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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 May 2009
If you want to read a well-written book about Poland that digs deeper than the usual superficialities, then here's a good place to start. Moran clearly fell in love with the country as well as with a Pole. He writes clearly and informatively about places, people and language; he has an eye for detail and great sensitivity to the complexities of the culture and history of the country and the region, which many non-Poles have difficulty with, and which we should be grateful for. In some ways it's a curious read, as he mingles his work and personal life with his travels and explorations of the country, but in the end the whole works well and reads well and the picture of Poland is the richer for it. And then, when you want more, links for further reading are there, in this very erudite and readable book.
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on 18 October 2008
I found this book excellent, a very good introduction to Polish history and probably the best guidebook of Poland I have ever read. Also a good reminder for me as a Polish person, what Poland used to be like in early 1990s - good those days are gone... Highly recommended.

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on 27 May 2009
Despite some flaws, no other book or article I've read seems to so completely encapsulate the stubborn and romantic nature of modern-day Poles. The writer includes a detailed history of Poland in his travelogue and his writing on Chopin and his music was a delight. His description of his fellow UK employees in a new Anglo-Polish venture in the 1990s was something of a digression, although quite often an amusing one. I feel he overcooked to some degree the architectural descriptions and I feel he concentrated a little too much on the humorous Anglo-Polish differences at the expense of a more profound disquisition on the Polish psyche (which he seems most capable of writing) However the last criticisms reflect more my own interests.
In all an intelligent read, sprinkled with anectodes and history lessons, humorously written. Quite the best book on (near) contemporary Poland I,ve read.
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on 11 April 2011
I was told about this book by a long time Polish expat in NZ and bought it having read some of the reviews. As it turned out, it was so much fun to read and really informative (even for Poles).

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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on 18 April 2014
The only reason I deduct a star is for a lack of a driving and intriguing narrative. Moran is a wonderful author, very well read and clearly right under the skin of the Polish nation, but at times the book can drag slightly as you get bogged down in another idyllic discription of another idyllic town. Having visited Krakov I found the section on that town to be the most rewarding and interesting, and so I suspect if you at least know of the places Moran describes, this book will open up more to you.

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.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 April 2016
The book makes for an intriguing combination of firt hand experience, a historical overview and a musical twist, all in the service of describing Poland through the ages (up until the mid 1990s). The author - an Australian piano / Chopin enthusiast - finds himself in Poland as part of a Western expert / trainer team in the early 1990s and has to survive in what is essentially a very different culture.

The book is not strictly organized in a chronological fashion - neither as far as the author's own experiences go, nor in terms of the history described. It is best thought of as a series of episodes, connected to his travels in the country, interspersed with his own experience and long and elaborate vignettes on various aspects of Polish history.

What I particularly enjoyed is the author's open, even handed perspective - he does not fall into depression at things being different and sometimes far from ideal, nor does he completely omit these elements in a rose tinted fashion.

In the end you get a well written, very erudite overview of the country, written by someone who is both passionate about it and has plenty of experience to boot. If you are trying to understand your Polish colleagues better or are simply baffled by the odd historic episode of the country, you could hardly ask for a better guide. Not the most concise, perhaps but very good.
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on 13 July 2014
I haven't yet finished reading this - got to about half way through and started on something else. Somehow it didn't pull me in. Maybe one day I will finish it, because it is one view of modern Poland, but for me it seemed a bit hard going to read.
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on 31 July 2012
Michael Moran is passionate about Poland. He's very knowledgeable about music, Chopin, Polish history, its landscapes, towns and cities. The book is based in the period of transition from communism to capitalism. The author manages to combine a humorous narrative about living and working in Poland with a lot of informative material. If you're going to visit Poland I'd recommend this book for its insights into the country but more importantly Polish people - their generosity, humour and not infrequent crazinesses. His descriptions of some historical places and events and the beauty of the landscape eg the Vistula River regions has made me eager to return to Poland. As someone of Polish heritage I really value his understanding of the enormity of Poland's suffering during the second world war and the heroic role of the internal resistance as well as that if Polush airmen and soldiers.
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on 8 March 2015
Michael Moran is an Australian of distant Irish whilst I am an Australian of part Polish heritage. Michael's knowledge of Polish history, culture and life is both scholarly and in-depth. This is a great read for both strangers to the nation of Poland and Poles themselves for the objective insights it presents.
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on 28 January 2011
This is an exceedingly intelligent, well written, witty book with a splendid vocabulary...absolutely fascinating. The blurb on the cover calls it "erudite, humbling, and rhapsodic." Inside another reviewer says that the author "has a taste for the baroque oddity, the outrageous eccentricity and the all-but-incredible historical anecdote." I rarely agree with the nonsense most reviewers write, but these comments are spot on. This book is incontournable...not to be missed, worth a journey, and all that. It is required reading for any thinking person with an interest in history, in Europe, in Poland, in the vicissitudes of the human soul. I couldn't put it down.

It does not appear on Amazon US, and I stumbled upon it accidentally somehow on Amazon UK. Like many slightly odd little jewels, it probably does not appeal to American publishers. But it shines absolutely brilliantly.
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