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Big Books Reviews

Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity

Big Books Issue 2001

Next of Kin Rick Bragg Gives His Family Tree Another Shake in Ava's Man | By Frank Diller

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First Persons A Sampling of the Best Modern Memoirs

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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Kay Redfield Jamison undertook to write about her personal experiences with manic depression after s... | By Eileen Murphy

Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity Primo Levi's memoir of his 10 months in Auschwitz is a masterpiece of Holocaust literature--not simp... | By Sandy Asirvatham

Harpo Speaks! Whether Harpo Marx's 1961 autobiography qualifies as a memoir is open to question, given that there'... | By Adele Marley

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Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness At the start of this Memoir of Madness, novelist William Styron is about to receive the prestigious ... | By Eileen Murphy

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story Born of Indian parents and raised in Ethiopia, Abraham Verghese could hardly find a place less his o... | By Eileen Murphy

By Sandy Asirvatham | Posted 9/26/2001

Primo Levi

Primo Levi's memoir of his 10 months in Auschwitz is a masterpiece of Holocaust literature--not simply a recounting of personal tragedies and historical atrocities, but a remarkably clear-eyed and rigorous meditation on the fragile nature of human personality and identity in the face of systematic oppression. A 25-year-old chemist when he was arrested in his native Turin by the Italian fascists and deported to Poland's most notorious rail terminus, Levi used his observational skills and considerable literary gifts to paint a detailed portrait of the death camp. Yet, throughout this 1961 book, he scrupulously reminds the reader that no amount of writerly eloquence will ever do justice to the experience of those who suffered there.

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