"War is the continuation of politics by other means"
- Wieslaw Rogalski
Carl von Clausewitz
The author is a child of the Polish post WW 2 diaspora, so clearly has both a personal connection and interest in the book's subject. He has previously codirected a National Lottery Project centred around the displacement of the Polish Forces post-WW 2.
The inclusion of a glossary at the front of the book was a wise decision as it prepares the reader for the array of acronyms for the Polish organisations in the book. A single page preface explains that the author completed the book after research for the National Lottery funded project mentioned above, and it addresses questions concerning the political aspect of the war and its consequences. There is also a comprehensive cast of main players with brief biographical details of each, it would at this point, in my opinion, have been ideal to include pictures of them if possible.
I thought, and I stress again thought, I knew what Poland's story during WW 2 was, reading this convinced me I knew next to nothing about the Polish experience. Before reading the book I knew about the Blitzkrieg, Katyn Forest, Battle of Britain Pilots, the Warsaw Rising, Arhnem and Wojtek the bear, now my eyes have been opened. Whilst the subject matter might not be a description of the Polish forces part played under British command, it is an engaging study of the political aspects.
To set the scene the author explains the end of partition and the situation the new Polish nation found itself in, he explains how the political scene developed and the policies espoused by the various parties and factions. The political picture develops as the Great Depression strikes Europe and Hitler comes to power, how tensions increase across Europe and the actions taken by the central actor's impact on the wider situation. The Polish reaction to the seizure of Sudetenland is explained along with the international reaction, as appeasement ends and events unfold the excellent narrative continues. The September campaign is covered well and it's definitely the first really informative description I've ever read of it from the Polish perspective.
We all know how the story ends but in the telling of it from the Polish perspective it reveals that our accepted history may not actually be anywhere near as accurate as we think. It is well told and the author keeps it engaging and informative throughout from the initial painful rebirth of Poland through to post war consequences for those who fought under British Command.Whilst the subject matter may not appear engaging I was engrossed in the book and found it revealed a whole new aspect of history, one I could say does not reflect as well on Britain as it could. It also ends up studying the effect of exile on the Polish community post WW2 and how it finally ended with the return of the insignia and emblems of the Second Polish Republic from London to Warsaw by the exiled government to be handed over to Lech Walesa.
I thoroughly recommend the book and give it a well deserved five out of five mushroom heads.