Review of If this Is a Man by Primo Levi

August 31, 2015

If this is a man coverWith this book, I decided to open a new page on Advicesbooks: reviews about books written by unforgettable Italian authors. I decided to open this new stage of my website with a book I advise you read absolutely: If This Is a Man by Primo Levi. That is a biographical book written by an Italian deported by the Nazis in 1944. Primo Levi is one of the people survived to deportation. I have already reviewed other books like this, but never written by Italian authors. Primo Levi was born in Turin in 1919. He was a chemist and was only twenty four years old when he was arrested.

The book is a touching and painful historical account of  the Nazi deportation endured by the same Levi. The book, is, hence, a memoir about one the most awful moments of the global history. In the introduction of the book, Levi specified that his is not an historical book and that his work does not add nothing in respect to other similar books. I think, instead, Primo Levi’s book is also among the most important essays about Nazism. I also believe this book must be read by everybody for its deep meaning, for the power that Levi infused it with its sometimes desperate and heartfelt words.

Maybe this is a tearjerker book, because you’ll pour tears during reading, but it is, above all, a true story, just as the same Levi underlined in the book preface. No invention is in this book, no imagination, but only the real craziness of some men that during a normal day decided to wipe out millions of people only because they were different, sick of simply weak or coming from another country or religion! I will never tire to talk about this topic, because history must never be forgotten. Through a memoir like this, I hope all men learn, at last, to make goodness and to refuse the evil. What impressed me about Primo Levi is his large capacity to describe cold behavior of the SS officers accurately. They barked like dogs to push people inside good trucks headed from the Alps to Auschwitz.

Levi notices that they did these horrible things as if they did a normal work. For this reason, the author wonders what is evil and where it comes from. The SS soldiers were heartless people capable to shoot a mother and her son because they asked a glass of water, but were they really aware about what they were doing? I am sure they were and as Levi said, with Nazism, human beings has shown what is pure evil.

In the book, Levi tells about the steady dehumanization perpetrated by the Nazis, indeed the title of the book, If this Is a men, relates to the horrible body and mind transformation endured by prisoners in the concentration camps. I warn you that chapters and pages of the book are very poignant and shocking. You must be very strong to read this book. Levi describes the daily fight to get a scrap of bread and to bear starvation, thirsty and cold, work in the mud and the risk to die because of a yes or a no.

He also sees the descent of his fellow inmates who betrayed their same friends to get a bit of survival. Here is how a man can become when he is forced to endure a no dignity life. And more, when Levi hears a prisoner who prays because he was saved from the gas chambers (for that day, but not for the next) he hates this prayer and shows to readers what is desperation. I think this book does not need further words, but only a careful and silent reading from the bottom of your heart. After reading this book, carve its words in your soul and tell your friends, children, parents and relatives this story, so that other people can learn these two important words: Never more!

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