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Recommended Poland's history books

johnny reb 47 | 7260
11 Apr 2023 #91
I think

You missed the point again.
Poland's Foreign Ministry said the two nations "have come to an agreement that it is good for young people to learn about all aspects of Jewish, Israeli and Polish history, not limited to the Holocaust.."

You should have read the whole article before you posted what you think.
marion kanawha 4 | 99
9 Jul 2023 #92
After five months on intense reading of Robert Frost's OXFORD HISTORY OF POLAND-LITHUANIA, I finally finished it. It was a challenge for me because I'm relatively new to studying Polish history. For the English speaker, Frost's book IS NOT a beginner book of earlier Polish history.

The book is a political history firstly. All the politics that went into the 200+ years leading up to the creation of the Commonwealth. Naturally history books are best when they follow a chronological order. This book does so but it is broken up into themes. As you go through time leading up to the Union of Lublin, themes are covered. Ezamples: the types of peoples, the leaders, ideas of union (including all the previous variants), the dynasties, szlachta, peasants, Nihil Novi, sejms, Prussia, Ruthenia, religion, etc., etc.

Jurate Kiaupiene, a Lithuanian historian from Vilnius, states that this scholarly work is the first time the Union of Lublin is presented to an international audience in English.

The best way to understand what this book is about is to read the reviews if you aren't going to read the book. The best review is by Piotr Gorecki, a professor in the University of California system (and also a lawyer). Not only does he review the book but also gives a synopsis of the book, section by section. Great!

Two other great reviews are by Paul Knoll (retired professor from the Univ. of Suthern California) and Jurate Kiaupiene (mentioned above).

I don't provide links because they often disappear. Instead Google the author, the title, the words "book review" and the name of the reviewer and the review will pop up. The reviews are lengthy.

This history is going to become the standard scholarly work for this period in Polish & Lithuanian history for many years to come.
Ironside 50 | 12338
10 Jul 2023 #93
@marion kanawha
Yes, I recommend it as well. Specifically those people that are part of a union like the UK or the usa
14 Jul 2023 #94
[Moved from]: Looking for specific book about history during 70s,80s,90s

Someone Polish told me they read a book (in polish) that changed their lives, it was a history of Poland during the second half of the 20th century, with a focus on 70s, 80s and 90s.

The person said they remembered the first name of the author might have been Joanna.
It's been many years since they read it, and they asked for my help in trying to find it again.
Can you please help me find this book?
marion kanawha 4 | 99
16 Jul 2023 #95
Adam Zamoyski, THE LAST KING OF POLAND, 1997.
Once I picked the book up, I was totally engrossed by it. 464 pages. Done! A great book!!
The Partitions of Poland were naturally covered in great detail. For me this was great because I learned what happened. The intricacies and machinations were covered in much greater clarity than you'd find in other Polish histories written in English.

The surprise was at the end at Zamoyski's Epilogue.' The epilogue was actually an historiography of Stanislaw II Augustus. How Polish historians wrote about --- and treated him --- since the mid-19th century. To this very day the judgement of Stanislaw Augustus in Polish history is still a contentious topic!

Yet those historical figures who contributed to Poland's long road to ruin are hardly remembered; some are almost revered!!!
marion kanawha 4 | 99
25 Jul 2023 #96
All this while I've been led to believe that the Deluge was the Commonwealth succumbing to overwhelming odds! The Commonwealth seemed to go out of her way to achieve this wretched status.

For Polish historians the term "Deluge" specifically refers to the Second Northern War, 1655-60, i.e. the Swedish invasion. Most Westerners use the Deluge term to refer to the entire devastation of the 1648-1667 period.

Frost's AFTER THE DELUGE is a history of the diplomacy and especially the internal politics that shaped the Commonwealth's actions and decisions during 1655-60.

It is a boring, repetitious book. That's what happens when chapter after chapter, year after year, covers the perpetual internal political bickering that reared its ugly head during this critical period. The Commonwealth was uable to control its internal politics, the revolts, multiple invasions, disorganized diets and dietines, perpetual shortages of money and constant failed attempts in diplomacy trying to seek allies. The non-stop game-playing amongst the court, the council, the magnates, the diet and the szlachta is repeated over and over, ad nauseum! All the while the Commonwealth was disintegrating.

Can you say "FAILED STATE"? no better political description fits the Commonwealth. It was created and managed to stay abreast as the 17th century came along. Through "dumb luck" it seemed to be able to hold its own versus other states. But once a crisis came along, never mind five or six of them at the same time, the Commonwealth could not handle them. Its foundation was set up as a "failed state" which it fulfilled in textbook fashion. Even at this time there were talks of partitions.

