A Traveller’s History of Poland – a review

A Traveller’s History of Poland

John Radzilowski

ISBN 1-56656-655-X

A review by Jerome Biedny

Poland has one of the most complex histories of any European country.  It has moved through political systems including dynastic and elected monarchies; flirted with a form of democracy before becoming absorbed by other states; endured iron curtain communism; and returned to .a modern democracy. While performing these political gyrations, its geographic boundaries tripled its initial size before shrinking and disappearing completely for over a century only to reappear in its present form like a national phoenix.

In this context of dynamic change, Mr. Radzilowski does an excellent job of clearly stating the facts in a conversational and readable way. His blend of the “who, what and why” of Polish history is a great primer for the uninitiated. His approach is balanced and up to date.  His outlook is not the overly chipper approach one might expect from a travelogue.  In fact, the title is a bit of a misnomer in that it is a solid, concise history of Poland simply published in this “Traveler’s History” series of several other countries.

If you are unfamiliar with terms such as: The Deluge, The Partitions, or Army in Exile-or if you thought Gustavus Adolphus is only a private college-a quick read will shed light on these and many more themes.  If you already understand these events, Mr. Radzilowski will add insights you may not have seen in print before.  The book includes very good maps and line drawings to reinforce the text. There is also an extensive timeline, list of Rulers , and bibliography.  My favorite feature is the gazetteer in which major cities and regions are summarized briefly for quick reference while reading elsewhere in the text.

Whether or not your plans call for a trip to Poland this year, you deserve a copy of this book.

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