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Recommended Poland's history books

pawian 218 | 22,786
5 Nov 2023 #121
the cover picture of the figure is identified inside the book as Kosciuszko.

Yes, I guessed it. The atypical rendering of him when dismounted is sth that attracted my attention.
jon357 72 | 20,946
5 Nov 2023 #122
Another group of rich folks (like King Stanislaw) who thought the whole uprising was a "hair-brained" scheme with no hope of success.

I remember reading Count Adam Zamoyski's excellent book and something that stood out for me was when he wrote that if people had listened to King Stanislaw, Poland would have emerged from the Napoleonic Wars in a similar situation to Belgium.
pawian 218 | 22,786
5 Nov 2023 #123
if people had listened to King Stanislaw, Poland would have emerged from the Napoleonic Wars in a similar situation to Belgium.

Yes, Kosciuszko Insurrection was badly timed - Poles lost and the third partition took place. The tsarina Catherine the Great died soon afterwards and her son, who had a huge sentiment for Poles, took power. He freed Kosciuszko from captivity. But it was too late coz Poland had ceased to exist.
Ziemowit 14 | 4,361
6 Nov 2023 #124
Yes, Kosciuszko Insurrection was badly timed

Possibly, but we cannot judge history from the perspective of later times. In 1794 no one knew yet when Catherine II, that German princess from Sttetin, would die. Also, few people could envisage if her son as a tsar would have a sentiment for Poles or not; to be honest, he was first of all against all what his mother did.

Poland after the second partition was nothing more than a Russian protectorate, a mere mockery of what she was before. As people of the time described her: Silly Poland without Poznań! (Głupia Polska beż Poznania!).
pawian 218 | 22,786
7 Nov 2023 #125
we cannot judge history from the perspective of later times.

But you know that people love playing if games. :):):) So, the Warsaw Rising shouldn`t have broken out coz ......... etc.
marion kanawha 2 | 79
11 Nov 2023 #126
Some military history books covering the famous Polish heavy cavalry called the WINGED HUSSARS.

Just before King Bathory time the Poles absorbed and modified some foreign cavalry units that became the famous hussars.

The books listed below:
HUSARIA, THE WINGE HORSEMEN, Anna Wasilkowska, 1998. Published in Warsaw in Polish and English.
POLISH WINGED HUSSARS, 1576-1775, Richard Brzezinski, 2008. Part of Osprey's Warrior Series.

Both books are phenomenal. Well illustrated. Lots of details with pictures, something I personally love when reading history.
In reading Polish military history prior to 1795, I'm becoming fascinated by the "war hammer" called "nadziaki". Awesome weapon! The husaria knew how to use them well!

I'm also becoming impressed with certain military commanders called "hetmani".
Stanislaw Zolkiewski
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz
Stanislaw Koniecpolski
Stefan Czarniecki

I want to find out more about these commanders. Aside from Wikipedia and mention of them in survey histories I've read, not much is known about these fantastic commanders. Too bad no biographies of them exist in English. Impressive military careers. Two of them dying like heroes in the movies. I would love to know more.

The husaria on the battlefield were impressive. An entire Commonwealth army was only one third of a Swedish army. The cavalry was about evenly matched. The Swedes were destroyed. In a battle against the Russians the entire Polish army was not even 20% the size yet it destroyed the enemy.

But you can't keep this up. The husaria victories are impressive more so because the entire Commonwealth army was always much smaller than the enemy army. Not always but most of the time.

The failure came in NOT the greatness of the husaria but in FAILING to maintain a standing army. By the turn of the 18th century no matter what the Commonwealth cobbled together, it wasn't good enough.

As von Moltke said in his history of Poland. The greatest sin was the failure to provide a sound defense to protect the country.

marion kanawha 2 | 79
13 Nov 2023 #127
A HISTORY OF POLAND, Oskar Halecki, 1992, New Edition.

