Steven Godin's Reviews > The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: world-war-two, non-fiction, history, holocaust, czech-republic-poland

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 clarity to it, and he brings to life the banalities of this gut-wrenching existence that was heartbreaking, shocking, and unforgettable. He shows how Jewish residents of the Polish capital adjusted to life under the occupation, and there are times, when he describes with calm detachment devoid of fury the many corpses littered about the streets of the ghetto, and the daily public executions, that you feel he may still be shell-shocked. Hiding out in various buildings, after escaping a train ride to death, and working in a labour camp, there were many times when he thought this is the end, and even planned his suicide with the Nazis closing in. only for him to survive another day, another week, another month, and so on. What he endured is a testament to the human spirit, he simply found a way to keep going, while hell was everywhere around him.

His writing I found his lucid prose had more in common with say Primo Levi than with the morally urgent style of Elie Wiesel, and Szpilman, all things considering, is a great observer of all the things going on around him, and leaves no doubt, this book will forever live on in the hearts and minds of those who have read it. The fact I'd seen the film many times over, didn't hamper the book at all. A masterpiece of non-fiction.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 19, 2016 – Shelved
August 19, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
August 19, 2016 – Shelved as: world-war-two
August 19, 2016 – Shelved as: non-fiction
August 19, 2016 – Shelved as: history
September 26, 2017 – Shelved as: holocaust
November 9, 2017 – Shelved as: czech-republic-poland

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