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1. A Traveller's History of Poland
2. A Concise History of Poland (Cambridge
3. The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year
4. God's Playground: A History of
5. History of the Jews in Russia
6. No Greater Ally: The Untold Story
7. Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's
8. God's Playground: A History of
9. POLAND BETRAYED: The Nazi-Soviet
10. History of the Jews in Russia
11. The History of Poland (The Greenwood
12. Poland: An Illustrated History
13. Rome's Most Faithful Daughter:
14. History ofJews in Poland
15. History of the Jews in Russia
16. Mennonites in Early Modern Poland
17. Ritual and Politics: Writing the
18. History of the Jews in Russia
19. History of the Jews in Russia
20. Poland (World's Political Hot

1. A Traveller's History of Poland (Traveller's History Series)
by John Radzilowski
Paperback: 302 Pages (2007-01-30)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 156656655X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Poland is a major European country with over 38 million inhabitants and a land area comparable to Spain. It has played a major role in European history but its subjugation by foreign powers in the nineteenth century and during the Cold War eclipsed Poland in the minds of many in Western Europe and the United States. Throughout its long and diverse history it has been a meeting place of many cultures and has given the world the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz, the music of Chopin, and the scientific discoveries of Copernicus and Marie Curie, to name but a few.

In A Traveller's History of Poland, John Radzilowski vividly describes the beginnings of the country, first fragmented then reborn to overcome the aggression of the Teutonic Knights and its greedy neighbors. Poland enjoyed a Golden Age in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries but a gradual decline then led to Poland losing its autonomy despite winning many battles with its army's legendary military skill and gallantry. Yet the spirit of the country and its people lived on. Since the horrors of the Second World War and Soviet control, Poland has gradually regained its rightful place in Europe, joining NATO in 1999 and in May 2004, the EU. It is playing a new role on the European and international stage. This makes now an ideal time to introduce students and travellers to Poland and its complex history through the pages of this Traveller's History.

The book includes a full chronology, a list of monarchs and rulers, a gazetteer, historical maps and is fully illustrated. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A good history, a poor aid to those traveling.
I really like this book; it was well written, informative, and insightful, but feel compelled to make some comments.First of all, do not be misled by the title, which features the world "Traveler's."There is nothing in the book that will necessarily aid a traveler.If you are looking for a book that discusses the main sites of Poland, this is no it (by the by, I recommend the Eyewitness Guides).In fact, I feel this series of books was titled thus to only appeal to those who are looking for tour books.The main word to pay attention to is "History."This is, first and foremost, a history.While there are some cultural elements mentioned, they are done so only within the confines of a historical discussion.

I purchased this book to familiarize myself with Poland and its history prior to going there during the summer of 2010.If you are looking for a history of Poland and its people, I recommend this book very highly.If you are looking for something to aid you on your travels, I suggest you find another text.

As an aside, this book has the tightest binding of any paperback I've ever held.The same tight binding is on the Oxford book from the same series.Be prepared for a wrist workout.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even if you're not traveling
Even if you're not traveling, you can travel in your armchair with this history. A great way to make your way through the fascinating story of Poland.Highly Recommended!
James Conroyd Martin, Author of PUSH NOT THE RIVER Push Not the River and AGAINST A CRIMSON SKY Against a Crimson Sky: A Novel

5-0 out of 5 stars A highly readable, enlightening, even-handed and accessible account
Written by Poland history and culture expert John Radzilowski, A Traveler's History of Poland is a primer of Polish history written for anyone looking to better experience and understand the nation's culture and legacy during their visit. From Poland's origins, to the end of the Commonwealth, war, occupation, and the Holocaust, the all too often violent rule of Communism, the ascent of Polish pope John Paul II and the dawn of modern Polish independence, A Traveler's History of Poland succinctly surveys history and does not whitewash the sufferings and atrocities that all the different ethnicities of people in Poland have endured across the decades. A highly readable, enlightening, even-handed and accessible account ideal for readers of all backgrounds.

5-0 out of 5 stars Visiting Poland?Read This Book.
The history of Poland is complex and convoluted...An amazing story shaped by those inside and outside of Poland -- and those with Poland's best and worst interests at heart.Western Europeans and North Americans have, for the most part, received a disorganized story shaped partially by the real events, but one also framed by various conquerors, suitors, allies, enemies, the well-intentioned, and the truly evil at heart...with a little myth and pure B.S. thrown in for good measure.Many readers, for example, will discover that the events in and about Poland leading up to and through WWII did not really come about as we were taught in school.Centuries ago Poland set out down a path of more representative forms of government -- another historical context we typically don't hear about.

There is no way that a book of barely 300 pages can deliver a comprehensive study of (in the words of historian Norman Davies) "God's Playground".But this volume does a good job of providing historical context for both visitors and the geographically/politically curious.Author Radzilowski may seem to run through the centuries at a fast clip -- and at first I was wondering if his bullet point facts would end up being just a part of some historical list.But as you read along you come to the understanding that he is plotting out a trend line for you to follow.Maybe you can remember all the Polish monarchs and their external allies and foes...I'm not that good at names, dates, and battles.But you should be pleased to come away with a better formed generalized understanding of the country and its people.

I have been extremely fortunate the past few years to have "acquired" some wonderful Polish friends and colleagues.This has fueled my curiosity about Poland, and lead to my first trip there last year.I'm planning a second trip soon, and this book, along with several books on more contemporary Polish history and events, has been a real asset.

I give the book five stars not because it is the best history of Poland, but because it accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do.

In the back of the book there is a nice historical chronology, a listing of Polish rulers, a list of English language sources for Polish history, and a historical gazetteer.

The book ends on this note:"The Polish people have taken everything fate has to throw at them, including the worst crimes of fascism and communism, and have not succumbed.Though its position in the world is not certain, Poland is no longer a plaything of the great powers.Poles earned the right to govern themselves and make their own mistakes and at last to write their own history."

... Read more

2. A Concise History of Poland (Cambridge Concise Histories)
by Jerzy Lukowski, Hubert Zawadzki
Hardcover: 408 Pages (2006-07-24)
list price: US$90.00 -- used & new: US$79.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 052185332X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The second edition of this guide to Poland has been updated to take account of the years from 1989-2005. This period marked its liberation from the Soviet Union, the birth of Poland's 'Third Republic' and, recently, its accession to the European Union in 2004. Poland's history has been marked by its resilience. Once a dominant force in central and eastern Europe and home to a remarkable experiment in consensual politics, it was excised from the map by its neighbours in 1795. Resurrected in 1918, partitioned afresh during the Second World War, it survived to become a satellite of the Soviet Union. Yet in the 1980s, it was Poland which blazed the trail in casting off communism, and was finally able to reassert its Christian heritage. With its updated bibliography and new chronology, the book is the ideal companion for all looking for a comprehensive survey of this fascinating country. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Concise History of Poland by Jerzy Lukawdski and Hubert Zawadski
As advertised, this "concise" history of Poland, this one-volume attempt, is just what it is purported to be-"concise." In fact it is so concise that it is confusing in the early going before the year 1795. Being that Poland is/was and has always been a divided and enlarging and shrinking state,sometimes even disappearing,this attempt at chronicling the ever changing Poland is written as advertized,"the highly complex part of this state prior to 1795, " is difficult to follow. This volume is my first attempt at reading a chronological history of
Poland and it was confusing to say the least. The double and sometimes multiple lines of its dynasties, i.e. the Piast and the Jagiellonian pre-1795 intermixed with Polish, Lithuanian and Russ, the Holy Roman Empire, Hungary and other dynasties is clearly unclear. To their credit,the authors Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki make a gallant attempt to present the story of this early history of an ever changing "state" or was it a "condition" called Poland/Lithuania.There was too much flip-floping back and forth between the concurrent dynasties and sometimes flipping to previous and future realms in the writers attempts to explain this Polish-Lithuanian history.Once they trudge through those dublicitious early years things get much clearer to read. I actually found the 20th century writing to be understandable. I especially liked the chronicling of the World War II and Post-WWII eras and their descriptions of the German and Soviet takeovers and the building and the fall of the Communist regime. Perhaps my experience in my own lifetime and my previous studies of modern 20th century history and my studies of the building of the Third Reich and the Soviet dictatorships and their fall allowed me to understand more of what the writers were trying to say.I especially liked the maps of different eras in this volume. They helped me a lot in trying to make sense of this confusing story.I also liked the way the Catholic Church was portrayed as an interveener throughout the history of this "country." I have much sympathy for the Polish and Lithuianian people and their plight throughout modern history. The discussions of the effects of the Taters was well written and added to the understanding of this confusing early history prior to 1795. Years ago I read Minchner's Poland, and got my first picture of the enlarging, shrinking, and sometimes disappearing state of Poland.So having read this volume before reading A Concise History of Poland helped me a lot to understand this volume. I suspect that some confusion may also have been germinated in the writers attempts at putting numerous languages and their meanings into english.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Solid Overview of Polish History
This book gives balanced detail to the different epochs of Polish history beginning with prehistory and ending with the fall of Communism.

