Robert Strybel, has spent most of his adult life getting his fellow Polish Americans "hooked on their heritage." Born in Detroit's once predominantly Polish enclave-suburb of Hamtramck, he spent a good deal of his childhood with his four Polish-born grandparents, learning the language, lore and traditions of his Old World ancestors.
Strybel studied journalism and foreign languages (German, French and Spanish) at Central Michigan University and then went on to get a Bachelor's Degree in German and French and a Master's Degree in Polish Studies at the University of Wisconsin, where he also studied Russian and Serbo-Croatian. He went on to teach Polish-related subjects at the college, high-school and adult-education levels, including Michigan's St Mary's College and Saints Cyril and Methodius as well as the Polish Institute of Saginaw Valley State University.
The author has spent the better part of the past several decades serving as the Warsaw correspondent of the Polish-American press, keeping Polonia abreast of current events in Poland and generating interest in all facets of its cultural heritage. He has also worked as a journalist for Reuters News Agency and freelance translator.
While in Warsaw, Strybel wrote "Christmas the Polish Way", published by Straż Publishers of Scranton, PA. He later teamed up with his Polish-born wife, Majka, to write "Polish Heritage Cookery", the biggest Polish cookbook ever published in English. It was followed up a decade later with "Polish Holiday Cookery", focusing on special-occasion recipes. Both cookbooks were published by New York's Hippocrene Books.
Long before anyone had heard of Google, Strybel's "Ask Our Man in Warsaw" column began appearing in the Polish-American press. It enabled PolAm readers to submit questions on a wide range of Polish and Polonian topics and receive answers in print or at least get pointed in the right direction. The queries dealt with every aspect of Polish history, culture, tradition, food, family research and travel to Poland as well as where to find this or that Polish book or artifact, how to organize a Polonian community event, adopt a Polish orphan and most every other imaginable topic in between.
To a large extent, "Polish/Polonian Heritage and Lifestyles" reflects the broad spectrum of interests Polish-American readers have revealed to the author over the years. That is the reason for the subtitle "Everything a Polish American needs to know." This book brings together years of research in diverse fields of endeavor and makes the relevant information available all in one place. And, since it goes far beyond any single Polish American's existing area of interest, hopefully it will well further pique his or her curiosity about things Polish and get them more firmly "hooked on their heritage."