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Posts by marion kanawha  

Joined: 21 Jan 2018 / Male ♂
Last Post: 11 May 2024
Threads: 3
Posts: 95
From: Stratford
Speaks Polish?: no
Interests: various-a little about everything-from food to history and everything in between

Displayed posts: 98 / page 1 of 4
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marion kanawha   
11 May 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

Another history book, in English, concerning the January Uprising of 1863.

REFORM AND INSURRECTION IN RUSSIAN POLAND, 1856-1865, by R.F. Leslie, 1963. I managed to obtain this book through the US inter-library loan system and am making my way through it.

Robert Frank Leslie (1918-1994) was a British professor and a specialist in Polish history. One of his other books is POLISH POLITICS AND THE REVOLUTION OF NOVEMBER, 1830, published 1956, 1969.

This is not a military history of the insurrection. The last chapter basically deals with that. The book is 251 pages long excluding the bibliography. 151 pages are devoted to the background and events that led up to January, 1863. Diplomatic maneuverings and Polish politics cover another sixty pages.

  • Title Page & Contents
marion kanawha   
6 May 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

For reference purposes.
I found a history book, in English, about the January Uprising (1863). It's a free download from Google Books because it's now copyright free to use.

Cannot find much about William Day. He produced very little output. His other work is THE PYTHOUSE PAPERS, 1879, about late 17th century English anti-Catholic hysteria, plots to assassinate Charles II, hanging Jesuits, etc., etc.

His Polish history seems to be very detailed. I have not read it yet.

marion kanawha   
4 Apr 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

There are some history books that I'm looking for in English. So far no luck finding anything.
Firstly is any book the covers the 1863 Revolution. Even if it's a section of another history book. A long as it covers the events in detail better than Wikipedia and other Google searches. I believe this event affected my family and caused some of them to come to America, France and Argentina. I want to know more about the mundane facts such as the serfs, opportunities, property, finances, economic growth, etc.

Secondly I don't see much coverage anywhere about the period from the election of the Saxon Augustus to the Silent Sejm (1717).
Basically this is the period of the Great Northern War. I would be willing to get a GNW history but there doesn't seem to be any available. Could someone refer me to an accurate GNW history? One that will cover all facets, not just Russia and Sweden. I don't even know a reliable GNW history. I could search libraries if I had a title and author. The best I've done is Wikipedia concerning the civil war fought in Poland during the GNW. I need to know more of the details such as who were the major players in this drama.

Any help would be appreciated.
marion kanawha   
30 Mar 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]


To say the least this book is intense! You'll definitely reflect upon it after you've read it. Fr. Rytel-Andrianik is a professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He's also editor of the Polish section of Vatican Radio/News. Manuela Tulli is an Italian journalist covering Vatican and religious topics for the Ansa news agency. The author of books, she's also a blogger.

The book's narrative flows beautifully and it is well documented with copious footnotes and bibliography. Included in the bibliography are websites. Unfortunately for me a lot of it is in Polish.

One of the most interesting topics covered is that of the child in the womb who was killed. That child is considered a martyr and beatified. The book delves into that topic and also covers the children who were very young. They are also considered martyr and beatified by the church. The topic of "martyrdom" is also covered in clear terms. Biographies of the Ulma family and the Jewish victims are also covered.

The neighbors knew the Ulmas were harboring refugees. Even though the house was 200 or so meters from the main road (650+ feet) they saw lots of activity. Food usually gave one away. Large amounts of food were purchased. But it was not neighbors who betrayed the Ulmas. It was a local policeman who was entrusted with one of the Jewish person's property who got greedy.

Chapter4, "The Massacre" is like a deep-sleep, very quick, very disturbing nightmare. All the murders were quickly done within minutes. Silently, no talking, no comments, no shouts, no orders, just gunshots. Only the children were left to be dealt with. The murderers robbed everything from the house and hauled it away in carts. Pillows, mattresses, beds, cups, plates, soup dishes, pots, pans and even tanned leather pieces that Jozef Ulma had been working on. Then the crew got drunk celebrating with vodka. Unbelievable!

The betrayer got his just due. What disturbs me is the officer in charge. He's the one who ordered the children to be killed. He told the villagers he was doing them a favor because no one would have to worry about orphans. He died respectfully at his home. When they went looking for him in 1960, he was already dead. What a story!

