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4.7 out of 5 stars28
4.7 out of 5 stars
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2006
This book sprang out at me like bandits from the sun.

Although I had some knowledge of Polish history and about Poles serving in British forces during WW2, this book opened up a whole new view of world of history for me. Superbly told, it tells of the struggles and hardships suffered by Polish military pilots (and their army/navy and resistance comrades)during WW2. Not only suffering the horror of the Nazi regime but also the equally anti-Polish Soviets, these brave people served with courage and honour to assist allies who treated them with distain, disinterest and finally betrayal.

The authors explore the history of Poland and the broader history of the Inter-war period which led to Poland making such enemies as Hitler and Stalin, as well as the place of the Kosciuszko squadron in Poland's wider war, in North Africa, Europe, Russia and in Poland. Most readers will find this in itself an amazing read and an informative one.

The book shows how the Allied forces treated battle-served veterans in a patronising manner, considering them unfit to serve... until they needed them. This was when they showed their true worth and became recognised for the professionals and heroes they were. However, political winds blew both hot and cold and as the Allies prostrated themselves to appease a ruthless Stalin, the Poles became the sacrifice.

The details of Roosevelt and Churchill's incompetence and betrayal will make many readers seeth with indignation, while the tales of heroism from the Polish fighters will arouse strong feelings of admiration, particularly when we consider how they continued to fight bravely and loyally for allies who they knew had sold them to Stalin. However, the book also warmly describes the loyalty and comradeship of the Poles and those who served alongside them and became staunch admirers. there are also some amusing moments which show the humanity of the situation as well as the sobriety.

This is probably the best history book I've ever read. It not only superbly tells a story long overdue but it also shows us clearly how the history many of us have been force-fed, and which is still used to inspire us today, is false. In doing so it gives us warning about the dangers of spin and realpolitik in foreign affairs; stuff we would do well to consider in our current times.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2009
A very well written account of a little known subject. Ever since as a child watching the famous "Repeat please!" scene in the movie 'The battle of Britain' I have wanted to know more about these gallant men. This book very ably provides the answers and is engagingly written. I could take the authors to task for including a lot of more general details of ww2 Polish history only obliquely relevant to the Kosciuszko squadron, but on reflection I think this padding is ultimately necessary if only to inform us of the treachery these marvelous people have endured. In fact I feel the authors have provided the reader with a comprehensive bonus with their accounts of the Warsaw uprising,the Katyn massacre, etc. European Realpolitik has for hundreds of years treated the polish nation as a perrenial whipping boy, even so it is hard not to feel outraged by the Churchills betrayal, although the authors point to his inner conflicts about this. Roosevelt comes over as far more slippery and ambiguous character, I previously felt he was the greatest of all American presidents but after reading this book I see him in a much more critical light. As for Stalin, well at least you know where you are with a psychopath. To my shame I found myself saying after another account of Stalins evil intransagence "For gods sake Winnie and Frank, you've got the atom bomb and he hasn't, show some backbone!"
What this book points out is that Poland was sold down the river at the Tehran meeting in 1943, something that is astonishing.
This is one of the best history books I have read recently. I don't wish to give the impression that the authors neglect the Kosciuszko squadron in favour of the bigger picture. The lions share of the book tells the airmens story in full with many anecdotes, insights, personal histories, battles and operational details.
In reality you get two books, both comprehensively and accessably written, both complementing each other.
This country owed these men a great debt, and their country an even greater apology. One hopes that it will be translated into Polish, if only so that Polish readers can see that some British belatedly acknowledge their sacrifice.

'FOR YOUR FREEDOM AND OURS'- they gave their all for the former, we witheld the latter.

Incidentally, the "Repeat Please!" scene in the Battle of Britain movie, I now know has a basis in fact.
A great read!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2007
I found this to be a fascinating book that was difficult to put down. If you want to know about real heroes and heroism, just read this book.