The new edition adds chapters, written by Antony Polansky, covering the years of Gomulka, Gierik, Solidarity and martial law. Thaddeus Gromada (who studied under Halecki at Fordham University in NYC) produced the afterward which brings Poland's history up to the end of communism and Lech Walesa's presidency.


Oskar Halecki (died 1973) gave a series of lectures in the USA in 1938. He was in France on a lecture tour when WW II started. With the help of the American Kosciuszko Foundation he arrived in the USA. He was a professor at Fordham and Columbia until 1961 then a visiting professor at various schools in the USA, Canada and Ireland.

Halecki's view of history concerning Poland is to constantly emphasize that Poland is a country that perfectly fits into the "Western Civilization" of Europe alongside Italy, France, etc. via its culture and religion. That Poland's history should not be lumped into Asiatic types of peoples which Poland oftentimes found itself the bulk work against potential invasions from them. Such peoples include the Russians and Turks.

His was one of the first Polish history books I read. I found Polish history difficult but his was very readable to such a novice. As time went by and I attempted to study Polish history with more effort I found out that any searches (from physical searches in a big city library to on line) oftentimes produced something Russian. Polish history was lumped in with Russian topics. I remember when I wanted to learn more about Poland's Turkish wars, I had to buy a history of the Ottoman Empire. It's only now, in this decade, that I can find interesting Polish history in English.

Today historians seem to downplay his particular philosophy of Polish history. It's too romantic; too idealized. Unfortunately, I don't remember where I read this. Personally, I won't dismiss him. I would recommend reading his work.

  • First paperback printing (1981) of the ninth edition (1976).

  • 1992 edition.
Bobko 24 | 1,385
13 Nov 2023 #128
@marion kanawha

How about, instead of writing your middle school book reports, you give us an actual opinion?
marion kanawha 2 | 79
15 Nov 2023 #129
If you go back through the various books I've tackled, I do give my opinion of them. As a novice in Polish history I do report on how easy they were to read. How enjoyable the narrative was in dealing with the chronicle of events. Importantly how well they teach us Polish history.

What else do you want me to say?
pawian 218 | 22,786
15 Nov 2023 #130
How about,you give us an actual opinion?

He does give his opinion on the books he has read. What is your silly problem???

What else do you want me to say?

Don `t bother about imperialist Russians who don`t understand what the thread is about despite its clear name: Poland`s history books.
marion kanawha 2 | 79
18 Nov 2023 #132
THE HISTORY OF POLAND SINCE 1863, R.F. Leslie, Antony Polonsky, Jan M. Ciechanowski, Z.A. Pelczynski, 1980. Part of the Soviet and East European Studies series of Cambridge University Press.

I am in the process of reading this history. Finished the first three chapters (1863-1914) with ease. Now I'm starting to read the emergence of independent Poland.

Has anyone read this book? Or heard of it? Some interesting chapters ahead: "The breakdown of parliamentary government" and "The rise and ebb of Stalinism". 15 of the 17 chapters cover Polish history up till the end of Gomulka (1970).

I wanted to know more about the 1863 insurrection. This book covers a tiny bit in a broad overview.

There are really no books in English that cover this uprising. I'm interested in it because it had a direct affect on my ancestors. It caused my ancestors children to rethink their futures and decide that Poland was not the place to be.

  • First paperback edition with epilogue, 1983.
pawian 218 | 22,786
18 Nov 2023 #133
There are really no books in English that cover this uprising.

Yes, I have just checked it and you are correct - no serious quality publications - only websites. Strange. Probably the topic was too Polish for Am-Br historians/publishers.
marion kanawha 2 | 79
24 Nov 2023 #134
THE WAR OF THE POLISH SUCCESSION, King Rama VI of Thailand, 1901.

The author, Rama, was not meant to be king. In 1895 he was made Crown Prince after his half-brother died. By 1898 he finished at the British Military Academy (Sandhurst) and was commissioned an artillery officer. In 1899 he studied history at Christ Church, Oxford. Right after he wrote this little history he suffered appendicitis and missed graduating. He was made king and ruled 1910 to 1925, dying at the young age of 44.

