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The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The Second World War gripped Poland as it did no other country in Europe. Invaded by both Germany and the Soviet Union, it remained under occupation by foreign armies from the first day of the war to the last. The conflict was brutal, as Polish armies battled the enemy on four different fronts. It was on Polish soil that the architects of the Final Solution assembled their ...more
Hardcover, 624 pages
Published November 2012 by Harvard University Press (first published October 1st 2012)
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The Eagle Unbowed by Halik KochanskiNo Greater Ally by Kenneth K. KoskodanThe Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman by Andrzej SzczypiorskiDying, We Live by Julian E. KulskiRising '44 by Norman Davies
Poland in World War 2
1st out of 30 books — 11 voters
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The Economist - Books of the Year 2012
11th out of 55 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

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Paul
Recently published here in the UK and soon to be followed in the USA. This is a big mighty tome and worth its weight in gold. This is a very comprehensive history of Poland and her people during the WW2. She pulls no punches when she brings in the September Campaign and then how the Soviet joined the war in support of Nazi Germany and how they divided the country between them. This book examines all parts of Polish history and shines lights in to the darker parts some people would prefer not to ...more
Jenny
Bracing myself to yet again try to gain more knowledge and understanding of the lives of my parents and why I was born in Australia so far away from the homes of my ancestors.

Yet again I am reading with tears in my eyes. As Halik Kochanski relates the story of what happened to Poles (my father, Jan) and Belorussians (my mother, Alexandra) I think of my grandmothers, my grandfathers and other relatives of whom I know nothing.

My parents could not speak of their experience of WW2 - I only know they
...more
Mikey B.
Page 536 (my book): “A war begun in the defence of the inviolability and independence of Poland has ended with the deprivation of Polish independence and the placing of the country under the rule of a foreign power.”

This book traces the sad history of Poland during World War II. No country suffered more than Poland, which faced, at the beginning, two occupations by Germany and the Soviet Union, then Germany from 1941- 44, and at wars’ end that of the Soviet Union. In a very real sense Poland’s o
...more
Danusha Goska
In my work on the Brute Polak stereotype, I attempt to explain why so many otherwise Politically Correct people, who find stereotyping of African Americans, homosexuals, and women to be utterly beyond the pale, feel free to engage in the most egregious stereotyping of Poles. One justification for anti-Polish stereotyping: "Poles have not suffered." Others have suffered, and they must be shielded from verbal assault. Poles, on the other hand, have not suffered, and deserve no such protection.

Pol
...more
Kirk
Allow me to explain what led me to The Eagle Unbowed. First and foremost, I am mostly Polish and I have always had an interest in history. In high school and college (majored in History) the most I ever learned of Poland was that it was partitioned several times in the 18th and 19th centuries, and that it was invaded by Germany in September, 1939. Clearly, there was a lot of history there that I'd been missing out on. By the time I graduated I was so burnt-out on history that I never dug any fur ...more
Andrew Davis
One of the best books on history of Poland during the Second World War. Addresses a number of issues from different perspectives. Quotes Churchill's reaction to the Katyn murder of Polish officers: "if they are dead nothing you can do will bring them back" (page 343). However, on the whole it portrays Churchill as an advocate of Polish people, a man of high moral principles and most human of the allied troika.
Among many examples of objective addressing of Polish history are an explanation why t
...more
Anntonette Alberti
Horror story, history, expose, explanation and cautionary tale. Also, completely true, impeccably researched and documented.
Manray9
Thorough, complete and instructive. Highly recommended.
Stephen Graham
A reasonably even-handed narrative history of Poland and the Poles in the Second World War. Kochanski does focus primarily on the actions of the London Poles and the allied underground movement in Poland. Coverage is given to the Soviet-backed Lublin movement and the associated military forces. More depth on this side would seem merited, as this is the government that wound up in control of Poland in the post-war era. Kochanski is critical of the London government and its inability to respond to ...more
Rebecca
The worst thing to be in the 1940s was a Jew, but being Polish wasn't far behind. The details of life for civilians during this time is staggering; I'm not one for military history so someone else would be better qualified to review that aspect. Kochanski gets additional plaudits from me for discussing the long-term implications of the war, and a decent accounting of Katyn.
Rob McWilliams
Kochanski’s book, surely, contains everything the general reader will ever want to know about Poland and the Poles in the Second World War – invasion (by Germany and Russia); occupation; exile; fighting under the British and the Russians; the Holocaust; the risings; and the final inexorable establishment of Soviet domination. The book is readable even through the dullest political passages, although I would have liked to have learned more about the main actors as people – Anders, Sikorski, Mikol ...more
Alex
Good account of the political and military groups who tried to keep Poland's independence alive during WWII, first from Germany and later the Soviet Union. The parts that dealt with the experiences of Poles deported to the USSR after the partition was interesting, as was the parts dealing with post V-E Poland.
Dan
The book covers a part of the Second World War that gets short shrift. Some of the backroom dealings I knew about (the BBC series "World War Two: Behind Closed Doors" and the Black Book of Communism talk about how the British sold out the Poles and cover Katyn).

