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A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II

4.42  ·  Rating Details ·  544 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
A Question of Honor is the gripping, little-known story of the refugee Polish pilots who joined the RAF and played an essential role in saving Britain from the Nazis, only to be betrayed by the Allies after the war.

After Poland fell to the Nazis, thousands of Polish pilots, soldiers, and sailors escaped to England. Devoted to liberating their homeland, some would form the
Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 12th 2004 by Vintage (first published September 16th 2003)
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Best of Polish History
6th out of 143 books — 37 voters
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Best World War II history
94th out of 188 books — 239 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 13, 2015 Jerzy rated it it was amazing
Even if I weren't Polish, this book still would have broken my heart. It must have been insanely crushing to be a Pole fighting hard alongside the other Allies in World War II with one goal in mind - the return of your homeland's independence - and yet, despite being on the "winning" side, to have Churchill and FDR hand over your country for foreign occupation by Stalin (certainly with no legal authority to do so).
This book tells the story well; not much previous knowledge of Polish history is r
Nov 23, 2007 Stephan rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about not only the exploits of the Kosciuszko Squadron, but also an overview of the particulars of how Churchill and Roosevelt sold-out Poland to Stalin in WWII. The daring and commitment of the Polish pilots in WWII makes all the more shameful degree to which the Allies sold-out Poland is laid bare in this book, and it is a good antidote to the usual WWII history hoakum claims that Poland should bear a great responsibility for her own fate (claims which come at least in pa ...more
Nov 25, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Absolute must-read. Should be obligatory read in highschool. The story close friendship, real patriotism, fighting for your believes and your country even you can lose your life in a fight.

Polish soldier fights for the freedom of other nations, but dies only for Poland - gen. Stanisław Maczek
Nov 26, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Absolute must-read. Should be obligatory read in highschool. The story close friendship, real patriotism, fighting for your believes and your country even you can lose your life in a fight. Story of Polish fighter pilots and mechanic crews that fought in the Battle of England with all their skills. People from flesh and blood, not a paper heroes. Honour to them.

