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Recommended Poland's history books

jasinski 10 | 62
26 Aug 2010 #1
God's playground- Norman Davies- English- A Two Volume ehxaustive(some might say) look at polish history.

The Polish Way- Adam Zamoyski- American- A short general overview of polish history.
rybnik 18 | 1,453
1 Oct 2012 #2
Here's a book , "The Eagle Unbowed", about Poland during WW2 written by a Brit, in English.
Promises to be a good read.

Peter59 4 | 35
25 Aug 2013 #3
Merged: Recommended reading on Polish History

I would like to rise to the challenge that I have sensed in earlier posts on PF, as to the ignorance of the average person claiming Polish Heritage on the history of Poland and Her people. Being of Polish descent and recognizing my lack of knowledge as to the history of Poland, I would like to learn more. So what books, non-fiction as well as accurate historical fiction would you recommend ??

Are there any good Documentaries or movies dealing with Poland that you would recommend ?? Needless to say I would have to have these sources in English.

I did have the opportunity to visit Poland last year and really enjoyed it. Hope to go again some day.
25 Aug 2013 #4
Poland: a history is excellent, from prehistory to about 20 years ago. Not sure about books on modern society, like I believe politically there has been many ex-communists continuing / re-inventing themselves in politics under different democractic guises but can never find a good analysis on this.
wjtk - | 29
25 Aug 2013 #5
Norman Davies - God's playground: A History of Poland. Probably best book avalible in English which covers Polish history from Xth to XXth centruy.
Peter59 4 | 35
27 Aug 2013 #6
Thanks guys this will get me started on a good library search. Any good documentaries about Poland or Polish Society out there???
27 Aug 2013 #7
So what books, non-fiction as well as accurate historical fiction would you recommend ??

This is a cracking book:
AlejandroM - | 2
13 Nov 2017 #8

Books about the history of Poland

Recently, I've been searching for books about the history of Poland, but I haven't found any that convinces me. I would like to get one which ranges from Mieszko I to Solidarnosc more or less, or even a set of books would be fine by me too as I am aware of how specific is what I'm looking for.

I don't speak Polish, it would be in Spanish or English.

May anyone in this forum recommend me any book about this topic, please? Thanks in advance!
Ziemowit 14 | 4,229
13 Nov 2017 #9
"Poland. A History" by Adam Zamoyski originally written in English and published in Harper Collins Paperbacks ln 2015.

Zamoyski's fully revised history of Poland looks back over a thousand years of turmoil and triumph, chronicling how Poland has been restored at last to its rightful place in Europe.
kaprys 3 | 2,181
13 Nov 2017 #10
God's Playground by Norman Davies.
Ironside 50 | 12,451
13 Nov 2017 #11
I wouldn't. Good for someone who has a vague idea about Poland's history and about Poland. If someone is not into history or lack determination that book would bore the bejesus out of such a reader. Also there is a lot of issues that a good old Norman skim over or is just plainly wrong about.

His big popularity in the country derives from the fact that he was the first western historian that kind of point out some obvious although forgotten truths about Poland.

He treat Poland with some sympathy and gives it due to its glorious past. He even got some scolding for remanding that Poland had been called a Jewish paradise and why.

I would say that Zamoyski book is a better read and gives a general feel for Poland's history.
Atch 20 | 4,164
14 Nov 2017 #12
The nice thing about Zamoyski's book is that he's actually Polish and he loves Poland which gives him an insight that is lacking from any foreigner, no matter how knowledgeable, but as historical subject matter, he's able to look at Poland objectively so you get a pretty fair and balanced account from him.
Ziemowit 14 | 4,229
14 Nov 2017 #13
he's actually Polish and he loves Poland which gives him an insight that is lacking from any foreigner

Also, it is worth mentioning that AdanZamoyski is a descendant to that aristicratic family of Zamojski which a long time ago could even afford to build their own town Zamość, luckily enough on our side of the river Bug otherwise the town would have been lost to the Soviet Union in 1945.

I think Adan Zamoyski was born and bred in the UK at the same time being a heir to his Polish family long-standing tradition. And indeed, he is able to look at Poland objectively and from a distance. He could perhaps be seen as a prime example of the modern-style Polish intelectual elite which had little chance to develop in the long course of rather unfortunate historical processes. I read his book on Stanislas August, the last king of Poland in which he indeed gave a "fair and balanced" account of the king's deeds set against his political circumstances.

An excerpt from the critical review of the book by Robert Frost:
Zamoyski deals splendidly with the multifarious aspects of Poniatowski's reign. [...]
He united disparate groups of reformers to transform a state which had long been in an advanced state of decay, and the Constitution of May 3rd, 1791, Poniatowski's personal triumph, was one of the great achievements of enlightened Europe, although that was not how the enlightened rulers of Prussia, Austria and Russia saw it.

It is also worth quoting the review as saying that the last king of Poland presided over an astonishing transformation of Warsaw, which more than trebled in size during his reign and became one of Europe's great cities.

Atch 20 | 4,164
14 Nov 2017 #14
Born in America, raised and educated in England. He divides his time between Poland and England and has done a tremendous amount of charitable, community and conservation work in the region of Poland where he lives. To me, he embodies what Poland sadly lost through, as you say Ziemowit, its rather unfortunate history.
KatholischSeppe4 - | 2
26 Nov 2017 #15

Trying to find a book, Volyn/Wolyn, Volhynia

I am trying to find this book, but I am living in the US and history of this topic tends to be heavily censored over here. Any idea where I might get a copy of this work by Stanislaw Srokowski?

kaprys 3 | 2,181
26 Nov 2017 #16
Has it been translated to English?
The Polish title is 'Nienawiść'. It's mentioned in English articles about the film (translated as 'Hate'/'Hatred') but you can't even see the cover or any sale offers.