The book jumps around a bit, which can be difficult to follow. However, given the area the Poles were scattered over and what was going on, I'm not sure there is a better way to organize the material.
Andrew Helms
Fantastic book about Poland during World War II. It is absolutely astounding the suffering that took place in Poland and surrounding Central/Eastern Europe during this period and during the Soviet period of domination following the war.

The book is extremely well written, and while certainly more detailed than a common reader would desire, well worth the effort to finish and gain a well-rounded perspective of the World War II period.
Riet
Een heel goede geschiedenis van het Poolse volk en vooral het leger in de tweede wereldoorlog. Schrijnend, zoals dat volk vanaf het begin in de steek werd gelaten. Het boek is "een lange zit": alle gebeurtenissen worden heel nauwkeurig beschreven. Maar het wordt nergens saai. De schrijfster heeft heel veel kennis van zaken en is gepassioneerd over haar onderwerp.
Robert Johnson
Lots of detail in this book. I was especially struck by the conditions endured by the Poles who were sent to Siberia and their plight after they were granted amnesty after the Germans invaded Russia. Well worth the read.

http://www.amazon.com/Eagle-Unbowed-P...
Tomlikeslife
What a depressing book. The Poles suffering during the 2nd World War was appalling and this book does a good job describing the atrocities they went through. That being said, the writing was choppy and the author seemed pretty biased.

A good historical read but not a book you will want to curl up with for some light-hearted reading.
Philip
This is a great book. I think most folks know the bits anecdotally, but this puts the whole World War II experience in context. And it is horrendous. The Poles suffered hugely, especially but not limited to their Jewish population. And the politics of the Allies, Britain, US, and the Soviet Union are daunting and sad. A great book.
Peter Podbielski
An critical addition to the historiography of the Second World War. Kochanski captures Poland's wartime experience succinctly presenting strategic and operational complexities of Polish policies in exile, on foreign battlefields, and homefront resistance.
Joe Ervin
Enlightening book about the Polish experiences in WWII. It also includes interesting accounts of the politics involved between the Big Three, the Lublin govt, and the office Polish government-in-exile.
Kazimiera pendrey
this was a very informative and interesting book that was well writen i would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in the history of the second world war
Craig
Excellent history of the Poles during WWII. Massive amounts of detail. Worth reading for the inside story behind the major events.
Trevor
Fairly interesting throughout. Glad my Polish ancestors emigrated to the United States before WWII!
Jim Tighe
Very educational, but written like a textbook. Way too many detailed facts, and was a slog to read.
Irene
Disappointing, superficial, incomplete, opinionated and poorly written
Allen Elggren
Excellent perspective on a forgotten people in World War II.
Tim
A great, heartfelt & informative read.
Stephen Boiko
Very informative.
John
Spectacular, if specialized.
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