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Comment: Dust jacket has lite rubbing, marking, and lite corner/edge wear. Pages are clean and neat. Excellent reference copy. 2012 Edition, Hardcover.
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The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War Hardcover – November 27, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674068149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674068148
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #427,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kochanski, a British military historian, integrates concise, clear, and persuasive campaign analyses with an account of the brutality suffered by Poles under German and Soviet occupation during WWII. She also examines the complex internal politics of Poland's armed forces in exile, and Poland's international position. She incorporates the creation and performance of the 1st Polish Army on the Eastern Front into a narrative that in most Western accounts is too often dominated by action in Italy and Northwest Europe. Her treatment of the Polish Resistance and the 1944 uprising is excellent. She also establishes the complex mix of operations, logistics, and politics behind the Allies' limited support for the Home Army in Warsaw. Kochanski's sympathies clearly lie with Poland's exile government in London, but she neither conceals nor trivializes policies and decisions that often proved self-defeating. Kochanski also gives an account of the Holocaust and the thorny issue of Polish collaboration in it. Above all, this is a story of expedience: the critical decisions that had to be taken, the terrible role of sheer chance, ...the simple desire to survive under the most difficult circumstances. And expedients, as Kochanski ably demonstrates, are not always wise. 32 b&w illus., 5 maps. Agent: Robert Dudley Agency (U.K.). (Nov.)

Review

An unmatched synthesis of Poland's wartime experience and fate. Kochanski deftly integrates operational analysis with the complex internal politics of Poland's armed forces in exile. Her campaign narratives are concise, clear, and persuasive; her account of the Polish Resistance and the 1944 uprising is excellent; and her treatment of Polish–Jewish relations is balanced without being anodyne. (Dennis Showalter, author of Hitler's Panzers)

An informative, authoritative and wide-ranging account of the tragedy that befell Poland and its inhabitants—gentiles and Jews—during the war and its aftermath. The less-well-known story of the Poles deported to the Soviet Union is particularly vivid and moving. An engaging and important book. (Hubert Zawadzki, author of A Concise History of Poland)

A nation long accustomed to being squeezed by its two powerful neighbors, Germany and Russia, Poland's plight has not been adequately highlighted in more sweeping, general histories of World War II because much of its suffering during the war has been diffused by the allegations of Polish anti-Semitism. Royal Historical Society fellow Kochanski, while of Polish descent, is not an apologist of the well-documented persecution of the Jews by ethnic Poles resentful of Jewish prosperity during the 1920s or the willing collaboration of some Poles when the Nazis invaded in 1939. Instead, she fashions a clear-eyed, rigorous look at the horrendous toll the Nazi invasion and occupation took, as well as that of the subsequent Soviet opportunistic grab at territory and influence that extended well into the Cold War. After finally gaining a modicum of independence after World War I, with the accommodation of its many minorities, Poland remained poor economically and weak militarily and was powerless to withstand the renewed expansionist plans of her two hostile neighbors. The country's worst nightmare came true with the blitzkrieg of September 1939 and the Soviet invasion from the east, ostensibly to protect the Ukrainian and Belorussian minorities; despite British protestations to the contrary, Poland was largely abandoned. Kochanski pursues the deportations of thousands of refugees and prisoners into the Soviet Union and the executions and gassing by the Germans. The author also unveils the spirited contribution to the Allied war effort by exiled Poles such as in the RAF and intelligence, and she reports extensively on the Warsaw uprising and the end-of-war confusion… An important study of a long-suffering country that has gained closure from the war only recently. (Kirkus Reviews 2012-10-01)

Kochanski, a British military historian, integrates concise, clear, and persuasive campaign analyses with an account of the brutality suffered by Poles under German and Soviet occupation during WWII. She also examines the complex internal politics of Poland's armed forces in exile, and Poland's international position. She incorporates the creation and performance of the 1st Polish Army on the Eastern Front into a narrative that in most Western accounts is too often dominated by action in Italy and Northwest Europe. Her treatment of the Polish Resistance and the 1944 uprising is excellent. She also establishes the complex mix of operations, logistics, and politics behind the Allies' limited support for the Home Army in Warsaw. Kochanski's sympathies clearly lie with Poland's exile government in London, but she neither conceals nor trivializes policies and decisions that often proved self-defeating. Kochanski also gives an account of the Holocaust and the thorny issue of Polish collaboration in it. Above all, this is a story of expedience: 'the critical decisions that had to be taken, the terrible role of sheer chance, …the simple desire to survive under the most difficult circumstances.' And expedients, as Kochanski ably demonstrates, are not always wise. (Publishers Weekly 2012-10-01)

