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Poland

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4.01  ·  Rating details ·  9,393 ratings  ·  570 reviews
In this sweeping novel, James A. Michener chronicles eight tumultuous centuries as three Polish families live out their destinies. The Counts Lubonski, the petty nobles Bukowksi, and the peasants Buk are at some times fiercely united, at others tragically divided. With an inspiring tradition of resistance to brutal invaders, from the barbarians to the Nazis, and a heritage ...more
Paperback, 688 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 1983)
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Gary
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This epic is a phenomenal account of a remarkable nation and a remarkable people.
It documents the resilience of the Polish people, in the face of experiencing their nation being crushed by invaders and more powerful neighbors, so many times.

It begins in 1981, at the time that Poland lay under the heel of Communist tyranny, as a puppet of that Evil Empire, the Soviet Union, introducing us to the brave Polish farmers leader, Janko Buk, who out of love of his people, prepares to take on the might o
...more
Erin
A sweeping historical that focuses on eight significant periods of Polish history.

I am in one of those strange reading phenomenas...this isn't my first time "visiting" Poland BUT it is the first time I ever read a book about Poland or set in Poland that isn't exclusively talking about the Holocaust. In fact, type in your search engine "books set in or about Poland" and be prepared to be not surprised.

So what did Michener teach me? Well, the country of Poland and its people have been at the c
...more
Stephen Gallup
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poland was one of several Michener historical novels I read in the late 70s and early 80s, when it seemed everybody else was doing the same. I rarely hear him mentioned these days and wonder why.

I hadn't intended to read it again now, but a copy fell into my lap, and after opening it idly I was hooked.

Large chunks of the story had stayed with me over the years. I remembered Michener's accounts of the invasions by Tatars and Swedes, and the unspeakable things those people did (wonder why modern-d
...more
John Eliade
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like James Michener a lot. That said, it's obvious that he's not for everybody and in fact, I would argue that most people are not reading James Michener correctly. And before you say, "You shouldn't need to be told how to read something in order to be able to read it," I would say this: people should have some understanding of say, the Bible, or the Qur'an, or of Nietzche, or Plato, or Buddhist Sutras before you start engaging with them. Or if you're trying to argue that that's intense philos ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
What I knew about Poland was pretty limited—that the Second World War began with Hitler’s invasion of the country, and of course, Pope John Paul II, but not very much else. I’d honestly forgotten that Marie Curie was Polish as was Chopin. So, Michener’s book was a great way for me to get to know more about this land. Michener sets his story in the fictional village of Bukowo, and around three families, the peasant Buk, the lesser noble Bukowski, and the magnate Lubonski, and we follow members of ...more
Bodosika Bodosika
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite, poland
This book is more less the history of Poland and the Polish people and their neighbor and it was well written by the author hence no dull moment... The author is a Genius hence I gave it to 4 Star.
Andrew Breslin
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was in Poland about 20 years ago, hanging out with two Polish friends, one of whom spoke three languages fluently, the other, five. We were having a fascinating conversation comparing humor across languages and cultures. I asked what subjects were targets of traditional Slavic levity, and they told me the most popular type of jokes usually poked fun at policemen and draconian government officials. This was just a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its decades of oppression in ...more
Doreen Petersen
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Fantastic book! Being of Polish heritage I found this book to be especially good. I would recommend this one.
Mike
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, europe, fiction
One of the overarching themes in this barely fictionalized historical account of Poland is:

A Pole is a man born with a sword in one hand and a brick in the other. When the fighting is over, he rebuilds.

The other main theme is that Poland might disappear under a foreign power or be completely dissolved for a while but it always comes back. The book takes you through a time machine as we move from the 1200’s and the Tatar ravages through the various assaults from East/West/North and South by Swede
...more
David (דוד)
4.25 stars

Poland by James A. Michener was his ninth work that I read, and as always his writing style kept me glued to the text. However, amongst his four epic works of historical fictions that I have read so far, this one although pretty interesting, I would keep it at the bottom of my personal favourite list, right under Hawaii, while having his Alaska at the second position, and the best being The Source.

