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The Polish Way: A Thousand Year History of the Poles and Their Culture Paperback – Oct 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books, Inc; New Ed edition (Oct 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0781802008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0781802000
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,480,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Zamoyski was born in New York but has spent most of his life in England. He was educated at Downside and Queen's College, Oxford. A freelance historian with a singular command of languages, he has written a bestselling history of Poland, as well as three books of military history and three biographies. These include the widely acclaimed and bestselling '1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow' its sequel 'Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna', 'Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries, 1776-1871', 'Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe' and most recently, 'Chopin' published by HarperCollins in 2010. He is married to the artist Emma Sergeant and lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book was an impulse purchase from daunt books(who arrange their stock by geographic location, not genre or subject)as a treat. That it was indeed.

Ever facinated am I by the histories and culture of our many Eastern European neighbours, and having made many Polish friends during my time in London I felt the desire to learn a little.

There are two reasons not to read about history. Either the history is dull, or the history is not dull and the writer doesn't do it justice.

Here, one thousand years of staggeringly mercurial history is here laid down with poise and intelligence, seeking largely to tell, and explain only when previous historians have confused the facts. Poland, and the western reader owe, I believe, a great deal to this unbiased and yet committed writer who seeks to hoist a flag to proud and civic moments in this tragic nations history while telling of it's failures and achievements with equal dignity.

The book itself is most appealingly presented with well spaced pages filled with art and photography, linked nicely with the subject matter. The prose itself is ever gripping, never tiresomely detailed, and the structure fluid and natural.

I enjoyed this immensely, indeed I did not put it down. Many lunch hours were extended overlong, and a few bus stops missed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Introductory History 5 Feb 2002
By John E. Mennel - Published on
Format: Paperback
In the Polish Way, Zamoyski sets out to create a "reasonable synthesis" of Polish history from what he describes as the body of patronizing foreign works and defensively nationalistic Polish ones. He succeeds reasonably well in this goal. If he does lean at times toward nationalism in describing the "Polish Way" - religious tolerance, reliance on legal protections, respect for human rights - it can be excused because of his strictly factual approach and because of the important role the Zamoyski family played in much of the history he describes.
For me, though, there are two factors that make this such an excellent introductory history - one of the best one volume national histories I have read. First, the book skillfully weaves the history of ideas (primarily painting, music, architecture, literature and law) into the political and military narrative. I always found these sections both interesting and well integrated into the sweep of historical events. Second, the numerous maps, genealogies, photographs and other exhibits - including a Polish pronunciation guide - are invaluable to a reader, like me, with little or no prior knowledge of Polish history. I wish more authors and editors of so-called "popular histories" would pay as much attention to these important finishing touches.
True to his goal of producing a synthesis, Zamoyski describes the important themes in Polish history but stops short of providing analysis or conclusions. In describing changes in Poland's political system, he begs analysis of the eventual weakness of early Polish democracy in the absence of a "nation" based on ethnicity, religion, language or a common conception of a territorial homeland and of the strength of today's Poland partially, according to the author, because of its relative homogeneity.
This analysis would be important for a clear understanding of modern Poland and Europe (and other multi-ethnic, multi-lingual democracies). I plan to look for it in other books. The "Polish Way" does an excellent job at introducing the terrain.
84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, well written and informative history book. 10 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of the better history books I have read. The author clearly explains the history of Poland without too much clutter. The book is easy to read and flows well. This is an excellent book for those wishing to begin to study the history of Poland. The maps and photos inside the book shows the dynamic borders of Poland through the centuries and the author demostrates that Poland like the rest of Europe wasn't an island nation but part of a bigger Europe.
64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Superb and comprehensive history 24 Jan 2002
By Blah - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best basic overview of Polish history for beginners that is available right now. If you are a more advanced student of Poland, you should check out the works by Norman Davies. Otherwise, for all you novices this is the place to start. The Polish Way covers all major aspects of the chosen subject and presents them in a clear intelligible fashion. Most importantly the writing is not incredibly boring so you can actually stand to read it straight through.
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Setting the record straight on the Polish people. 12 Sep 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
If, even after the display of courage of the Solidarity labor movement during the 1980s and the world leadership of Pope John Paul II, some people still cling to the tired stereotype of the dumb, ignorant Pole, they should be made to read "The Polish Way". Adam Zamoyski makes the point very clear of what an impressive and complex nation the Poles have forged despite animosity from neighboring countries (for example, Prussia/Germany, Austria, and Russia/U.S.S.R.) and the indifference from the Western democracies to their plight. And what a wonderful culture Poland has created; rich in art, architecture, literature, music, and mature political thinking. Being Polish from my father's side, I now feel a special pride towards my ancestors' accomplishments after reading this book which I highly recommend.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Excellent comprehensive history of Poland 1 Nov 2001
By B.T. Cesul - Published on
Format: Paperback
Zamoyski's book provides an excellent in-depth overview of the philosophies and leaders who shaped the Polish state from its founding in the dark ages through the end of Soviet Rule in the early 90's. Truly remarkable is the detail given on intracate aspects of Polish history, from kings and generals, to writers, poets, and musicians. After reading this, you can gain a true understanding of the basis of Polish thought and easily see why Poland became one of the first, if not THE first, country to break away from the Soviet influence. Also a good lesson for those who want to know the basis of of the strongbond between Catholicism and Polish culture. I only wish there had been more discussion of the lower levels of Polish culture, but hard to fit any more info in this tome. Probably the most endearing aspect of the book is for those of Polish heritage who want to learn about their history and not get caught in the stereotypes of "the dumb Pole". Highly reccomended for those intrigued by Central European history, development of American democracy (read and you'll see why), and those of Polish descent. A must for the bookshelves of any Polish-American. (...)
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