Many interesting facts are presented in this book. For instance, the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Krakow was completed in 1397. (p. 52). In the 19th century, Russian revolutionaries Herzen and Bakunin supported the resurrection of the Polish state. (p. 163). In 1909, the Boryslaw-Drohobycz oil fields accounted for 5% of the world's oil production. (p. 162). Finally, Kiev had a large and thriving Polish intelligentsia as recently as 1917. (p. 164).

Some writers have claimed that Marie Curie-Sklodowska, following her move to France, increasingly distanced herself from her Polish heritage. In apparent refutation of this, the authors point out that Curie always maintained close contact with Poland, and was instrumental in establishing the Radium Institute in Warsaw in 1932. (p. 163). This was shortly before her death.

During the interwar period, popular illiteracy was reduced from 33% to 15%, and mortality rates were cut in half. A modest beginning was made in mechanization. In 1939, Poland had 2,000 tractors compared with France's 30,000. (pp. 221-222). (Of course, much agriculture all over Europe at the time was still non-mechanized).

A unique aspect of this book is its detailed list, in the back, of all of Poland's rulers, beginning with the dynasties. The list includes foreign rulers of Prussian-occupied, Austrian-occupied, and Russian-occupied Poland, as well the Communist rulers of Poland in the 20th century. There is even a listing of leaders of the Polish Government in Exile in London, which existed in the years 1939-1990.

5-0 out of 5 stars Definative
This is beyond a doubt the best history of Poland I have read so far (and I run a website on Polish History). It is concise yet detailed enough for any reader or for the curious. There are fascinating facts that one does not come across in any of the other histories which add to the general background and it is written in a eminently readable fashion. Lukowski is a very familiar name amongst students of Polish History - his account of the Partitions is a classic and the partnership with Zawadzki makes me want to read that historian's work also. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you want a History of Poland then this is the definative version.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best concise history so far-Better than the usual myths
In contrast to the usual myths, it is such a pleasure to read a more honest historical account written by two ethnic Polish writers, now, after many decades of war propagandas. As the authors of this book state: 'The 20th century has added its own myths ...after the Second World War, Polish historiography was want to depict a 'Piast Poland' whose boundaries were curiously congruent with those of the post 1945 state'. James Michener's book 'Poland' (claiming that Poland should have rightfully conquered Prussia), is also one of those myths perpetuating fictions. Michener, a fiction travel writer gentlemen, was taken in by his charming hosts, during the Communist Polish government, while writing his book. Some people take his fantasy book 'Poland' as factual history of Poland. In contrast the two authors of this book, Jerzy Lukowski and Hubert Zawadzki have done some factual research. High time that this 'Concise History of Poland' was written and published.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great overview of Polish history
If you have no knowledge of Polish history, this book is a good place the start.The authors recommend Playground of the Gods if you are looking for a more detailed history of Poland, but I haven't read those yet so I can't "offically" recommend them.

This book covers basic events and ideas that occured in Poland for the past 1000 years. In addition to politics and military events, the authors attempt to list cultural figures, such as Chopin, and how those figures reflected or affected Polish events.

There were few details on events most people normally think about when they think of Poland, such as concentration camps and WWII. However, these issues aren't ignored entirely, just given the same coverage as other events in Polish history. ... Read more

3. The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture
by Adam Zamoyski
Paperback: 422 Pages (1993-10)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0781802008
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars reads like a novel !
This is the best, most comprehensive book about Poland's long and rich history.
There is so much in this book that I did not know about !!!
Plus, it is a very enjoyable read.More fun than a novel.The writer beautifullyillustrates the events that take place in Poland's history.
Also, the maps of the changing Polish borders are excellent !!
For an outline of what this book has to offer, check out this blog...
The History of Poland that you never knew...
(it is based on The Polish Way by Adam Zamoyski)

5-0 out of 5 stars Witty, Accurate and Comprehensive
A lover of history and a third generation Polish American I found things in this book that I had not found anywhere else. It is dense, true, but Zamoyski has a great sense of humor, often portraying human nature in all it's horror and folly through the lens of European history with Poland at the matrix.
I loved the way that Zamoyski sheds light on how intertwined Poland's history was and is with European history, the dynamics that contributed to her fall and how that fall affected the rest of Europe. He does a great job or telling the history of Europe and Poland in one volume.

I recommend this book to everyone I know who has a misaligned or poorly informed understanding of the Polish people, who bought the lie that was spread about these amazing people to justify the carving up of their country and the cultural genocide in the 19th century. Most find it too dense and it is, but I find that all truly good history texts are dense and I urge those I know to stick with it, even if you read a chapter a month it is well worth the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Corrects Misconceptions on the 17th-Century Cossack Revolts, 20th-Century Jewish Poverty and Emigration, etc.
This one-volume history of Poland covers the period of prehistory up through the "free" elections of 1989. Owing to the wealth of information presented, I focus only on a few reviewer-unmentioned facts.

Consider what Poles call the Deluge. "The Cossacks were not a people, they were a way of life. The very name `Cossack' derives from a Turkish-Tatar word denoting a free soldier...it is now generally accepted that they were originally a breakaway group of Tatars..." (p. 161). Only later, after Chmielnicki's [Khmelnytsky's] victories, were they joined by large groups of Ukrainians. The events surrounding the Cossack revolts have, in recent history, been distorted by Ukrainian nationalists as well as Communists. Zamoyski corrects this as he writes: "Cossack leaders were cast as either knights of Orthodoxy crusading against the Jewish and Polish interloper, or as folk heroes dreaming of liberation from under the Polish lord's boot. Such interpretation largely ignored the facts. The Cossack leader Sulima, who led a rebellion in the 1630s, turns out to have been a man of substance, and a creditor of no less a person than Prince Wisniowiecki himself. Sulima's friend Pavluk led his rebellion in the name of the King of Poland, and his first action was to massacre the elders of the Sich. Ivan Bruchowiecki, the leader of the Muscovite-inspired rising purporting to be on behalf of the Orthodox faith, was in fact a Polish Jew." (p. 163). Chmielnicki's background and motives are also questioned.

Fast forward three centuries. One of the main causes of the 20th-century Polish-Jewish conflict originated in the late 19th century, when the tsarist authorities made Russian-ruled eastern Poland a dumping ground for Russian Jews. Zamoyski comments: "As a result of mass expulsions from the Western Gubernias in the 1890's, vast numbers of Jews settled in the Kingdom, of whose entire population they now made up 14.6%. The Litwaki [Litvaks], as they were known, did not even speak Polish. They were strong in the Bund, which in 1898 allied itself with the Russian Social Democratic Party, turning its back on the PPS [Pilsudski's party] and the cause of Polish independence." (p. 329).

Against the misconception of pre-WWII Jewish poverty being caused primarily by Polish discrimination, and the misconception that "unproductive" Jewish middlemen were merely being replaced by "unproductive" Polish middlemen, Zamoyski writes: "Every time a new peasant co-operative was founded or a village combined to sell its produce directly to the buyer, the livelihood of several Jewish families vanished. By 1936 at least 1,000,000 Jews in Poland were losing their source of subsistence, and by 1939 just over that number were totally dependent for their survival on relief from Jewish agencies in the United States." (p. 346).

Was the Polish-encouraged mass emigration of interwar Polish Jews purely an anti-Semitic act? Hardly: Zamoyski points out that: "...the same representatives also appealed to the League [of Nations] to facilitate large-scale emigration of poor Polish peasants from the overpopulated countryside...Abraham Stern, the son of a dentist from Suwalki and a great admirer of Pilsudski's Bojowki [Warriors] visited Poland a number of times after settling in Palestine or order to recruit for the Irgun. The Polish authorities allowed him to buy arms and train men, and facilitated the illegal immigration of Polish Jews into the British mandate." (p. 346).

Zamoyski, as in all his books, gets right to the truth of the matter. His writings are truthful and objective. Zamoyski does not sensationalize history to sell books, he writes history to document the truth for posterity and for a better world future.

First, let me say that Chapter 21: "Ordeal by Fire," is in and of itself alone, worth the price of this wonderful book. Ch. 21 gives one of the best summations of Poland's losses of WWII in an objective, factual and calm manner.

When one thinks of a true gentleman and scholar, one thinks of credible historians like Dr. Zamoyski.

Ironic how the truth is upsetting to some people. Zamoyski' truths wake up the world to a better place in the long run. 100% pure credibility - period.

