The Pianist

By Wladyslaw Szpilman, Anthea Bell (translator),

Book cover of The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

Book description

The powerful and bestselling memoir of a young Jewish pianist who survived the war in Warsaw against all odds. Made into a Bafta and Oscar-winning film.

'You can learn more about human nature from this brief account of the survival of one man throughout the war years in the devastated…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Pianist as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Yes! We all saw the movie, but did you know that it began as a memoir written by Szpilman to document his life during WWII? If you didn’t, pick up this book. You will be there, by Szpilman’s side as he fights for survival, and his first-person narrative allows us to see the ghetto and Poland through his eyes. 

Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survived in the ruins of Warsaw after his parents and siblings had been sent to an extermination camp. A wonderful account of how so many people joined together to save the life of one Jew, even though the punishment for such actions was instant death. It’s a long time since I read it and I suspect my memory is clouded by the film. Most Jewish survival books are written years after the events, Szpilman wrote this immediately after the war and so it contains the passion and grief, and guilt of a survivor. A memorable book.

From Jenny's list on the human cost of war.

It’s fair to say that I could not put this book down. I read it in one sitting and when I had to get up and walk around, I took it with me, reading as I went. The movie was brilliant, but hard as it is to believe, the book was even better. It is a major tribute to human endurance, of forgiveness, and the redemptive power of beautiful music.

Apart from being a page-turner, I believe that it’s a very fine work that for ethical and moral reasons should be read and remembered. The strength it took him to…

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