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Zbigniew Pelczynski - A Life Remembered [Paperback]

Walter Isaacson , David McAvoy
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 July 2012
Zbigniew Pelczynski: A Life Remembered, by David McAvoy, with foreword by Walter Isaacson Zbigniew Pelczynski OBE was born In Poland in 1925. He fought in the Warsaw Uprising and was captured by the Germans. After the war he studied Politics and became a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, where his students included Bill Clinton. Pelczynski also taught at Harvard, Yale and McGill. His scheme to enable Polish scholars to study in Oxford evolved into a programme of scholarships for other Soviet bloc countries. The School for Leaders he founded in Warsaw plays an important role in Polish politics and society.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing Limited (24 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781487758
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781487754
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 824,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting life and a fascinating book 17 Sep 2012
By Derek Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoy reading biographies - particularly biographies of people with interesting lives that are well-written and balanced in their judgements. This book ticks all those boxes.

Zbigniew Pelczynski was born in Poland in 1925 and as a teenager participated in the Warsaw Uprising against the Germans. After a period in Germany as a prisoner of war he came to England, where he gained a place to study politics at the University of St Andrews and then Oxford, where he became a Fellow at Pembroke College. The author relates how the young Pole became thoroughly English within a few years. Pelczynski's doctorate had been on the German philosopher Hegel, which opened numerous academic doors for him. The author tells us about Pelczynski's professorships abroad and his meetings with many great thinkers of the age, including Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin. Some of these were amicable and some were decidedly not, providing some of the most interesting passages in the book. Among his Oxford students was Bill Clinton, who was to become U.S. President.

When communism started to falter in the 1980s Pelczynski again became very interested in his home country. He was almost single-handedly responsible for an Oxford colleges scheme to help Polish scholars that later grew via collaboration with the billionaire George Soros into a wider scheme of scholarships for all eastern European countries. When Poland was devising its institutions as a country newly liberated from its Soviet yoke, Pelczynski was one of those sought out for advice by its rulers.

Hence there is much of interest in Zbigniew Pelczynski's life to enable the author David McAvoy to hold our attention. However, what I particularly liked was the fact that the author has been able to get Pelczynski to identify and accept his own weaknesses and failures in addition to his successes. The result is an analysis of a man and not merely a story of events. It is an interesting life and a fascinating book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life well lived 3 Jan 2013
I think this is a remarkable biography both from the perspective of the man written about, and the writer. The life of Zbigniew Pelczynski shows that one man can make a enormous difference in the life of others through good will, perseverance, energy, humour and compassion, mixed with a willingness to take risks. David McAvoy does an incredible job, based on an unbelievable amount of research, but presents everything as a page turning story rather than an academic tome. You really get to know Zbigniew and want to meet him as a result, not something that happens with many biographies, so thank you to both of you, for uplifting my heart and showing the postive side of people and life, during a period of history, where there is much to be negative about.
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I first met Dr Pelczynski a week or so after getting engaged to his daughter. By then I knew several members of the family well, but of course Zbigniew had been busy in his study in Oxford or working out plans to set up a School for Leaders in Poland. Understandably I am biased, though he'd only be content if I wrote my candid opinion. My late mother was something of a fan - she enjoyed personal stories in the face of big events - a life with a mission while rooted in family values. I have of course heard some of the stories detailed here, though meals at his home are always about a dish he might have prepared and current debates about European events. I write this review in response to a request to continue the next chapter - a blog. More anecdotes and photographs should in due course appear to compliment this terrific book. He may be in his 86th year but he is as keen as ever to be seen and heard to the benefit of projects he holds dear.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The teacher 5 Feb 2013
By andrzej.pawluszek - Published on Amazon.com
One of the greatest people I've ever met in my life. Great professor, fantastic teacher, and an amazing human being. In 1994 Pelczynski founded the School for Young Social and Political Leaders in Warsaw. The organization, which subsequently changed its name to the School for Leaders Society, states as one of its goals "creating social capital based on leadership".
Professor Pelczynski remind me a little bit the founder of the Leadership Institute - Morton C. Blackwell. The same passion, and charisma. But they are also so different. Blackwell is definitely more conservative and Pelczynski became well known for having been the politics tutor at Oxford University for the Rhodes Scholar and future President Bill Clinton.
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