Primo Levi's Resistance (Paperback)

Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy

By Sergio Luzzatto, Frederika Randall (Translator)

Picador USA, 9781250097194, 304pp.

Publication Date: January 10, 2017



No other Auschwitz survivor has been as literarily powerful and influential as Primo Levi. But Levi was not only a victim or a witness. In the fall of 1943, at the very start of the Italian Resistance, he took part in the first efforts at guerrilla warfare against Nazi forces. Yet those months are strikingly unmentioned in Levi's writings---aside from one obscure passage hinting that his deportation to Auschwitz was linked directly to an "ugly secret" from that time.

What did Levi mean by those dramatic words? His small partisan band, it appears, had turned on itself, committing a brutal act against two of its own members. Using that shocking episode as a starting point, Sergio Luzzatto offers a rich examination of the early days of the Resistance, tracing vivid portraits of both rebels and Nazi collaborators. And he provides profound insight into the origins of the moral complexity that runs through the work of Primo Levi himself.

About the Author

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."