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The Pianist : The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 - Softcover

 
9780753814055: The Pianist : The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45
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'You can learn more about human nature from this brief account of the survival of one man throughout the war years in the devastated city of Warsaw than from several volumes of the average encyclopaedia' Independent on Sunday 'We are drawn in to share his surprise and then disbelief at the horrifying progress of events, all conveyed with an understated intimacy and dailiness that render them painfully close'riveting' Observer 'The images drawn are unusually sharp and clear'but its moral tone is even more striking: Szpilman refuses to make a hero or a demon out of anyone' Literary Review

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Review:
Written immediately after the end of World War II, this morally complex Holocaust memoir is notable for its exact depiction of the grim details of life in Warsaw under the Nazi occupation. "Things you hardly noticed before took on enormous significance: a comfortable, solid armchair, the soothing look of a white-tiled stove," writes Wladyslaw Szpilman, a pianist for Polish radio when the Germans invaded. His mother's insistence on laying the table with clean linen for their midday meal, even as conditions for Jews worsened daily, makes palpable the Holocaust's abstract horror. Arbitrarily removed from the transport that took his family to certain death, Szpilman does not deny the "animal fear" that led him to seize this chance for escape, nor does he cheapen his emotions by belaboring them. Yet his cool prose contains plenty of biting rage, mostly buried in scathing asides (a Jewish doctor spared consignment to "the most wonderful of all gas chambers," for example). Szpilman found compassion in unlikely people, including a German officer who brought food and warm clothing to his hiding place during the war's last days. Extracts from the officer's wartime diary (added to this new edition), with their expressions of outrage at his fellow soldiers' behavior, remind us to be wary of general condemnation of any group. --Wendy Smith
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"[Szpilman's] account is hair-raising beyond anything Hollywood could invent...an altogether unforgettable book." -- THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

"[Szpilman's] shock and ensuing numbness become ours, so that acts of ordinary kindness or humanity take on an aura of miracle. --THE OBSERVER

"Rarely has the sheer claustrophobia of living in the Warsaw Ghetto been so vividly conveyed as it is by Szpilman." --THE INDEPENDENT

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