Dr. Zamoyski, thank you for your courageous and objective writings in balancing the way.

Is there a Polish Way II in the works?!

Finally, are there any of Zamoyskis' works in Spanish or Swedish?

Jane Kooyeh!

Other Zamoyski "must read," books:Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe
Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna
Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March
The Forgotten Few: The Polish Air Force in the Second World War
Chopin: A New Biography
Holy Madness

One of the best Historians on Poland - Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful travel companion
I read this book on a trip to Poland and it enhanced the experience tremendously.Another reviewer wrote dismissively of this book, suggesting no one with any discernment need bother with it since they can read the far better work of Norman Davies instead.That sort of snobbery is undeserved.This book does not purport to be a definitive and exhaustive history of Poland, but it is an outstanding introductory work.Zamoyski's prose moves along as briskly as if the book were a novel, and yet he maintains rigorous academic standards. ... Read more

4. God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present
by Norman Davies
Paperback: 591 Pages (2005-07-01)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$26.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231128193
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The most comprehensive survey of Polish history available in English, God´s Playground demonstrates Poland´s importance in European history from medieval times to the present. Abandoning the traditional nationalist approach to Polish history, Norman Davies instead stresses the country´s rich multinational heritage and places the development of the Jewish German, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian communities firmly within the Polish context.Davies emphasizes the cultural history of Poland through a presentation of extensive poetical, literary, and documentary texts in English translation. In each volume, chronological chapters of political narrative are interspersed with essays on religious, social, economic, constitutional, philosophical, and diplomatic themes. This new edition has been revised and fully updated with two new chapters to bring the story to the end of the twentieth century. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present
Probably the best Poland's history ever written. Recomended for anyone to learn about the country of Poland history that was either twisted by soviets or ignored and hidden by western countries. It was written by ouysider Norman Davies, the man that not only understands polish history but also feels it. So far only he could do that. This book is one of most important doccuments of Polish history that helps you understand it. RECOMENDED.

We have read basically all of Davies works - Davies is an established icon of historical writers!

A third volume would be so great!

Dr. Davies,The world awaits God' Playgroud, Volume 3.

Are any of Davies works available in other languages. The following are some of his must reads:

God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 1
Europe: A History
Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present
Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory
Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw
White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War 1919-1920 and "The Miracle on the Vistula"
The Isles: A History

Thank you Dr. Davies for all your writings, objectivity, credible and just good ol' pure truth.

God's Playground Vol. 3 - !Por Favor!

4-0 out of 5 stars And excellent work on the history of Poland
As far as I can tell this book has been written objectively and describes the history of Poland in detail. For me it filled a huge gap in my knowledge of what happened in Poland and in general in Eastern Europe in the last 1000 years. The book is filled with excerpts from poems, ancient documents and first hand accounts of events which make it a very interesting read. The maps and illustrations do an excellent job.I do not know of any other alternatives which will desribe the polish history in such detail.

At times this book flows lucidly and at other times it becomes a rambling of very dry facts and a listing of names etc which reminded of me of school history textbooks that used to drive me crazy. My other beef with the book is that there is no structure to it which allows you to understand what is going on. Imagine a movie which is made by assembling various shots together but has not been edited to ensure a logical progression of events. Only when you have gone thru everything do you really understand the entire movie. This is true of both the volumes. It goes into extreme detail about events without first describing what the event was. To exacerbate this, the book assumes that you have a knowledge of events that happened in Europe in the last 1000 years and frequently draws upon them to explain other things in polish history.

The last problem is that this book claims to have been revised and updated in 2005. Unfortunately this is true for only a couple of chapters in the second volume of the book. The first volume still reads like it was written in 1980s. Also there are at least a hundred minor editorial errors in the volume 2 which take away from a pleasurable reading experience.

Desribe the cons I would still recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about the history of Poland.

5-0 out of 5 stars Walk the distance, it is worth it
Norman Davies' `God's Playground' is a rather concise history of Poland. It should be compulsory reading for everyone, who wants to find out about this part of the world. I don't think there is any better.

Davies quite rightly anticipates in his preface that the book's title might raise an eyebrow. And it did. When I originally picked it up, I assumed that the title related to the (then Polish) Pope in Rome. The real reason behind the title is explained in the preface of Volume 1. In any case, it does seem to fit the subject of study perfectly.

The first part of the book deals with Polish history right up to 1945, starting off with essays on life in the three partitions between 1772 and 1918. Davies follows this up with industrialisation and the changes in population structure before moving onto descriptions of the various state entities on Polish Territory. 1848 was an important date revolution-wise for a number of European states. Although there was some of this on Polish Territory, nothing came off it.
Poland's re-establishment as a separate state in 1918 indeed appears to be the result of a `fluke' rather than by design. The 1918-39 period is marked by the upheaval you would find in almost any new state. On top of that, Poland had to deal with the Sovietunion and Nazi Germany, which in 1939 partitioned the country yet again.
The 1939-45 period must be the darkest part of Poland's history. If Nazi Germany had succeeded, there would be no Polish people left today.
Following the end of WWII in 1945, the Sovietunion succeeded in hanging onto `its bit' of Poland with the country being compensated with German territory in the West. Davies quite rightly points out that the subsequent evacuation of the German population was decided by the Allied Powers and not by Poland herself. The loss of life involved in the process was indeed regrettable. However, as a result of this `move to the West', Poland found herself in a rather unique position geographically and with next to no potential minority conflicts.

Part 2 of the book deals with Poland since 1945. It would appear that communism never really gained a firm foothold in Poland, which should not really be a surprise given that communism never delivered the goodies - not just not in Poland but nowhere else either.
The single most important event in recent Polish history was the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978, who is often credited as the moral power behind the end of communism in Eastern Europe. Solidarnosc and General Jaruzelski seem to be just sideshows. However, the emergence of the former rang the bell of the end of communism in Poland, whilst the latter prevented an invasion of the Red Army and set the conditions for Poland to emerge into the 1990s as a free state (for the first time in 300 years). These days, Poland is just another `normal' state in Europe. By joining both NATO and the EU, she has insured herself against falling back in history.

Davies meticulously records Poland's history right up to EU entry and he does an excellent job. What I am missing is a look into the future. I would be surprised indeed, if Davies didn't have a view on where Poland is heading. But apart from that, this book is excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars simply divine historical recollection
What more can i say the best historical account of polands history so if that what you wanna read about what are you waiting for hard to remember it all so you can also check out adam zamoyski's the polish way ive read them both and it really helps you get a good understanding ... Read more

5. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, from the earliest times until the present day
by Simon Dubnow
Paperback: 422 Pages (2010-09-03)
list price: US$34.75 -- used & new: US$25.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1178268098
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Of the three reigns described in the present volume that of Alexander III is treated at considerably greater length than the others. ... Read more

6. No Greater Ally: The Untold Story of Poland's Forces in World War II (General Military)
by Kenneth Koskodan
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2009-06-23)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$16.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1846033659
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