Frost's history shows the divergent diplomatic aims, the divergent interests of all parties in internal politics and especially the mediocrity of all players in the game of "failed state" Commonwealth.

Reading this book is embarrassing to be Polish. How much more stupid can you get! These are my views from reading the history. Frost, like a good historian, lays out the diplomatic-political history in as best a narrative as is possible. Frost does say that other states were experiencing problems like the Commonwealth. But we all know the other states rectified their situations as best as possible. Not the Commonwealth. Twenty-five years later it spiraled even further downwards.

Ironside 50 | 12338
28 Jul 2023 #97
@marion kanawha
Why Polish? It was a multi ethnic ,multi religion, languages, subcultures with layers of diversity. Ruled by a consensus, consiting of two equal states and not formal regions, had to fight against aggressive imperialistc World powers...

Others achieved great results by centralisation, revolution, terror ,religious persecutions. Sure, this is not embarrassing?.
Bobko 25 | 2046
28 Jul 2023 #98
Reading this book is embarrassing to be Polish. How much more stupid can you get!

Give some credit to your Polish ancestors... Geography and demography are fate.

America has two absolutely harmless and utterly peaceful neighbors - Canada and Mexico. Then, America has two incredibly powerful allies - the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. America is blessed with nearly every element to be found in the period table, and has enough energy to cover its needs for centuries. The climate is conducive to agriculture, across the majority of the country's territory.

Even a monkey would make a great country out of the USA.

Poland has historically been between three fires - a Germanic one, a Russian one, a Turkish one. Each of these powers, applied their hand to weakening the structure of Polish government. With rivers of German, Russian, and Turkish money pouring in to back this or that decision, can you really blame the Magnates for putting Poland as secondary in their list of priorities?

A Russian, German, or Turkish prince could offer many times more money than any Polish king could. People are weak and greedy creatures.
Ironside 50 | 12338
28 Jul 2023 #99
the thing is Polish doesn't cut it. By modern terms they were Belorusan, Lituanian and Ukrianian as well as some Polish, however the big fat cats in this union were Lituanian/Belrusan and Ukrainin magnates/Oligarches
pawian 221 | 24215
28 Jul 2023 #100
were Lituanian/Belrusan and Ukrainin magnates/Oligarches

Who were polonised over centuries.
Ironside 50 | 12338
29 Jul 2023 #101
What tnat even means? Leftie double Dutch?
pawian 221 | 24215
29 Jul 2023 #102
Yes, exactly - what do you mean???
marion kanawha 4 | 99
29 Oct 2023 #103

This book claims to be the first book published about the First Partition since a German-language book was published in 1873. The German book DID NOT bother to use Polish or Russian references. That's interesting!!!

Concerning this book you need to realize that it was written in 1962. References to Polish primary sources are still minimal but are referenced.
The book is very readable and the narrative of events are straight forward. See the picture of the page of the table of contents.

For this history 1762 was the pivotal starting date: Catherine (the Great) came to the throne; August III of Poland died; France and Austria lost the Seven Years War, a major war that many historians consider a true world war. It's this war that created the world order up till 1815.

There is a nice summary of Polish Events from 1717-33 (the "Dark Ages") and from 1734-63 which covered the pro-Russian vs other factions in internal politics of Poland.

Since this history takes a deep dive into a small period of time (1762-1772) lots of details are covered that would not be found in general histories of Poland, even scholarly in-depth works (in English).

Since I'm relatively new in studying Polish history, a few things were quite revealing to me. FIRSTLY, how Russia kept meddling into internal affairs to preserve the DISSIDENTS (Orthodox and Protestants) role in internal politics. I have heard of this but never had the opportunity to study it closely like this book covers.

SECONDLY, the confederations that sprang up to combat this Russian meddling. The most famous was the Bar Confederation. I thought this was the only one. It was one of only many, many regional confederations. These confederations were conservative, one might say right-wing, very Catholic to the point of medieval crusaders. The problem was that they were not well organized and came across as a bunch of brigands. They did not impress those who might aid them: France and Turkey.

THIRDLY, and this is the MOST DECISIVE POINT, because the confederates were irregulars they would cross borders to escape the Russians. Crossing over into Austrian territory was nice and easy. So the Austrians decided to take a little chunk of Polish territory to safeguard their border. The civil war in Poland (the confederations vs the king & Russians) created an excuse for the powers to protect their borders. What Austria did (almost casually) by this small action was upset the balance of power and SET INTO MOTION THOUGHTS OF PARTITION.

