment than they began.We first come across Mendel alone in the forest - he meets a companion, travels with him to other guerrilla bands, eventually finds a sort of home with a mostly Jewish group, makes friends and enemies and lovers, and gradually becomes a man with a plan and a goal.That's a work of art, folks, under the control of a truly great author.

The point is this: I can imagine some people disliking the idea of applying artistry to the Holocaust.In a certain way it seems disrespectful, as though turning something so incomprehensibly despicable into a work of art ignores the human pain in it and turns it into mere grist for the aesthetic mill.There are those who do exactly that, but not Levi.He writes this in such a way that the artistry makes the story more human, not less.

I think it works by digging deeply into the events and how the characters react to them.There's no glossing over anything here - rather, by examining this material so closely and handling it so expertly, Levi gives you the sense that everything about these people is worthy of his attention, and yours.Some artists approach things as though they are important because the artist notices them - Levi's approach is exactly vice versa.

And it scarcely needs to be added that this respect for people and their lives is exactly the opposite of the Nazi world view.So Primo Levi never picked up a gun in Eastern Europe, but with this novel he made himself into a partisan after all.By itself, that makes "If Not Now, When?" worth reading.

Benshlomo says, Literature has its uses.

2-0 out of 5 stars "Vodka, women, and the submachine gun"
This review, in correspondence with the paucity of thoughts and emotions evoked by it, shall be correspondingly brief.Levi based this book, his only novel, on true accounts - listed in the bibliography - of Jewish partisan resistance during World War II.I've no doubt that it is very true to life.But this virtue becomes a fault for the reader, or for this reader.People thrown together by war are interested in only one thing: Staying alive from one day to the next.There is little or no room left for the life of those two essential organs: The mind and the heart. The primary questions the book raises on page after page are:How are we going to eat?How are we going to survive the various groups who seek our death?It's interesting history.But it simply does not make for a gripping read.I've never read a book in which the adjective "plodding" was more apt, literally and figuratively.

Gadeleh, who becomes the de facto leader of the group, sums up the perspective conveyed perfectly:

"I believe in only three things: vodka, women, and the submachine gun.Once I also believed in reason, but not anymore."

The prose conveys this "banality of war" mentality so effectively that it becomes an altogether deflating experience to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The ruthlessness of survival
Even apart from its profound Jewish interest, the book is an outstanding chronicle of WWII, rich with detail concerning the hardships, the cold, the Russian-Polish landscape, the polyglot bands of homeless partisans and refugees, their ruthless tactics for survival,and the ugliness and arbitrariness of death.My favorite book by one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

5-0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of courage and survival
This is one of Levi's last works, the story is about a fictional group of Jewish partisans operating behind German lines in Russia and Poland from July, 1943 to the end of World War II.Levi himself joined a partisan band in 1943, although it was in Italy, not Russia, and he was soon captured and sent to Auschwitz.Although the plot and characters are fictional, Levi has gone to great lengths to make his story as authentic as possible.This novel is based not only on his own personal experiences, but on conversations he had with others, and on other published accounts of the experiences of Jewish partisans operating behind enemy lines on the Eastern Front (Levi even provides a bibliography at the end).This is a book of hope, not of despair.Levi explicitly eschews accounts of the death camps in this work; it is not a work of "Holocaust Literature".It is a story of the Jewish resistance with universal overtones.

What makes this book more than just another "war story" is the rich cast of characters, drawn with sympathy, humor, and without a trace of sentimentality.Typical of these is the leader of the partisan band, a man of great charisma, and a brilliant decision-maker, who understands that in the forest, surrounded by enemies, with the life-sustaining morale of his small force hanging in the balance, his violin is almost as essential for the group's survival as his weapon.What gives this book such great authenticity is that none of the characters are paragons of virtue; they are ordinary, flawed people forced to draw upon every last ounce of courage and resourcefulness within just to survive to fight another day.Front and center to the survival of the group is the fierce loyalty its members have to each other.Even as the war ends and they are no longer in deadly peril, the members of the band share a common destiny in which the fate of one is the fate of all.