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There is a chapter of World War II history that remains largely untold, the story of the fourth largest allied military of the war, the only nation to have fought in the battles of Leningrad, Arnhem, Tobruk and Normandy. The story of millions of young men and women who gave everything for freedom and in the final victory lost all. In a cruel twist of history the monumental struggles of an entire nation have been forgotten, and even intentionally obscured. This book redresses the balance, giving a comprehensive overview of Poland's participation in World War II. Following their valiant but doomed defense of Poland in 1939, members of the Polish armed forces fought with the Allies wherever and however they could. With previously unpublished first-hand accounts, information never before seen in English, and rare photographs, this title provides a detailed analysis of the devastation the war brought to Poland, and the final betrayal when, having fought for freedom for six long years, Poland was handed to the Soviet Union. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars worthy but flawed
This is a book certainly worth reading and is a worthy effort, but it is far from perfect. I think folks who gave it a perfect 5 stars have their own agenda which does not include an objective review of the merits of the writing, research, or tone of the book. One can see this from the reviews that are not really reviews.In sum, this is certainly not in the same league as Norman Davies or Richard Lukas' scholarly contributions to WW II Polish history.
"No Greater Ally" by Kenneth Koskodan is a work that presents new information about the WW II-era Poland. It is new in the sense that it is not widely known or spoken of in U.S. authored history of that time. My father was in General Anders second armored division, as well as in the special forces (Cichociemni) and the AK. He did not tell me much about his exploits, but he did tell me that the history of WW II was significantly skewed by the U.S. and the U.K. and the Polish contribution grossly diminished. Being a good little American public school student, and buying into the U.S. view of WW II, I did not entirely believe him and thought he was exaggerating - until the past few years. This book is yet another confirmation that he was correct.
Koskodan writes: "So much have the heroic accomplishments of Poland and the devastating suffering inflicted on Poland during the war been distorted, obscured and dismissed, that much of the truth remains misrepresented at best and completely unknown at worst. The truth of Poland's war efforts has been so obfuscated that the commonplace misstating of facts and printing of errors goes unchecked and unchallenged."
Kenneth Koskodan is of Polish descent. However, he is not a historian and it shows. The book is written emotionally and he makes statements that are not always referenced by facts or PRIMARY sources. He does make use of many selective and secondary sources, some of them of very dubious credibility (e.g. Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Ravicz). I think that this lack of training as a historian and his so-so writing detract from a story that has to be told better than this. His editors did not do a great job of catching repetition and there is some unevenness in style and tone, making me wonder if some of the material was simply re-written by the editors at Osprey.
Because of the relative quick fall of Poland at the beginning of the second World War, and because Poland and its citizens were muzzled by the Soviets, who sought to distort and diminish their contribution to that war. That contribution has never been fully acknowledged, and aside from history buffs, Polish Americans, and Poles, I am not sure anyone much cares about historical accuracy (e.g. does anyone much care about or the pitiful behavior of the Vichy French? To the contrary there are movies extolling the free French though - but pitifully little about the Poles). Hence, for his acknowledgement of the Poles' efforts, Koskodan deserves kudos. He does set about trying to correct the inadequately understood and under-appreciated role played by the Poles, as well as to correct some downright stupid assertions found in the history books. These include the notion of Polish horse-mounted cavalry charges against German tanks seen in Nazi propaganda and the fact that the Polish air force was destroyed at the beginning of the war. The truth about the latter is fascinating - but I won't spoil that truth in this review.
Accurate accounts of civilian experiences were perhaps even harder to come by. People who left Poland after the war, like my father, feared Soviet reprisal for their families and feared for themselves as well. It is notable that AFTER the war, when Poland had been "liberated" by the Soviets, the Polish puppet government arrested 150,000 remaining members of the AK. No wonder my father refused to return to Poland until the late 1980s, when Solidarity and the Polish pope helped boot the communists out of power.

Koskodan confirms much of what I had read in the works of Allen Paul, Norman Davies, and others and helps to answer the questions about why history books painted a pathetic picture of Poland's mounted cavalry defense against the blitzkrieg (making them comical); why it is seldom, if ever, recorded that nearly 20 percent of the RAF airmen were Poles; how the Poles made the breakthrough at Monte Cassino, after THREE other armies tried and failed, and that Poles supported the Allies in nearly every major conflict during WWII? It also helps to explain why they then they got shunted aside in the end, their fate being decided by "the big three." Koskodan, S.M. Plokhy, Norman Davies, Paul Allen and others, opine that very possibly the major Polish contributions to the Allied cause were ignored out of Allied embarrassment. If they came to light, the question as to why they handed their greatest ally over to the Soviets would have had to be answered.
Once again, as in several recent histories that take a hard, dispassionate look at what happened post WW II, Roosevelt comes off as being stubborn, elitist, dismissive of Poles, and sadly naïve. The great FDR presented Stalin, the greatest mass-murderer in history, to the American people as a kindly "Uncle Joe" and he banishes his ambassador (Arthur Bliss Lane) who dared disagree with him about the suppression of Katyn and other atrocities. Parenthetically, Lane went on to write a book "I saw Poland Betrayed" - a devastating indictment of FDR and US behavior in WW II.
One of the most poignant parts of the book - and one that is very rarely told - is how Polish displaced persons were shabbily treated after the war by the same allies with whom they fought. This last rang very true. This displaced person remembers it well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Work
An enlightening work which balances personal reflection with historical research to create a more accurate picture of World War II and the contributions of those who were not so fortunate to write the tale.I would highly recommend this work as an easy read and fascinating history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Remember Poland!
Poland suffered more than any other nation in World War II.The war began with Nazi Germany invading Poland in 1939.The war ended with Poland being handed over to Russian Communism for the next 45 years.The Polish people remember Katyn 1940 when over 20,000 were killed by the Russians.Now they must deal with the tragic plane crash that killed the current leaders in Katyn 2010.This book tells the story of how the Polish military forces fought endlessly to help the Allied cause during World War II and were rewarded by being denied the honor of marching in the end of World War II victory parade in London.This book reminds us that Poland fought for our freedom, but Poland herself has only been free and independent since 1990.I recommend this book for all of us who need to know more about how Poland fought for our freedom but lost her own freedom.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Overlooked
Never have a people been as overlooked in history books, particularly in the history books covering WW11, as the Polish people.My father served in the Free Polish Forces and books such as this make his sacrifice worthwhile.The Poles after bloody battles were occupied in 1939 by both the Germans and the Soviets, but never surrendered as their Government went into exile.They fought on as partisans, resistance fighters, Warsaw insurgents (1943 Ghetto Uprising and 1944 Warsaw Uprising).They fought as soldiers, paratroopers, amoured personnel, bombers, spys, pilots and sailors alongside their British allies in all Western theatres against Germany.Since 1943 they fought alongside the Soviets, and participated in the defeat of Berlin.They saw bitter defeat in France (1940) and Narvik (1940), but saw victories in North Africa, Italy (they took Monte Cassino) and Normandy (they beat the German panzers in Falaise).They gave the allies the Enigma Machine codes, which seriously undermined the German war effort. In return their country was handed over to the communists.The Poles were dismissed in history as easybeats and sickenly portrayed as collaborators that hunted down Jews.A complex history has been simplified and usually in favour of the negative.During the recent Normandy landing ceremony the ignorant French President failed to invite the Polish President and, thereby, insulted the Polish veterans who attended.This was one of several slights to those who, like my late father, fought for the freedom of others to ensure their own freedom.Books like this are very few and overdue for publication in English.I am of part Polish extraction and am very in interested in Polish history.I wish more people knew about the Poles and their contribution to WW11 rather than continue to make stupid and negative comments based on ignorance.

4-0 out of 5 stars Betrayed and Forgotten
The author's writing style is very biased and opinionated, which makes it difficult to read at times.It appears that this style is to counter the current perceptions/ misconceptions on the reportedly poor fighting quality and effort by Poland at the beginning of World War Two.Would have personally preferred that the author taken a more neutral stance and objectivity in explaining what was initially stated what the current perception is and then state what the Polish actually did.This way the reader can make their own informed decision if they agree with the author's findings.

The author does bring to light the Polish attempts to prepare against a German invasion, but were suppressed by their supposed British and French allies, who simply wanted to avert a war and appease the Germans.As a result, the Polish were unable to have sufficient soldiers on duty once the invasion began.The author does point out that Poland withstood the German invasion longer than the French and English defended France, who had over 6 months to prepare.Poland did capitulate once they were also invaded by Russia and could not fight a two front war.Had the Russians not invaded, Poland would have held out longer, but in the end without British and French military intervention, Poland still would have been overwhelmed by the better equipped and trained modern German Army.

The author does refer to a questionable source on page 41 on the German losses while invading Poland.The direct combat loss of 674 tanks, 285 aircraft, and 11,000 trucks and motorcycles appears to be inflated.Are we to believe that the Germans lost over 300 vehicles and 15 tanks everyday for 35 days due to enemy fire in the invasion of Poland, especially with a lack of their own tank and anti-tank weapons?Are we to believe that the Polish air force, in obsolete aircraft, shot down over 15 aircraft everyday until they ceased operations on 17 September?Tanks may have broken down and planes lost due to accidents and other mechanical failures, which are not direct combat losses as the author/ source refers to.Fortunately, this is the only blatantly questionable part of the book.

Chapter 2 and the rest of the book make it worth reading.The author's interviews with Polish veterans bring to light many details of the oppression, suffering, and betrayal that they endured.Those who could not escape Poland were often arrested, sent to work/ death camps, or simply executed by both the Germans and Russian occupiers.The Polish partisans organized and trained, but were again hunted by the Russians near the end of the war.Stalin wanted to control Poland and the elimination of the Polish partisans was needed to exert domination.This becomes very apparent in Chapter 9 where the author describes the Warsaw uprising in 1945.

It is interesting on how some of the Polish military initially escaped capture through Romania and Hungary to reach France and England.The betrayal of the French is described initially with their refusal for military action when the Germans invaded Poland, but again after France surrendered.The Germans demanded that Polish soldiers fighting in France were to be turned over and the French Government complied.Instead of letting the Polish soldiers escape to England, the French Government attempted to detain and arrest the Polish soldiers.

The English were more accepting of the Polish soldiers and pilots.The Polish pilots would later prove to be valuable allies in defended Britain from the air battles in 1940.

