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The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945 Paperback – Dec 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA; 2 Reissue edition (December 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311353
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #879,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pauline on Aug. 16 2008
Format: Paperback
A man is playing Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor on the piano on September 23, 1939 in a Polish Radio broadcasting building. The Germans have invaded Warsaw and the broadcast is interrupted and the lives of people in Warsaw are changed forever.

The man playing the piano was Jewish and his name was Wladyslaw Szpilman. He turns out to be one of the few Jewish survivors of the war. To say his music saved him is true, while his family, with him included are about to be shipped off to Treblinka and exterminated, a music loving policeman grabs Wladyslaw from the crowd and thus saves his life, but it is excruciating to Wladyslaw to lose his family. The work to learn how to play the piano to the degree that Wladyslaw did is an extremely long and patience filled road, which I am sure molded Wladyslaw's character and made it possible for him to survive the war. Wladyslaw often retreated into his mind to survive the long hours and days without end, he went over measure by measure music scores in his head. While he starved and lost touch with humanity (if it still existed where he was) he still used his mind and his music training was a blessing. He often contemplated suicide, but never committed the act.

When Warsaw's Jewish ghetto is demolished and Wladyslaw is barely hanging on in hiding a German officer named Wilm Hosenfeld finds him and feeds him and brings him eiderdown and encourages him to hang on. Wladyslaw survives and lives on to write his memoirs for us to read and to study and to learn from.

The diary of Wilm Hosenfeld at the end of Wladyslaw's memoir is intriguing. It is a relief to see a hope in humanity, to read his words and how he felt about his country being at war and what they were doing to the Jews.

The book ends six years later with Wladyslaw playing Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor. Of 3.5 million Jews at the beginning of the war in Poland only 240,000 remained at the end, Wladyslaw was one of the survivors.
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By TG TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 29 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those WW2 books that should be read by everyone to gain an appreciation for the lives that we all live today. It is a sad, gripping, and completely unbelievable true story written about the Jews living in a Polish ghetto. How the main character in the book managed to survive these happenings is amazing. A must-read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nadnuk12 on July 29 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was absolutely amazing, well written, and beatifully described. The scenes and the book were so vivid, you felt as if you were actually there and felt those moments. This is a sad story, but the fight and survival of this one man was truly something.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John and Geri on Feb. 1 2004
Format: Paperback
We saw the movie "The Pianist" on tv, which was excellent and left us wanting to know more about this man Szpilman. We bought his book and it is truly a horror story as well as a story of courage and survival. Lest we ever forget what happened to six million people simply because of their 'mere biological fact of being a jew' (as quoted from Szpilman in his book). This man brings it all down to the personal level, one man against all the odds of survival in such a cruel and murderous occupation. My wife went to bed some nights (while reading this book) unable to sleep, trying to put herself into the position of these people who were starved, treated worse than animals, humiliated, separated from their families, murdered and discarded. It will always beg the question: How can one human being be so cruel to another human being? We both highly recommend this book to hear this man's powerful story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11 2004
Format: Paperback
I was thirteen when The Pianist movie was made. I begged my parents to let me see it, and I finally watched it at age fourteen. That night, I could not sleep. I had heard of the Holocaust before and we had studied it in 8th grade and I had seen movies about it, but there was something so gripping about this man's story that it seemed to be in another league of any Holocaust story I had ever heard about or seen.
The movie piqued my intrest in the Holocaust and also in this incredible man who survived all odds. A few months after I had watched the movie, I went out and bought the book. After I started the book, I could hardly put it down. I finished the book in two days, facing another two sleepless nights, haunted by his passages from Dancing on Chlorea Street, and feeling his emotions as he ran into Captain Wilm Hosenfeld for the first time.
I would recommend this book to anyone, no matter the age. The book is truly haunting and Wladyslaw Szpilman's words and memories are bound to stay with you.
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Format: Paperback
I am a student at Hunterdon Central Regional Highschool in Flemington New Jersey. My Critical Issues in Literature was coerced into picking books to read, or else we would be severly "failed" if you will. But let me start off by saying. Books are written in 1st or third person. The perspective given in this peice of devine literature is of its own class. One can describe a detail or event, but for one to emmerse its reader into the horrid scenes of death and violence is simply amazing. This book captures the falling artillery punding the ground and the crumbling of the buildings, falling around Wladyslaw. It captures the beautiful exqusite elegance of his jittering fingers as they unleash the melody held within the Piano. The historical signifigance this book witholds is of biblical proportion. Only can one truly feel the situation of Wladyslaw through reading this book. I do also recomend renting the movie. For the visuals are simply dark and gloomy and bring the book to life through a different dimension if you will.
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