The Drowned and the Saved
This book, published months after Italian writer Primo Levi’s apparent suicide, is a small but powerful look at Auschwitz, the hell where Levi was imprisoned during World War II. The book was his third on the subject, following Survival in Auschwitz (1947) and The Reawakening (1963). Removed from the experience by time and age, Levi chose to serve more as an observer of the camp than the passionate young man of his previous work. He writes of “useless violence” inflicted by the guards on prisoners and then concludes the book with a discussion of the Germans who have written to him about their complicity in the event. In all, he tries to make sense of something that – as he knew – made no sense at all.