The writing is sensitive and informative and gives an insight into the anguish and suffering that the subjects endured. Above all, the events described and the recollections of the various participants are both incredible and inspiring. The authors' style is measured and simple and this lends itself well to the unimaginable bravery and heroism being described, under the most difficult circumstances.

I'd like to express my thanks to the authors for making this important record of history so accessible, and reminding us of what actually happened behind the official account of events.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2004
This is absolutely and defnitly one if the best books i've ever read. After reading the first page you won't close the book till the last page. It covers the whole subject about Polish pilots, why duid they fight, what happened to them during and after world war two. This is a not so well known subject, but if you're interested by foreign pilots in RAF, try this absolutely.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2010
Airfix A50055 1:24 Scale Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Supermarine Spitfire MkVb WWII Aircraft Gift Set inc Paints Glue and Brushes

This book helped me to understand many things about Britain. This brilliant historical book its not only about Polish pilots but takes so many views and angles that gives excellent picture of what happened during II World War and why Cold War begun. It is magnificent historical warning and lesson for Great Britain. Everybody should read it!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2004
The son of an English Pole I was nonetheless unaware of the full story of the Polish Airforce in Britain.
Well written, this book outlines the duplicity of the English and Americans confronted by the man who may be described as a bigger mass murderer than Hitler, Stalin. The final chapter summarises the loss to the Polish people of the war as a whole and frankly, despite an admitted bias, makes salutary reading.
As a condemnation of Realpolitik, or spin as we might call it today, this book is a revelation. Read it!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2005
This book makes the difference of what you learned in school, heard from veterans and your relatives. It gives a very good knowledge about time of pre-war Poland and german occupation into Poland, the tragic of polish soldiers trying to escape and their will to fight not only for free Poland, also for the Empire and at least also to make liberation of Europe and especially my country more possible. The role of Mr. Churchill during war is undoubted that : If he would not had stand fast as he has done during the Battle of Britain, then liberation of Europe wouldn't have been taken place. The role he played during preparation for past-war time is to interprete by yourself, it shows very good the struggle of politicians caught in alliances with weak-minded partner (US-presidents etc) and trying to keep Britain's role as important as it has been in pre-war times. I think he had failed in very much parts to that, but I don't like to accuse him about that. The ignorance of US-representatives is overwhelmingly as actual today. And not to forget the differences between him and polish-government-in-exile. From a morale understanding he has failed in keeping position for past-war policies, but that has been also based in the counterpart of the western allies, Jozef Stalin. I had hoped that for the cat-and-mouse game Mr Stalin started Mr. Churchill could have relied on very much better partners then in US-government had been available during WWII, world might have been changed in better way then it has done during that period.
I own also Mr Steven Ambroze's Citizen Soldier, Pegasus Bridge and Band of Brothers, but the most appaling story is that written in the book I reviewed now.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2005
Very readable, a must for any England-born Polish descendants who are sick of going through life hearing ignorant claims of how England saved Poland and won the war.
It seems the Poles were the only nation who never tried to appease, never changed sides, and fought from start to finish, with honour and dignity. They not only fought their utmost to defend their own country in the face of the two most powerful adversaries of the time, but they took to the front to defend Europe's other most powerful countries. And for what, be 'sold out' in back room deals. Powerful stuff!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2005
I have read many books in my life, but quite frankly this is the best one I ever read. It shook my heart and my brain. Although a bit longish (400 pages or so) it is really worth to read the full story. Buy it, borrow it, steal it - whatever you want, but you just have to read it...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2013
I initially bought this book as at the time it looked like my great uncle was a member of 303 squadron. By the time the book arrived it was confirmed that although he was in the PAF, he was an officer developing radar and not a pilot. However as I had the book I decided that I would still read it. I'm not a huge fan of history, but I have to say I couldn't put this book down. It taught me so many facts about WWII that I wasn't aware of, and I was totally blind to the fact that the Poles had such a big role in the Battle of Britain.

This book has whetted my thirst for similar books that I will now be buying.
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