Poland – An Illustrated History
By Iwo Cyprian Pogonowksi
Hippocrene Books, Inc – £16.99
Books of a broad historical overview, are more often than not, far too dense and daunting for their own good. They are, in all honesty, hard work. Reading reams and reams of dense information about a long gone, and predominantly forgotten, distant era of the past, makes for arduous reading rather than enjoyable reading. But such is most definitely not the case with regards Poland – An Illustrated History.
To be sure, there’s an abundance of incisive material on display, but it’s conveyed in a simplistic and altogether inviting manner; whereby the reader quintessentially wants to keep on reading – which, to my mind at least, is what a good book is all about.
Thanks to the warm glow of author Iwo Cyprian Pogonoski’s most potent of writing styles, the reader feels subliminally compelled to discover more and more about the icosahedronic and seismic history of this most melioristic of nations.
At times, fraught with harrowing reminders of Poland’s heartbreaking past, Pogonowski shoots from the hip in no uncertain terms. For instance, on writing of the Bar Confederacy of the mid to late eighteenth century, he emphatically states: ‘’The Poles were slandered by the hostile statements of Voltaire (1694-1778) and other exponents of Enlightenment who, paradoxically, became paid apologists for the partitioning powers, while ignorant of Polish history and values.’’
It’s no secret that the criminal trajectory of the above, continued to reverberate amid Europe’s dusty corridors of power, for many, many years thereafter. The result(s) of which, was the social subjugation of Poland, by not only its immediate neighbours, but nations further field.
So much for the openness and the conviviality of the Enlightenment, as Pogonowski continues to substantiate: ‘’It was the beginning of an unending process of the slandering of everything Polish on the international scene by propagandists of the despotic governments of Russia and Prussia (including their 19th and 20th century successors).’’
Originally published in 2000, this third edition has been updated with sixteen pages of colour photographs and eight pages of coats of arms. This, alongside numerous other images (as well as maps and illustrations) makes for an altogether imperative dissertation on a nation, for whom strength in adversity is an unrelenting dogma – rather than a mere collection of words: ‘’German records indicate that their war machine used in the assault on Poland in the fall of 1939 over 400 million rounds of rifle and machine gun ammunition, over 2 million artillery shells, and about 70,000 aerial bombs. The next year in the 1940 conquest of France, the Germans used less than half as much ammunition, artillery shells, and bombs.’’
Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor to President Carter has, in relation to Poland: An Illustrated History commented: ‘’An important contribution to a better understanding of Polish history, which demonstrates in a vivid fashion the historical vicissitudes of that major European nation.’’
Read this book, and you’ll have a crystal clear perception of Polish history. Appreciate this book, and you’ll be dumbfounded by (forgotten) truth.