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Primo Levi's Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy
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Henry Holt and Co. 2016
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A daring investigation of Primo Levi's brief career as a fighter with the Italian Resistance, and the grim secret that haunted his life
No other Auschwitz survivor has been as literarily powerful and historically influential as Primo Levi. Yet Levi was not only a victim or a witness. In the fall of 1943, at the very start of the Italian Resistance, he was a fighter, participating in the first attempts to launch guerrilla warfare against occupying Nazi forces. Those three months have been largely overlooked by Levi's biographers; indeed, they went strikingly unmentioned by Levi himself. For the rest of his life he barely acknowledged that autumn in the Alps. But an obscure passage in Levi's The Periodic Table hints that his deportation to Auschwitz was linked directly to an incident from that time: "an ugly secret" that had made him give up the struggle, "extinguishing all will to resist, indeed to live."
What did Levi mean by those dramatic lines? Using extensive archival research, Sergio Luzzatto's groundbreaking Primo Levi's Resistance reconstructs the events of 1943 in vivid detail. Just days before Levi was captured, Luzzatto shows, his group summarily executed two teenagers who had sought to join the partisans, deciding the boys were reckless and couldn't be trusted. The brutal episode has been shrouded in silence, but its repercussions would shape Levi's life.
Combining investigative flair with profound empathy, Primo Levi's Resistance offers startling insight into the origins of the moral complexity that runs through the work of Primo Levi himself.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/05/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780805099560
ASIN:
B00SF7XPI4

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Sergio Luzzatto. (2016). Primo Levi's Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy. Henry Holt and Co.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Sergio Luzzatto. 2016. Primo Levi's Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy. Henry Holt and Co.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Sergio Luzzatto, Primo Levi's Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy. Henry Holt and Co, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Sergio Luzzatto. Primo Levi's Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy. Henry Holt and Co, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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      • bioText: Sergio Luzzatto is the author of Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, which won the prestigious Cundill Prize in History, and of The Body of Il Duce: Mussolini's Corpse and the Fortunes of Italy. A professor of history at the University of Turin, Luzzatto is a regular contributor to Il Sole 24 Ore.
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Primo Levi's Resistance
fullDescription

A daring investigation of Primo Levi's brief career as a fighter with the Italian Resistance, and the grim secret that haunted his life
No other Auschwitz survivor has been as literarily powerful and historically influential as Primo Levi. Yet Levi was not only a victim or a witness. In the fall of 1943, at the very start of the Italian Resistance, he was a fighter, participating in the first attempts to launch guerrilla warfare against occupying Nazi forces. Those three months have been largely overlooked by Levi's biographers; indeed, they went strikingly unmentioned by Levi himself. For the rest of his life he barely acknowledged that autumn in the Alps. But an obscure passage in Levi's The Periodic Table hints that his deportation to Auschwitz was linked directly to an incident from that time: "an ugly secret" that had made him give up the struggle, "extinguishing all will to resist, indeed to live."
What did Levi mean by those dramatic lines? Using extensive archival research, Sergio Luzzatto's groundbreaking Primo Levi's Resistance reconstructs the events of 1943 in vivid detail. Just days before Levi was captured, Luzzatto shows, his group summarily executed two teenagers who had sought to join the partisans, deciding the boys were reckless and couldn't be trusted. The brutal episode has been shrouded in silence, but its repercussions would shape Levi's life.
Combining investigative flair with profound empathy, Primo Levi's Resistance offers startling insight into the origins of the moral complexity that runs through the work of Primo Levi himself.

reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 30, 2015
        Luzzatto (The Body of il Duce), a professor of history at the University of Turin, counters the “newfound popularity of crudely revisionist antipartisan books about the Italian civil war of 1943–1945” with a look back at the antifascist resistance and the small role played by one of his intellectual heroes, Primo Levi. Levi was one of 450,000 resistance fighters, of whom 45,000 died. He was involved in only three brief military actions before his band was captured and he was deported to Auschwitz. Luzzatto primarily addresses the culture, actions, and mentality of the partisans, with only a quarter of the book covering the short period (fall 1943) when Levi joined a small group of fighters in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta. Luzzatto notes that in the immediate postwar period, many fascists who had murdered partisans escaped justice in later years. Luzzatto’s clear, passionately written book may disappoint readers looking to gain more insight into Levi’s intellectual and political development, but it will undoubtedly be useful for those interested in Italy’s civil war during the last years of WWII. Maps.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 1, 2015
        Luzzatto (History/Univ. of Turin; Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, 2010, etc.) combines his obsessions with Primo Levi (1919-1987) and the Italian Resistance. The armistice signed with the Allies by no means ended the war in Italy. The Allies supplied arms to the Italian army in the south and the partisans in the north but distrusted the native resistance and the communists. The Germans reacted by rescuing Mussolini from captivity and establishing the second fascist regime as the Social Republic of Salo. Thus began a war of liberation in addition to civil war. The fascist/Nazi government was the target of those young men, many of them Turinese Jews, in the Valle d'Aosta who were "inventing the Resistance." Many of them were untrained hotheads and roughnecks with little leadership. Levi was a part of that group, and the author seeks answers to an "ugly secret" mentioned in Levi's book of short stories published in 1975, The Periodic Table. On Dec. 13, 1943, the local prefect set in motion a plan to gather up draft evaders and all Jews now subject to arrest under a new police directive. Edilio Cagni and his two henchmen, Alberto Bianchi and Domenico De Ceglie, led the Salo and German forces to the mountain hideouts. Levi was taken prisoner and sent to Auschwitz. He didn't return to Italy until 1945, but his writings are what led Luzzatto to dig deeply into the truth of his sentence, of the men who betrayed them, and of the reprisals and vendettas that lingered for years. Though periodically intriguing, the book is lacking as an attempt to explain the Italian Resistance, perhaps covering too small an area. The somewhat disjointed narrative features characters introduced and then ignored. A book for Levi completists and students of the Italian Resistance. Luzzatto provides a decent picture of the Italian character, the wide variance of political parties, and the dedication of the people to their country.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2015

        Few lives are as compelling as that of Primo Levi (1919-87), an Italian Jewish chemist who influenced the world with his memoir of Auschwitz, If This Is a Man. Yet, it is a very small portion of Levi's life, a few overlooked months in autumn of 1943, that award-winning author Luzzatto (history, Univ.; Padre Pio) centers on in his latest work. The prose doesn't focus solely on Levi, but uses him to tie the complex events and players of the Italian Resistance, a movement founded throughout Italy around the time Levi spent with a partisan group hiding in the foothills of the Alps. Further, Luzzatto argues that the hushed execution of two teenage boys who attempted to join the partisans resulted in the group's disbandment and became a heavy burden Levi referenced occasionally. Thorough archival documents, discussions of Levi's writings, and interviews with survivors add depth to the story. VERDICT Luzzatto delivers the Italian Resistance, a complicated and often passed over World War II subject, in a distinct and appealing way for casual and academic history readers alike. [See Prepub Alert, 7/20/15.]--Heidi Uphoff, Albuquerque, NM

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A daring investigation of Primo Levi's brief career as a fighter with the Italian Resistance, and the grim secret that haunted his life
No other Auschwitz survivor has been as literarily powerful and historically influential as Primo Levi. Yet Levi was not only a victim or a witness. In the fall of 1943, at the very start of the Italian Resistance, he was a fighter, participating in the first attempts to launch guerrilla warfare against occupying Nazi forces. Those three months have been largely overlooked by Levi's biographers; indeed, they went strikingly unmentioned by Levi himself. For the rest of his life he barely acknowledged that autumn in the Alps. But an obscure passage in Levi's The Periodic Table hints that his deportation to Auschwitz was linked directly to an incident from that time: "an ugly secret" that had made him give up the struggle, "extinguishing all will to resist, indeed to live."
What did Levi mean by those dramatic lines? Using...

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Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy
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