The description of the Russian gulags and attempts to recruit the Polish slave labor to join the Allied cause is also interesting.The 2nd Polish Corps was formed by these slave labors taken by the Russians in 1939 thru 1941 from Poland.Stalin wanted to use the Polish soldiers as cannon fodder, but they were able to make their escape to the Middle East and once properly fed and equipped, fought bravely and effectively in Italy.

Post war politics and planning resulted in Poland being ceded to the Russians and Stalin's plan for conquest.The Polish people, who were the first to fight against the Germans in 1939, endured atrocities by both the Germans and Russians, fought and died to defend England, liberate Western Europe, and capture Italy, were betrayed and could not return safely home under Stalin's oppressive Communist controlled Poland.

The author does a good job telling the story of Poland in World War Two and how they endured and fought for not only their freedom, but others too.Their sacrifices and bravery should be remembered and not forgotten.

... Read more

7. Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland's Present
by Norman Davies
Paperback: 520 Pages (2001-08-23)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$13.30
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Asin: 0192801260
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The image of Poland has once again been impressed on European consciousness. Norman Davies provides a key to understanding the modern Polish crisis in this lucid and authoritative description of the nation's history. Beginning with the period since 1945, he travels back in time to highlight the long-term themes and traditions which have influenced present attitudes.

His evocative account reveals Poland as the heart of Europe in more than the geographical sense. It is a country where Europe's ideological conflicts are played out in their most acute form: as recent events have emphasized, Poland's fate is of vital concern to European civilization as a whole.

This revised and updated edition tackles and analyses the issues arising from the fall of the Eastern Bloc, and looks at Poland's future within a political climate of democracy and free market. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Heart and Soul of Poland
Not justbones and flesh on a telling of the history of a brave but battered European nation.Davies captures the soul of the nation and its struggle to survive
for its third millenium.

2-0 out of 5 stars A typical prise for Poland's history
It is always unbelievable to read books on Polish history. Those authors always try to monopolise all the history of the various nations which lived in the Lithuanian & Polish Commonwelth as being of only Polish origin. While the opposite fact is more true. Kosciuszko, Mickevicius, Milosc and many many other prominante figures of that country had little in common with the ethnic Poland, but where citizens of Lithuania who spoke Polish. The tragedy of that country was the attempts to relegate all that was not polish to slavery, peasantry and to exterminate all the peoples that did not accept polish culture, language, etc. as their native. Thus, this country was doomed since Lithuanian kings of Jogaila's decent ceased to rule the truely multi-cultural country. Afterwards, Polish genocide of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Bellorussian, Kashubian, and many other nations finally lead to anarchy and partition of the Republic. The irony of history is that Ukrainians, Lithuanians and Bellorussians have to thank the Russian invadors for preserving their nations from the Polish genocide. As a matter of fact, it was with the help of Russian officials that Samogitian bishop was selected from Lithuanian peasants. e.g. Valancius and he had nothing to do with Polish slekta, who where bitterly opposed to Lithuanian language and called Lithuanians "chlopzi", and other insulting names, as to refer to them as second class citizens who had no rights to obtain education, freedom, career, etc. without accepting polish identity.

It is sufficient to read the "Constitution" of 1792, where the Republic was recognised as the nation of polish people, while the rest of the nations were relegated to slavery not seen anywhere in the World at that time...

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine Historical Argument
In the preface to the first editionpublished in 1984, Norman Davies writes, "No history book which sets out to relate the past to the present is written at the right time." Davies For Davies, the time he chose was 1983 - a few years into Jaruzelski's military coup and what appeared to be a definite lull in the historical action. 1983, as it turns out was also on the cusp of the great changes that the fall of communism had in store for the world by the end of the 1980's.

This is also where the book begins and then proceeds in a reverse chronological fashion to cover 5 separate periods of history including first, the period of the People's Republic (1944-1983), second, the period encompassing World War II (1939-1947), third, World War I and the interwar period (1914-1939), fourth, history during the Partitions (1795-1918) and fifth, historic Poland (history prior to 1795).

Davies then returns to 1983 to demonstrate the "past in Poland's present" or as Davies more eloquently puts it, "Such is the burden of History in Polish consciousness, that any full appreciation of the Polish crisis requires a full examination of the way in which the chief actors on the political scene perceived their roles in relation to the nations traditions." The next chapter is (now) a misnomer entitled "Beyond History" in which Davies reflects on the state of affairs in 1983 and is looking forward to the not-to-distant future. This chapter was the last chapter of the First and Second Editions and, as it turned out, Davies did not have to wait long before the not-to-distant future arrived in 1989 in which the People's Republic melted away. This inspired a new chapter for the 3rd edition entitled "Liberation" and covers the period from 1983 to roughly 2000.

Davies' work has a two-fold purpose. The first purpose is to demonstrate that one who has recourse to history can more fully understand and appreciate the significance of present day events. That is not to say that the past predetermines the present, but it is to say the present loses its meaning and significance without its relation to the past.

The second purpose was to show that although much of Poland's past lies at the intersection of East and West (or to use Samuel Huntington's formulation, between the Western Civilization and the Orthodox Civilization), Poland's proper place is in the West and it was Davies' hope when he first published that Poland would move out of the Soviet orbit and back into the Western world. Those hopes were realized when Poland joined NATO and the EU.

Davies' work is not so much history as it is historical argument and, as such, is a fine historical argument. If one is looking for a more traditional history, I would recommend M.B. Biskupski's "The History of Poland" (short), or Adam Zamoyski's "The Polish Way" (medium) or Norman Davies' "God's Playground" (long).

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Well written book, takes a very comprehensive look at the history of not just Poland, but the entire region, and the forces that shaped it. The narration is reverse-chronological, starting with the most recent events, and tracing them back in history. It's worth reading just for his thesis about Poland's history bein characterized by cycles of great idealism and great pragmatism - a paradoxical merger, but one that works to this day.

3-0 out of 5 stars Typical brutal reply of the barbarian
Apparently for (...) history of Central Europe there is a huge black hole beginning XV century till the end of XVII century. This is not very surprising considering that in one of the previous 'reviews' she/he mentions 'typical slovian brutality'. The hatered that shouts from those reviews is disturbing. What kind of 'typical hatered' it is?

I could argue that for few centures territory of Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth has been fairly quiet patch of tolerance in Europe (compared with Western Europe). That Poland really did not start second world war and Polish really did not support Hitler. That Poland lost 6 million citizens (3 million of them of Jewish origin).
Of cause Poland ais not saint of nations, no nation is. If one wants one can find many shamefull episodes in the history. But the same can be said about English (colonialism, slavery), Americans (extermination of Indian tribes), Jews (what did American Jews do to help European ones?, what is their policy towards Palestinians? - just to give modern time examples) and so on.
The opinions like Mrs/Mr Wing ones just made it plain that there is the need for books concerning Central Europe history. Maybe in the future there will be no American asking Pole, Czech, Slovakian or Ukrainian if there are still open concentration camps or if their countries border with China.

Instead of eating books one should read them and try to understand. ... Read more

8. God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 1: The Origins to 1795
by Norman Davies
Paperback: 638 Pages (2005-07-01)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$29.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231128177
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The most comprehensive survey of Polish history available in English, God´s Playground demonstrates Poland´s importance in European history from medieval times to the present. Abandoning the traditional nationalist approach to Polish history, Norman Davies instead stresses the country´s rich multinational heritage and places the development of the Jewish German, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian communities firmly within the Polish context.Davies emphasizes the cultural history of Poland through a presentation of extensive poetical, literary, and documentary texts in English translation. In each volume, chronological chapters of political narrative are interspersed with essays on religious, social, economic, constitutional, philosophical, and diplomatic themes. This new edition has been revised and fully updated with two new chapters to bring the story to the end of the twentieth century. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Dr. Davies, Gods Playground is a definitive history of the most overlooked & under appreciated nation in Europe. He traces the origins and development of Poland with academic integrity and excellent prose. A must read for anyone interested in European & Polish history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shining example of what historical writing should be
With God's Playground Davies has proven himself to be one of the greatest historians, historical writers, and historical theorists that the English language has known.Davies combines the narrative and thematic approaches to achieve a historical study that provides a chronology of events as well as an understanding of deeper changes and cultural contexts.Since you are reading this in the hopes that it will help you decide to buy the book, let me explain how Davies does this.First, he provides a chapter that is written in the traditional narrative style from n-date to x-date.Then he follows that up with several chapters on each facet of Polish life and how that developed from n-date to x-date.Typically, he uses political, military, economic, religious, and cultural (the arts, etc.) as his primary themes.By using this technique Davies is able to impart much more knowledge and much deeper understanding to his readers.Finally, these two volumes also contain some of the best and most useful maps I have encountered in any history book.The maps alone are worth the price of the book, and anyone teaching a European history course will find them to be invaluable in helping students understand Eastern Europe.

