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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  66,111 ratings  ·  1,081 reviews
The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting was resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman's account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inf ...more
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published 1999 by Victor Gollancz (first published 1946)
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Denise Kretzschmar No to both questions, but there are graphic descriptions of the atrosities against the Jewish people that might be disturbing to some young readers.

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 ·  66,111 ratings  ·  1,081 reviews


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Start your review of The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45
Amalia Gavea
The triumph of the human spirit, the strength of the human soul to find its way out of the darkness, the injustice, the never-ending nightmare, the ordeal of living in a world where absolute fear and beastly behaviour dictate everyone’s life.

This is the life of a man, an artist, who experienced persecution, confinement, famine, disease. A man whose strength and faith defeated monsters. A pianist whose talent touched the heart of the enemy, except this enemy was different from the others, a kind
...more
Samadrita
This is the first time I am reviewing a book that I have tried and failed to rate.

How do I decide on a rating anyway? Should I judge the prose? the content? the author's style of presentation? his narrative voice? the quality of the translation?
Do I even have the right to?

Awarding a star rating to this man's unbelievably harrowing and miraculous tale of surviving a war which claimed the lives of 6 million of his fellow brethren for no reason at all, seems a more sacrilegious act than calling Infinite Jest a bad book on
...more
Violet wells
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You might say all of us owe our very existence to the lottery of chance that allowed our ancestors to survive the second world war. Maybe this is one reason I find it such a compelling subject. The margins of genetic survival were narrowed to a much greater extent than at any time in recent history. And of course if you're Jewish this was exacerbated a thousand-fold and more. If you were interned in the Warsaw Ghetto your chances of survival were about the same as any of us being struck by light ...more
Tammy
Jan 01, 2018 added it
There is no way for me to rate or review this book that would do it justice. Read it. Read it now.
Merna
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Pianist for a number of reasons but the supreme reason goes to Władysław Szpilman's storytelling. Szpilman writes down the struggles which he endured in order to survive in Warsaw under the occupation of the Nazis. Władysław voice never grows bitter, neither do his emotions twist to constant abhorrence and it’s why, I find myself greatly respecting him. His story was in no means told to invoke hatred or disgust towards Germans. His intention was not to spit out political statements about WW ...more
Ines
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the tragic memory reported by the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, about his survival inside the Warsaw Ghetto; about his unfortunate and yet miraculous encounter with german SS that saved him.
I must be sincere, i have read this book many years ago, well before the famous related movie came out ( that i found marvellous and intimate and very faithful to the book).
I decided to read it again with my 14 years old daughter due to her homework asked by her teacher for italian literature.
The story of this book will go deep
...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: roadrallyteamb
As always these books are so incredibly hard to read, not just to read but to understand how these cruelties could have ever happened. This book was different in that it was not only written by someone in Poland who survived the Holocaust, but someone who probably only survived because of the help of a German officer.

Excerpts from this officer's diary are included in the back of the book as are explanatory notes tying everything together. The tome of the book is rather matter of fact, since it
...more
Dem
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2
The Pianist by Written immediately after the war by survivor Wladyslaw Szpilman. This book was suppressed for decades. The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and tells the story of the horrendous events that took place in Nazi-occupied Warsaw and the Jewish ghetto.

This is quite a short book but it certainly packs a punch. You can almost feel the urgency of the writer to get his story down on paper and yet the story is told in such a way that you feel a confidence and
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Śmierć miasta = The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45, Władysław Szpilman
The Pianist is a memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman in which he describes his life in Warsaw in occupied Poland during World War II. After being forced with his family to live in the Warsaw ghetto, Szpilman manages to avoid deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp, and from his hiding places around the city witnesses the Warsaw ghetto upri
...more
Steven Godin
This memoir is simply one of the best ever written on the Warsaw Ghetto, and has a significant educational, historical, and literary value that the world should never forget. Szpilman, a Jewish classical pianist, played the last of his live music from Warsaw before Polish Radio went off the air in September 1939 as the Nazis invaded Poland. In a tone that is at once dispassionate and immediate, Szpilman relates the terrible horrors of life inside the ghetto.