Polish soldier fights for the freedom of other nations, but dies only for Poland - gen. Stanisław Maczek
Feb 18, 2008 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
The back cover says it best: "... the gripping, little-known story of the refugee Polish pilots who jioned the RAF and played an essential role in saving Britain from the Nazis..." I didn't realize how little of the history of Poland I knew until I read this book. The authors not only write about the pilots involved in WWII, but give background history to place the events in context. They also summarize the outcome of WWII and its effects on Poland. I was angry and shamed by the attitudes of the ...more
Nov 18, 2008 Brian rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs
This is an amazing story, and fills a significant knowledge gap that is somehow conveniently left out of every history textbook we had to read in school. We can all take a lesson from the courage, skill and honor of Polish airmen during WWII.
Sep 11, 2009 William rated it it was ok
Shelves: world-war-two
The fate of Poland in WWII, and the tenacity of her fighting men, is a subject all too often ignored, parodied, or swept under the rug. A solid work about Free Polish units fighting in Allied armies is hard to find. Indeed, it can't be found here. This book claims to be about the Kosciuszko squadron and its actions in WWII. I would estimate that 1/6 of this book follows the Kosciuszko squadron and its future members as they fought their way across Poland and France. Another sixth recounts the de ...more
Apr 29, 2010 Justin rated it it was amazing
It would be hard to overstate the need to read this book if you are at all interested in WWII or Europe generally. Told in a clear voice by two journalists (apparently this was originally started as an article), this fantastic book details WWII and the fundamental role that Poles played in the battle as well as the broken treaties by the British and French to back them up. This book also details the Soviet overtaking of Poland, how FDR rolled over on his stomach in defense of Poland, and how hel ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bart Thanhauser
Nov 23, 2010 Bart Thanhauser rated it really liked it
When my Polish friend insisted that I read this book, I responded with a joke. How do you stop a Polish tank? Shoot the man pushing it... And I've always copied my dad's passionate argument about how the French and Polish rolled over to Hitler and the holocaust. But Olson easily swats these common misconceptions aside. Poland was the only nation in WW2 that was defeated and occupied by Hitler--and still never surrendered or negotiated a German-approved government (a la Vichy France). Poland was ...more
Dec 19, 2010 Rhees rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ja kupowalem ta ksiazke kiedy mieszkalem w polsce. Oczywiscie nie moglem sie doczekac az do kiedy mialem mozliwosci poczytac. Pokreslenie ta kziazke jest tak ze podczas wojny, zapomnimy o tym dlaczego walczymy. ta historia jest taka smutna jak czytasz to co sie dzieje nie tylko w anglii ale i tak w polsce. polecam do wszystkich.
May 02, 2011 Jack rated it it was amazing
Have you ever told Polish jokes? I have (I grew up in Chicago in aPolish/Italian neighborhood and I knew them all). After reading this book, never again will I do anything to downgrade the Poles. The daring and bravery of these Polish flyers was amazing. And, what they put up with before, during and after the war was also amazing (but in a reverse sense). This book helps in understanding why the Poles keep the Zloty as their currency instead of the Euro, why the entire nation is so proud of Pope ...more
Mar 19, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing
My opinion is this: everyone needs to read this book. People need to know about these Polish fighters who helped win WWII. Without them the outcome would have been different. The book tells the stories of the Polish RAF fighters who helped win multiple battles in the war. The later part of the book is the politics and what happened after the war. I wish more people new about these brave men and what they did for their country.
Feb 08, 2012 D rated it it was amazing
An excellent account of the Kosciuszko Squadron and their exploits during WWII. The first two hundered pages moved very quickly telling the story of the squadron and the Polish influence on the war. The second two hundred pages was involved in the slow betrayal of Poland by the allies notably Brittan and the U.S.. Those who quote Churchill should really be careful and consider that the man who was appreciative to have the help of the Polish Air Force as well as the Polish Army and Navy in defend ...more
Carl Bromwich
Apr 17, 2012 Carl Bromwich rated it it was amazing
I have been scanning some old photos of my farther who was one of the Polish Pilot's who came to the UK at the start of the second world war, which brings to mind this wonderful book charting their history and contribution to the Allied victory. It is not just a set of dates and figures but goes into the characters and personal histories of the pilots. Even if you do not have any links to Poland or the baltic states, please do read it, It had me in tears at the end
Barbara Mader
May 13, 2012 Barbara Mader rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
Informative and well-written; these men as well as those in Poland deserved better than for the US and England to turn Poland over to Stalin. I was glad to get a more in-depth look at this squadron.
Sherwood Smith
Most Westerners don't realize that there were three constitutional changes in the late 1700s, the (relatively) sedately bloody American Revolution, the horror of the French Revolution . . . and the entirely peaceful Polish Constitution of 1793, with the king presiding.

