The Last Mazurka: A Tale of War, Passion and Loss Paperback – 25 Mar 2007
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"'I read it from beginning to end with admiration. It is rich, well-organized and stoical. Everything in it is finely judged. It deserves to find many readers.' V. S. Naipaul 'This sensitive memoir is one man's act of solidarity with his people: past, present and to come...[a] splendid portrait' Sunday Times 'This is he best way into history - real flesh and blood struggling to live and to love in their collapsing world of war and exile. And written with exquisite precision.' Norman Davies 'It makes one wish one could have met the characters in the flesh... a fascinating history and a moving personal memoir.' Piers Paul Read"
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Top Customer Reviews
Author Andrew Tarnowski, Polish by birth, but brought up in England, began to investigate his family's history after being sent to Warsaw as Chief Correspondent for Reuters in 1988 just before the fall of Communism. In some ways he finds out more than he bargained for, discovering disastrous marriages, and colourful and often dysfunctional relations. Yet he succeeds in skilfully weaving the extraordinary stories of their lives into the larger canvas of the turbulent history of Poland - invaded in turn by Austrians, Bolsheviks, Germans and Soviets. As a former Reuters correspondent, Tarnowski writes clearly and objectively, and this is his family's story but it is also a brilliant resume of an important slice of European twentieth century history.
The family owned estates in Galicia, a neglected province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and were connected by marriage to other well-known aristocratic Polish families. The Last Mazurka begins before 1914, with Tolstoyan tales of stag hunts, tame wild boars, loyal retainers, and shots fired on a wedding night. It progresses through World War Two with a betrothal ring (a family heirloom) flung away in anger as Soviet tanks advance, of exile, dispossession, complex love affairs, and finally with a kind of return to neglected former family properties.
The Last Mazurka covers some of the same ground as Olivia Manning's The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy.Read more ›
description of what it was like to be a refugee, scrambling from handout to
handout, fills in the gaps in general histories of wars, usually more concerned with treaties and battles and great men than with the people, from whatever walk of life, who had to live through war. To see World War II through the eyes of this family, at once so privileged and so damaged, is to experience those years from a new perspective. Who won't sympathize with the author as he struggles to make sense of this family? A sad, unwanted child, he found himself in his early years parked with strangers, virtually abandoned by his beautiful mother and wild, violent father. Strip away the titles, the great country houses, the titled acquaintances and it is a story many people can not only relate to but take to heart.
The story of Tarnowski family is fascinating, from being rich aristocrats to people deprived of all rights by communists.
In the background you will find Polish history, first and second world wars and communism.
I reccomend this book
I recommend this book if you enjoy history and have a genealogy connection to Poland.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Item as described. A small written insription on the inside cover. Otherwise as new. It absorbs you as you read.Published on 24 April 2014 by bogdan kadej
This well-written and very personal book tells the story of what the Nazi and Soviet invasions of Poland in 1939 did to the author's parents and other members of his aristocratic... Read morePublished on 13 Oct. 2013 by Lucy S.J. Ulrich
A sensative, fascinating, very informative history of one family's Polish history from the 19th Century to the present day, beautifully observed & written, by the present head of... Read morePublished on 27 Sept. 2011 by Borderer
The earlier commentaries have mostly shared my enthusiasm about the book. An important work to understand polish history and the life of displaced persons in Europe. Read morePublished on 4 Jun. 2009 by Uwe Braun
In this outstanding book, Andrew Tarnowski describes the fairy tale like lives of his Polish aristocratic relatives from the early 1900s up until world war II, after which their... Read morePublished on 4 Jun. 2008 by Erika Borsos
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