I found this book very difficult to put down once I started it. It would be hard to find a more vivid, well-told tale of what it was like for the partisans along the Eastern front of World War II.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must read
While the book isn't a true story, the characters are based on real people Primo Levi met during the holocaust.It surprises, inspires and humbles the reader to know that humanity can exist in the midst of such horrible chaos.

I liked the fact that there is not happily ever after, that the characters must fight to produce their own future.But, it is good to know that along their journey, they met many who would help them.

Primo Levi is a wonderful writer.He stays true to character, winds the subplots into the main plot without jerky interruptions and allows the characters to be real, not stereotypes. ... Read more

9. Se questo e un uomo ; La tregua
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 362 Pages (1989)

Isbn: 8806116053
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10. The Search For Roots: A Personal Anthology
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 258 Pages (2003-05-25)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1566635047
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Here is a collection of writings that Primo Levi considered to be essential readings. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Roots
For all of you who think that this is a selection of texts by Levi (a kind of "Primo Levi's Reader" with a fragmentary sample of his work), it is not.

This is a selection of texts (literary, scientific, etc) made by Primo Levi among those he believed to be the requiered reading for a humanistic education. Take a look at the Table of Contents and see for yourself.

You don't need to have read previously any Levi book in order to enjoy this anthology, which is a masterful collage by a master thinker. It is a joyful read. ... Read more

11. Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening, Two Memoirs
by Primo Levi
 Hardcover: 397 Pages (1986)

Isbn: 0671605410
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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5-0 out of 5 stars The Experiences and Reflections of an Italian Jew at Auschwitz
Primo Levi wasn't sent to or near the gas chambers and crematoria. Instead, he was diverted into forced labor in the sub-camp of Monowitz (p. 386), some 7 km east of Auschwitz proper. Poles had to wear a large "P". German political prisoners got various privileges, such as food and clothes from home, and exemption from the dreaded "selections". (p. 183) He saw the bombed-out ruins of the Buna synthetic rubber plant. (p. 137) He predicted that, in the winter of 1944-1945, 7/10ths of the prisoners like him will die. (p. 123)

The reader may not realize that western European Jews commonly looked down upon eastern European Jews as "backward". These feelings were fully reciprocated. Levi comments: "The Germans call them [the Italian Jews] `zwei linke Hande' (two left hands) and even the Polish Jews despise them as they do not speak Yiddish." (p. 49) After his release from Auschwitz, Levi ran across Polish Jews who couldn't believe that Levi was even possibly Jewish because he didn't speak Yiddish. (p. 279)

Unlike most Auschwitz survivors, who traveled west, he traveled east and then south (for map, see pages 178-179). He saw for himself the victimization of the Poles: "In Katowice, and in all Poland, there was a shortage of men; the male population of working age had disappeared, prisoners in Germany and Russia, dispersed among partisan bands, massacred in battle, in the bombardments, in the reprisals, in the Lagers, in the ghettos. Poland was a country in mourning, a country of old men and widows." (p. 239)

In the AFTERWORD, Levi said that, whereas the Nazi concentration camps had 90-98% mortality, the figure for Soviet concentration camps was 30% maximum (p. 389). This is incorrect. Slaves toiling in the gold mines in the Soviet Far East faced close to 100% mortality. And, of course, particular groups targeted for annihilation experienced 100% mortality, be they Jews sent to the gas chambers by the Nazis, or the Polish officers and intellectuals sent to the killing forests near Katyn by the Communists.
... Read more

12. Conversations with Primo Levi
by Ferdinando Camon
Paperback: 76 Pages (1989-01-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$8.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0910395489
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interviews, tr John Shepley ... Read more

