His graphic account of his time in Auschwitz, If This Is a Man, was published in 1947 and he went on to write many other books, including If Not Now, When? and The Periodic Table, emerging not only as one of the most profound and haunting commentators on the Holocaust, but as a great writer on many twentieth-century themes. In 1987, Primo Levi died in a fall that is widely believed to have been suicide.
In these haunting reflections, Primo Levi, a chemist by training takes the elements of the periodic table as his inspiration. He ranges from young love to political savagery; 'Iron' honours the mountain-climbing resistance hero who put iron in Levi's student soul, while 'Cerium' recalls the improvised cigarette lighters which saved his life in Auschwitz.