But scarcely had the Poles began to explore their new government when Russia, Prussia, and Austria teamed up with their enormous armies to wipe Poland off the map. Many Poles, desperate to recover their country, fought loyally and
James K.
Sep 30, 2012 James K. rated it really liked it
This book exposes the ugly underbelly of allied politicking during World War II. Poland suffered the greatest percentage of losses through either death or permanent displacement during World War II and fought both Hitler and Stalin, two of the most bloody-handed monsters in modern history. Instead of recognizing their gallantry and supporting their territorial claims against the Soviets, both Roosevelt and Churchill threw them under the bus of expedience. This was an enormously shameful act and ...more
Mel Bossa
Mar 21, 2016 Mel Bossa rated it it was amazing
I always had a thing for Poland...Now I know why.
I consider myself quite well informed on the events of the Second World War, but this story--a story of a nation who would not die--really shred through any illusions I had.
The story unfolds organically and reads like fiction, though through it all, you realize what you're reading is the truth (the truth always feels different, doesn't it?) and you can't tear your eyes away from the page until your eyes burn and you need to sleep. And then you s
Steven Z.
Mar 26, 2013 Steven Z. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A QUESTION OF HONOR by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud contains a subtitle; The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II. The book itself is more than raising the reader’s consciousness as to the heroic work of Polish pilots during the war. It is a wonderful narrative that encompasses the plight of Poland that historically has been in the crosshairs of Germany and Russia resulting in its disappearance as a nation in 1795, only to reappear after World War I. The authors develop the poi ...more
David Angier
Apr 04, 2013 David Angier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a revelation. A beautiful and sad story. As usual with Lynne Olson, the research was exhaustive and the writing was flowing and smooth.
Hashem Ahmed
May 16, 2013 Hashem Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2, 2013, non-fiction
Good book. Poles played major role in battle of britain. Unfortunately, they suffered the most in war.
Jun 23, 2013 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lynne Olson is pretty hard to beat. She gives you what could be very dull details in an entertaining way. Sometimes I look at one of her sentences and ask myself what made it better. Often a simple word choice, or the way the sentence is assembled. This book is as good as all her others!
Oct 26, 2014 Pacyfa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Ultimately it is a story about the war politics and how individuals don't really matter. The war machine is too powerful to care about nations that have little to bargain with, these nations get steam rolled and so do heroic people involved.

The book is a great read and highlights some of these heroes, their stories and sacrifices. Anyone who read the excellent 303 Squadron: The Legendary Battle of Britain Fighter Squadron would be familiar with the topic and the individual stories of the Polish
This is a book about how Polish pilots tipped the balance toward Englad during the battle of Britian when they made a vital contribution. It also explains the background of Polish history, the events leading up to the start of WWII and how the allies dealth with Poland during and in the closing months of WWII. They went to war to protest Poland's take over by Germany but were abandoned to Russian control at the end of the war.

The story of the Polish fighter pilots was facinating and I had read
Steven Lawrie
Aug 21, 2014 Steven Lawrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating account of the anti-Nazi Free Poles in Britain during WWII. Concentrates on Poles in the RAF. A publication which rightly highlights a lesser known aspect of WWII, particularly worthwhile since the Polish anti-Nazi war effort was deliberately played down by GB so as not to upset Stalin.
Jan 19, 2015 Wayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those interest in learning details about WW II and its affect on Europe and specifically Poland this is a must read book. This book contains an extraordinary amount of detail about the Polish people and their support of the West including Great Britain and the United States in fighting the Germans. After the defeat of Germany Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt did not live up to their promises to support Poland and allowed Russia to take over the country. Poland suffered under communis ...more
Katrina Shawver
Aug 19, 2016 Katrina Shawver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells a story that truly needs to be told - that of Polish pilots fighting side-by-side with the British. Poles get so little credit for their war efforts, and due to politics, and Britain's and the U.S. alliance with Jozef Stalin, Poland continued to receive no credit under three generations of Russian communism that prohibited honoring and Polish heroes. I got about three-quarters of the way through. I found the level of detail a little tedious, as it went into every mission, every f ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible story of the Polish pilots who flew with the RAF in WW2. I was impressed with the talent and resilience of the Polish people. I was embarrassed in learning how we failed the Poles after their heroic efforts for the Allied forces. Mostly I was disappointed in Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt, especially FDR. In their efforts to appease Stalin they were willing to betray promises, intentionally distort public opinion and outright lie. Churchill showed remorse once the ...more
Kathleen Guthrie Woods
I put off reading this after a friend first made the recommendation, thinking it would be dry history book. Wrong! The story and the history are compelling. There is so much I didn't know about Poland's glorious history and its people's military achievements during WWII. What they suffered is horrifying, and that they were subjected to further mistreatment by their allies is disturbing.

Several times, when I shared tidbits with my husband, he asked why I continued to read it since it clearly was
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Before I began writing books full time, I worked for more than ten years as a journalist, including stints as Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. I've written seven books of history, including the New York Times bestsellers "Those Angry Days" and "Citizens of London." My latest book, "Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and th ...more
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