He was a famous writer who translated English and French literature into Thai. He wrote modern novels, short stories, poems and plays in Thai. He introduced his people to mystery and detective novels. Besides this history he contributed newspaper articles and journal pieces.

Europe entered the 18th century with wars of succession. Countries interfering in other countries by trying to determine the next in line to the throne. These maneuvers were attempts at alliances for power.

Right off was the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) which could be considered a world war. It was fought in North and South America, the Caribbean and all over Europe. The death toll, including diseases, surpassed a million. The dead and wounded in three famous battles (Ramilles, Malplaquet, Blenheim) topped 76,000.

On the other side of Europe, at the same time, the Polish Civil War was going on during the Great Northern War. This was also a war of succession. Round two in the 18th century wars of succession was the War of the Polish Succession (1733-1735).

Rama covers different phases of the war. See the contents page image. Nations used this war as an excuse to gain their own diplomatic edge. Overall it was a Bourbon-Hapsburg duel with the Bourbons gaining Naples & Sicily.

On the Polish theater of operations there are some facts that were clarified for me. Firstly, August II of Poland, when he was getting sick, attempted to bribe Frederick William (Frederick the Great's father) of Prussia by offering to partition parts of Poland plus Polish Prussia and Courland in order to ensure his son got the Polish throne. August II feared the Austrian and Russian reaction so in a desperate move he tried to partition parts of Poland between them. Luckily the scumbag died finally.

Then Rama covers the details of Stanislaw Leszczynski's election and the debacle that followed. It seems that Theodore Potocki, the Primate Interrex, was an unsung hero.

But all was for naught. The Russians showed up along with Polish "malcontents" and King Stanislaw fled to Danzig. The siege of Danzig was described in detail and it ranks as another fiasco. This was the first time French and Russians faced off against each other.

"The appearance of a Russian army, for the first time in European history, on the banks of the Rhine, undoubtedly did much to hasten the conclusion of peace."

The Russians helped Austria. For Poland it was an unfortunate war. It reaffirmed the fact that Polish internal politics were in the hands of Europe's great powers. It reaffirmed the fact that Poland had no foreign diplomacy whatsoever. Poland lost Latvia to Russia and the Pacification Sejm ratified whatever Russia wanted. Augustus III of Saxony became king.

I needed to Google certain things as I read the book. The siege of Danzig and the southern Italian campaign are well written, understandable and covered in depth. Some Polish leaders, the confederation that supported King Stanislaw, the "malcontents" are skimmed over. I needed to further investigate them.

I will say one character who showed up really aggravated me. MICHAEL WISNIOWIECKI. The very first time he decided to switch sides he should have been assassinated.

That's one thing I noticed in reading Polish history. Traitors, who caused death and destruction, were often embraced and forgiven. In Italy they would be assassinated Machiavellian-style, in Russia they were butchered at banquets, in the German states they faced firing squads, they were drawn and quartered in England, flayed in Turkey. In Sweden the traitor who provoked the Great Norther War was smashed on the wheel, limb by limb.

Lastly there are no good books or sources available covering the Commonwealth and the Great Northern War. This era was the beginning of the end of Polish independence. I'm in search of a book on the entire war that covers Poland's role in depth.

Any recommendations???

  • Title page.

  • Contents.
jon357 72 | 20,946
24 Nov 2023 #135
King Rama VI of Thailand

He was a highly moral person; if he was King today, Thailand would be strongly supporting Ukraine. He also built an airport in 1914 which was very forward thinking.

Thank for pointing out this book.
Bobko 24 | 1,385
1 day ago #136
He was a highly moral person

The current Thai King appears to be a not so moral person.

Germany has not affected him well.

Alien 18 | 4,036
1 day ago #137
The current Thai King

He represents his country as best he can.

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