The biggest gap in most histories of the second world war is what happened to Poland. By the war's end it had lost not only a fifth of its population but also its freedom—despite having fought from the first day to the last against the Germans… But until Halik Kochanski's The Eagle Unbowed nobody had written a comprehensive English-language history of Poland at war. A British-born historian whose own family's experiences dot her pages, she weaves together the political, military, diplomatic and human strands of the story. She ranges from the fatal weaknesses of pre-war Poland (divided, cash-strapped and isolated) to the humiliation of Britain's victory parade in 1946 when the organizers invited Fijians and Mexicans, but not Poles. Readers reared on Western accounts of a war between good and evil may be shocked to learn that for Poles the war was three-sided. The Western allies were duplicitous and the Soviets for the most part as bad as the Nazis… Kochanski gives admirably clear accounts of the battlefield. She unpicks other tangles too: the tense relationship between the impatient, ill-informed underground leadership in Poland and the divided, ill-led exiled government in London, sidelined and then dumped by the allies as the Soviet armies marched west… She uncovers details that will surprise even history geeks… Kochanski marshals an impressive and comprehensive array of English and Polish material. (The Economist 2012-09-29)

[Kochanski's] book is opinionated, fluid and forceful. It lays out in impressive detail how ordinary Poles lost the Second World War, kept losing and yet refused to be beaten. (Olivia Bullough New Statesman 2012-10-04)

This is a comprehensive study that provides a fair-minded introduction to the subject. (Richard J. Evans The Guardian 2012-11-09)

Kochanski's extraordinary achievement is to bring together the threads of a story only known in fragments or through well-meaning fictional versions like Ian Serraillier's The Silver Sword. This is the first fully comprehensive account in English of Poland's war. It is also a brilliant exercise in historiography, showing how the myths and misconceptions that surround the Polish story were constructed and reinforced. (Brian Morton The Herald (Scotland) 2012-11-03)

Kochanski tells Poland's 20th-century story in absorbing detail, from the rebirth of modern Poland in 1919 to the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989. But her great interests are the war years, 1939 to 1945, and the multiple and repeated atrocities inflicted upon the Polish people...Kochanski...compellingly conveys Poland's wartime agony and the ordeals of those caught between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. (Daniel Ford Wall Street Journal 2012-11-23)

Poland fought from the first day of the second world war until the last--and lost a fifth of its population. The first comprehensive English account of Poland at war weaves together the political, military, diplomatic and human strands, interspersing them with observations drawn from the author's family experiences. (The Economist 2012-12-08)

Given the unending flow of misconceptions about wartime Poland, a comprehensive survey of this neglected subject is long overdue, and Halik Kochanski's study fits the bill...Kochanski has a good chance of reaching a wide readership. (Norman Davies New York Review of Books 2013-01-10)

Owing to the nature of the subject, The Eagle Unbowed is an extraordinarily ambitious book. Kochanski sets out to pull together, for the first time in English, the many different strands of the Polish war experience. These include, among other things, the stories of the German occupation of Western Poland, the Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland, the Holocaust, the Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, the Polish infantry who fought with the Allies at Monte Cassino, the Polish soldiers who fought with the Red Army, and the Polish Home Army--the military wing of the underground Resistance--which suffered extraordinary losses during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944...She also moves deftly between individual stories and wider themes...Here, for the first time in English, the entire Polish experience of the war is captured in a single volume. The result is a book far bleaker, and far more ambiguous, than anything most Americans have read about the war...Kochanski tells the story of the war from the perspective of the people who lived between the two great totalitarian powers [Russia and Germany] and who suffered the most from their murderous politics...Her story is about Poland, the Polish state, the Polish armies, the Polish population, and--inevitably--the nature of Polishness itself...The Eagle Unbowed is one of the first books to make comprehensive use of the many new sources in English, putting a complicated story into a clear narrative. (Anne Applebaum New Republic 2012-12-20)