I highly recommend reading this.

marion kanawha   
11 Mar 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]


How about the English of the 19th century in history books?? Doesn`t it sound a bit antiquated like in belles lettres of the time?
@ pawian

It's very easy to read. Not difficult at all. It's just that the printing in the book I got is so tiny. That's tiring.


I recommend a Scottish author. Robert Frost The Oxford History of Polish-Lithuania.

If you check entries #81, #82 and #92 in this thread you'll see that I have read that book. Very detailed; very intense.
marion kanawha   
9 Mar 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

THE HISTORY OF POLAND, S.A. Dunham. No date.

This is an 1831 book that has been recently re-printed. The book was written during the 1830 Revolution and the author, in his Preface, is very sympathetic to the cause.

Samuel Astley Dunham (1796-1858) was a British historian whose volumes appeared, over time, in LARDER'S CABINET CYCLOPAEDIA. The CABINET CYCLOPAEDIA was like an encyclopedia of histories and biographies done by various authors. Dunham's history of Poland was his first contribution. Over the next decade and a half he would write fifteen volumes of histories of Spain & Portugal, Europe in the Middle Ages, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Germanic Empire. His works were said to be well researched and very thorough.

What makes Dunham's work different is that he delves a lot into the early history and even touches on the pre-historical. The pre-historical was myth plus oral traditions. Cracus, Princess Wenda, the "bad guy" Popiel II, etc., etc. I thought it was quite fascinating.

But overall the book deals with the earlier history of Poland more so than the Commonwealth period. He finishes the book with a chapter entitled "Poland Partially Restored' which covers Napoleon's Grand Duchy, the Congress Kingdom, the Republic of Cracow. That's where he ends it.

The only bad point of the book is the agonizingly TINY, TINY text making it difficult to read comfortably. Overall it's interesting to read a Polish history, from a long time ago, written by a foreign historian.
marion kanawha   
24 Feb 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

They wasted a great opportunuty of the open door in 1990s when Russia was a poor fallen state. Homo sovieticus Ukrainians who were suspicious of the West prevailed.......

Your point is well taken. That's what Snyder says in his book. Now my taxes are being used to keep them afloat! I know that's a snide remark but from reading Snyder's book to the current situation it's a straight line.
marion kanawha   
24 Feb 2024
History / DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ORDER NO. 00485? [11]

I will say this. When you read Polish history and read the statistics, primarily the death tolls, you become immune to suffering and death. The dead in history just become numbers and more numbers. Oftentimes in Polish history the modern experts can't even determine a death toll figure!!!

We all know of the death toll in Palestine and the entire world is in an uproar. In reading the news and thinking to myself that the Palestine death toll is TWO DAYS of butchery in the Praga suburb during Surorov's advance on Warsaw (1794). That Palestine death toll is ONE AFTERNOON of butchery inthe apartment buildings in Warsaw during the Uprising (1944).

You listen to the news and there's no emotion. It's just figures.
marion kanawha   
21 Feb 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

Finally finished Timothy Snyder's THE RECONSTRUCTION OF NATIONS. (see above).
It's a survey history of Poland, Belarus, Lithuania and Ukrainia from 1569 to 1999. It's a very scholarly work so you better know your Polish history to understand it. Towards the end of the book my concerns were about Belarus. I'm Polish but my people came from Belarus. For the Belarusians they never fully developed a "nationalism'. The history of wars and Stalin (1937-41 Kuropaty Massacres for example) totally "Russofied" Belarus as she entered the end of the 20th century. A sense of being "Belorusian" has been lacking.

Concerning Ukraine there were too many problems that never were rectified. That's why Ukraine could not get into the EU. That's why Ukraine could not get into NATO. Now she's paying for that. (the book was written in 2003).

It seems that Poland and Lithuania made the difficult transition to modern statehood.
marion kanawha   
21 Feb 2024
History / DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ORDER NO. 00485? [11]

The more I study Polish history, the more shocking it becomes. I'm new to Polish history having investigated it intensely for only two years.

So here's something I never heard of --- not ever. I found out about this because of one sentence appearing in Michael Sliva's book POLAND'S EASTERN BORDERS.

We've all heard about Stalin's Great Purge. All I ever heard about the Great Purge was it helped the Nazi Operation Barbarossa succeed because all the top Soviet military personal were eradicated. I also heard that a large segment of the bureaucrats were eliminated.

It took place in 1937-38 and I never realized the scope of this purge. 681,692 EXECUTED. If you include all arrested and their lives destroyed it can reach 950,000.