5-0 out of 5 stars The (Earlier) Land of the Free
One of the central theses in Davies' history of Poland up to 1795 is that it, rather than France, Britain or the Holy Roman Empire could lay claim to the true predecessor of American democracy.This may seem a stretch, but the institutions of the great Polish Commonwealth - an elective monarchy, decentralization, a powerful civic assembly - were closer to the Athenian ideal of democracy than any other medieval or rennaisance kingdoms.Poland also produced some of the great intellectuals of those eras - Copernicus standing out as the prime example.Though the Polish constitution had its eccentricities: for instance, the kingdom imported its sovereigns from all corners of Europe (the Valois of France, the Vasas of Sweden and later the dukes of Saxony), the Polish-Lithuanian state became the most powerful military and political force in Eastern Europe for the better part of the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, only to be dismembered in the eighteenth.This is an academic book, volume 1 of 2, and readers who find the 500+ page length daunting might be better off with the one-volume abridgement. This longer volume, however, is rewarding, because it has a wonderful narrative arc: origins, rise, and downfall, with the tragic eighteenth century partitions in the final chapters suggestive of worse twentieth century partitions to come.There are also personal anecdotes, such as the story of King Sigismund, who died of an overdose of gherkins, or poor Queen Jadwiga, forced to abandon her teenage sweetheart in order to marry pagan King Jagiellon of Lithania, a man twice her age who went to the altar only moments after his baptism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
Excellent book. Few years back Norman Davies received an honorary diploma from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow for his outstanding achievements. This book was recognized as a masterpiece, translated into Polish, and is currently used by undergraduate and graduate students in Poland.

I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars BestHistoryofPoland
Ididnotreadthisbookyet,butIhearditisexcellent. Ifyousendthebooktomeandireceiveit,Iwill writeareview. W. Szybalski ... Read more

9. POLAND BETRAYED: The Nazi-Soviet Invasions of 1939 (Campaign Chronicles)
by David Williamson
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2009-08)
list price: US$39.99 -- used & new: US$18.97
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Asin: 1844159264
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Hitler's attack on Poland in 1939 was the first brutal act in six years of world war, but the campaign is often overshadowed by the momentous struggle that followed across the rest of Europe. David Williamson, in this timely and thought-provoking study, reconstructs each stage of the battle in graphic detail. He looks at the precarious situation of the Polish nation caught between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, reconsiders the pre-war policies of the other European powers, particularly France and Britain, and assesses the state of the opposing armed forces before the Germans launched Operation White.In a vivid and fast-moving narrative he follows the course of the campaign as it moved across Poland in September 1939.

His book should encourage a fresh understanding of the Polish-German war and of its significance for the wider conflagration that followed. Critical episodes in the German offensive are re-examined: the mock attack at Gleiwitz, the battles at Westerplatte and Bzura, the siege of Warsaw and the impact of the intervention of the Red Army. Throughout the narrative, first-hand accounts of soldiers and civilians who were caught up in events are used to give an insight into the experience of the war. The author dispels myths that persist about the course of the campaign - the apparent destruction of the Polish air force, the Poles' use of cavalry - and he draws attention to often overlooked flaws in German military organization. He also records the immediate aftermath of the Polish capitulation - the division of Poland between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union and the fate of the captured Polish troops. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Solid Overview of The Lead-Up to and Battle for Poland 1939
The Polish campaign which opened the European theaters of the second World War has, inexplicably, been one little examined by the military historians of the last 60 years.This is inexplicable in that it was this campaign that led to many of the military innovations and developments in operational theory, as well as tactics that were used later in the war by Nazi Germany as well as other belligerants. For some reason though, the lessons learned militarily have up till recent years almost assumed to have been 'majically' developed and in place within the Wehrmacht prior to the invasion. What has been needed is rectification of that myth as well as the corresponding one that claims Polish inferiority in arms.

Poland Betrayed is a solid effort that begins the process of rectifying this rather undeveloped area of modern military history.Although I would not agree with other reviewers that this book is anywhere approaching a comprehensive work, Dr. Williamson's narrative is most effective as a concise and fairly well researched overview of the the Polish campaign.He's done a creditable job as well: 1)Describing the political/diplomatic lead up to the war 2)The efforts of the Polish Armed Forces to modernize under the percieved threat of first the USSR and then Nazi Germany. 3)The actual campaign as it developed and played out in September 1939, including the Red Army's 'contributions' to the Polish collapse after 17 September.His writing is crisp and to the point and the editing for the most part is solid, with only the occasional typo or error.

For the sake of this review, the area of the most importance, as I see it, is in simply dispelling the myth of the vaunted Wehrmacht, fighting with superior tactics and operational elan against a backwards Polish Army.Repeatedly, Dr. Williamson provides examples of Polish planning, counter attacks as they happened. Furthermore, he apptly describes the Bzura counter-offensive which, the author convincingly argues, with better resources would have stood a good chance of lengthening the campaign significantly as well as seriously damaging several German divisions.Another area in which he refutes conventional wisdom regarding the campaign is the supposed inferiority of Polish Air Force Pilots.He gives several solid examples based on primary sources of how at least one fighter group gave as good as it got and how it was primarily the Polish equipment in this case that wasn't up to the task.

Where the author is less successful is in two areas: describing how Gen Edward Smygly Rydz was in part responsible for the the debacle on the ground and in providing sufficient maps with which to follow the course of the campaign.In regards to Smygly Rydz, there is very little space spent in detailing how exactly he was to blame; merely accusations made at a few points in the narrative.As far as the map issue goes there are two large scale maps provided at the beginning of the book that provide little if any support for following what proves to be a rather confused and swirling battle(as opposed to the rather straight-forward defeat that has been described by most historians regarding the campaign).

In closing, this is a very solid introduction to the invasion of Poland by Germany and, later, the USSR. It is well written and fairly well edited.Whats more, it will definitely wet the appetite of anyone reading it for a more comprehensive analysis of this campaign...as soon as one is actually written.

5-0 out of 5 stars LONG OVERDUE
Thanks to Mr Williamson for illuminating a subject often relegated to the historical "shadows" because of "inconvenience" to some.

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Look at Poland's 1939 Defensive War against Nazi Germany
This comprehensive work discusses such things as the background to WWII, the Poles' cracking of the "invincible" German ENIGMA Code, Polish alliances and preparations for war, the Polish Air Force and Navy, the course of the 1939 campaign, the German and Russian occupation zones of Poland, biographies of key figures, survivors' reminiscences, etc. Unlike most other books on this subject, Williamson gives significant details about the Russo-Polish war in eastern Poland in 1939, countering the mistaken notion that Poles offered almost no resistance to the invading Soviets.

No sooner had Poland been resurrected in 1918, in the wake of WWI, than the Germans and Russians began planning to destroy the new Polish state. Writing in 1922, at a time when Hitler was barely a blip on the political screen, General Hans von Seekt, the Commander-in-Chief of the German army, stated that Poland's existence was intolerable to both Germany and Russia, and that Poland must disappear. (pp. 6-7).

Although Polish industry was too small to even begin to match the modernity and quantity of German war production, a bright spot was the existence of a number of arms factories that earned the praise of British visitors. (pp. 27-29). For instance, the Stalowa Wola steel mills had been made from scratch just 18 months before Colonel Sword's visit, with the first gun rolling off the assembly line only several months later. It had a high standard of works and plant that was far superior to the parent Bofors equipment factories in Sweden. (pp. 28-29).

The author includes discussion of Polish civil defense before the war. He quotes a British observer who was impressed with it. (pp. 47-48).

Williamson debunks the myth of the Polish Air Force getting destroyed on the ground in the first day or two of the war. The planes had been scattered to secret airfields to avert such an occurrence. (p. 70). He provides examples of Polish aerial combat against the Luftwaffe and against German military objectives.

As for another perennial Polonophobic myth, Williamson comments: "Far from charging tanks and armoured cars, Polish cavalry was trained to withdraw to cover and use their anti-tank guns." (p. 83). Also: "The cavalry, far from indulging in useless deeds of derring-do, were often used effectively. Armed with anti-tank rifles and dismounted, cavalrymen were able to surprise and destroy German armoured units." (p. 167). Examples of cavalry success are included. (p. 88, pp. 93-94).

Several temporary Polish combat successes are noted, such as the Battle of Mokra and the Bzura counteroffensive. The Poles also managed to blow up the Tczew bridge near the Corridor despite the herculean efforts of the Luftwaffe and German commandos to prevent it. For this, the Germans later murdered 19 Polish officials and railwaymen in reprisal. (pp. 80-81).

Poland was overwhelmed by the two military giants. However, some 100,000 Poles managed to escape into Romania, Hungary, and the Baltic States. (p. 136). They continued the fight for Poland.

