The Drowned and the Saved

Recommended by Jonathan Glover, and 1 others. See all reviews

Ranked #50 in Holocaust, Ranked #59 in German Historysee more rankings.

The author tries to understand the rationale behind Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen. Dismissing stereotyped images of brutal Nazi torturers and helpless victims, Levi draws extensively on his own experiences to delve into the minds and motives of oppressors and oppressed alike. Describing the difficulty and shame of remembering, the limited forms of collaboration between inmates and SS goalers, the exploitation of useless violence and the plight of the intellectual, Levi writes about the issue of power, mercy and guilt, and their effects on the lives of the ordinary people who suffered so... more

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Jonathan Glover Primo Levi’s books all reflect his experiences in Auschwitz. Perhaps because he was a scientist, he wrote with a precision and definiteness, at the opposite pole from rhetoric. This gives his books immense power, as what he describes could only be diminished by any striving for effect. The Drowned and the Saved is his most reflective book on the Nazi genocide and on his own experiences and what he saw in other people. The chapter on “The Grey Zone” is a brilliant discussion of tragic choices and moral ambiguities. The Nazis made people operate the gas chambers as a way of deferring their own... (Source)

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