The book is divided into nine parts:

1. The book starts and ends with agricultural problem
...more
Martin
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013books
"Poland" is written with all the elegance of a bloated instruction manual. If you enjoy the absence of subtext, disastrously bad sentences, and descriptions that make a list of technical specifications read like poetry, you will love Michener's writing. This ain't Zadie Smith, folks. In fact, it's probably one of the worst-written books I've ever slogged through.

Yet. I didn't hate this book. Because while reading page after page was like walking through a post-apocalyptic city in a movie, where
...more
Thomas Devine
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a bestseller, the 1984 Corgi edition of this novel retailed at NZ$9.95. I found this gem in a second-hand book sale for NZ$3. It would have been worth full price if it had been sold as a current bestseller.
The copy I now hold belonged at some stage to one L. de Groot. It’s a book I’ll add to my hoard because even though I may never read it again, I treasure it.
I read a few of Michener’s sagas many years ago and he is the master of blending fact and fiction in fascinating stories. In a minisc
...more
Linda
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Mr. Michener, (posthumously), for a Good Read

This book was a strong reading experience for me. Other reviewers have eliminated the need for me to say more on what was told in the book. I will just make a comment or two. I am an outsider looking in on the Polish experience as told through Mr. Michener's eyes, but I feel like a voyeur in doing so. For certain I know that looking at a living map of Poland dating from the eleventh century to 1981 is like playing with a kaleidoscope becaus
...more
Nick
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: authors-michener
A really good and entertaining history of Poland.
Mary
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James A. Michener's historical fiction, "Poland", is remarkable. It dives into the heart of the country - its people, culture, art, music, landscape, traditions, rituals - in such a way as to enkindle in the reader a love for the country.

Michener paints a thorough picture of the events that have shaped Poland, and clearly establishes the boundaries between history and fiction before the novel begins. A thousand years of history are cleverly presented through tracing families through their gener
...more
Carolyn Harris
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An epic historical novel that encompasses Poland as the battleground of Europe from the Mongol Invasions of the 13th century to the soviet backed Polish People's Republic in the 20th century. Michener includes aspects of Polish culture including pierogies, the mazurka and the horsemanship of the landed elites. Michener places three fictional families at the centre of events, the aristocratic Lubonskis, the petty gentry Bukowskis and the peasant Buks. In the early chapters, the different generati ...more
B Wojcik
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book (one of the few books I bother owning & storing on my shelf), I read the rest of Michener's historical novels. It's great the way he weaves history of whatever region he's writing about into the lives of people in that region through the ages. And it doesn't go too deeply into the mumbo jumbo lovey stuff like (a la "Days of Our Lives") but just the basic way of life from each generation, and how it affects future generations.

This style also got me hoocked on Edward Ruther
...more
Megan
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I deeply love this country I’ve never seen, and Michener’s writing has given shape to that love. The history, geography, art, music, and people of Poland have all become dear to me over the course of this lengthy read. I would read this book again and again if I had the time.
Brandon
May 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I'll go against the grain and say that this book was awful. Best-selling book of 1983? Yikes.

It spans 800 years of history, which is ambitious to say the least, and I feel like Michener just couldn't pull it off.

It felt like he wanted to tell the history of Poland without actually referencing, you know, sources, so he made it fiction and created a fictional area on the Vistula so he really didn't have to be accurate at all.

Even that would have been fine if it were overpowered by fantastic, c
...more
Jim
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quick note to say that this is a quite-readable historical novel - another of the multi-generational efforts by Michener.

My paternal grandparents were both in Poland and moved to the USA around 1910 - this is the likely reason I picked this up about 30 years ago.

I recall only a few things:

- several feasts over the centuries were described in considerable detail - which helped me to understand that the art of cooking is ancient.