Williamson touches on the Polish forces fighting in 1940 France, and comments: "The final praise of the Polish fighting man was given by no less a person than Marshall Petain in June 1940, when he told Sikorski that he had witnessed the 1st Polish Division on the eastern front in France drive back four German divisions. He added that `if there had only been ten Polish divisions, victory would have been certain.'" (p. 169).
... Read more

10. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland: From the Accession of Nicholas Ii, Until the Present Day, with Bibliography and Index
by Simon Dubnow
Paperback: 418 Pages (2010-01-11)
list price: US$34.75 -- used & new: US$19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1142841286
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This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process.We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

11. The History of Poland (The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations)
by Mieczyslaw B. Biskupski
Paperback: 264 Pages (2008-10-30)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313360863
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Poland is a land whose boundaries and people have been divided and redivided by conquering nations throughout its long and tumultuous history.Only now, as it enters the 21st century, is it a stable democracy with a bright economic and political future.This compassionately written history provides readers with a clear understanding of Poland's complex history from its origins in the Middle Ages through the end of the 20th century and is ideal for student research.It is the most up-to-date history of Poland available.

Biskupski, an expert on the history of Poland, provides an overview of Poland today, its geographic, economic and political realities, a timeline of significant events in its history, and chronologically organized chapters on its history from the heritage of Old Poland to the rise of the Third Republic and the current situation as Poland enters the 21st century.Ready reference materials include short biographical sketches of important people in the history of Poland, a glossary, and a bibliographic essay.

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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Artfully Succinct by Necessity
It was both a privilege and a pleasure for me to read Biskupski's veritable novella on the History of Poland. It is immediately striking for what it is not: large. For better or worse the present day reader does not have the inclination to wade through the large "History of..." Some authors have attempted the shorter history only to find they have cut the heart out of the subject and left the reader with nothing more than an inarticulate smattering of the highlights and lowlights; ringing the dinnerbell for hungry folks only to serve cheese and crackers. Biskupski's History of Poland is not such an attempt. Instead, what the reader gets is a glimpse at Biskupski's innate ability to convey a complicated idea with only a few sentences: "A belief in historical inevitability is little more than lack of imagination masquerading as analytical sophistication. What happened will always be predetermined." - M.B. Biskupski, pg. 94 The majority of the work displays a rapier-like wit and a personal charm in the text that makes the experience more like a mental dialogue than a "boring" textbook experience. Interestingly, Chapter 8, "Communism in Poland" does not fit this description. Instead, Chapter 8 has a cathartic feel to it. I will not elaborate further for one should come to his own conclusions on Chapter 8 and mine, perhaps, are wrong-headed. What the reader has in Biskupski's History of Poland is a complex history thoughtfully written.

5-0 out of 5 stars Genius, pure genius.
I am a student of Dr. Biskupski's at St. John Fisher College and I must say the man is a genius.He has forgotten more than I will ever know.This text is an excellent beginning to the troubled and complex history of Poland.

4-0 out of 5 stars Introduction to the Complexities of Polish History
I traveled to Poland last fall. I was curious to read it to learn a little more. I found it to be a good introduction to some of the complexities ofPolish history. For the novice, there get to be too many names to rememberafter a while (though a glossary is provided at the end of the book). Allin all, a start to an interesting European country. Good for travelers toPoland to learn a little more and for students looking for some basics. ... Read more

12. Poland: An Illustrated History (Illustrated Histories (Hippocrene))
by Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski
Hardcover: 273 Pages (2008-10-15)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.13
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Asin: 0781812003
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Poland's remarkable quest for representative government, one of the oldest in modern Europe, is presented here against the backdrop of a millennium of history rich in cultural, political, and social events. These topics--complemented with Polish art, literature, music, architecture, and folklore--are intimately described in this concise volume, which also includes 50 photos, illustrations, and maps. This edition has been updated with 16 pages of color photos and 8 pages of coats of arms. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Not worth your time or money
Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski is an amateur historian and a patron of right-wing, Dmowskian ethno-nationalism. His writings are regularly featured in the chauvinistic American Polonian press, which should be enough of a warning for anyone about the caliber of this book. If you wish to read a short, even-handed history of Poland by a competent scholar who doesn't have a nationalistic axe to grind, try Adam Zamoyski's "Poland" or M.B Biskupski's "The History of Poland."

1-0 out of 5 stars Weakest
I was hoping for a good general history that might also be suitable for teens, etc. But it is both shallow and somewhat nationalistic, overall inferior to many others easily available. (see davies and zymoski)

4-0 out of 5 stars A worthy effort but could have been great!
The amount of scholarship and sheer number of facts included in this book are quite amazing. The effort put into assembling all this information must have been prodigious. Unfortunately the book does have several drawbacks. First it reads as if it was not edited before publication and in some areas looks like it was written on a home computer. Not only are there quite a few mispellings of easy words (almost certainly just typos that were never caught) but in my copy there are unexplained gaps in the sentences which then inexplicably begin again at the beginning of the next line. Also the illustrations although numerous are not of very high quality from a technical viewpoint. The closeup pictures of individual people are fine but some of the reproduced paintings are totally uninterpretable. In one of a supposed cavalry charge in my copy all you can make out are a few horses and a tower surrounded by smoke because of the poor reproduction (page 150). Also it should be noted that all of the pictures are black and white except for the beautiful picture of the winged horsemen on the front of the cover. The included maps also may have been quite useful in their original format but after being reduced to fit into this rather small page format leave much to be desired. Finally the book reads more like a chronicle or an outline for a history book in that many chapters are merely one sentence listings of various Polish accomplishments strung together page after page. In summary I would give 5 stars for effort and 3 stars for execution for a combined score of 4. People already familiar with Polish history and with Polish historical individuals may get more out of the book than people looking for an illustrated introductory history. A short explanation of the pronunciation of Polish names would have been very helpful to non-Polish readers like myself. Can anyone explain just what the author meant by Positivism which is used in many different locations but if it was explained in the book I must have missed it? Still glad I read this book and I did learn a lot from it but it had the potential to be really great with a few improvements.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Profusely-Illustrated Atlas of Polish History
This one-of-a-kind atlas covers every major episode of history--from prehistoric times to the present. Must reading! ... Read more

13. Rome's Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914-1939 (Polish and Polish American Studies)
by Neal Pease
Paperback: 312 Pages (2009-11-17)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$26.92
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Asin: 0821418564
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When an independent Poland reappeared on the map of Europe after World War I, it was widely regarded as the most Catholic country on the continent, as “Rome's Most Faithful Daughter.” All the same, the relations of the Second Polish Republic with the Church—both its representatives inside the country and the Holy See itself—proved far more difficult than expected.

Based on original research in the libraries and depositories of four countries, including recently opened collections in the Vatican Secret Archives,Rome's Most Faithful Daughter: The Catholic Church and Independent Poland, 1914-1939presents the first scholarly history of the close but complex political relationship of Poland with the Catholic Church during the interwar period. Neal Pease addresses, for example, the centrality of Poland in the Vatican's plans to convert the Soviet Union to Catholicism and the curious reluctance of each successive Polish government to play the role assigned to it. He also reveals the complicated story of the relations of Polish Catholicism with Jews, Freemasons, and other minorities within the country and what the response of Pope Pius XII to the Nazi German invasion of Poland in 1939 can tell us about his controversial policies during World War II.

Both authoritative and lively,Rome's Most Faithful Daughtershows that the tensions generated by the interplay of church and state in Polish public life exerted great influence not only on the history of Poland but also on the wider Catholic world in the era between the wars. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Very Scholarly Work with Seldom-Told Information
For all of the closeness of Poles and Catholicism during the Communist era, this closeness was not as pronounced during the interwar era. A notable feature of this work is the inclusion of information seldom mentioned anywhere else. For instance, we learn that Roman Dmowski was irreligious most of his life, and did not join the Church and receive his First Holy Communion until 1937 (p. 137), which was near the end of his life. Even then, he probably remained an atheist. (p. 84). Pilsudski was also not particularly religious. (p. 175).

Contrary to those who are obsessed with Polish anti-Semitism, and accuse Pease of excusing it, he does no such thing. He merely tries to rationally understand it, realizing that it is fallacious to see Jews as scapegoats: "...the Church harbored not only bigots, but also advocates of toleration who urged protection of this vulnerable minority. In addition, Christian attitudes and rhetoric regarding Jewry should not be considered in isolation, as often happens, but rather in the context of the widespread belief that the Jews were just one part of a general modernist assault on Catholic morality and society; an enemy, to be sure, but by no means the only or even the worst enemy." (p. 118).

