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The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution Hardcover – April 28, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (April 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312388020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312388027
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prize-winning journalist Storozynski pulls military strategist and engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746–1817) back from the brink of obscurity by including almost every documented detail to create the first comprehensive look at a man who once famously symbolized rebellion. His were the plans sold to the British by Benedict Arnold. And Kosciuszko's years of devotion to the American cause framed his efforts to transform Poland into a self-governing republic freed from the oversight of Russia's interests. He antagonized Catherine the Great and, later, Napoleon. Kosciuszko rallied the first Jewish military force since biblical times to fight for Polish independence, and consistently supported equality and education for peasants, Jews, Muslim Tatars and American slaves—which earned him the devotion of the masses and lectures by the upper classes. Readers of military and American history should take note: the minute details will enthrall devotees. Casual readers will benefit from Storozynski's expert crafting of a readable and fact-filled story that pulls readers into the immediacy of the revolutionary era's partisan and financial troubles. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

**2010 FRAUNCES TAVERN MUSEUM BOOK AWARD WINNER**
 
"Despite his heroic efforts, Kosciuszko’s fatherland had to wait a century after his death before regaining independence from Russia. The world would have to wait even longer for an accessible, soundly researched, English-language biography. With “The Peasant Prince,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Storozynski has filled the void. And what a tale he has to tell. A melodramatic, foiled elopement deprived the young Kosciuszko of the love of his life and led him to cross the Atlantic and sign up with George Washington’s ragtag rebel army. The Polish émigré engineered the network of fortifications around West Point that ­Benedict Arnold unsuccessfully tried to betray to the British and that he lped keep the main British army bottled up in New York City. Kosciuszko also played a key role in the wilderness campaigns that ended in the crucial American victory at Saratoga. And he made a triumphal return to his native Poland in time to lead a doomed but heroic national struggle against Russia and overwhelming odds. All this and a supporting cast that amounts to a Who’s Who of 18th-century American and European history. In America, those who knew Kosciuszko included Benjamin Franklin (who helped recruit him); George Washington (who had trouble getting Kosciuszko’s name right but hailed him as a military “engineer of ­eminence”); Thomas Jefferson (who called him “as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known”); and Thomas Paine (who, like Kosciuszko, was granted honorary French ­citizenship by the revolutionary regime but spoke out against its brutal excesses). In Europe, Kosciuszko’s acquaintances included Napoleon Bonaparte (who tried—and failed—to use him as a pawn in European power politics) and Catherine the Great (who, after ruthlessly suppressing the Polish insurrection, kept Kosciuszko a political prisoner in Russia until her death in 1796)."—Wall Street Journal

"Alex Storozynski has just published "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution," a sweeping, colorful, and absorbing biography that should restore Kosciuszko to his proper place in history. President of the Kosciuszko Foundation, which promotes Polish-American educational exchanges, Storozynski is also a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who knows how to tell a good story. In his account, Kosciuszko—as soldier in America and then a revolutionary in his homeland— exemplified some of the best ideals of his era. He also experienced some of its worst betrayals and disappointments. ... Emancipation was 'a controversial idea ahead of his time,' Storozynski writes—just, as this stirring biography makes clear, like the man himself.”—Newsweek.com

“In The Peasant Prince Alex Storozynski fills a gap in our picture of the American Revolution, and relates it to the worldwide struggle for freedom. Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a noble soul with few options, a friend of liberty in an age of aggression and tyranny. Storozynski shows how he navigated a life of romance and realpolitik, keeping his principles intact.”—Richard Brookhiser, senior editor of the National Review, and author of What Would the Founders Do? Our Questions, Their Answers

“Prize-winning journalist Storozynski pulls military strategist and engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746–1817) back from the brink of obscurity by including almost every documented detail to create the first comprehensive look at a man who once famously symbolized rebellion. His were the plans sold to the British by Benedict Arnold. And Kosciuszko's years of devotion to the American cause framed his efforts to transform Poland into a self-governing republic freed from the oversight of Russia's interests. He antagonized Catherine the Great and, later, Napoleon. Kosciuszko rallied the first Jewish military force since biblical times to fight for Polish independence, and consistently supported equality and education for peasants, Jews, Muslim Tatars and American slaves—which earned him the devotion of the masses and lectures by the upper classes. Readers of military and American history should take note: the minute details will enthrall devotees. Casual readers will benefit from Storozynski's expert crafting of a readable and fact-filled story that pulls readers into the immediacy of the revolutionary era's partisan and financial troubles.”—Publishers Weekly

The Peasant Prince is an objective history that is needed in today’s America and Poland. The hero of Alex’s book is one of the fathers of modern democracy in the same mold as Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln.”—Adam Michnik, Solidarnosc activist and editor in chief of Gazeta Wyborcza

