On 11 April 1987 the Italian writer Primo Levi fell to his death in the house where he had lived for most of his life. More than 40 years after his rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, it now seemed that Levi had committed suicide.
Levi's account of Auschwitz, 'If This Is A Man', is now recognised as one of the essential books of mankind. No other work interrogates our recent moral history so incisively or conveys the horror of the Nazi genocide more directly and profoundly. Written with great urgency to bear witness, the book put Levi among the foremost writers of our time.
Ian Thomson spent over five years researching this book in Italy and elsewhere researching this rich and definitive biography. He traced the daughter of Levi's German superior at Auschwitz along with scores of other witnesses. New light is shed on Levi's recurring depressions and vital new information is unearthed regarding the writer's premature death. A witty, resilient man, Levi had suffered dark moods long before he was deported. The suicide of his grandfather, ninety-nine years earlier, is chronicled for the first time.
Levi was a chemist and for much of his working life he ran a paint and varnish factory outside Turin. His science fantasies, essays, poems and memoirs are now loved by a wide readership for their sharp intelligence, humour and humanity. This matchless biography unravels the strands of a life caught between the factory and the typewriter, family and friends.