This book has a glaring cl
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I've read a lot about World War II, but I'd never fully grasped the complete destruction, the utter devastation of the city of Warsaw. Hitler was like a bratty child with a toy he'd rather destroy than share with anyone else. When he knew he was going to lose the war, he ordered that Warsaw be reduced to rubble. Among the ruins there was a Jewish musician named Wladyslaw Szpilman who had managed to survive for six years, and a German named Wilm Hosenfeld who saved Szpilman's life one last time. ...more
Missy J
description
Monument of the Umschlagplatz in Warsaw today.

I don't know how to write a review for such a horrifying account of what Wladyslaw Szpilman experienced as a Jew in Warsaw during the Holocaust. His writing is very dispassionate and precise, yet he really brought forth the horrors of the war and his daily life struggles with losing his family, hunger, stress, uncertainty and fear at that time. I was also very much inspired by how strong his instincts were in certain situations. It's incredible how during t
...more
RJ Corby
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became interested in reading "The Pianist" after seeing the excellent movie, directed by Roman Polanski, that was based on the book. After thoroughly enjoying the movie, I had very high hopes for this tome, and I was not disappointed. This book is a stunner, bringing to life the horrific conditions and brutality that Wladyslaw Szpilman endured to survive six years of Nazi brutality in Warsaw, Poland.

What's truly amazing about this book is how Szpilman tells the story with a sense o
...more
Gary
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Pianist is the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman and his remarkable story survival in Warsaw during the years of Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945.
It tells how he survived against the odds , hiding in various parts of the city , before his life was saved by a German officer , who despised the Nazis brutality and genocide , a true righteous gentile , Captain Wilm Hosenfeld.
Unlike many personal holocaust accounts , which are of concentration and death camps , this one is an account of li
...more
Negin
This book is an amazing memoir of a Jew’s survival in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Szpilman does not sound at all bitter or angry. His writing is in fact rather detached and dispassionate. The reason may be is that he wrote it shortly after the war and was still suffering all the terrible after-effects and shock.

The German officer’s diary was fascinating. What an incredible angel of a man. That’s all I have to say. The kindness of strangers so often brings me to tears. In fact, retelling his part of t
...more
AMEERA
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
best book talking about war I recommend it
Dan
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Other children tried appealing to people’s consciences, pleading with them. “We are so very, very hungry. We haven’t eaten anything for ages. Give us a little bit of bread, or if you don’t have any bread then a potato or an onion, just to keep us alive till morning.”
But hardly anyone had that onion, and if he did he could not find it in his heart to give it away, for the war had turned his heart to stone.


The Pianist is a two hundred page memoir of Wladyslaw Szpilman from Warsaw. He is a twent
...more
Sharon Huether
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, holocaust, biography
Wladyslaw Szpilman was a pianist in Warsaw Poland for the Polish Radio from 1945 to 1963. He also played on the Radio program before WWll.
He and his parents, brother and sisters lived in the Jewish ghetto. His family all were captured and sent to the exterminations camps.
Wladyslaw spent most of his time hiding in different flats in the ghetto. He had counted 30 times that soldiers had entered his flat. He often hid in the attic.
Near the end of the war he was befriended by a German o
...more
Ram
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There were two scenes from holocaust movies that shocked me and I remember well but until reading this book was not sure from what movie they were:

One is the scene where during a raid, the German soldiers burst into a room where Jews are living and they throw an old man with his wheelchair out of the window.

The other is when the whole family are rounded in order to be deported to Treblinka and they buy one overpriced caramel chocolate from a boy and split it into six and
...more
Ryan
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wladyslaw Szpilman was a trained pianist, a Pole, and a Jew, and in The Pianist, he explains how he survived World War II in the Warsaw Ghetto. It sounds like the sort of book you'd want your kids to read in high school, so I was surprised to learn that The Pianist was a "banned" book.