FOURTHLY the book is basically the ongoing diplomatic wrangling between Russia and Prussia then later Austria over partitions and how it would affect the balance of power in the world. Poland was in such a chaotic state that the neighbors felt they had to do something.

FIFTHLY is the decision to partition. Very casually, almost jokingly, the idea came up to partition. It was in Russian court notes then made its way into diplomatic correspondence between Russia and Prussia. It was Frederick (the Great) who bit down on this idea and would not let go. To dismember Poland would create a smaller, more manageable area. Frederick was the prime mover in Poland's dismemberment. Again, the decisive move was Austria's take on a piece of Poland. This is what spurred Frederick on and what made him involve Catherine (the Great) to take action. The book then covers the actions of who was to get what and how would the world react to the First Partition.

The author makes some points that really jumped out at me. I have to admit they are quite harsh!
1.)LIBERTY. Poles really had no concept of liberty. There was a courageous spirit expressed in speeches and pamphlets but rarely in defense of a nation (patriotism?) but rather a defense, a preservation, of self-interests. The Bar Confederation seems to be a prime example.

2.)CORRUPTION. By the 18th century the Poles were morally and ethically bankrupt. For such a religious people, they rivaled (if not surpassed) today's corrupt Third World countries. "Jingle a bag of coins and they could be bought."

3.)RUSSIA. Believe it or not the author says the Russians were the losers in this partition. After 1717 Russia pretty much had control over the Commonwealth. But Catherine and her ministers were not savvy enough in dealing with Frederick, his ministers and the Austrian diplomats. That's why Prussia for example was able to obtain a valuable share while Russia got lots of empty land. I found that point interesting and enlightening.

Alien 22 | 5186
29 Oct 2023 #104
Herbert H. Kaplan,

This name means nothing to me.
jon357 73 | 22638
30 Oct 2023 #105
how Rut meddling into internal affairs to preserve the DISSIDENTS (Orthodox and Protestants) role in internal politics

The book sounds fascinating and this part intrigues me, about russian internal politics and how religious minorities in the empire fitted into that. Poland still has some russian-speaking Old Believer villages.

Have you read Thomas Carlyle on the partitions of Poland and the event leading up to them? Especially his biography of Frederick the Great. His work isn't much known in Poland for the same reason that I'd not use some of his quotes to Poles (he certainly wasn't pro-Polish and is famous for not mincing his words) however his take on that period is interesting. He was a relative of mine so there have always been books of his (and some copies of other writers' books that he owned) in the house.
marion kanawha 4 | 99
30 Oct 2023 #106
The book opens up with comments from Thomas Carlyle. He has nothing positive to say about Poland and the Poles.
Alien 22 | 5186
31 Oct 2023 #107
He has nothing positive to say about Poland and the Poles.

Isn't this also your goal? Reveal the cards.
marion kanawha 4 | 99
31 Oct 2023 #108
THE PARTITIONS OF POLAND, Lord Eversley, 1973 edition. This history book was published in 1915 by George John Shaw-Lefevre Eversley (1832-1928). Poland did not exist and World War I was raging.

This book was an easy read. The narrative flowed and made sense in reference to personalities and events.

Eversley makes a good distinction between ETHNOGRAPHICAL Poland and HISTORICAL Poland. Ethnographically who was Polish, who was Ruthenian, etc., etc. Historically WHERE was Poland geographically. This history opens up in the 1760s where 66% of the people of the Commonwealth were not Polish.

The first chapter is called "The Polish Anarchy". Lots of mention about what we all know about the Commonwealth's disfunction but three points were stressed, especially for 1915. Firstly was the idea that no protection or encouragement given to the "working class", i.e. the peasants which formed the backbone of the country. In the same breath was the disregard for townspeople who were creating a middle class in history at this time.

Secondly was mentioned the incredible corruption rampant on all levels. Lastly was the legal concept that allowed civil war. The question always arose "Who determined it was right to start a civil war? " It seems that they were never based on righteousness - on high moral choices.

The historian Thomas Carlyle wrote about Frederick (the Great) who was one of the major players in Poland's demise. Carlyle worshipped Frederick. I thought Frederick was the originator of the partition idea. Carlyle said no.