13. The Monkey's Wrench (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 176 Pages (1995-07-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140188924
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In this exuberant novel, one of Italy's greatest living writers celebrates the art of storytelling and the spirit of work through weaving the mesmerizing t ales of an itinerant construction worker, Libertini Faussone, and a writer-chemist, the true and fictional Primo Levi. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Primo Levi forges a stunningly eloquent creative execution that reveals the joys of living, of work, of responsibilities and not least of storytelling. The book is consistently verging on the comic at every turn shunning the tragic buoyancy of the pathos that life imposes on her victims. but here victims find ways to stagger the routines with an indomitable will that reveals the grandeur of the human spirit. This is indeed an exhuberant, wildly funny novel that coils magic abreast the mesmerizing tales of a construction worker, who full of life and sheer bewilderment for the ecstasy of being alive and the adventures that we wield and construct as we perform our most converntional exploits. Libertini Fussone, the character in question, has been justifiably pronounced a kin to Zorba, a worldy self-educated philosopher. He has built bridges and towers in India, Africa, Alaska and Russia. His love of work and travel is sustained by an enviable penchant for finding circumstances and situations that transcend the norms of facile relatioships and recognize beauty glowing in people and places that magically trace the absurd in the most passion driven haunts of the mind - yet it is here that we find the meaning of our lives. The narrator, a chemist as was Levi, swaps stories with the construction worker, and in fact it is his most extraordinary telling of how he saved his Italian paint factory from economic disaster at the hands of a Russian anchovy canner that brings laughs while eradicating our most grounded expectations. Faussone will tell us of a monkey who wanted to be a man, of a magnificent machine that caught stardust, of a girl who drove a bulldozer and affected, rather moved him more than anyone or anything else.
His Holocaust trilogy (Survival in Auschwitz, The Reawakening, and Moments of Reprieve are indispensable for they describe the human condition with such resiliency and awesome wisdom that they make us better human beings through our encounter with his talent. But here, in The Monkey's Wrench we become acquainted with the beauty and joy of being, the experience that because it lacks meaning admits and betrays a surplus of wondrous meaningful stories.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wise, moving, shame about the title
I finished this book and read it all the way through again less than a month later. There are lots of things to like about it. Mainly, though, I like it because it conveys a sense of joy in work, in writing, in the less spectacular aspects of life that can be as much a source of happiness as can the great gifts that come along once or twice in a lifetime. And the stories are told in such an engaging way you don't really realize Levi is showing you a way to make life bearable. The sad thing is that Primo Levi apparently couldn't do for himself what he did for so many of his readers.

I also like that though a good part of the novel takes place in the former Soviet Union, Levi, with the exception of one chapter in the book, says nary a word about communism. The Soviet regime is, for the purpose of his book, completely irrelevant. Lesser writers would have stuck to the "one-man-against-the-regime" template.

That said, I do have some gripes, mostly to do with the translation. Levi has been very badly served either by his translators or, more likely, by his American publishers. Why this book was called _The Monkey's Wrench_ is beyond me. There's a wrench, and there's a monkey all right, but there's nothing so patently ridiculous as a wrench belonging to a monkey. _The Wrench_, plain and simple, like Levi's prose, would have sufficed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Gracefully narrated stories of a tradesman's jobs and values
Meet Faussone, an able tradesmen who sets up cranes around the world and enjoys his work. Most of the several short stories in the book centre on him recounting some interesting job he's been involved in. 
Rather than remain invisible and let 'Faussone' do all the talking, the listener/narrator is also allowed to take on a role - the stories are clearly placed in a setting of Faussone talking to the semi-autobiographical persona of Levi. We learn a little of why he's putting down these stories, his own speculation on whether writing is a worthy 'craft' compared to that of the tradesman, and he even drops in a work story of his own (as a chemist - Levi himself was a chemist) to conclude. Levi highlights the importance of the listener and the context to the stories, which, while entertaining enough to stand on their own, are enhanced by tangents of setting and response. Moreover there's room for just a little plot and relationship development winding alongside the stories.
As close as I can think of are the James Herriot stories, although I suspect some of Levi's fans would be a bit horrified at the comparison. That being said, I suspect 'Herriot' himself would have enjoyed the book. Levi's stories, however, are not nearly as formulaic (or as funny), and Levi is a more able painter of characters that feel more authentic, and don't necessarily need to be pigeon-holed. Amusing that Faussone feels more authentic than some of Herriot's doubtless 'real' recollected characters: in a postscript Levi says,
"Faussone is imaginary but "perfectly authentic," at the same time; he is a compound, a mosaic of numerous men I have met, similar to Faussone..."
There's a grace there as well - which some would find bland - this isn't sensationalist fiction with a sting or a belly laugh. Levi does have an agenda - to suggest that a worker who takes pride and pleasure in his trade is as good a subject (and hero) for a novel as any super spy or renegade cop or tortured academic or whatever. There's also an acknowledgement of giving some praise to Levi and Faussone's fathers in this, so perhaps he can be forgiven if his picture is a bit eulogistic.
The 'wrench' (if the translation got this right) isn't just a symbol of blue collar labour, it's also the wrench between the metaphysical profession of writing books and that of actually making tangible things. The 'Levi' of the stories is struggling with this, and Faussone's parting advice to him is:
"...I tell you, doing things you can touch with your hands has an advantage: you can make comparisons and understand how much you are worth. You make a mistake, you correct it, and next time you don't make it..."
and earlier 'Levi' speculated that perhaps so many writers have bad stress because they can't test their work with a level or a gauge, and are working blind half the time.
So, if you're in the mood for something reflective, diverting, and well written - go ahead. If you're after some action or melodrama, wait for another mood.