You can believe the subtitle: this memoir of "one man's survival" is indeed extraordinary. The Jews within the ghetto were killed by the German police, they died of hunger, and they were gathered into cattle cars and
...more
Julie
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just finished the last page of this Holocaust memoir during a rare silence in my house, which matched the spirit of this book and the sob in my throat.

But, let me back up for a moment.

I watched the movie "The Pianist" when it originally premiered and basically went into the fetal position as it ended and again pronounced "No more Holocaust movies for me." But, as our son is preparing to audition on piano for colleges in the fall, this movie came back to my mind, and I r
...more
Karolina Kat
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is not possible to evaluate a personal account of losing everyone and going through hell.
Doreen Petersen
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Excellent book! Great info and reading. Definitely recommend this to everyone.
Lisa
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The introduction to this book by Władysław Szpilman's son Andrzej reminds the reader that his father was a musician, not a writer. Despite this, The Pianist is a powerful memoir, perhaps all the more so because it is written in this honest, guileless way.

It is a slim volume but includes all of the horrifying details of the Warsaw Ghetto that you may have seen in the film version of The Pianist, starring Adrien Brody. I was quietly pleased that the director Roman Polanski (himself a survivor of the Krakow
...more
Kevin
Not a lot to say. The film by Polanski was awesome and I had this book in my collection for some years before I decided I was in the right frame of mind to read it. The inhumanity inflicted upon the Polish Jews was immense, utterly barbaric, and even with all the amount of holocaust literature there is today, I doubt if we can ever really fully comprehend what the Jews must have suffered in any way at all. Books help, film helps, pictures tell the tale in a visual way. But we can never ever hope ...more
Emma McCaul
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to know what to write about this book as it is a story of survival that leaves one speechless. Like many, I read the book after seeing the movie. I saw it twice in the cinema; it was adapted to cinema with no changes to the original book. It is an amazing testament to man's will to survive.

I remember at the time thinking, whatever so called 'problems' or challenges I was facing, they were nothing.

I cannot imagine what it took for Mr Szpilman to go on with his life.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust, library
I can definitely tell why this was made into a movie. It was full of sadness, betrayal, turmoil, frustration, and most of the book takes place with the protagonist in hiding in an attic! One of the best Holocaust books I've read because I truly expressed his emotions.
Salam
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh humanity !
Stop doing what Hitler did to you .
Imen Benyoub
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poland
This is the extraordinary survival story of Polish pianist Władysław Szpilman during the second world war in occupied Warsaw, when the Nazis entered Poland and the beginning of the endless cycle of horror for the Jewish population "half a million in the city"..Szpielman writes about the ghetto and how his family endured the harsh inhuman conditions in this crowded, barricaded part of the city, than the deportations of jews to concentration camps, how he was saved and separated from his family an ...more
Pamela
This memoir may be compact in size, and simplistic in delivery, but it’s colossal in historical and admonitory significance.

Szpilman’s terrifying (and miraculous) five-year experience during the Nazi’s siege of Warsaw and annihilation of Jews - beaten senseless, hunted down like an animal, fleeing for his life, hiding wherever he could, isolated, and starving– is as horrific as it is cautionary and hopeful.

I’ve read many books on WWII and the Holocaust – fiction and non-fiction. Each presentin
...more
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Non-Fiction 1 9 Mar 07, 2018 08:35PM  
Around the Year i...: The Pianist, by Wladyslaw Szpilman 2 18 Sep 18, 2016 02:18AM  
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Polish pianist, composer and memoirist.
Szpilman is widely known as the protagonist of the Roman Polański film The Pianist , which is based on his autobiographical book recounting how he survived the Holocaust. In November 1998 Władysław Szpilman was honoured by the president of Poland with a Kommandor Order with a Star of Polonia Restituta.
“And now I was lonelier, I supposed, than anyone else in the world. Even Defoe's creation, Robinson Crusoe, the prototype of the ideal solitary, could hope to meet another human being. Crusoe cheered himself by thinking that such a thing could happen any day, and it kept him going. But if any of the people now around me came near I would need to run for it and hide in mortal terror. I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.” 54 likes
“Lying is the worst of all evils. Everything else that is diabolical comes from it.” 23 likes
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