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On 11 April 1987 the Italian writer Primo Levi fell to his death in the house where he was born. More than forty 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 recognised as one of the essential books of mankind. No other work interrogates our recent moral history so incisively or conveys more profoundly the horror of the Nazi genocide. Written with great urgency to bear witness, the book put Levi among the foremost writers of our time. Ian Thomson spent over ten years in Italy and elsewhere researching and writing 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. This matchless biography unravels the strands of a life caught between the factory and the typewriter, family and friends.
Born in 1961, Ian Thomson was among the last to interview Primo Levi. He is an expert on Italian literature and has translated the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia into English. His account on Haiti, Bonjour Blanc, was highly praised by reviewers, including J. G. Ballard and Norman Stone. Thomson, who has also written a book on southern Italy, is a freelance writer and journalist living in London with his wife and children.