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Customer Review

on 21 February 2014
I read this for some background information before visiting Poland.

Although I cannot comment on the accuracy of he historical detail, there are some acute observations which we could usefully note in these first decades of the 21st century. For example, with reference to the 1848 Hungarian revolution, which impacted on Poland: 'national revolutions , even where supported by the majority of the population were no were no guarantee of respect for the aspirations of other national groups ' (p.145)

The complexity of relations with all the surrounding states, the shifting boundaries with Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Lithuania, over the centuries is well summarised, and there is a clear acknowledgement of 'neighbourly' hostility towards the Jews at different periods of history ( as in many other countries, of course).

There is a comprehensive introduction to the various rulers of the land over the centuries, the role of the Teutonic Knights, important figures in science and the arts, the unusual and special significance of Danzig/Gdansk, and the terrible and greatly underestimated post WW11 treatment of Poles by the Russians - the cruelty of which could exceed that of the previously occupying Germans.

First published ten years ago and revised in 2011, there are also references to the role of the Church and the democratisation movements of recent years.

As an introduction to a small country with a big history this is an interesting, straightforward and informative read.
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