About the Author
Polish novelist and publicist, born in St Petersburg on 1st April 1902. He emerges from "The History of Polish Literature" by Czeslaw Milosz as a great contemporary Polish writer. After fighting as a Polish volunteer in the Soviet-Polish war of 1920 and studying at Warsaw University, he worked in Wilno (a Polish city 1920-1939, now Vilnius) as a journalist until the Red Army drove him west in 1945. Thereafter he lived briefly in Rome, then in London, and finally in Munich where he died on 31st January 1985. In the autumn of 1939, Wilno found itself in independent Lithuania; in June 1940 it was annexed with all of Lithuania in the USSR; and a year later it was under Nazi occupation. So Mackiewicz had to resist, in quick succession, the varying types of threat posed by Lithuanian nationalism, Soviet communism and National Socialism. He refused all inducements from the communists and the Nazis to compromise his beliefs. For five years he scratched an existence as a wood cutter. These experiences provided Mackiewicz with rich material for his semi-documentary historical novels. His "Road to Nowhere" (Harvill Press, 1963) is, to quote Milosz, "a powerful, traditionally realistic novel on a most untraditional subject: life in Lithuania as it was being converted into a republic of the Soviet Union". A sequel, "Nie trzeba glosno mowic" (Don't talk Out Loud) presents a panorama of the Nazi occupation, and the maze of underground resistance networks, in which those linked to London and those under Moscow's control oppose each other as much as they fight the Germans. His analytical work "Zwyciestwo prowokacji" (The Triumph of Provocation) sees the West succumbing to the communist advance because it mistakenly considers communism a Russian phenomenon. Mackiewicz was the first author to write books about two chilling episodes of World War II: "The Katyn Wood Murders" (Hollis and Carter, 1951) and his novel "Kontra" (1957) which describes the Allies' handing over of Cossack troops to Stalin after the war. His forthright views were often confirmed by subsequent events, and today he sounds remarkably contemporary.