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Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World Hardcover – February 22, 2013
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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
"A decade before Professor Karski began his remarkable tenure at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, he was already teaching by the power of example ― with lessons of heroism, resilience, and uncompromising leadership. All freedom-seeking people around the world should know Karski's story." ― President Bill Clinton
"Jan Karski is well known as the 'courier from Poland who exposed the Holocaust,' but his work in the service of the underground Polish state, which flourished under the noses of the Nazis, equally deserves to find the limelight. Unlike its counterparts in other countries, The Polish Resistance Movement did not confine itself to military activities; it created a huge network of clandestine organizations, which functioned in the fields of culture, education, propaganda, justice and economics, and which undermined the social control of the German forces of occupation. Karski's book on this subject is a classic, providing an unmatched account of the wartime realities in a country that lay at the epicenter of the conflict." ― Norman Davies, St. Antony's College, Oxford, Jagiellonian University, Krakow
"Within Jan Karski's stirring account of selfless heroism to expose the Holocaust, lie two compelling messages: It is possible for one man to bring to the world's attention unimaginable political evil. The harder and still relevant question raised by Karski's story is: How does one get the civilized world to respond?" ― Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal
"The Anti-Defamation League is proud to have named its Jan Karski Courage to Care award for an extraordinary man, who put conscience to action ― and his own life at risk ― to reveal the Holocaust to the West. Read his story and be inspired by Karski's will, his spirit, and his commitment to humanity." ― Abraham H. Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League
"The notion that one person can make a difference is personified by Jan Karski, who I was privileged to have as my professor ― and guiding light ― at Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Karski's Story of a Secret State offers a glimpse into a time and place ruled by Nazi terror: Poland in the early 1940s. Karski risked his life to bear witness to Nazi atrocities against Jews, Catholics, and Polish dissidents. In disguise, he snuck into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Nazi transfer camp, then reported his terrifying observations directly to British leaders and President Franklin Roosevelt, among the first reports of the holocaust to the civilized world. Georgetown's edition of Story of a Secret State gives a new generation of readers the portrait of a genuine hero who truly made a difference." ― Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois; Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, 1971
"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 honourable than Jan Karski, I would have no idea who to recommend." ― Alan Furst, author of The Polish Officer, reviewing a previous edition or volume
"Jan Karski's brave account of the Nazi's horrific crimes and one man's heroic resistance strikes our collective conscience as strongly today as when he first published it over six decades ago. Today, millions around the world continue to thank and honor him for exposing the evil that was perpetuated throughout concentration camps. When President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Jan Karski the Medal of Freedom he recognized that Karski's story is one of courage as much as compassion. This book is a stirring reminder that our world depends on both." ― Rahm Emanuel, Mayor, City of Chicago
"Briskly paced, this is a gripping and immediate account of Nazi brutality from a brave leader of the resistance. (Starred Review)" ― Publishers Weekly, 01/07/2013
"A disturbing, unique, invaluable record of Poland's suffering and heroism during World War II. A well-deserved revival of the author's 1944 best-seller. (Starred Review)" ― Kirkus Reviews, 01/15/2013
"Those who fear they have been desensitized by the sheer volume of information chronicling Nazi brutality in occupied Europe must read this memoir.... This is an exciting but often painful recounting of one man's witness to terror and tragedy." ― Booklist, 02/20/2013
"This gripping book gives a comprehensive account of the Nazi occupation of Poland by a young courier in the Polish Underground, who sought to bring home to Western statesmen the tragic fate of his country and of his Jewish fellow-citizens. It is essential reading for all those interested in the Second World War." ― Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University
"I have been blessed to know many distinguished people, great artists, musicians, scholars, philosophers, political leaders and activists. Yet I have only known one man, whom I would truly call noble, my late colleague, Jan Karski. Story of a Secret State is both his most important book and his most failed book; important, because as a messenger from Poland, Karski tried to tell the world of what was happening in his native land to the Jews whose pleas he carried forth to the West. It was a warning issued while there was still time to act, still an opportunity to rescue or at least to protest. His most failed book ― though it was widely read and well received when published ― because we did not listen attentively enough to what this great man had to say. We must listen now even though it is too late." ― Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute; Professor of Jewish Studies, American Jewish University
"His wartime saga as officer, as Soviet prisoner, as escapee, in the hands of the Gestapo, and as a Polish Underground activist and courier, is beyond remarkable. In a world today where words such as 'courage' and 'heroism' have been so overused ― applied freely from sports to entertainment to politics as to be rendered practically meaningless ― Jan Karski was the rare human being who embodied both." ― David Harris, Huffington Post, reviewing a previous edition or volume
"The story has all the characteristics of a spy-thriller ― concealed film and suicide capsules, capture, interrogation, the drama of train travel and border checkpoints, the mysteries of those met, and countless convoluted escapes (a specialty of his)" ― The Vienna Review
"Secret State is an indispensible and compelling historical document of World War II and the Holocaust, written by a supremely courageous humanitarian." ― Tampa Bay Times
"In the words of James Russell Lowell's rousing hymn: 'Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.' Perhaps more than most of us, Jan Karski faced such a choice in the starkest of possible terms, and made his decision as courageously as one could.... Jan Karski was a patriot and a truth teller; may his words always be read and his legacy never forgotten." ― from the Foreword by Madeleine Albright
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Karski taught at my school (Georgetown), and was immensely popular, and I am so sorry I never took any of this classes. He was a true giant and hero.
The lesson today is that anything can happen here, with 9/11 being only the first act. The world is a cruel place that will not be made more pacific with slogans to boost spirits.