Excellent series of vignettes/stories generally related within the novel by a crane/derrick rigger to the author, a chemist. For those with no inclination to industrial engineering and chemistry, this book makes the two subjects seem interesting, and uniquely identifies them with the human condition. Quite beautiful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Witty, Poingnant, Haunting Barely Begin to Describe Levi
There are some people who you can never hear enough of.Levi is certainly one of those.He combines one of the greates talents as a writer in thiscentury with a wisdom uncommon for any age.

This book is not an adventurestory in the typical sence of the word, but reading it is an adventure, andI for one am a better man for having opened its covers.

I don't thinkthat Levi has ever written a book that I would only read once.This book,I look forward to revisting many times over.The maximum length of thisreview is one thousnd words.If all those words were supperlatives, Iwould not come close to doing this book justice. ... Read more

14. If This is a Man (Everyman's Library classics)
by Primo Levi
Hardcover: 528 Pages (2000-08-25)
list price: US$22.70 -- used & new: US$15.27
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857152220
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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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 20 months he spent working in Auschwitz. "The Truce" covers his journey home to Italy at the end of the war. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Primo Levi
The most startling thing about If This is a Man is its quiet humanity.There is no towering rage, when there certainly could have been, there is no irrational hatred, when there could have been. There are terrible things in it, to be sure, but the subject of this book is the will to survive and persevere.

It is perhaps one of the most beautifully written books I have read.

Equally worthwhile is the second story, called The Truce, which is part of this book.It tells of Levi's incredible return voyage home across postwar Europe, taking a circuitous route in and around the countries bordering Russia and Germany, and finally landing in Turin. ... Read more

15. The Periodic Table
by Primo Levi
 Paperback: Pages (2010)

Isbn: 0141399449
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16. Si Esto Es Un Hombre (Spanish Edition)
by Primo Levi
 Paperback: 352 Pages (2005-06)
list price: US$18.95
Isbn: 847669525X
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17. A Tranquil Star: Stories
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 176 Pages (2008-04-17)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$1.98
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Asin: 039333161X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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ATranquil Star,the first new American collection of Primo Levi previously untranslated fiction to appear since 1990, affirms hisposition as one of thetwentieth century's most enduring writers.These seventeen stories, firstpublished in Italianbetween 1949 and 1986,demonstrate Levi's extraordinary range, takingthe reader from the primalresistance of a capturedpartisan fighter to a middle-agedchemist experimenting with a new paintthatwards off evil, to the lustful thoughts of anolderman obsessed with a mysterious woman in a seaside villa. In the title story, Levidemonstrates hisunerringly tragic understandingof the fragility of the universe through thetaleof a pensive astronomer,terrified by thepossibility that a long-dormant star might explode and reduce the entireplanet to vapor. Thisremarkable new collection affirms ItaloCalvino's conviction that Levi was"one of the most important andgifted writers of ourtime." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Poignant work from a sadly typecast author