Nor is Fr. Kolbe merely excused by the fact that the publication of anti-Semitic articles took place while he was out of the country. Kolbe scolded his journalists for their anti-Semitic zeal. (p. 123). In any case, all this brouhaha about Kolbe is misplaced. Pease should have noted that non-flattering portrayals of other religions were a common, if not universal, feature of pre-ecumenical times. In fact, the publication associated with Kolbe also wrote unfavorably of Protestants and other non-Catholics. See the Peczkis review of: Mary's Knight: The Mission and Martyrdom of Saint Maksymilian Maria Kolbe. Finally, any objective discussion of anti-Semitism must recall the fact that prejudices went both ways: Traditional Jewish teachings against Christ and Christians were at least as hostile as Christian teachings against Jews. How many Jewish publications, at the time, contained articles unfavorable to Christianity?

Pease accuses the Church of wanting it both ways: Speaking out against Jewish conduct and then condemning the animosities and outrages against Jews that this presumably incited. (p. 119). This is a non-sequitur. Speaking out against somebody is not synonymous with encouraging violence against them. Also, considering the fact that Jewish authors and journalists have been writing much ill against Poland since time immemorial, could it not equally be said that this materially contributed to an atmosphere of little regard for Poland, facilitating such outcomes as the Teheran-Yalta betrayal of Poland?

The author has a fine analysis of Freemasonry. (p. 115-on). He adds: "As a student in Rome in 1917, he [Kolbe] was shocked and galvanized by the antireligious brazenness of a massive Masonic demonstration outside the Vatican walls, and resolved to dedicate his life to converting the sworn enemies of Christ." (p. 122). Not mentioned is the fact that not only Catholicism, but also some branches of Protestantism, had regarded Freemasonry as fundamentally incompatible with Christianity, if not actively anti-Christian.

Interestingly, Pease realizes that the frequently-combative attitudes of the Church had a rational foundation. He writes: "After all, on the whole, Masons and politically active Jews did support the laicization of Polish education and society, and the noticeable Jewish presence in the Polish Communist movement was axiomatic...The difference was that the threats in other lands were distant or theoretical were in Poland seen as immediate and tangible." (p. 112; see also p. 124).

Pease includes a chapter on the beginnings of WWII. The conduct of Pius XII must be kept in perspective: "Often overlooked is the fact that the papal `silence'--if it can fairly be called--in response to the Shoah was preceded and foreshadowed by the analogous and painfully cautious reaction of the Holy See to the German assault on Catholic Poland that touched off the Second World War." (p. 195).

3-0 out of 5 stars Having it both ways
Neal Pease has done a good job documenting the relationships between newly independent Poland, the Vatican, and the Polish Church. I enjoyed reading of the diplomatic machinations and skullduggery of the three principles in their attempts to further their own particular agendas. Pease has done some superb research. I've read a lot of Polish history but was completely unaware of several of the intrigues presented in this volume.

Unfortunately, this book has a glaring flaw. Even a casual student of interwar Poland is aware of the Polish Church's strong support of the anti-Semitic National Democratic Party (Endecja). While Pease does acknowledge the church's affinity for the Endeks, in the chapter devoted to the "enemies" of Catholic Poland the author gives Jewish-Catholic relations short shrift with a paltry six pages and much of that is used to defend the church. Pease's viewpoint is, yes, the Catholic Church's attitude towards Jews was hateful and despicable but, oh well...next topic. It's as if Pease is trying to placate both historical accuracy and his Polish American readership, who, as we all know, do not readily tolerate charges of anti-Semitism.

The author goes to great lengths excusing the anti-Semitism of former Polish Primate, Cardinal Hlond. Yes, I've read Hlond's "On Christian Moral Principles" and the cardinal is let off the hook much too gently. Pease's defense of St. Maksymilian Kolbe is patently absurd. Kolbe's publishing house regularly produced pamphlets along with the extremely popular daily newspaper, Maly Dziennik (Little Journal), that were filled with anti-Semitic vitriol. Pease absolves Kolbe of any responsibility by claiming "he was out of the country on missionary work for extended stretches." And I have a bridge over the Vistula to sell you, Neal. For an extremely candid evaluation of Kolbe's rabidly anti-Semitic newspaper, Maly Dziennik, see Catholic theologian Ronald Modras's "The Catholic Church and Antisemitism, Poland, 1933-1939."

Pease's calculated decision to play to his audience and minimize the overshadowing significance of Polish Catholic anti-Semitism during the interwar years in proportion to other topics is most revealing and dishonors historical accuracy.

Outside of this elephant-in-the-middle-of-the-room sized flaw, I did enjoy Rome's Most Faithful Daughter.


Readers may be interested in the following excerpt of a review of "Romes's Most Faithful Daughter" by Paul Brykczynski which appeared in The Polish Review, Vol. LV 2010 No. 2, six months after I had posted my review:

"...the Church's complicated and problematic relationship with the National Democratic movement and the entire right wing of Polish politics is dealt with in a very cursory manner."

Well, what do you know? Looks like I'm not the only Polish American who doesn't toe the chauvinist-traditionalist line.

... Read more

14. History ofJews in Poland
by Piotr Wrobel
 Paperback: Pages (2010-03-01)
list price: US$42.95 -- used & new: US$33.61
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Asin: 0802094880
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15. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland: From the Earliest Times Until the Present Day
by Simon Dubnow
Paperback: 408 Pages (2010-03-09)
list price: US$34.75 -- used & new: US$19.95
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Asin: 1147058741
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars the unique serious book about russian jews
This is the first and probably still the best history of russian and polish jews. Written in russian before the WWI it did appear in english in three volumes in 1916, 1918 and 1920. ( up to my knowledge there is no russian edition of the book) Book of S. W. Baron written some 50 years after has aditional information but still book of Dubnow gives a lot of original research for the first time. Aniway it is different in approach with underlying philosophy of Dubnow's jewish history. ... Read more

16. Mennonites in Early Modern Poland and Prussia (Young Center Books in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies)
by Peter J. Klassen
Hardcover: 280 Pages (2009-04-21)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$26.50
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Asin: 0801891132
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At a time when religious conflicts and persecution plagued early modern Europe, Poland and Prussia were havens for Mennonites and other religious minorities. Noted Anabaptist scholar Peter J. Klassen examines this extraordinary example of religious tolerance.

Through extensive archival research in Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands, Klassen unearths rich material that has rarely, if ever, been studied previously. He demonstrates how the interaction of religious, political, and economic factors created a situation in Poland and Prussia that permitted a diversity of religious beliefs and practices.

Mennonites in Early Modern Poland and Prussia focuses on the large Mennonite community in these countries. Klassen reveals how the Anabaptist groups were treated and explores whether the uncommon religious freedom they enjoyed gave rise to a flourishing of their faith or a falling away from its central tenets.

Early modern Poland and Prussia are virtually ignored in most studies of the Reformation. Klassen brings them to light and life by focusing on an unusual oasis of tolerance in the midst of a Europe convulsed by the wars of religion.

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17. Ritual and Politics: Writing the History of a Dynastic Conflict in Medieval Poland (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450)
by Zbigniew Dalewski
Hardcover: 217 Pages (2008-03-15)
list price: US$163.00 -- used & new: US$107.92
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Asin: 9004166572
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18. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland Volume II
by Simon Markovich Dubnow
Hardcover: 412 Pages (2008-08-18)
list price: US$36.99 -- used & new: US$36.98
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Asin: 0554347113
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Of the three reigns described in the present volume that of Alexander III is treated at considerably greater length than the others. ... Read more

19. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland, from the earliest times until the present day
by Simon Dubnow
Paperback: 438 Pages (2010-09-03)
list price: US$35.75 -- used & new: US$25.75
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Asin: 1178268454
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Of the three reigns described in the present volume that of Alexander III is treated at considerably greater length than the others. ... Read more

20. Poland (World's Political Hot Spots)
by Victoria Varga
Audio CD: Pages (2006-09-15)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$15.75
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Asin: 0786164476
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Overview on the History of a Country the News Networks Forgot
As I knew almost nothing about Poland, this was a great introduction.I suspect, for a scholar of European history or Eastern European history, there would be nothing new in this.

I learned, for example, that following the Third Partition (1795), Poland survived more than a century of official non-existence.One of my favorite quotes from this audiobook is from a Polish Poet who writes, "If you can not keep your enemies from swallowing you whole, at least prevent them from digesting you."Polish governments survived in exile.

During the German Nazi occupation of Poland (1939-1944), over 90% of Polish Jewry perished.Then, of course, the U.S.S.R. determined the fate of Poles until 1991.

Yet, the Polish-Americans I know have such a powerful sense of culture and history that I was quit shocked to find out that Poland has been literally wiped off the map so many times in history and yet resurfaced time and again whole and ... undigested.

This is a great audiobook, an inspiring history -- short, clear and fascinating. ... Read more

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