Those who fear they have been desensitized by the sheer volume of information chronicling Nazi brutality in occupied Europe must read this memoir. During WWII, Karski lived an adventurous but harrowing existence, which included time and torture in a Gestapo prison and work in the Polish underground, where he witnessed and reported to Allied officials the first news of the genocide of Jews. His accounts of his activities and the atrocities he witnessed were compiled as they happened, which gives his story shattering impact. There are episodes of high tension as he and his colleagues seek to avoid capture. Other stories are horrific as he conveys the sadism of Nazi overlords allowed to exercise virtually unlimited power over helpless people. Even more shocking was the apparent disbelief or indifference of some Allied officials to his reports, either because they suspected exaggeration or because the truth was too monstrous to accept. This is an exciting but often painful recounting of one man’s witness to terror and tragedy. --Jay Freeman
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Jan Karski's Story of a Secret State stands in the absolute first rank of books about the resistance in World War II. If you wish to read about a man more courageous and honorable than Jan Karski I would have no idea who to recommend. Yes, it's that good. -- Alan Furst It deserves its status as a Penguin Classic, not only because it is a great historic document, but also because it's a cracking good read: Karski's adventures are worthy of the wildest spy thriller -- Nigel Jones Telegraph His account of his missions is an electrifying tale of false identities, near captures, spies and secret film capsules ... in human terms, Karski's account is invaluable -- Frank Trentmann Daily Express Story of a Secret State is now viewed as a classic insider's account of the Resistance in occupied Europe...After all the harrowing descriptions of Holocaust horrors there have been over the years from survivors of Auschwitz, Belsen, and Ravensbruck, Karski's vivid account of what he saw back in 1942 is still deeply moving. We feel his shock and incredulity that this could really be happening in 20th century 'civilised' Europe. -- Tony Rennell Daily Mail The bravery of the man who risked all to tell the world about the Holocaust is truly staggering ... an extraordinary testament to Man's inhumanity to Man, and the even more remarkable courage required to resist it -- Ben McIntyre The Times Karski's exploration of the moral fog in which he and his colleagues operated ... made me recall thrillers like Man Hunt and Hangmen Also Die ... two episodes resemble scenes tantalisingly directed by Hitchcock ... Karski's account of the systematic brutality of the Nazi regime is literally chilling -- Peter Conrad The Observer Reads like the screenplay to an incredibly exciting war movie - but it is all true -- Andrew Roberts Seared with an urgency that pitches the reader into the heart of the horror -- Ben Felsenburg Metro His story deserves not just revival but reflection ... Karski's electrifying words still speak only too eloquently for themselves -- Marek Kohn Independent
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