“In a meticulously researched work, Storozynski greatly enhances our understanding of Kosciuszko’s personality and motivations by investigating the Pole’s relationship and feelings toward Africans, Jews, and peasants. His contribution advances our knowledge of this complex character whom Jefferson considered the ‘purest son of liberty’ he ever knew.”—James Pula, Purdue University

“Tapping new sources in archives in Poland and Switzerland, Alex Storozynski provides a fresh perspective on Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the Polish engineer most responsible for the construction of Fortress West Point, General Washington’s ‘key of America.’”—Colonel James M. Johnson, U.S. Army (Ret.), military historian of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and former chief of Military History, U.S. Military Academy at West Point

The Peasant Prince is a testament to a great man and an important addition to world history.”—Byron E. Price, Texas Southern University


More About the Author

Alex Storozynski is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a former member of the New York Daily News editorial board, founding editor of amNewYork and former city editor of the New York Sun. He has also been published in the European edition of The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Post, Newsday and other publications.

His biography of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Era of Revolution, will be published in April 2009 by St. Martin's Press, and his essay "From Serfdom to Freedom: Polish Catholics Find A Refuge," was published in 2008 in the book Catholics in New York, Society Culture, and Politics, 1808-1946, to coincide with the exhibit on Catholics at the Museum of the History of New York.

Storozynski has also served as chairman and vice-chairman of the Polish and Slavic Federal Credit Union, which has more than $1 billion in assets and 70,000 members, making it the largest ethnic credit union in the United States. He is a frequent guest on New York's Polish radio stations and a contributor to Polskie Radio 1, the largest radio station in Poland.

From 1985-87, Storozynski was a post-graduate fellow at the University of Warsaw, during which time he worked as a researcher for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe, interviewing Lech Walesa and other Solidarity activists who helped overturn Communism in Eastern Europe. He has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and Bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Storozynski was also the editor of Empire State Report, the magazine of politics and public policy in New York, and has written speeches for Democrats and Republicans in state politics.

In 2006, Storozynski traveled to Iraq to write about the Polish troops running the multinational zone in the provinces of Diwaniyah and Wasit near the Iranian border. More recently he interviewed Polish President Lech Kaczynski for the New York Sun.

In 2004, the Polish magazine Przeglad called Storozynski "a new type of leader in the Polish community," and even though he was born in Brooklyn, they named him one of the "100 most influential Poles living abroad." In 2005, Polish-American World named him "Man of the Year." In 2006, the President of Poland awarded him with the "Gold Cross of Service" for his articles about Poland. And in 2007 the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C. awarded him for his "distinguished achievement in the field of journalism."

In 1991, Columbia University sent him to lecture at Charles University in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He has given lectures about Kosciuszko at West Point, the University of Detroit and Macomb Center for the Performing Arts in Michigan. Over the years he has appeared in various radio and television broadcasts in New York and Europe.