Do you know Polish? You can try ordering it online in Polish .
KatholischSeppe4 - | 2
26 Nov 2017 #17
I do not know Polish, still trying to learn Russian so that'll have to wait on the backburner so to speak. I cannot find it in English at all, heck here on the American google it doesn't show up whatsoever, go figure :P I could try getting a Polish copy and working my way through it one day.
Miloslaw 20 | 4,782
19 May 2018 #18

A Homeland Denied.

A great new book and highly recommended.
Wincig 2 | 227
2 Jan 2020 #19

Just bought "the Books of Jacob" by Olga Tokarczuk, the Litterature Nobel prize winner.

I haven't started it yet. Have you read it and if yes, what do you think of it?
Ziemowit 14 | 4,229
2 Jan 2020 #20
The book seems too thick for me. Of course, I may buy an e-book, so the book becomes much thinner.

On a more serious note, they say her prose is outstanding. I listened to her speech in Stockholm on receiving the Nobel prize award and I think the speech was good and intellectually rewarding. No, I haven't read any of her books yet.

A-t-on traduit ses livres en français?
Lenka 5 | 3,500
2 Jan 2020 #21
I never read anything od hers because, silly me, I got her name mixed up with another writer whom I trully disliked. I realised my mistake once she got the Nobel and I wanted to know which one of her books I read and realised my mistake.
Wincig 2 | 227
3 Jan 2020 #22

Indeed, the version I bought is the French translation.. and I agree it is very thick..I hope it will not end like another very thick Polish book which I bought years ago and stopped reading half way through (le Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse/Rekopis Znaleziony w Saragossie by J Potocki) !!
cms neuf 2 | 1,808
3 Jan 2020 #23
In the stack for me - will try and read it later this month, my wife is listening to an audiobook but the narrator sounds like a Notariusz and I didn't think I could face it.

I notice that threads about culture are merged but threads about Muslims multiply.
mafketis 37 | 10,911
3 Jan 2020 #24
I haven't read any of her books yet.

You sound like a Polish minister of culture!

I read E.E. many years ago and enjoyed it. I started Bieguni but pooped out after about 80 pages - just not my kind of thing there were some okay sections (like the section about a man searching for his wife who mysteriously disappears) but too much of it....hmmm
5 Jan 2020 #25
I recommend a new book about Rzeczpospolita as a complex socio-political entity: "Księstwa Rzeczpospolitej: państwo magnackie jako region polityczny" by Mariusz Kowalski.

In this book you can read many interesting facts about political process, magnate families, social classes, religions etc. One such fact is that Wiśniowieccy magnate family has been proven to indeed descend from the Vikings of Rurik dynasty - surprizing that it was indeed true!
Strzelec35 28 | 876
18 Oct 2021 #26
Przedwiosnie or the coing spring is literally the ultimate best historical (albeit historical fiction) book and novel ever written about poland or out of poland. it is like gold man. Like this novel is gold because it shows how we were with russia at one point or russians basically. But the idea behind it is the coming spring or coing new country forming called poland where everyone is migrating to across the entire empire (russian empire) from baku oils etc. all over trains filled coming home thats why its called the coing spring.

an I think Im in love with them.
marion kanawha 3 | 95
20 Oct 2022 #27

Books On Polish History

I did a few searches and I think I'm on the right path. I'm interested in Polish history up till the dissolution of the Commonwealth.

A couple threads mention Davies' GOD'S PLAYGROUND but they also mention that it is way too complicated for a novice. I have the book and I agree.

The threads mention Zamoyski's POLAND, A HISTORY. I'm currently making my way through this book and find the narrative very readable. I'm at Sobieski's timeline at the moment (end of 17th c,).

I do refer back to Davies's book by checking the index.
So now I want more. I want another decent chronological narrative history that accentuates the positives and negatives up to 1795.
Any recommendations? Thanks for your interest and help.
pawian 224 | 24,560
22 Oct 2022 #28
Any recommendations?

In Polish or English??
marion kanawha 3 | 95
23 Oct 2022 #29
I'm interested only in books in English.

I finished Zamoyski's POLAND, A HISTORY and am into Chapter 6 of Daniel Stone's THE POLISH-LITHUANIAN STATE, 1386-1795.
I purchased this years ago but it stayed on my bookshelf until now.
I highly recommend it because of its STYLE.
Historians don't like to call "history" a chronicle because history is much more than a list of events.

But a chronicle style helps when a subject is as difficult as early Polish history.
Stone writes in such a style. It's almost an outline/note form. He has a good narrative style that makes for easy, quick reading. It's chronological based on political history - which is how most histories are written. It;s divided by monarch.

There are chapters on other histories covering a period of time. These chapters are interjected into the period being covered. They cover such topics as social, economic, agricultural, urban, artistic, educational, religious histories.

So far I'm enjoying it.

Again, I'm open to any other suggestions.

This is my only reading topic now. I go through phases then I don't read for long spells of time. My last phase was American Civil War naval history. Now it's Polish history until 1795.

My next phase will be Polish history IMMEDIATLY after WW II. I'm finding out a lot of stuff happened that never made the news. If it happened in today's world, it would be front page news every day.
pawian 224 | 24,560
23 Oct 2022 #30
I'm interested only in books in English.

I see. I am not competent enough to recommend anything else than the publications you already mentioned. Other non-Polish posters should take voice. But it might be a problem - those American cons who attend the forum don`t read any history books in any languages.

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