In Sorel's QUESTIONS d'ORIENT (Albert Sorel, historian, 1842-1906) the original idea of partitions came from Augustus II of Poland after constantly failing to make the Polish throne hereditary. If he got help from the outside he would partition sections of Poland to keep his neighbors happy. Prussia was leery of the idea but the young Prince Frederick (the Great) was for it and never wavered from that goal. Augustus died and the idea died with him for the time being.

The FIRST PARTITION woke Poland up. Reforms were attempted. By 1791 Europe had changed a lot. The French Revolution was in full swing. The author shows how this had a profound effect on Poland's future. This time Catherine (the Great) had "saved" Poland from becoming another Revolutionary France. The ideals of the Targowitz confederates were reinstated and the status quo returned.

Eversley says of King Stanislaw, "He ceased, thenceforth, to be of any account. He was despised equally by all parties." Harsh! Aid was requested from France by the reformers but France saw that it was not a national uprising against Catherine and her confederates. The peasants were indifferent and the burghers would just wait it out. The French saw this "revolution" as one of aristocrats and didn't offer help.

Austria wasn't too happy with this SECOND PARTITION. Prussia got Gdansk; Russia got Minsk and Kiev. The Targowitz Confederation got surprised by another partition. But the tinkle of gold coins smoothed over the situation.

Chapter VIII "How Poland Saved France" is a good view of overall 18th century diplomatic dealings. I never knew the details of these events.

In 1792, Prussia and Austria failed in their attempt to overthrow revolutionary France. War continued and an alliance was formed among Prussia, Austria, Great Britain, Netherlands and Hanover. Great Britain PAID Prussia to maintain an army to attack France. Instead, Frederick William and his ministers built up an army at the Commonwealth border. Emperor Francis (of Austria) and his minister Johann Thugut wanted Poland (since they lost out in the Second Partition) but had to show that they were involved in stopping France. At Turcoing I France (May 17-18, 1794) the French beat the allies badly and those who suffered the most were the British because of ****-poor, wretched command decisions by Austria. Prussia wasn't around. Thugut and the emperor pretty much said "Oh well, that's war. Win some; lose some." They packed up and left the allies.

In the meantime, Frederick William of Prussia secretly scuttled away and made a separate peace with the French "regicides". And Great Britain never got a farthing back. Britain's money was used to equip the Prussian army to put down Kosciuszko's uprising.

France was "gowno" lucky. She had internal problems and her army was disorganized. Austria and Prussia did not have the will to invade France and put down the Revolution. They were more interested in Poland and were constantly bickering between themselves diplomatically.

Eversley wrote, "No one who surveys carefully the whole field of European politics, and the military movements of this time, can doubt THAT POLAND WAS THE SALVATION OF FRANCE. It was the apple of discord between Austria and Prussia. It distracted the attention of both these nations from the main objective of their campaign against France...If Poland was the salvation of France from its enemies, who were gathered together ostensibly to overwhelm the Revolution, the Revolution in France may be said to have been the cause of the undoing and dismemberment of Poland." (my caps)

So what sparked the THIRD PARTITION? The Polish army. Catherine wanted to reduce the army from 30,000 to 6000 for Poland. Another 7000 were to be sent to Lithuania and since Lithuania was now a Russian province these men had to join the Russian army or leave service. In the Krakow area a cavalry unit refused to disband. Just like that it blew up! BAM!!! The Russian troops in Warsaw at the time were decimated.

Catherine needed help from Prussia and Austria. Her troops were near Turkey somewhere. The Prussians tried to take Warsaw but failed miserably. Finally Suvorov and a Russian army showed up, fought battles, butchered people and it was all over. This time Catherine held all the cards and gave little to Prussia.

It was a good exciting history book to read. It's exciting because most of it concerns "diplomatic" history which can be unbelievably boring. The constant intrigues among Catherine, Frederick, Frederick William, Maria Theresa, Francis, etc. and a multitude of ministers and diplomats are truly reflective of Machiavellian politics during the rise of great nation-states.

The book was written when Poland didn't exist. Eversley believed that Poland would become at least an autonomous region when the war ended. He mentions that talks had been going on to re-unite Poland.

marion kanawha 4 | 99
1 Nov 2023 #109
It was interesting what George Eversley had to say about Kosciuszko. That he was a genuine patriot but was not a Danton "to inspire the populace with resolution". Georges Danton was a lawyer and French revolutionary who became a moderate and was beheaded.

There were three groups, Eversley says, in Warsaw towards the end. A small group of pro-Russians who were fearing for their lives. They were still getting paid and waiting to see what would happen/ Another group of rich folks (like King Stanislaw) who thought the whole uprising was a "hair-brained" scheme with no hope of success. Then there were the revolutionaries who happily hung some of the Targowitz confederates.