NOW HERE'S THE SCHOCKER FOR ME. The LARGEST group of those executed were not military or bureaucrats --- it was Soviet citizens of Polish ethnicity. Based on Order No. 000485, some 139,835 were arrested and sentenced. Of those 111,091 were EXECUTED. But it doesn't end there. Historian michal Jasinski says most who were executed were MEN. The wives were deported to Kazakhstan for 5-10 years prison sentences. All possessions were confiscated. The parents and in-laws of the executed lost all possessions and fell into poverty.

The children? Sent en masse to orphanages where they lost their Polish identities. Jasinski calculates that the 1937-38 victims could reach an average of 225,000. IT WAS THE LARGEST ETHNIC SHOOTING AND DEPORTATION ACTION DURING THE GREAT PURGE.

Stalin called them "...Polish espionage mud..." "Officially" it was an action against "agents" of Polish ethnicity who could be the "fifth column" that worked in the railroad, the post office, telephone and transportation, armament factories, the military and those who belonged to social or cultural clubs and organizations.

Ethnic Poles made up .4% of the USSR population but were 12.5% of the victims. 40% came from Ukrainia SSR and 17% came from Byelorussia SSR.

Now here's another shocking fact. NOT ALL THE "POLISH" VICTIMS WERE ETHNIC POLES!!! Because of last names (the NKVD went through telephone books), because of speaking Polish, because of their religion (Catholic?), because of Polish customs and traditions a lot of Belorusians, Ukrainians, Jews and even Russians got swept up in Order No. 000485. They all became POLISH; they all became DEAD !!!

The Great Purge was only known in the West and it was only known about the purge of military and party members. That only became known after some victims escaped the USSR.

It was only in the late 1960s that more info started to come out of the USSR. All this falls into the Soviet concept of "rehabilitation historiography".

And Stalin was right! He was at a meeting and supposedly muttered the following to himself:

"Who's going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years time? No one. Who remembers the names now of the boyars Ivan the Terrible got rid of? No one."

Stalin was dead right. 86 years later and I just found out about the largest eradication of "riff-raff" during the Great Purge.
marion kanawha   
14 Feb 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

POLAND'S EASTERN BORDER, Michael Sliva, 2023. Written by a Canadian who is not an historian. Notice how his last name has been anglicized.

I had been making my way through Timothy Snyder's THE RECONSTRUCTION OF NATIONS (see above). It is a very scholarly "deep-dive" into the eastern lands of Poland throughout history. I then found Sliva's book which a.) was more readable and b.) was more up to date (2023 versus 2003).

At it's core it's a history of the KRESY --- the "borderlands". The eastern border was less a political line but more a fluctuating area of Polish influence. Part of my family came from the "eastern lands".

Sliva covers the "borderlands" of the East (naturally) the most. Places like Galicia, L'viv, Wilno, Volhynia, etc. He also covers the "hinterland". That's the areas furthest east especially during the Commonwealth. Places like Kyiv and Minsk.

There are interesting chapters dealing with Ruthenians (who they are), Lithuanians, Jews, Catholicism, Polonization (what is it), etc., etc. Importantly is the development of the concept of "nationalism".

Sliva also has lots of maps and charts. This always helps when presenting such complicated topics as the fluid Polish eastern lands. Maps and charts cover census data going as far back as 1790. Ethnicity and religious data from the 1921 & 1931 census are heavily analyzed, showing how borders finally, through lots of blood and tears, got shaped as they are today.

In the conclusion he very objectively states that the USSR/Russia is "...the far more impactful, oppressive, and modern occupier and occupies THE COLLECTIVE MEMORIES OF THESE PEOPLE (all folks of the eastern lands) TO A FAR GREATER DEGREE." (my caps)

marion kanawha   
12 Feb 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

1610 THE BATTLE OF KLUSHINO, Anthony Holland, 2023.


It is poorly written, extremely, extremely repetitive, not researched well and has poor sources and references, if you call his tertiary references sources at all.

Holland give historical background to the battle but it needs to be better organized and narrated more clearly. Remember that this is the convoluted period of Russian history, 1600-1620.

He does a decent analysis of leadership styles, army compositions, artillery, logistics, infrastructure, morale, mercenaries, etc. But they're all generalizations. He repeats himself way too often in this respect. In listing pros and cons he mentions the Polish liberum veto. It was never used at this time and didn't have any affect during this time.

