Top positive review
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a warning from the past
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.