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Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,451 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The story of the Warsaw Rising from the the leading British authority on the history of Poland.
Paperback, 784 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Pan MacMillan (first published 2003)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,451 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: world-war-2
A book split into 3 parts, with before, during and after scenarios. Copious footnotes, maps galore and 36 appendices. 2 sections of plates. Obviously well researched. This long book is on a very interesting subject that should have been right up my reading alley. It wasn’t.

My complaints are many. I thought the author Norman Davies got bogged down far too often. Trying to justify his opinion over and over again became repetitive. The first part discussing east west European alliances should have
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs, all Poles and Polish Americans, seekers of truth
It has amazed me in my further educating myself about all things Polish that so much of the history of the Poles in (and post) World War II has been suppressed and/or distorted. The Katyn massacres were only finally acknowledged over a half century after they occurred. The whole "big politics" picture, long-standing stereotypes about high moral ground subscribed to by the Allies' leaders, most notably Roosevelt and Churchill, during the war was altered by Plohky’s Yalta: The Price of Peace. The ...more
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Okay, the mean bits first. The book was mis-titled, poorly edited, and full of so many cognitive leaps, it could have formed its own Irish dance troupe. If this weren't billed as a history book, these flaws might be tolerable; but lets deal with them one by one.

Mis-titled: The book is titled Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw. A reasonable person would assume from that title that we were going to read about this Rising. But instead, the thesis we get to read is "Given that the Allied were vi
Jill Hutchinson
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwi-wwii
I am unsure how to rate this book since it has some very well researched information but has faults that are hard to overlook It is one of those very large book which you know will take a while to read but this took me much longer than I thought since the editing and free flow time frames kept me off balance. I was particularly put off by the use of initials for the Polish names which the author explained would make the reading easier for those who don't speak Polish; however, he used full Russi ...more
This is one of three of the most tragic; yet, historically written works I read in 2017.

The author admits up front in this work that the definitive history cannot be completed until the Russian Federation/Soviet Union open up the archives for research on this topic; they are still closed. There are links within this non-linear work – the most important of course is 1 August 1944 the day the Uprising began. The author created an intrinsic work based on available information and survivors that he
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
i just wrote a really long and excellent review of this book. and then i deleted it. fuck.
so, good book. yeah.
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work, history-wwii
Best review I can give is to direct you to Wanda Mohr's

This is an excellent and engrossing read. It is made all the better because Davies devotes space to before and after as well as during. I particulary enjoyed the capusules, which were first hand accounts. I do wish that some of the material in the appendixs had been in the actual book, but that's quibbling.

If you study WW II, read this.
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Davies concentrates on the brewing storm of politics, internal and external, just as much as the events of the Uprising itself, which limits its utility as a straight-ahead conflict narrative but provides a deep contextual framework for the doomed events of August, 1944. Lucid and well written, engaging and well worth reading.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Overall, a good telling of the story but has a lot of side bars that are actually more distracting than helpful. Also, refers to Polish players by first name and last initial which can be confusing if you are used to reading about these people with the use of the last names. Author claims it's to make it easier for the reader, so he/she doesn't have to struggle with the difficult Polish names yet doesn't do the same with difficult German, French and Russian names. Give the reader a little credit ...more
Chris Wray
This was a brilliant and poignant book about a little known chapter in the Second World War. The historical events themselves are easily told, but the lessons to learn from them are profound. In August 1944, with the Soviet Army nearby and the German Army in retreat, the Polish Home Army launched a major uprising in Warsaw with the aim of contributing to the liberation of Poland and strengthening their ability to negotiate a post war settlement that was more favourable. However, the Soviet armie ...more
Oct 15, 2016 added it
I didn't actually read this book as it is way too heavy for me. However, I did glean a tidbit about "Czechs being nice children", p. 22
For Western views of the nations of Eastern Europe, where they existed at all, often possessed a decidedly judgemental character. Winston Churchill, for example, divided the states of Europe unkindly into 'giants' and 'pygmies'. The giants were the Great Powers who had just fought the Great War. They pygmies were all those troublesome national states which had em
TR Peterson
Davies has quite simply created a masterpiece with this one. A long neglected story of the Warsaw Rising and a searing condemnation of the Allies who considered keeping Stalin sweet more important than Polish independence and the people of Warsaw. His knowledge of the subject matter knows no bounds and the excellent use of "capsules" to convey first hand accounts brings the story of the Rising alive. [return][return]Before having visited Warsaw in 2009 I was, like many others, only aware of the ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have just finished "Rising '44" by Norman Davies and I am silenced by the remarkable, painstakingly unfolded piece of history about the fight by Poles to save their capital, their culture and themselves against monstrous oppressors and how all those who should and could have helped them, did not. It is a detailed unveiling of a horrific betrayal.

This was such a complex historic story to tell and Davies did an excellent job of making it all clear. I have much to reflect upon about the roles of
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poland, history, wwii
Norman Davies is one of the few authors writing good, serious, and readable history of Poland in English. Of the three books of his that I have read this is by far the best. It also ranks on my short list of WWII related books that I would recommend (and trust me I have read a lot of these). Although not as entertaining as Stephen Ambrose, it is still very good. Davies also breaks out special interest stories into separate boxes that the reader can review at leisure.

Although I greatly enjoyed t
Jul 24, 2007 rated it liked it
This is one of those books that you read a paragraph and think 'wait, I didn't take in a word of that' and reread it... hence it's taken me six weeks to get to page 296 (out of about 500, 150 of which are appendices). Fascinating stuff, though. Norman Davies loves the Poles (and we love him) and this history of the Warsaw Rising shows the tragedy that could have been avoided had Britain and the US pulled their collective finger out and helped a bit more, like they promised. The Russians don't co ...more
Correction: one third of the length is about the battle.