For the actual battle I referred to Wikipedia and it seemed that that his narrative was copied directly from there. He refers to a primary source name but I had to Google it because it was not listed in the source section of the book. He mentions a contemporary Polish historian named Nagielski. I had to Google him (Miroslaw Nagielski) but I could not read his comments about the battle. They were not available on line. Again, Nagielski is not listed as a source.

Holland places a lot of emphasis on the Swedish and their contribution to the Russian army. It seems he's writing a preface to the rise of Swedish power in the north.

Finally he does a "comparative analysis" of Klushino with other battles of the time like Brietenfeld (1631) and Lepanto (1571) --- a naval battle???? Why? More effort should be given to events post battle (in my opinion) and in searching for more primary sources about the battle. How did the Polish cavalry get right into the Russian cavalry and destroy them? No details.

I'd pass on this history book.

marion kanawha   
20 Jan 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

WARSAW, MEMOIRS OF AN AMERICAN TEACHER IN POLAND, Anne Waterman Cooley, 2011. This book is available.

This is an interesting memoir published posthumously by Amme Waterman Cooley's family. It was published in 2011, one year after her death and it is the first edition so it's never been published before.

Anne Waterman (1925-2010) graduated from Vassar College and took a position as a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Warsaw. I believe the Waterman family is Polish and they originally hailed from Connecticut in the USA.

She taught in Poland from 1946 to 1948. This was a time when Poland was trying to rebuild itself under the Stalinist yolk. This is the time when the Marshall Plan was extended to Eastern Europe. Molotov rejected any such idea. When Poland expressed an interest in attending a conference, Stalin squashed it.

Stalin was going to take care of helping rebuild Poland. We all know how that went. Stalin gutted Poland of everything he could in order to rebuild the Soviet Union.

This short memoir (under 100 pages) presents life in the immediate ruins of post-WW II. She records a lot of what was transpiring in 1946-48, and we all now know a lot was happening.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, this cute book is 76 YEARS TOO LATE! If it was published in 1948 then maybe the general public would get a better idea of life under Stalin. Pretty much nothing about Poland made the news back then, even the printed news. Then maybe Poles in America would have gotten a glimpse of just how awful life was under "Uncle Joe".
marion kanawha   
2 Jan 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

I agree with @Alien. Polish history is much, much more fascinating than those countries mentions. If you said Armenia or Iran (Persia) then I'd agree. Otherwise Poland, especially the Commonwealth, was a major player in European history. As the 18th century dawned it just got overshadowed by Russia and that's the way it is to this very day. Ask pretty much anyone and no one knows anything about central & eastern European civilization other than about Russia, in all it's wretched iterations, e.g. barbaric Muscovy, tsarist, communist. corrupt federalist.
marion kanawha   
1 Jan 2024
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

I'm finding that Polish history is more intense than any historical novel, or TV series, or movie franchise could ever be. The reality of Polish history leaves any fiction writers wildest attempts at drama in the dust. Literally it takes my breath away. I don't understand why more people aren't interested in it. Thinking about that you can think about how Polish historiography changed from the late 19th century, to the interwar years, to the communist era up to the turn of this century. Plus we're talking one thousand years.
marion kanawha   
30 Dec 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

Whoa!!! That information is intense. History has recorded the name of the person who beheaded the king. A mercenary in the employ of the Ottomans named Kodja Hazar. They never found anything of the king after the battle. Evidently his body was in pieces and dispersed through the winds. Absolutely intense!
marion kanawha   
30 Dec 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

1444: THE BATTLE OF VARNA, Anthony Holland, 2023.

"The Battle of Varna was, above all, a lesson in the weighty consequences of underestimating one's opponent..."

The battle was a "...tectonic realignment --- a pivotal point when the geopolitical fault lines shifted, altering the continental landscape in ways that would be felt for centuries" central Europe, especially the Balkans would see ramifications up till the end of the 20th century, e.g. the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Also this battle would be considered the last religious crusade in European history.

The author, Anthony Holland, produces a fine historical narrative starting out from the geopolitical situation in 15th century central Europe. The book is a quick (216 pages) exciting read. Holland covers protagonists, compares armies; does tactical analysis, covers the campaign, the battle and aftermath.

