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The Polish Revolution: Solidarity Paperback – 28 Oct 1999


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Paperback, 28 Oct 1999
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Oct. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140283900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140283907
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an eye-witness account of the rise and fall of the independent, self-governing, free trades union Solidarity (Solidarnosc), which started in August 1980 and ended when Martial Law was declared 15 months later in December 1981.
'The Polish Revolution: Solidarity', was first published in 1983, and this updated edition was published 1999 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Collapse of Communism in Europe.
Nevertheless, it contains very few revisions, so that, for example, on page 343 the author states bleakly: "It is therefore probable that those tensions will not be reduced, and we shall, sooner or later, face a nuclear war."
This, indeed, is how the world looked in 1983. The old guard was still in the Kremlin. In the US, Ronald Reagan was rearming. And cruise missiles faced each other in Europe. So, just because a nuclear war didn't break out, doesn't mean that it couldn't have happened.
Moreover, two years earlier, it looked to many outside observers that the rise of Solidarity in Poland would not only herald a Soviet invasion, but might well spark off a nuclear war, too.
An appreciation of this chilling historical context adds dramatically to the tension of this gripping narrative, and to the bravery of almost everybody involved in the Solidarity movement - from Lech Walesa in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, to Czeslaw Opolski and his defiant colleagues in the Rzeszow Commune.
Timothy Garton Ash is a journalist and a historian, but in 'The Polish Revolution' he is also a participant because he writes about Solidarity from the Polish perspective; perhaps because he had recently married his Polish wife, but also because he sees Solidarity for what it is: a genuine attempt to win economic and political rights for the people of Poland.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dmitri Bounine on 1 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
Not just a chronological presentation of revolutionary events in Poland during 1979-82 by a witness, but rather a comprehensive analysis.
Behind the scenes of former Soviet block's communist regimes combined with deep understanding of mass phychology of the peoples under their rule, rarely shown by Westerners.
Living in a post Soviet state, I would stress that many problems addressed in the book haven't lost their actuality during 20 years passed...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lance Grundy on 8 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is quite possibly one of the best, and certainly one of the most inspirational, books I've read in a long time. Originally published in 1983 and widely acknowledged as one of the most important books written on post-war European history, it is the definitive work covering the Solidarity era. Timothy Garton Ash was one of the few Western journalists who was based in Poland throughout the early 1980s and, as such, he was perfectly placed to provide a day-by-day, eyewitness account of the world-changing events unfolding before his eyes. The fascinating, inspiring narrative is combined with well informed political and historical analysis that perfectly set the momentous events he was witnessing in the context of the Cold War world in which they were taking place.

In the Preface and Introduction, Garton Ash manages to concertina decades of Polish history into a few dozen pages. Concise, yet thorough, this historical background is crucial to the reader's understanding of the events that were to follow. No society in eastern Europe was less likely to accept socialism than Poland argues Ash. Stalin himself had recognised this when he said that introducing socialism to Poland was like putting a saddle on a cow and this fundamental incompatibility was the most basic cause of the events of 1980. "For thirty five years Poland's socialist authorities had tried to break Poland and mould it to communism. It was always probable they would fail."

The main body of the book covers the period from August 1980 to the military takeover in December 1981 and here the author paints a vividly lifelike picture of the characters involved and the events as they happen, not just at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, but right across the whole country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By katyn1940 on 7 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sixty years after winning the most important 20th century battle you've never heard of, Poland began Communist Europe's demise. Garton Ash's book is an essential read for the not remembered/acknowledged enough contribution of Solidarnosc and all that to the demise of the iron curtain and all that. It is a shame therefore that his writing style is so sober and he only unleashes his passion in the three reflective essays that end the book: they are worth reading even if you do not read anything else here: Garton Ash sticks it to the Western Left and they deserve it. He also sticks it to the Germans - east and west - and they deserve it too with their 'Wind of change' and victim status because of the Berlin Wall - its collapse adopted by the West as the symbol of communism's fall and boo hoo hoo was it not so terrible. The picture Garton paints is of the Germans untermensching and doing little until it was safe to do so.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
During my lifetime I've lived through quite a bit of history from the thirties to the war,the cold war when I was in the army, and now political turmoil in our class-ridden society. No author deals with contemporary history better than Timothy Garton Ash. His'The Polish Revolution' is excellent.
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