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The Polish Revolution: Solidarity (Third Edition) 3rd ed. Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300095685
ISBN-10: 0300095686
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"The definitive account of Solidarity's spectacular rise and tragic fall... a book to set the record straight... amply documented, indispensable." -- John Darnton, New York Times Book Review

"One of the most brilliant and illuminating interpreters of modern Eastern Europe... a wonderfully vivid writer... He reaches the parts that others do not reach." -- Richard Davy, The Times y"The best single account of what happened -- and why." -- Newsweek

Winner of the Somerset Maugham Award

About the Author

Timothy Garton Ash is the author of The File, In Europe's Name, and three volumes of " history of the present" The Polish Revolution (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award), The Uses of Adversity (for which he was awarded the Prix Europé en de l'Essai), and The Magic Lantern, his personal account of the revolutions of 1989, which has now appeared in fifteen languages. A Fellow of Saint Antony's College, Oxford, he lives in Oxford with his wife and two sons.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 3rd ed. edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300095686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300095685
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Timothy Ash was sent to Poland in August 1980 to cover a strike by workers in a Gdansk shipyard. He ended up covering a 16 month struggle for national independence which ended when the Polish Army declared a State of War and crushed the Solidarity movement in December 1981. His account is compelling, human and covers not only events in Warsaw, but other Solidarity centres and strikes around Poland. This book is a wonderfully rich introduction to contemporary Poland and the events and attitudes that have shaped Polish thinking since the war. If you are interested in reading about the Polish struggle for independence this is the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
This book, as far as I can tell, remains to this day one of the best written and most comprehensive reports on what was happening during the 18 or so months from the creation of Solidarity movement in Poland in August 1980 to the imposition of martial law on December 13, 1981. And the library of books on this subject, as far as English language is concerned, isn't big anyway.

First reason - the author was right where the action was, literally. And, unlike many other foreign correspondents, he did not limit himself to shallow, superficial observations calculated for fast print; he went further. He managed to get in touch with many Solidarity activists, on various levels, and through participation (as an observer) in meetings as well as conversations and interviews succeeded in getting more in depth description of what exactly was happening and explanation why and for what purpose.

Reporting of events, as important as it is in itself, was not the only feature of this book. Timothy Garton Ash also offers quite in depth, even if at times controversial, analysis of events and critical portraits of some key players in the political events - on both sides of the political 'barricade'. The characteristic of Wojciech Jaruzelski, the head of Polish government at the time (both Prime Minister and First Secretary of "PZPR" the Communist Party), particularly stands out as original and convincing.

I myself was actively involved in the Solidarity movement at that time and I can testify to the general accuracy of the statements contained in this book. No particular story, account of an event or critical analysis strikes me as improbable or outright false. Last but not least what also helps the book considerably is its lively, captivating narrative. It is, simply, a good read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a good book for those interested in what happened in Poland during the 1980s. I found this book to be thought-provoking at times and the author, Professor Ash tries to maintain an objective outlook. However, there are parts where the book becomes boring (I will not mention where since I do not want to ruin any portion of this book for you). Ash is a great British writer, but he too at times brings his own British-outlook and this creates prejudice and bias. This, however, doesn't take from the book the fact that it is a great window into the Solidarity movement that erupted in Poland as a result of the authoritarian government.
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This is a thorough and lucid explanation of the events of the late 70s and early 80s in Poland. It is engrossing and mesmerizing. This is History as it is supposed to be written. It reads like a Ph.D. dissertation. I would recommend it to anyone with a taste for history. Excellent.
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I had read "The Eagle Unbowed" and "Iron Curtain" and wanted to make learn how the communist government fell apart in Poland. Ash was on the ground when the Solidarity movement started and should have been an impartial witness; his first edition of this book was printed soon after the protests began and he updated at least twice. Throughout, Ash has a great deal of animosity to Lech Walesa, who, in spite of limited education, was able to lead the Solidarity movement and ultimately, played a major role in the fall of the iron curtain.

The animosity, displayed almost every time Walesa is mentioned, takes away from the author's credibility. In the latest edition of the book has wordy chapters of no importance. Who cares what a bunch of 'leftist' New Yorkers said? They never did anything to help the Poles. Yet, the talking heads are Ash's kind of people.

Surely, Lech Walesa exhibited leadership in very trying, indeed dangerous situations. An explanation of his appeal who have contributed greatly to my understanding of the fall of communism in Poland.
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