Eversley also says that Kosciuszko was not a Lazare Carnot. Carnot was a soldier, a military engineer and French revolutionary "fix-it" man who tackled problems and made organization out of chaos.

I find this analysis a little unfair towards Kosciuszko. He had much less time to act because of how the uprising ignited. Also his organizational skills were exemplary considering he had to deal with characters ranging from "hot heads" to the apathetic.

What are your views?
pawian 221 | 24215
2 Nov 2023 #110
I find this analysis a little unfair towards Kosciuszko.

He tried to do his best but the resistance of the gentry to draft more peasants into the army was too big and the rising failed, like all later risings in the 19th century. Instead of encouraging thousands of peasants to join the army, there were only 300 scythers who fought gallantly against Russians at the battle of Racławice. Too few. While state troops, though patriotic, well trained and equipped, were too scarce to repel Russian masses.

marion kanawha 4 | 99
4 Nov 2023 #111
(from Osprey's Men-at-Arms Series)
Profusely illustrated. Many contemporary drawings. Many photos of arms and armor from various museum collections.
I think they're well worth it. To those who have read them, are they 100% accurate? Does everything seem to flow, so to speak?

  • Published 2008

  • Published 1987

  • Published 1987

  • Published 2013
pawian 221 | 24215
4 Nov 2023 #112
To those who have read them, are they 100% accurate?

I can`t say I have read them coz I haven`t but if you ask for accuracy, I can say a word or two about the cover of the Armies of the Partitions book: The third soldier in the row is wearing a folk uniform from Krakow region - the one worn by 300 peasant scythers. However, he is also holding a Polish sabre, which was the weapon used by other elite troops, mostly riders of gentry background. The countenance of the guy resembles Kosciuszko`s who sometimes put on the folk uniform to show fraternity with his peasant soldiers.

However, Kosciuszko is always shown mounted in Polish pics/paintings. This horseless (:) image of him in the cover is really disturbing to me as a Pole.

Yes, I know, they didn`t have enough space to show him on a horse in this cover, but still it is a clash.

Painting from late 19th cent:

pawian 221 | 24215
4 Nov 2023 #113
Kosciuszko`s who sometimes put on the folk uniform to show fraternity with his peasant soldiers.

Kosciuszko in the folk uniform with his peasant scythers in a book for kids:

Joker 2 | 2223
4 Nov 2023 #114
Kosciuszko in the folk uniform

Koz statue in chicago. Do you have one in Poland?

You can see Trump Tower right behind it:)

pawian 221 | 24215
4 Nov 2023 #115
Do you have one in Poland?

Why do you insist on playing a moron in the forum???? :):):):):)

You can see Trump Tower

Why do you insist on playing a moron in the forum???? :):):):):)

Joker 2 | 2223
4 Nov 2023 #116
So, no statue then... Chicago Poles have more respect for their ancestors than the degenerates they left behind in Europe.

Your redundant name calling response proves that once again, I am correct.
pawian 221 | 24215
4 Nov 2023 #117
statue then..

You are really pimping it too much. :):):)

I am correct.

Yes, a correct Pimpek. hahahaha
Ziemowit 14 | 4046
5 Nov 2023 #118
So, no statue [in Poland] then... Chicago Poles have more respect for their ancestors than the degenerates they left behind in Europe.

A very big Kościuszko statue in Kraków is situated right at the main gate to the Wawel Hill. It shows him sitting on a horse as setting off to the battle with the Russians at Racławice. It simply cannot be unnoticed by anyone approaching the main gate.

And since the Wawel Hill with the Wawel Castle on it is a must-see for anyone visiting Kraków (and especially for those flying over from the US), the question that comes to mind is this:

- Joker, was your memorable trip to Kraków three years ago real, as you claim it was, or was it fake as many members of this forum have long suspected?
jon357 73 | 22638
5 Nov 2023 #119
Do you have one in Poland?

There are quite a few, plus streets named after him in every major city.
marion kanawha 4 | 99
5 Nov 2023 #120
1.) In the POLISH ARMIES OF THE PARTITIONS 1770-94 book listed above in this thread, the cover picture of the figure is identified inside the book as Kosciuszko.

2.) Probably the most famous picture of Kosciuszko.
3.) Kosciuszko in exile in Switzerland.

  • see 1.) note

  • see 2.) note

  • see 3.) note

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