While at the Daily News Storozynski wrote editorials and op-ed columns on complex public policy issues that brought about changes in the lives of all New Yorkers. Storozynski was a member of the editorial board team which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, 1999 George Polk Award, the 1999 Sigma Delta Chi Award, the 1999 and 2001 Deadline Club Award, Associated Press editorial writing awards 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000, and the 1997 and 2001 Silurian Awards for editorial writing.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 73 customer reviews
Mr Storozynski has done the research and has done it superbly well.
Bill Gula
My only problem with the book, was there were a few times that I wanted to know `more' and I can easily see how the book could be twice its length!
RPS
Kosciuszko is best known in the USA for his pivotal role in the American Revolution.
Jan Peczkis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Pawel Stefanski on May 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the author, Alex Storozynski, points out in his tour speeches - this book is not about "Kosciuszko Bridge", "Kosciuszko Mustard", "Kosciuszko County", or any other of several dozens of "Kosciuszko" names, scattered throughout America. It's about the real guy, who lived in one of the most dynamic periods in the modern history - and (before the age of jet travel, mind you!) shuttled back and forth between Europe and America, managing to substantially contribute to the success of the American Revolution, organize his own (ultimately - failed) uprising in Poland, spend some time in jail in Russia, emigrate to America, then go back to Europe to continue his lifelong struggle for Poland's independence. Far ahead of his time in his efforts to free slaves in America, and end the serfdom in Europe, this champion of "liberty for all" died in Switzerland in 1817. While his body was buried in the Wawel's castle in Krakow a few months after his death, his heart was returned to Poland in 1919, only after the country regained its independence in 1918. At mere 280 pages, with 50+ pages of extensive references and bibliography, this extremely well-written book is a fast paced read, which brings to life and to well deserved spot-light one of the greatest, yet so little known, freedom fighters of all ages! See also YouTube video ([...]) of Mr. Storozynski, discussing this book at the Polish Embassy in May, 2009.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By RPS on June 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was amazed at the thorough research conducted by Alex Storozynski, and enjoyed reading the entire work. In the intro Storozynski mentioned that he wanted the true person of Kosciuszko to be portrayed, and not just a eulogized image, and that purpose was most definitely fulfilled. You meet a real a man with a real human nature, someone you can identify with, and also greatly admire because of his nobleness of purpose and his perseverance to his ideals of equality for all humanity, and the freedom he desired for his homeland, Poland. My only problem with the book, was there were a few times that I wanted to know `more' and I can easily see how the book could be twice its length! I don't know how long Storozynski spent conducting research and writing, but his depth of knowledge of Kosciuszko and Polish history is evident. I also really enjoyed Storozynski's `word-smithing' that was evident throughout the book, from the chapter titled `Napoleon comes up short' (gotta love that one!) to "It would be sixty years before the healing powers of the fountains of Lourdes would first mystify southern France, yet when Kosciuszko's ship docked nearby at the port of Bayonne on June 28, 1798, he cast aside his crutches and stood up on his own." Being much more than just a list of facts in chronological order, Storozynski's book brings you face to face with real people. He not only brought the person of Kosciuszko alive to me, but I also enjoyed meeting others... I didn't realize that Niemcewicz was such a blabber mouth and tried to ride Kosciuszko's coat tails. And Chief Little Turtle's advice on having an affair with Catherine was priceless. Jefferson came alive, as did others, like Ludwika his first love.Read more ›
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul C. Martin on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A self-admittedly poor writer, Kosciuszko left this earth as perhaps the most accomplished free-thinker of the past three centuries to have done so without so much as leaving even a brief personal memoir. Had he been even an iota more prolific, it would be the ultimate "no-brainer" that Kosciuszko, the hero of Poland, would have stood the test of time in being held to equal esteem alongside the great heroes of the American Revolution (and not just a once-or-twice mentioned minor figure in our collective secondary school / collegiate US history classes). Thankfully, we have the author's painstaking research in putting together this volume to remind us all that true greatness, however buried under the sediments of history, is eternal.

Though the volume is often uneven and is quite liberal with the time-line of events in the subjects life, it is, overall, one of the most entertaining, fascinating, and comprehensive nonfiction personal histories I have ever read. It reads as if it was made for the silver screen. Having read the all-too-brief chronicle in a single rainy day (sitting on a spot this great man may very well have trodden on over two centuries ago), I became increasingly skeptical an official biographer sitting across from the man for years could have put together a better picture of this most complex of men.

Of course, anyone who is interested in the singular cult of hero-worship of Kosciuszko and his involvement in the American and/or Polish Revolutions will love this book. For the casual reader, however...if you appreciate the best that a fallible human being can become, through uncompromising humility, thoughtfulness, work ethic, zest for knowledge, compassion, and dedication to his fellow man, you will enjoy the story of Thaddeus Kosciuszko...for it is the American story.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. J. McCarthy on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I recently saw the author do a book reading on C-SPANs Book TV and was so impressed that I immediately went out and purchased the book. When I got home I realized that I had actually purchased a signed copy. How lucky can you get? I finished the book while on vacation in 4 days. I live in Troy, NY and have traveled many, many times over the Thaddeus Kosciuszko bridge. I knew very little of the man but one of the engineers who built the bridge was a friend of my father's so for most of my life it was Mr. White's bridge. The opportunity to find out about the man who had a bridge named for him intrigued me. I have read other books on the American Revolution but never learned so much as I did when I read this book. As the book closed on the American Revolution, I had to admit that I wasn't sure the rest of his story would hold my attention. I was wrong. Never before had the story of Poland and Europe been explained in such a way. My history teachers did a poor job of relating such interesting facts and people. I don't think the story of Thaddeus Kosciuszko was ever taught. How could he be left out of any story of the world's history at that time? What a noble and fascinating human being. I often wonder where our great thinkers and leaders are now. We seem overwhelmed with public figures who are all about greed and self promotion. Are our schools presenting history with the attention it should be given in the classroom? Are we presenting the facts and human drama that shaped the course of the world in a way that our young people can make the link between the past, the present and the future? I'm not so sure but I do my part by trying to educate myself and pass on what I learn. This book has done a lot to help me with my very minor effort to enlighten whoever will indulge me as I relate the stories I read. The story of Thaddeus Kosciuszko has given me a lot to talk about as I sit with my children and try to "turn the light on".
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