That Primo Levi remains the author of perhaps the finest memoir of the Holocaust remains beyond dispute.His crisp vivid prose have helped half a century of readers imagine the unimaginable, yet Levi's work extended far beyond his memoirs of the evil he endured, but unfortunately, like lodestones, those works weighted down the vast body of his writings, often obscuring them from the view of potential readers.These other works, which include poetry, short stories, and at least one novel, defy easy categorization.All sparkle with Levi's razor style.Like Calvino, Levi was a man who sought to break the bonds of convention, to communicate with the reader in a way at once intellectual and visceral.Yet for years, unless you read Italian, you were denied access to these works.

Considerable then is the debt readers owe Goldstein and Bastagli, translators of the new Levi collection, "A Tranquil Star."The stories here run the range of Levi's work, from brief tales taken from his own life, such as a story of a captured partisan ("The Death of Marinese") or a tale within a tale of mountain climbers("Bear Meat").Other stories show a humorous, fantastical bend, like "Censorship in Bitinia" in which a nation's censor office discovers that the "essential" process can be deleterious to health, and seek to find an animal that can carry it out and "Gladiator" about a sporting event in which pedestrians duel with cars.In "Knall" Levi offers a Calvinoesque scifi comment on society, discussing the rage for a new gadget which allows people to murder one another silently, albeit only at close range.

Not every one of these stories will grab every reader, yet all should admire Levi's effort to push the bounds of standard narrative and dig deep into the ills and foibles of the society around him.His gift for allegory and imagery were rare, and unappreciated beyond a narrow readership.With the publication of "A Tranquil Star" a great many new readers can discover this giant of 20th Century prose, and will almost surely beg for the these translators to continue their work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not "primo" material
Primo Levi is one of my favorites, but this book really exposes how he has changed over time.

Divided into his earlier and later stories, the book divides pretty cleanly along those lines into classic Primo Levi and newer stuff that could easily have remained unpublished. I was especially looking forward to Bear Meat which is an elaboration of some stories he includes in the Periodic Table; it did not dissappoint. A few of the other stories were also great - the one about the captured partisan, for example. In general, however, I was not pleased with most of the stories, some of which veer off into genres that Levi does not seem at home in.

I can reccommend a few of the stories in this book that Levi fans would love to read because they complement earlier works. However, this is not a good introduction to Primo Levi and I would generally steer away from this book and towards his beautiful book The Periodic Table, or one of his many books about his time in Aushwitz.

5-0 out of 5 stars Primo Levi-A Tranquil Star
Primo Levi is the most honest intepreter of the Holocaust and of his own life and experiences.He envelopes the reader and invites him to become part of him as he tells about his life, experiences and the philosophy that is his life.One can feel his sensitivity and honesty in all his writing-he is not out to impress but rather to document in language that is sophisticated but clear.I have read all his books, he has molded the way I see life and what I expect of it and myself. This book is a collection of short stories clearly written and constantly demanding that the reader think and move beyond himself and his life.I highly recomend this book and all others he has written.

4-0 out of 5 stars Uneven, but find your own favorites among these tales
This is between a three and a four "star" effort compared to the best of Levi already published, but it remains for those of us limited to English-language versions for Levi's work a welcome arrival on the small shelf of his writing over nearly forty years. These stories appear in English for the first time, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of his death.

