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any thoughts about Norman Davies ability to present accurate history of Poland??

gwrobel 10 | 19  
21 May 2009 /  #1
I posed this topic on an existing thread and ended up in the middle of one hateful debate. Thought i'd move it over to a new discussion thread.

As I dig deeper and deeper into Polish history and culture I've found myself reading several books by Norman Davies. Currently reading "The Rising".

I'm most impressed by his approach and apparent candor.

What is the reaction to his point of view by those living in Poland? is Norman Davies considered to be an author/historian who accurately reflects Polish history & surrounding circumstances?


sjam 2 | 541  
21 May 2009 /  #2
Regardless of whether or not he accurately reflects Polish history Norman Davies' major contribution has been keeping Polish history alive in front of a English-speaking audience over several decades through his books and his role at School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London where he inspired others like Michael Hope to write about the Polish diaspora resulting from WWII.
Trevek 26 | 1,700  
21 May 2009 /  #3
I think one of things about Davies is that he cuts through a lot of fixed ideas, so, for example, at one point in God's Playground, he points out that the distance between peasants and szlachta was so wide that we could speak of them as being totally different cultures. It's an important thing to consider when talking of Poland as a culture and country of tolerance and freedom. It was if you were of a certain class. likewise, he talks about intercultural/ethnic relationships in a way which is not loaded down by political rhetoric. Important if you are also examining local sources.

A bit more contraversial; he also gets away from a Jew-heavy history of Poland.

Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not anti-Jewish or suggesting that Jewish history is not a vital or important piece of Polish history. It's just that for many historians it seems to be the only thing they focus on and so miss other bits which don't fit/ aren't necessary to their project.

He's been criticised for not paying enough attention to jewish history in Poland but, as he says, other authors have done a lot about it and so he does not need to do so much. However, he does bring up things which are often obscured because many historians focus almost exclusively on it.

One example was about riots in cities like £odż in the first half of the 20th Century. These are often cited as pogroms and anti-Jewish riots, however Davies points out, other nationalities/ethnicities were also targetted, especially Ukrainians. This would suggest the riots were not specifically anti-Jewish as opposed to 'anti-foreigner' or 'anti-cheap-labourer'. This can bring whole new interpretations to the events arther than just being labelled 'anti-Jewish pogroms'.
OP gwrobel 10 | 19  
21 May 2009 /  #4

I appreciate the introduction to Michael Hope. I'll add him to my "hit list" of readings.

Also, Trevek.....your comments will sharpen my awareness of your points as my reading of Norman Davies continues.

Take care,

Grzegorz (from Texas)
Mr Grunwald 33 | 2,175  
22 May 2009 /  #5
He is an good historian check this out!
22 May 2009 /  #6
check this out!

Excelllent Post Mr. G.
Mr Grunwald 33 | 2,175  
22 May 2009 /  #7
Excelllent Post Mr. G.[/quote]
Thank you fred_chopin!
If your more interested about that period check this page :)
OP gwrobel 10 | 19  
22 May 2009 /  #8
This is great "stuff"............I would never have discovered these resources without your input.


Cardno85 31 | 976  
22 May 2009 /  #9
He was a bit dissapointing at the crucible last time I saw him, but a great man on the beize in his time...

...oh, so you're not talking about Steve Davis?
z_darius 14 | 3,965  
22 May 2009 /  #10
What is rare, although lately not exclusive, to Davies is his Polish language skills which give him access to historic sources which are available to others only through translations or commentaries. He is the new breed of students of Poland's history, people who started emerging only after WW2 and who scratched their heads when their realized all they knew about Polish history was mostly from German, occasionally from Russian sources, .

What makes him a true scholar within his field is also his careful attention to context. An act without a context is an abstract idea, pretty much meaningless and useless in the study of history. Unfortunately many, including those posting on this forum are guilty of quick, glitzy statements which result either from ignorance or their political tendencies against most things Polish.
PennBoy 76 | 2,432  
22 May 2009 /  #11
I've read a couple of his books and i'll have to say he's pretty accurate, but he's also a man that loves our country and our people so he might bend the truth sometimes
Mr Grunwald 33 | 2,175  
22 May 2009 /  #12
Well atleast he may change others perspective of reality!
Did anyone know about the thing that Poles ever excisted before WW1? I don't think so, atleast not many!

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