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on 17 September 2014
I have only had time to start this book but already I am engrossed. Davies has a writing style that draws you in and informs you at the same time. I'm not sure if I'm up to his magnum opus on the same subject "God's Playground" but I am tempted.
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on 3 September 2016
History from Norman Davies. Difficult to put down.
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on 24 August 2001
Norman Davies's great skill is writing detailed history that keeps general readers interested, while not skimping on academic detail. In this book, he has condensed his two-volume masterpiece "God's Playground" into a form more suitable for generalists.
The result is a triumph - a brief but highly enjoyable history, enlivened by Davies's dry wit and a treasury of pertinent anecdotes. Poland's magnificent and tragic history is portrayed here in its full range and scope, neither glorifying the Poles as eternal martyrs for freedom, nor slandering them as backward xenophobes.
Given the widespread public ignorance of Polish history, and the sensitivity of Poles to external comment on it, the greatest accolade for Davies must surely be that the Polish translation of God's Playground has been selected as the official history textbook for use in Polish schools.
This new edition of Heart of Europe includes new material on the changes in Poland since 1989.
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on 21 April 2016
very good value
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on 21 December 2013
Norman Davies is probably one the most respected historians of Polish history. He has travelled in eastern Europe and studied at the Jagiellonian university in Krakow.

It takes someone who understands Poland and the Polish people to be able to write about the country's turbulent history. East European can be more complex and difficult to grasp than presented in many of the standard history books.

Polish history has been particularly difficult especially recently because of the communist suppression of freedom in Poland, additionally the west appears to rather forget the inconvenience of a betrayed ally.

Norman Davis steps into the debate and sets out the record as it is.

Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw
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on 15 September 2015
Why is this book written backwards? It is illogical and makes for an extremely difficult read. Whilst the author claims this structure clarifies Polish history, it in fact clouds it. The book turns out to be repetitive, messy and poorly organised and is a battle to read. Although its content is useful, it has to be sifted through. Buy a different book on Polish history.
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on 13 July 2007
If you have neither the time to read nor wish to go the expense of purchasing Norman Davies' two volume epic of Polish history `God's Playground' but wish to better understand Poland and it's people then this book is a `must buy'.
The author has since written many books that have the Polish people at their heart - `Rising '44' and arguably `Europe At War' and `Europe: East & West' and his love of the Polish is as evident as his anger at their treatment during the greater part of the last 200 years.
On reading this book it is clear to see why.
Davies has an immense understanding of Polish politics, literature and culture and his arguments are convincing and fully reinforced by evidence and presented in a fluent and engaging fashion.
Don't be put off by the Polish language because there is a section in the preface that comprehensively explains pronunciation, and all the names are easy to remember so one won't get `lost' trying to remember who was who.
Europe is getting smaller, and for the last 50 years or so Poland has largely been a `black hole' to those of us outside, but it truly is the `Heart of Europe' and knowing and understanding it's history - as this book is an excellent aid - is essential for a wider comprehension of Europe's development over the last eight hundred years and more specifically the last three centuries.
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on 6 March 2013
Poorly structured. Diffcult to follow storyline. Far too much pointless detail. Here and there were some interesting points which kept me going to the end.
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on 28 April 2011
It is quite an achievement for an English (or possibly Welsh)person to have written what appears to be the definitive Polish histories. This book is very interesting, well-researched and well-explained to the non-specialist. I am reading it on the tube at the moment and it makes the journey fly by. Great stuff, really.
Poland: A history
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on 3 August 2014
I have a high regard for Norman Davies as a historian, but I didn't really like the literary translations of some pieces of Polish lyrics in this book.
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