This thin anthology gathers seventeen short tales--not all of them are full-fledged stories. They range from a park full of figures from literature who survive there as long as they are remembered (a conceit that has another twist in Kevin Brockmeier's recent novel "A Brief History of the Dead," also reviewed by me on Amazon) to a deadly little weapon called a "knall" to a gladiator fight pitting cars against hammer-throwing humans. Some are more fantastic, recalling Italo Calvino's fables but with more of an edgy or jaundiced view towards human weakness and unpredictable foibles. These, of the magic paint "tantalum" that works great until the user's bath time, or a kangaroo in "Buffet Dinner," or the Kafkaesque "Bureau of Vital Statistics," remind me of similar reflections collected in the earlier volume "The Mirror Maker." Tales in "A Tranquil Star" like "The Fugitive," "The TV Fans," or "The Molecule's Defiance" (great title admittedly) fall into this mode. But these, in my opinion, are not as gripping as those closer to reality, or at least allegory!

If you have come to "A Tranquil Star" without having read Levi's earlier pieces in this mode, the subject matter may seem light and inconsequential compared to the Holocaust narratives for which he is most known in English today. The introduction gives a quick run-through of which stories appeared when; they range over the whole career of Levi, and the anthology does shift in tone and topic accordingly. The earliest entry powerfully dramatizes a partisan's last minutes of life, and "One Night" hints at wartime allegory, "Fra Diavolo" sounds practically autobiographical out of Fascist 1930s Italy. But even those stories with no Italian or European mid-century setting express the author's consistent concerns. All of Levi's prose contrasts fragility vs. dominance, clarity vs. confusion, and detachment vs. annihilation all occur.

In unsparing, yet graceful and calm expression, in this volume I find these topics treated most poignantly in the title story that concludes this book, about an expanding star. As the star bursts, the story suddenly switches, to a Peruvian astronomer's thoughts as he compares the photographic plates of what seems to be the same supernova. He then wonders what he will tell his family.

The universal and the immediate collide. Here is how the fate of a planet under the star is summed up. "After ten hours, the entire planet was reduced to vapor, along with all the delicate and subtle works that the combined labor of chance and necessity, through innumerable trials and errors, had perhaps created there, and along with all of the poets and wise men who had perhaps examined the sky, and had wondered what was the value of so many little lights, and had found no answer. That was the answer." (160) This excerpt shows the quality of Levi's voice at its clearest, and the transparent translation that brings these stories to us marvelously rendered.

Not all the stories are flawless. "The Girl in the Book" seems to fall flat, giving us what happens in real life rather than in fiction as its conclusion, but this does not satisfy after the buildup of the tale. Levi can be a tough entertainer. He prefers to separate himself from his tales, and perhaps his rigor leaves the weaker tales here floundering once they are separated from their teller's warmth.

They tend overall towards the brief elaboration of a clever image or idea. Like much fiction of this genre, the narrative arc fades. The teller's voice forces you to listen, to see, to enter into what he describes. This is the same as the Holocaust narratives, and Levi's skill appears in fiction to be less of a craftsman of the ornate prose style, the intricate plot, or the in-depth characterization than many other modern writers. Instead, he illuminates a train forced to halt one night and then backs away after he tells you in an eerily objective voice how it and the tracks around it were completely and silently dismantled. Parts of the rambling but engaging "Bear Meat" are the liveliest pages here. He sets up a mountaineering story (and like the "element" in "The Periodic Table," I wish Levi had written more about the peaks he loved to once climb) with appealing citations from Dante in "Bear Meat" but halfway through a second narrator interjects another anecdote, and then the story stops, the two halves settling but not joined neatly.

The kangaroo's dinner attendance is recounted, but after predictable mayhem, the beast jumps away into the evening and that's that. "Censorship in Bitinia" ends up exactly where you expect--it's clever, but not profound. "The Magic Paint" switches from the discussion of "tantalum" into Fessio's fate after his glasses are coated with another substance, and the narrator then halts. This jarring assembly may be intentional on Levi's part. It does mimic our own patterns of relating stories to each other in fragments and elisions and jerks and starts and stops.

