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55 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The shame of our intellectual elite, 25 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe (Hardcover)
Few people are aware of the humiliating defeat inflicted on the Red Army in 1920. The Polish Army, with virtually no help from the West, destroyed an army several times its own size. Zamoyski demonstrates that the aim of Red Army--one of its leaders was Stalin--was nothing less than the conquest of Europe. Fresh from crushing the White Russian armies, they marched to the banks of the Vistula, and with Germany in turmoil, it looked as though nothing would stop them short of the Rhine. Even though morale began to crumble in the Polish Army, enough units maintained cohesion for Pilsudski to execute a daring flanking manoeuver which utterly routed the Red Army. Amazingly, Pilsudsky was not even a professional soldier, but his plan is recognised as a masterpiece of military planning.

The Poles got little help from the West, as pro-Soviet intellectuals were gaining the ascendency over Churchill and others who supported the White Russians. At the time, this could be understood--the egregious crimes of Lenin and Stalin were still in the future. There is no such excuse for their subsequent silence, which has virtually airbrushed Pilsudky's remarkable feat from the Western consciousness. Europe owes a huge debt to the Poles, who have fought tyrants three times in the last century--and won twice. Zamoysky's book is superb, drawing on first-hand accounts from both sides, and depicting the chaos and confusion of the times with remarkable clarity.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Oct 2008 09:37:41 BDT
W. Sjouke says:
Partisan views likes this do not help to appraise a book

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Nov 2008 14:38:18 GMT
T. Burkard says:
If W. Sjouke would like to add his non-partisan views, perhaps we might have an interesting debate.

Posted on 2 Dec 2008 13:29:00 GMT
J. Tomaas says:
T. Burkard I couldn't have put it better myself, Europe owes a huge debt to Poland..

Posted on 11 Feb 2010 17:45:57 GMT
P. Ellis says:
Tell me about these 3 fights they've had against tyrants of which they won 2, I can't think what they might be, since they were beaten in WW2, then run by Soviet Poles after the war, aside from the subject of this book I can't think of a victory for them.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 May 2010 17:17:55 BDT
T. Burkard says:
Have you forgotten Solidarity? The communists regimes were tyrannies, and they destroyed them.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Nov 2010 19:10:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Nov 2010 19:12:15 GMT
Strictly I do not think that the independent non-Communist Polish union movement Solidarity 'won'; martial law was imposed and Solidarity's protests were suppressed as I recall. However, the example of the Solidarity episode helped to show (to the few who had not noticed already) that the claim of the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe to be run by and for 'the workers' or 'the people' was mostly a lie.

This further discrediting of an already unpopular system may have contributed to Gorbachev's decision a few years later to dismantle communism and let go of Poland and the other Soviet vassal states in Eastern Europe, and allow them to choose their own future.

The existence of Solidarity also meant that when in the early 1990s the Poles finally had democracy and real independence they already had prominent potential new leaders in waiting ,and a political movement as an alternative to the Communists, which probably made the transition to democrary easier.
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T. Burkard
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Location: Norwich, England

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