Cover image for A concise history of Poland
A concise history of Poland
Lukowski, Jerzy.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 317 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm.
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DK4140 .L85 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Poland only sporadically makes the headlines of the Anglo-Saxon world, and its history remains comparatively unknown. It has suffered the dubious distinction of being wiped off the political map in 1795, to be resurrected after the First World War, to suffer seeming annihilation during the Second World War, reduction to satellite status of the Soviet Union after 1945, only to emerge during the 1980s. It is presently a contender for membership in the European Union. The only general introduction to the politics of Polish history in English, The Concise History of Poland covers medieval times to the present. The authors describe how Polish society developed under foreign rule in the 19th century and how it was altered by and responded to 45 years of communism, and developments since its collapse. Primarily a political outline of Poland's turbulent and complex past, it traces the process of its rise and fall from the middle ages, from a dynastic realm to a remarkable constitutional experiment in multinational, consensual politics, embracing much of Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belarus. Jerzy Lukowski is Senior Lecturer in Modern History, School of Historical Studies, at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is also the author of, The Partitions of Poland (Addison Wesley, 1998), and Liberty's Folly (Routledge, 1991), and many journal articles. Herbert Zawadzki is Teacher of History at Abingodn School, in Abingdon, UK. He spent the first ten years of his life in various Polish resettlement camps across the length and breadth of Britain, eventually settling near Stratford-on-Avon. He has since traveled extensively in Poland, Belarus, and Lithuania. He has written for several journals and contributed to the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the former Soviet Union (1994).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This volume, like others devoted to selected countries in the "Cambridge Concise Histories" series, seeks to provide a historical introduction for "general readers, travelers, and members of the business community" and to serve as a university or college textbook. Clearly written in straightforward prose with many witty comments and pithy insights, the book succeeds admirably. Lukowski (Univ. of Birmingham) and Zawadzki (Abingdon College) have solidly grounded their book in current research. It is rather brief on the first eight centuries of Polish history (100 pages to the partitions of the 18th century), but the treatment of the last two centuries, including a short discussion of developments since 1989, is fuller and quite effective. The focus of the book is on political matters, but social and cultural issues figure also. The major issues in postpartition Poland (Romanticism, realism, modernization, nationalism, and the like) are presented dispassionately, and the authors' interpretations, including those on such potentially difficult problems as Polish-Jewish relations, are likely to be uncontroversial. Maps and illustrations are particularly well chosen and helpful, as is the seven-page bibliography of works in English. All levels and collections. P. W. Knoll University of Southern California

Table of Contents

note on Polish pronunciation
List of illustrations
List of maps
Part I Poland to 1795
1 Piast Poland, ? -1385
2 Jagiellonian Poland, 1385-1572
3 The commonwealth of the two nations, 1572-1795
Part II Poland after 1795
4 Challenging the partitions, 1795-1864
5 An era of transformation, 1864-1914
6 Independence regained and lost, 1914-1945
7 Communism and beyond, 1945-?
Genealogical charts of Polish rulers
Lists of heads of state, presidents, communist party leaders, 1918-2000