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The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir

Claude Lanzmann

In his remarkable memoir, Claude Lanzmann offers a visionary testimonial of his own life and of eighty years of contemporary history. Born to a Jewish family in Paris in 1925, Lanzmann hid with his family in wartime France and joined the communist Resistance as a teenager. After the Liberation, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and met Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. His memoir, The Patagonian Hare, also recounts his time in Israel shortly after the war and the making of his masterpiece, Shoah, including harrowing interviews with former Nazis filmed with artfully hidden cameras.

Even if I lived a hundred lives, I still wouldn’t be exhausted.” These words capture the intensity of the experiences of Claude Lanzmann, a man whose acts have always been a negation of resignation: a member of the Resistance at sixteen, a friend to Jean-Paul Sartre and a lover to Simone de Beauvoir, and the director of one of the most important films in the history of cinema, Shoah.

In these pages, Lanzmann composes a hymn to life that flows from memory yet has the rhythm of a novel, as tumultuous as it is energetic. The Patagonian Hare is the story of a man who has searched at every moment for existential adventure, who has committed himself deeply to what he believes in, and who has made his life a battle.

The Patagonian Hare, a number-one bestseller in France, has been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Polish, Dutch, and Portuguese. Claude Lanzmann’s brilliant memoir has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece, was hailed as “a true literary and historic event” in the pages of Le Monde, and was awarded the prestigious Welt-Literaturpreis in Germany.