Amazon Book Description
- Adam Zamoyski first wrote his history of Poland two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. This substantially revised and updated edition sets the Soviet era in the context of the rise, fall and remarkable rebirth of an indomitable nation.
- In 1797, Russia, Prussia and Austria divided Poland among themselves, rewriting Polish history to show that they had brought much-needed civilisation to a primitive backwater. But the country they wiped off the map had been one of Europe’s largest and most richly varied, born of diverse cultural traditions and one of the boldest constitutional experiments ever attempted. Its destruction ultimately led to two world wars and the Cold War.
- Zamoyski’s fully revised history of Poland looks back over a thousand years of turmoil and triumph, chronicling how Poland has been restored at last to its rightful place in Europe.
- Adam Zamoyski was born in New York, was educated at Oxford, and lives in London. A full-time writer, he has written biographies of Chopin (Collins 1979), Paderewski, and The Last King of Poland, 1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow and Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna.
- Enlightening and entertaining, with the exception of much of the last chapter, in which there is too much then-contemporary (in 2015) political detail – lots of unpronounceable and soon-to-be-forgotten names and political parties.
- There’s a useful pronunciation guide at the beginning, and I did attempt to master the pronunciation, and even started to take a look at Polish on Ling, and in "Lonely Planet, Czajkowski (Piotr) - Lonely Planet Polish Phrasebook & Dictionary". I intend to add Polish to my ‘Russian vs Ukrainian’ pages (eg. this page1).
- Otherwise I learnt a lot. I’d heard of the Teutonic Knights (see Wikipedia: Teutonic Order) but didn’t know they were a military order and early Prussia seems to have been a lot further East.
- It was interesting to read another account of Ukrainian history – this time as part of the Polish Commonwealth (that also included the Grand Duchy of Lithuania).
- The history presented until the 20th century is essentially that of the Szlachta (see Wikipedia: Szlachta) – the aristocracy and gentry, with mention of the Jews and other ethnic minorities. The peasants seem to have played little part in affairs or to have any significant rights.
- The horrors inflicted on Poland by the Nazis and Soviets during and after WW2 were appalling, and on a par with those inflicted on the Jews (it seems to me), though the intention was decapitation – removal of the elites and all culture and education – rather than outright extermination.
- Lech Wałęsa (see Wikipedia: Lech Wałęsa) and Solidarity seemed to receive less prominence in post-Communist Poland than I’d expected. Pope John-Paul II seems to have been more important.
William Collins (30 July 2015). Paperback
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)