The crusader army was outnumbered about three to one but they managed to hold the line against the Ottomans because they had more firearms. Holland then describes the events that led up to the debacle crated by Wladyslaw III Jagielo's actions. Casualties were high on both sides. Even Sultan Murad was not immediately sure he won a victory. After three days he finally grasped the scale of his victory. He wasn't jubilant but wearily acknowledged the triumph amidst at least 25,000 who perished on the battlefield.

Holland does an interesting analysis of Wladyslaw. He believes history is not just dichotomies but the personal choices made by individuals. It's the protagonists that act as "wild cards" in the unfolding of history.

I never knew that much about Wladyslaw. How he became king of Poland then Hungary. How he decided to stay in Hungary. Interesting!!! I need to investigate him more. But Wladyslaw made a big difference at Varna.

The only chapter I DID NOT read was a chapter entitled "Alternative Scenario". I'm not a big fan of "what if", alternative histories. It's too much science fiction for me to handle. Maybe I'll check it out later. I find rea history more exciting than any fiction.

marion kanawha   
16 Dec 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

In reading Polish history, this 1621 battle is often mentioned. When I saw this book in English I grabbed it to read about all the intricacies of the campaign. I definitely wasn't disappointed.

THE KHOTYN CAMPAIGN OF 1621, POLISH, LITHUANIAN AND COSSACK ARMIES AGAINST THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE, Michal Paradowski, 2023. This is book No. 107 in the "Century of the Soldier, 1618-1721" series published by Hellion & Co., UK.

The author is an independent researcher who lives in Scotland. His specialty is early modern warfare especially the Polish-Swedish wars. He has an interesting blog called KADRINAZI. Type the word into Google to get to his blog. It's in Polish but just switch the Google translator to English.

As background the author covers in excellent detail the previous disastrous 1620 Cecora campaign.

Additional chapters are devoted to the military systems of all the major combatants: the Commonwealth, Ottomans, Cossacks and Tatars. Other chapters deal with the biographies of commanders, logistics, actual army strengths, the campaign and the wider scope of the war that was going on. The appendix section is full of info about units involved, commanders, strengths, etc. the primary references are almost exclusively from the 17th and 18th centuries. Many are from the 1620s!!!

I was impressed with the contemporary illustrations that appeared in the book. I've copied some examples. There are also modern renditions of soldiers (in color) like Osprey Publications produces. The example I've listed is in B&W. The modern artwork was done by Sergey Shamenkov, a Ukrainian military history artist. His specialty area is the 16th and 17th centuries with an emphasis on the Swedish army of Charles XII.

I'm about 30% through the book. For me it has been an "eye-opener" of a history going through the internal mechanisms of the Commonwealth. When I'm done I might make some comments.

marion kanawha   
14 Dec 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

In 1899 the city of Vilius had a population of 40% Jewish, 31% Polish and 20% Russian. One hundred years later in 1999 the city had a 58% Lithuanian population, 19% Polish and 14% Russian. If you know how that happened then this book will be an interesting, easy read.

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF NATIONS, POLAND, UKRAINE, LITHUANIA, BELARUS, 1569-1999, Timothy Snyder, 2003. I'm one-third through the book and even though it's not the easiest read I am not struggling. You need to have a basic understanding of the old Commonwealth history to grasp the flow of the history. Critics, both professional and those on Amazon, say it is academic and a reader might need reference help, e.g. Google or Wikipedia.

So far, I didn't need any help reading the history. It's the study of how modern Eastern European nations descended from the old Commonwealth. The new nations were based on ethnic, linguistic and religious persuasions. But along the way came lots of wars, ethnic cleansing, various types of reconciliation and a growth of neighborly relations. Note that this was written years before the Ukrainian War.

The caption below the man sitting on the steps. This caption highlights how much things have changed.

"An inhabitant of Rowno. The town is today Rivne, Ukraine. Towns in interwar Volhnyia were largely Jewish and increasingly Polish. The countryside almost entirely Ukrainian. Today Volhynia is in the Ukraine, and the towns resemble the countryside."

  • (see comment above)
marion kanawha   
24 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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.
marion kanawha   
18 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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.
marion kanawha   
15 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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?
marion kanawha   
13 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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.
marion kanawha   
11 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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   
5 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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
marion kanawha   
4 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

(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
marion kanawha   
1 Nov 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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?
marion kanawha   
31 Oct 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

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   
30 Oct 2023
History / Recommended Poland's history books [177]

The book opens up with comments from Thomas Carlyle. He has nothing positive to say about Poland and the Poles.