The other two thirds go too far back and forward in Polish history to be wholly relevant to the events '44.

Read Warsaw 1944: The Fateful Uprising by Alexandra Richie instead. It's on the mark.
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I read this when I was about 14 or 15 and I remember being completely gripped by it. Definitely required reading if you have an interest in European history. If only all history books were written like this...
Sheila Callahan
Jan 11, 2010 marked it as to-read
Dense, dense, dense. I think I'll master Polish before I finish this tome. ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gigantic effort by the effort by the author resulting in an overwhelmingly detailed and hard to read massive book. The urge to provide documentation has taken the control of the narrative and compromises the overview of the reader who is left exhausted. Probably a similar effect could be provided by splitting up in two volumes: 1. The core story and account of events, leaders, strategy and operations 2. The documentation in form of the many eyewitness accounts, documents etc.

(And why provide t
WW2 Reads
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, poland
Davies has quite simply created a masterpiece with this one. A long neglected story of the Warsaw Rising and a searing condemnation of the Allies who considered keeping Stalin sweet more important than Polish independence and the people of Warsaw. His knowledge of the subject matter knows no bounds and the excellent use of "capsules" to convey first hand accounts brings the story of the Rising alive. [return][return]Before having visited Warsaw in 2009 I was, like many others, only aware of the ...more
Diane Depew
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive look at the '44 Warsaw uprising starting with a review of Poland's plight at the beginning of WW II and concluding with Poland under Soviet denomination and the effects that had on denying those involved in the rising any recognition other than an enemy to the USSR. The author could have used a better editor and I wish he would have used the real polish names of individuals instead of abbreviations (though he does have a guide to those in the appendix), but still a good read on Pol ...more
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Great British historician wrote a book about very important for Poland and Warsaw war episode from Polish history. The book written with passion shows different points of view despite the fact that the author is strongly connected with Poland. Great reading for anybody interested in history of Europe.
Chris Fasano
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is a great history of the Polish Home Army and it's uprising against the German Occupational Forces. ...more
Tomasz Galoch
Jul 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history, war
So very hard to judge this book. In most parts good or very good in some parts mediocre or bad...

Certainly, for a person not familiar with Polish history in general and this topic in particular a good read. In most cases it avoids oversimplification...

For a Polish history buff who read over dozen books on the topic, this book gives some interesting and new insight in certain areas. It does not avoid some minor mistakes but some issues were proved real or false after 2003 when it was published.

The book covers a much larger time frame than just the 'rising' in 44 and that extra information was very useful for understanding the uprising, the problem was that the author did not provide a very clear picture of the actual uprising. You get short (usually 2 page) first person accounts throughout the middle section of the book but no real detailed analysis of what happened inside Warsaw, there is plenty of discussion of what the allies are doing and why which was very informational but the c ...more
Rick Chagouri-Brindle
This is a hard book to review. On the one hand it provided a lot of information and insight, on the other it was presented in a difficult way. In particular, I resented the way that many of the Polish individuals were represented with only their surname initial - not for reasons of privacy but because as westerners we would find their names too difficult!!! Such presumption! Also at times there is a prevelance of detail and at others a glossing over in very general terms. The writing style is no ...more
Stanisław Ryguła
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rising '44 is a historical book written in a way that is interesting to read.

ND gives a balanced perspecitve on the Rising in Warsaw in 1944. His book is very informative, places the Rising in a historical context, which allows the reader to understand the background.

ND seems to be non-judgemental in the sense that he avoids going deeper in some debates we have in our country, e.g. who was a traitor or not.

I will gladly recommend this book to both citizens of Poland and people from outside Po
Brian Beatty
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Almost too much to say...
The degree to which this ties into my family history definitely leaves me with a bias, particularly because my grandmother, Halina Gorniak (nee Godecki) was a messenger/courier during the Rising, and my grandfather was part of the Home Army.
Alexander Gardiner
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
A thorough telling of the betrayal of democratic Poland by the allies in 1944, but one that suffers from too much detail. Detail that often reinforces points rather than moving them on. Edited to half the length and this could be a “must read.”
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very enlightening to me to learn about a little-talked about story from WWII. A different perspective for sure, about the conflict than that of western media.
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Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom. From 1971, Davies taught Polish history at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) of the University of London, where he was professor from 1985 to 1996. Currently, he is Supernumary Fellow at Wolfso ...more

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15 likes · 2 comments
“Every 30 seconds, it transmitted portions of [a Chopin Polonaise] to tell the world that the capital was still in Polish hands. Angered by the unexpected setback, the German High Command decided to pound the stubborn citadel into submission. In round-the-clock raids, bombers knocked out flourmills, gasworks, power plants and reservoirs, then sowed the residential areas with incendiaries. One witness, passing scenes of carnage, enumerated the horrors: ‘Everywhere corpses, wounded humans, dead horses . . . and hastily-dug graves.’ . . . Finally food ran out, and famished Poles, as one man put it, ‘cut off flesh as soon as a horse fell, leaving only the skeleton.’ On September 28, Warsaw Radio replaced the polonaise with a funeral dirge.15” 1 likes
“O dearest Warsaw of my youth, Which encompassed the whole of my world! If only for a moment and in the dark I wish to catch a glimpse Of the ashes and the flowers Of that good past.10” 0 likes
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