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A Concise History of Poland by Jerzy…
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A Concise History of Poland (2001)

by Jerzy Lukowski

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Poland has had a chequered history, continually expanding and contracting, sometimes disappearing and once being the largest state in Europe. This latest retelling of Poland’s history – a concise history – does not give the reader a balanced view of the shifts in its history.

In the first part of the book, to 1795, Poland’s story is told from the viewpoint of the factors that could have worked against its formation and development. Shortcomings are highlighted and little is said about positive attributes that lead to the development of a normal state. A reader new to Polish history could be forgiven for thinking Poland was some sort of a joke country. Why Poland could form and develop, despite all the obstacles, into the powerful and dominating state it was in the 16th century, is not adequately discussed.

Personally I am well-read on Polish history, and my historical and sociological interests are in the concepts of state formation and the development of cultural identities. Surprisingly the approach taken by the authors provides valuable insights into these processes. Polish history provides an excellent canvas to see these forces at work. There may have been many factors that could have stopped a Polish state from forming – but one nevertheless did. The Polish state may not have been as vigorously organized as some of its neighbours – but those neighbours could not prevent a Polish state from emerging, re-emerging and developing into a powerful and sophisticated society that carried out one of the few experiments in (aristocratic) democracy. States are fragile institutions that are developed by force, and in the medieval world maintained by force, and sustained by maintaining a delicate balance of power with neighbouring countries.

The authors do a much better job with the second part of the book – from 1795 to the present, covering the time of its partition through to its re-emergence after World War I and to the present post-Communist times. The 19th century was a confusing time for Poland as the former ruling class, the szlachta, attempted to regain political control in a new environment where the common man, nationalism and rational economic processes were gaining the ascendency. The authors have isolated the various inter-twined strands, described their dynamics and provide a better understanding than many other writers of the processes that transformed Poland from a multi-ethnic state ruled for the benefit of one class to that of a modern nation-state.

I would encourage anyone new to Polish history to look to other books first. For the advanced reader this book offers many insights. The coverage of the 19th century is excellent. ( )
  motorbike | Sep 7, 2009 |
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Wikipedia in English (56)

Ambassadors and envoys from Russia to Poland (1763–1794)

Austrian Partition

Battle of the Vorskla River

Christianization of Poland

First Partition of Poland

For our freedom and yours

Lithuanian Civil War (1432–38)

Lithuanization

Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars

Names and titles of Władysław II Jagiełło

Pact of Vilnius and Radom

Pagan reaction in Poland

Privilege of Buda

Proclamation of Połaniec

Prussian Homage (painting)

PZL.49 Miś

Rejtan (painting)

Religion in Poland

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521559170, Paperback)

Poland only sporadically makes the headlines of the Anglo-Saxon world, and its history remains comparatively unknown. It has suffered the dubious distinction of being wiped off the political map in 1795, to be resurrected after the First World War, to suffer seeming annihilation during the Second World War, reduction to satellite status of the Soviet Union after 1945, only to emerge during the 1980s. It is presently a contender for membership in the European Union. The only general introduction to the politics of Polish history in English, The Concise History of Poland covers medieval times to the present. The authors describe how Polish society developed under foreign rule in the 19th century and how it was altered by and responded to 45 years of communism, and developments since its collapse. Primarily a political outline of Poland's turbulent and complex past, it traces the process of its rise and fall from the middle ages, from a dynastic realm to a remarkable constitutional experiment in multinational, consensual politics, embracing much of Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belarus. Jerzy Lukowski is Senior Lecturer in Modern History, School of Historical Studies, at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is also the author of, The Partitions of Poland (Addison Wesley, 1998), and Liberty's Folly (Routledge, 1991), and many journal articles. Herbert Zawadzki is Teacher of History at Abingodn School, in Abingdon, UK. He spent the first ten years of his life in various Polish resettlement camps across the length and breadth of Britain, eventually settling near Stratford-on-Avon. He has since traveled extensively in Poland, Belarus, and Lithuania. He has written for several journals and contributed to the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the former Soviet Union (1994).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Poland is a country which sporadically hits the headlines of the Anglo-Saxon world. It has suffered the dubious distinction of being wiped off the political map in 1795, to be resurrected after the First World War, only to suffer apparent annihilation during the Second and reduction to satellite status of the Soviet Union, to emerge in the van of resistance to Soviet domination during the 1980s. Yet the history of Poland remains comparatively little known. This book offers a primarily political outline of its turbulent and complex past, from medieval times to the present day, and is the only brief history of the country available in English."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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