But, for those seeking elegant fables and erudite wit, these fictions (what seem to be the last ones untranslated by now, so this may account for their uneven quality as stand-alone pieces) may reveal to you a handful, among the seventeen, that will prove as memorable as to me the title story. My other finalists are "The Sorcerers" with its predicament of two smart academics unable to convey the how-tos of all the technological wonders of the First World to a tribe in remote Bolivia's rainforest, and "One Night" with its disturbing abandoned train imagery. These leave me admiring again Levi's talent.
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18. Moments of Reprieve: A Memoir of Auschwitz (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
by Primo Levi
Paperback: 144 Pages (1995-07-01)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$4.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140188959
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The acclaimed author of The Periodic Table and If Not Now, When? presents this impressive collection of stories that celebrate the spirit of having survived the horrors of Auschwitz. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Slight but beautiful
This book is lovely, but it is worth pointing out that it revisits characters that Levi has written in about in his previous memoirs, and is much more satisfying as an appendix than a freestanding work.The chapters on Cesare and Lorenzo gain a great deal of depth if one has already read If This Is a Man and The Truce, where the two are major characters. (These two books have unfortunately been re-titled in America, with complete inaccuracy and for mysterious reasons, Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening.)

Also, unlike The Periodic Table, which is also a collection of stories (and I think one of the best books of the 20th century), Moments of Reprieve is not designed to be a unified work of art.The stories were written under a variety of impulses, and most are individually brilliant and moving, but they do not gain strength from being around each other.The last chapter ("The Story of a Coin") about Rumkowski, even appears again -- with no changes as far as I could tell -- in The Drowned and the Saved, Levi's last completed book.

For anyone wanting to discover Levi's writing, I would suggest beginning with The Periodic Table, If This is a Man, and The Truce.Also wonderful are his single novel (If Not Now, When?) and his poetry.This collection, while not essential, serves as a worthy addition to his greatest work.It is also a testament to his artistry, because it shows how much he consciously left out of If This is a Man and The Truce -- stories that a lesser writer would have scrambled to include -- to create the unified, devastating impression of those two books.

Eventually, though, after reading those other great books, you will end up here, because I know of no one who has read them sincerely that has not wanted to spend more time in the company of this smart, funny, wise, and radiantly decent person.

5-0 out of 5 stars Once again a wonderful experience.
I enjoy being older and having time to pursue the books I would like to read rather than have to read.I only discovered Primo Levi by seeing his name mentioned in reference to another author.And to think I might have missed this man's talent out of pure ignorance.What a shame there aren't many more of his works available, cut off by his depression and taking his life.Book quality excellent. Content of Levi's story exquisite.

5-0 out of 5 stars humanizes Holocaust victims
This little memoir humanizes Levi's Auschwitz acquaintances, presenting them not merely as victims sitting around waiting to be gassed, but as lively, interesting people engaged in the full-time business of getting enough food to survive. ... Read more

19. Primo Levi's Narratives of Embodiment: Containing the Human (Routledge Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature)
by Charlotte Ross
Hardcover: 222 Pages (2010-08-25)
list price: US$105.00 -- used & new: US$93.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415880416
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Editorial Review

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This innovative reading of Primo Levi’s work offers the first sustained analysis in English of his representations of bodies and embodiment. Discussion spans the range of Levi’s works — from testimony to journalism, from essays to science fiction stories — identifying and tracing multiple narratives of embodiment and disembodiment across his oeuvre. These narratives range from the abject, disembodied condition of prisoners in Auschwitz, to posthuman or cyborg individuals, whose bodies merge with technological devices. Levi’s representations of bodies are explored in relation to theories of embodiment and posthumanism, bringing his work into new dialogue with critical discourses on these issues. Taking inspiration from Levi’s definition of the human being as a constructor of containers, as well as from the recurring references to both material and metaphorical containing structures in his work, the book suggests that for Levi, embodiment involves constant negotiations of containment. He depicts the complex relationships between physical and social bodies, the material and the immaterial self, the conscious and unconscious subject, the organic and the technologically-enhanced body, engaging with evolving understandings of the boundaries of the body, the self, and the human.

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20. If this is a man: Remembering Auschwitz
by Primo Levi
 Hardcover: 377 Pages (1986)

Asin: B00070WLUU
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars An enduring testament to the resilience of the human spirit
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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