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125 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introductory History
In the Polish Way, Zamoyski sets out to create a "reasonable synthesis" of Polish history from what he describes as the body of patronizing foreign works and defensively nationalistic Polish ones. He succeeds reasonably well in this goal. If he does lean at times toward nationalism in describing the "Polish Way" - religious tolerance, reliance on legal protections,...
Published on February 5, 2002 by John E. Mennel

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gift
These were gifts for people who are interested in history and they seemed to go over quite well, no follow up quotes.
Published 11 months ago by h.j. dombrowski


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125 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introductory History, February 5, 2002
By 
John E. Mennel (Skopje, Macedonia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
In the Polish Way, Zamoyski sets out to create a "reasonable synthesis" of Polish history from what he describes as the body of patronizing foreign works and defensively nationalistic Polish ones. He succeeds reasonably well in this goal. If he does lean at times toward nationalism in describing the "Polish Way" - religious tolerance, reliance on legal protections, respect for human rights - it can be excused because of his strictly factual approach and because of the important role the Zamoyski family played in much of the history he describes.
For me, though, there are two factors that make this such an excellent introductory history - one of the best one volume national histories I have read. First, the book skillfully weaves the history of ideas (primarily painting, music, architecture, literature and law) into the political and military narrative. I always found these sections both interesting and well integrated into the sweep of historical events. Second, the numerous maps, genealogies, photographs and other exhibits - including a Polish pronunciation guide - are invaluable to a reader, like me, with little or no prior knowledge of Polish history. I wish more authors and editors of so-called "popular histories" would pay as much attention to these important finishing touches.
True to his goal of producing a synthesis, Zamoyski describes the important themes in Polish history but stops short of providing analysis or conclusions. In describing changes in Poland's political system, he begs analysis of the eventual weakness of early Polish democracy in the absence of a "nation" based on ethnicity, religion, language or a common conception of a territorial homeland and of the strength of today's Poland partially, according to the author, because of its relative homogeneity.
This analysis would be important for a clear understanding of modern Poland and Europe (and other multi-ethnic, multi-lingual democracies). I plan to look for it in other books. The "Polish Way" does an excellent job at introducing the terrain.
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84 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well written and informative history book., November 10, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
This is one of the better history books I have read. The author clearly explains the history of Poland without too much clutter. The book is easy to read and flows well. This is an excellent book for those wishing to begin to study the history of Poland. The maps and photos inside the book shows the dynamic borders of Poland through the centuries and the author demostrates that Poland like the rest of Europe wasn't an island nation but part of a bigger Europe.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb and comprehensive history, January 23, 2002
By 
Blah (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
This is the best basic overview of Polish history for beginners that is available right now. If you are a more advanced student of Poland, you should check out the works by Norman Davies. Otherwise, for all you novices this is the place to start. The Polish Way covers all major aspects of the chosen subject and presents them in a clear intelligible fashion. Most importantly the writing is not incredibly boring so you can actually stand to read it straight through.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Setting the record straight on the Polish people., September 11, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
If, even after the display of courage of the Solidarity labor movement during the 1980s and the world leadership of Pope John Paul II, some people still cling to the tired stereotype of the dumb, ignorant Pole, they should be made to read "The Polish Way". Adam Zamoyski makes the point very clear of what an impressive and complex nation the Poles have forged despite animosity from neighboring countries (for example, Prussia/Germany, Austria, and Russia/U.S.S.R.) and the indifference from the Western democracies to their plight. And what a wonderful culture Poland has created; rich in art, architecture, literature, music, and mature political thinking. Being Polish from my father's side, I now feel a special pride towards my ancestors' accomplishments after reading this book which I highly recommend.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent comprehensive history of Poland, November 1, 2001
By 
B.T. Cesul (Ann Arbor, MI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
Zamoyski's book provides an excellent in-depth overview of the philosophies and leaders who shaped the Polish state from its founding in the dark ages through the end of Soviet Rule in the early 90's. Truly remarkable is the detail given on intracate aspects of Polish history, from kings and generals, to writers, poets, and musicians. After reading this, you can gain a true understanding of the basis of Polish thought and easily see why Poland became one of the first, if not THE first, country to break away from the Soviet influence. Also a good lesson for those who want to know the basis of of the strongbond between Catholicism and Polish culture. I only wish there had been more discussion of the lower levels of Polish culture, but hard to fit any more info in this tome. Probably the most endearing aspect of the book is for those of Polish heritage who want to learn about their history and not get caught in the stereotypes of "the dumb Pole". Highly reccomended for those intrigued by Central European history, development of American democracy (read and you'll see why), and those of Polish descent. A must for the bookshelves of any Polish-American. (...)
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a history lesson, December 15, 2000
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
Although it is a number of years since I have read this book, I remember the author tells the history of this once great nation with so much enthusiasm that reading it you will rarely feel as if you are being lectured to and it will always be enjoyable. I'll probably read it again. Most US readers will probably be surprised by what a powerhouse of forward thinking Poland was, and in many ways, how it's systems were prototypes for those which created the USA. This is certainly the case in the way Polish rulers made possible a tolerant multi-racial society when Europe was doing the opposite, in the way freedom to vote was seen as a virtue and in the way it organised itself along its own model rather than allow itself to be influenced. The way the Commonwealth with Lithuania was governed was very advanced for its time, it was far removed from the more typical conquer-and-rule way of expanding borders, bringing advantages to both sides through co-operation. In the end the country fought for its right to survive and lost when its three larger neighbours conspired to divide and plunder it. The dynamics involved in Poland's fall, from memory, were also well explained and interesting in the way the it becomes clear that the virtues of the Polish way, were also the source of its weaknesses when confronted with more belligerent neighbours. The events after WWII created an artificially divided Europe commonly referred to East and West. This is being corrected now that the EU is poised to expand its borders to include Central Europe. This book is essential reading for those that want these current day events put into a clear historical context. 1000 years of history can never be adequately covered in one small volume, the main faults are of omission, nevertheless I suspect this book is the nearest to describing the essence of Poland that is available in the English language.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Live Poland!, October 14, 2004
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
As a proud Polish-American I wanted to do something to celebrate Polish-American Heritage Month, which is every October, and this year I delved into "The Polish Way" by Adam Zamoyski. And I was so happy to do it! Zamoyski captures Poland's rich history as a repository for Eastern European culture, beginning with the years before the Renaissance and concluding with the late 20th century . The author does a laudable job at describing Poland's magnificent tapestry of rulers, diplomats, military leaders, artists, and authors; I felt he could have done more to illustrate the prominence of the Roman Catholic Church in the country's history. He did, however, fully articulate the proud past Poland can boast of religious tolerance, which was the primary reason why before Hitler there was such a large concentration of Jewish people in the homeland of my ancestors.

