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A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland Paperback – 2 Mar 2009
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`There is so much to admire in this well-researched and hugely entertaining book, and so much to learn...A Country in the Moon is a three-star feast.' -- The Spectator
'Literary travel writing at its best: elegiac, informative and profound... probably the best travel book I will read this year.'
-- Wanderlust magazine
'Moran writes well of the Polish concept of zal (regret after irrevocable loss) ; of Polish pride, honour and exuberance mingled with pessimism; and of the importance of the Catholic church and the family...This well-written book offers some much-needed history lessons.'
-- Daily Telegraph
'an entertaining account...(keeps)the reader engrossed to the end.' -- Sunday Times
Moran is a sensitive, intelligent companion, [who is] able to capture the rapacious spirit and chaotic conditions of modern Poland.
-- Metro London
Moran's deep knowledge of the country and genuine engagement (make this) an absorbing ... ultimately rewarding travelogue.
This lively and intelligent book is stuffed with original material that is both fascinating and quite new to most people in the West. Moran has a taste for the baroque oddity, the outrageous eccentricity and the all-but-incredible historical anecdote.
-- The Times Literary Supplement
[An] erudite, humbling and rhapsodic travel book... No thinking traveller interested in Poland should overlook this essential book. -- Guardian
`This memoir is in the tradition of Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons and proves a well-crafted, spirited and original polonaise, triumphantly balancing humour with scholarship.'
-- The Observer
-- Conde Nast Traveller, Giles Foden
About the Author
Born and educated in Australia, MICHAEL MORAN spent his twenties wandering the islands of Polynesia and Melanesia. He is a Fellow of the RGS and author of the Thomas Cook short-listed Beyond the Coral Sea. He lives in Warsaw.See all Product description
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I find Moran's dealing of the sorrow within Poland's history, however, to be absolutely spot on. He never becomes mawkish and never becomes angry, putting forth the facts as they are without holding grudges towards the perpetrators of the many, many horrors commited on Polish soil. He masterfully intersperses the tragedy throughout the book, such that you never become desenstised to it, but nor do you become apprehensive of the next inevitable woe. This is extremely skillful, and very laudable.
In all, if you're already interested in Poland, this book will only deepen that love. If you're yet to discover the country, I do think A Country in the Moon could pique your interest in a country you probably know far, far less about than you think.
Given that most of Poland's history is earth-shatteringly depressing, you'd think a book that contained a lot of it would be depressing as heck but this book is written in a similar vein to a Bill Bryson book - full of interesting facts and observations on the people and country of Poland.
The book is "laid out" as the author originally travels to Poland just after the Wall has come down and Poland is discovering the "wonders" of a free market economy. He describes these times (it's changed dramatically since then) and the present wonderfully and also shoots off on diversions into history and geography both describing the plight of the country and many wonders your average westerner wouldn't have heard of. Some shocks you at what the country has dealt with and other points make you laugh out loud.
I read this out loud to my Polish wife (as I was commenting to her on so much of it as I tried reading it to myself) and this brought up her memories of growing up there, mostly agreeing with what was written...and also gave her plenty of opportunity to shoot down my appalling Polish pronunciation. If you're in a romance with a Pole I'd heartily recommend the technique and the book.
It's also very current (depending on when Polish people leave Poland, they have very different views of the place) and shows a country with a great future well worth visiting (it is) instead of dwelling on past pain. Reading it will make you want to explore more of the country as well. Even though I've visited numerous Polish cities in the last few years, it made me want to visit smaller places like Sandomierz and where the Teutonic Knights set up shop.
As a book (independent of my connection to Poland), it is well written, entertaining and informative and I'd highly recommend it. If you do have a connection to Poland, or are thinking of visiting or moving there, it's even better as it adds a newer deeper understanding of the place.
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