Sunday, February 25, 2007

Primo Levi

In addition to the usual management books, I've been absorbed lately by Ian Thomson's extraordinary biography of Primo Levi.

Imagine this: A young Jew from a thoroughly assimilated family that has lived for generations in Italy. Like many other Jewish students in the early years of Mussolini's regime, he joins the Fascist youth organizations. A serious scholar, he studies chemistry at the university. And then, when Mussolini decided to placate Hitler by adopting anti-Semitic laws, Levi's world deteriorates. Eventually, he is sent to a Nazi death camp.

Thomson's book goes beyond mere biography. It is a study of a society gone mad.

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