I would recommend "God's Playground" by Norman Davies for a more comprehensive history of Poland, but for those who want a general overview from a scholar who truly displays his expertise, "The Polish Way" is the best way.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN ELEGANT AND SATISFYING INSIGHT INTO POLISH NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS, September 10, 2005
By 
marronglace (Cary, NC United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
Oxford-educated and American-born, Adam Zamoyski's "The Polish Way" is a penetrating overview and anaylsis of Poland's history. The author's unique approach to an examination of a land where his own ancestors fulfilled a remarkable contributory role results in 22 chapters that I can only describe as brilliantly-conceived essays on some facet of Poland's unique character as illustrated in each successive epoch. In essence, each "essay", after a complete reading of this volume, can stand alone for return study and relishing. Zamoyski's examination of "Sarmatism" -- the unique mind-set of the Polish people -- is the most valuable gem in this jewel of a book!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and authoritative, January 21, 2001
By 
"eabramovitz" (East Windsor, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
Zamoyski's detailed history can be ponderous at times. His choice of phrases and sentence structure can make for some slow going. The book's major weakness, in terms of what I'd like to know more about, is it's lack of discussion about the daily lives of Polish people of various classes throughout history. It tends, like most histories, to focus on the lives and activities of the "movers and shakers," the aristocrats who shaped Polish history until the 20th century. It is long on fact, somewhat short on color and soul. But... having said that, it is an excellent work of history. The detail is rich, and it opens many windows on the Polish nation. It is, on balance, and excellent work, if not always an easy read. There may be more that can be known about Poland than this book presents, but once the reader has digested this volume, his knowledge will indeed be comprehensive. Highly recommended.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ FOR AMERICANS OF POLISH ANCESTRY, April 11, 2000
By 
ED YERKEY (WESTLAKE VILLAGE,, CALIFORNIA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture (Paperback)
A MUST READ FOR AMERICANS OF POLISH ANCESTRY WHO WISH TO UNDERSTAND THE HISTORICAL COMPLEXITIES, TRAGEDIES, BETRAYALS AND DOGGED DETERMINATION OF THE POLISH PEOPLE TO EXIST AS A NATION IN SPITE OF OVERWHELMING ODDS TO ERASE THEIR NATION FROM THE FACE OF THIS EARTH.
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The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture
The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and Their Culture by Adam Zamoyski (Paperback - October 1, 1993)
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