- "modern" Poland had a fatal flaw in in parliamentary
...more
Samira
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Really interesting book about Polish history spanning centuries. Makes you in turn marvel at the stupidity of the Polish magnates, shake your head at strange occurrences and wonder why you never heard about such important events in European history before. Educating and informative read.

It also has a rather good introduction explaining exactly what is historically accurate and what part is fiction. Very good and obviously well-researched book.

However, one should have a fairly good knowledge abou
...more
Katrina
Oct 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: unfinished
I give up - I can't do it. This book is dreadful. I love historical fiction, and all I wanted was some good fictional characters to hook me into a very general overview of Polish history. I have Polish heritage and I visited the country 3 years ago, so I have a strong interest in the subject matter. This book failed to deliver in so many ways.

These characters are barely even 2-dimensional; they speak nothing but stilted expositionese; they are not memorable or distinguishable from one another by
...more
Chuck
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WOW ! ! ! I haven't read a Michener novel in years but he still delivers the goods for me. Virtually all I know about the histories of Hawaai, South Africa, Afghanistan, and now, Poland I learned reading Michener. I even learned things I didn't know about the history of my home state of Texas from reading his novel, "Texas." "Poland" covers the history of Poland from the the 13th century to the 1980s. I had no idea of the adversity faced by Poland down through the years. It's borders changed sev ...more
Johnny
Michener’s Poland: A Novel is primarily about three families in nine different ages. It was written during the height of the Solidarity movement in Poland and uses a fictional, but quite representative, conflict between Polish union organizers and Communist sympathizers as the bookends between which the rest of the historical fiction is racked. Even the struggle between the two families involved in the bookend conflict serves as framing for the conflicts within the book. It is not only epic in t ...more
Rebecca
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I would never make it through the first 100 pages, but I am glad I stuck with it. This book is so well-researched, and so real. Once I got through the first 100 pages, which I felt went slowly, and into the war, and the struggle of it all, wow. Just wow. This book was incredible.

No spoilers here, there is too much to say. I am so glad to have read this one. Exceptional.
Felicia Roff Tunnah
It was slow in the beginning with lots of wars and battles. Then it picked up with end of the 18th century. Unfortunately, the story ends during the Reagan era and now I want to know how Poland is doing today.
C
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Poland" is an epic historical novel tracing the intertwined lives of three fictional families throughout 700+ years of real Polish history.

The novel is bookended with a fictional conflict between members of two of these families, set in the waning days of Communist Poland (the book was published in 1982, so this was "modern day" at the time): Janko Buk is working to unionize Polish farmers and the government has dispatched Szymon Bukowski to the town of Bukowo to dissuade him.

After an introduct
...more
Peter
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a great read. One of the best experiences with a book I've ever had. I learned so much about Poland and about European history and politics. It contributed significantly to my education. But one thing bothers me: Who wrote it?

Poland is nothing like Michener's other books. It was published in 1981, the same year as his novel Space hit the shelf and sold a ton. America barely took notice of Poland. On first reading both books, I thought that there was no way that the same perso
...more
Teri-K
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was my first "real Michener" - one of the long, serious books that covers centuries in an area's history. At first I thought I would love it, then around the half way point it bogged so much I wondered if I could finish. It picked up in the second half, but I still struggled in some sections. One problem I had is that Poland's history is frankly depressing. Apparently they were continually attacked by outsiders while suffering from poor leadership within. Frankly if Michener had invented Po ...more
Shawn Thrasher
What’s missing here is the strong line that writers of thick sagas usually draw through their books; Michener took several thousand years of Israeli history and drew that line through The Source; he connects hundreds of years of families in Centennial and Hawaii. But here, he missed the mark. It’s not a bad book, just mediocre in parts. The plot seems occasionally recycled too. What definitely redeems the book and makes it most interesting is Michener’s prescience about the fates of Poland, Russ ...more
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for
...more

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