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Customer Reviews

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Wonderful book, well researched and an interesting read!
jc
Most of the Poles left in the the Soviet area were deported to Poland while most of the Ukrainians still in Poland were deported to Soviet Ukraine.
The Curmudgeon
This historical work provides a comprehensive overview of a segment of WWII history that has seldom received such a wide-angle perspective .
Linda W. Krol

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By FMT on December 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kochanski has presented a comprehensive, fair and balanced history of Poland and the Poles during the Second World War. Sadly, some professional reviewers have chosen to focus solely upon one topic, viz., anti-Semitism. More specifically, the focus for some is upon the age old canard that the Polish people, during the occupation, did not do enough for their Jewish neighbors. The result of this miss-characterization of the Polish people has been their pervasive portrayal in the media as being dumb, unwashed simpletons.

The material presented by Kochanski is no Polish joke. There is nothing funny about what the Germans or Soviets did to the Polish people or their land. There has existed a veritable silence regarding the suffering of Poles during WWII compared to that of the suffering of Jews. Thankfully, Kochanski details the suffering of the Poles and does not neglect the suffering of the millions of all others during what may only be characterized as an epic conflagration.

Of special interest to me was the detail of the politics surrounding the debate by other nations to support or not support Poland. Simply put, it appears that Poland was essentially abandoned by nations who had been presumed to be allies. It was not until it became clearly obvious to Britain and France that Hitler would soon be knocking on their door that these nations joined the battle----but, unfortunately, much too late for Poland. Sadly, because of the Polish geography, Poland has been a frequent battleground for all of her neighbors.

Also of interest is the manner Poland was treated by the Allies at the end of the war. It is not until recent times that Poland has experienced any semblance of "democracy".
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83 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Danusha V. Goska on December 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In my work on the Brute Polak stereotype, I attempt to explain why so many otherwise Politically Correct people, who find stereotyping of African Americans, homosexuals, and women to be utterly beyond the pale, feel free to engage in the most egregious stereotyping of Poles. One justification for anti-Polish stereotyping: "Poles have not suffered." Others have suffered, and they must be shielded from verbal assault. Poles, on the other hand, have not suffered, and deserve no such protection.

Poles have not suffered: that anyone could say this, never mind as an excuse for stereotyping, demonstrates that Poles have not adequately communicated their story on college campuses, in literature, through museums or in the political arena. In addition, there are pressures against Poles speaking the truth. In 1939, a week before the Nazi blitzkrieg in Poland, Hitler stated, "I put ready my Death's Head units, with the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language." I was once told that I could not include that quote in a scholarly work if I wished to see my work published. Referencing Polish suffering, I was told, would be interpreted as an attempt to minimize Jewish suffering.

According to the Harvard University Press webpage, in "'The Eagle Unbowed,' Halik Kochanski tells, for the first time, the story of Poland's war in its entirety." It's been a long wait, but now that Kochanski's book is here, one thing is clear: if the word "genocide" cannot be applied to Poland during World War II, then the word "genocide" has no meaning.

The sadism and suffering recorded in these pages is overwhelming. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia invaded Poland in September, 1939. Both intended to erase Poland. Both explicitly stated as much.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on February 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Page 536 (my book): "A war begun in the defence of the inviolability and independence of Poland has ended with the deprivation of Polish independence and the placing of the country under the rule of a foreign power."

This book traces the sad history of Poland during World War II. No country suffered more than Poland, which faced, at the beginning, two occupations by Germany and the Soviet Union, then Germany from 1941- 44, and at wars' end that of the Soviet Union. In a very real sense Poland's occupation ended only after the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990's. It could be argued (which is not a debate I have any inclination to be involved in) that the Soviet Union suffered more than Poland during the Second World War, but proportionately more Poles were victimized and Poland's war started in 1939.

The author describes all the events beginning with the dual occupation and the division of Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union - both were vicious occupiers. Even though Poland was a poor country, the Soviets were impressed in 1939 by the abundance they found, and abruptly started to take everything. I was not aware that during its occupation the Soviet Union killed and/or deported to their extensive Gulag system - thousands upon thousands of Poles. Many starved to death - and many that were sent to the Western Allies after 1941 from their Gulags, via the circuitous route of Iran, were in a deplorable physical state.

There are chapters on the Warsaw ghetto uprising, the Holocaust, the Warsaw uprising of 1944 with Soviet troops looking on sixty kilometres away.
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