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

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  947 ratings  ·  93 reviews
A Question of Honor is the gripping, little-known, and brilliantly told story of the scores of Polish fighter pilots who helped save England during the Battle of Britain and of their stunning betrayal by the United States and England at the end of World War II.

Centering on five pilots of the renowned Kosciuszko Squadron, the authors show how the fliers, driven by their pas
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Knopf
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Start your review of A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II
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
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Kosciuszko Squadron was a group of Polish pilots who joined the RAF following Hitler’s attack on Poland. They became heroes of the Battle of Britain, downing more German planes than any other RAF squadron. These brave, well-trained pilots first had to overcome British misgivings and condescending attitudes about their capabilities and prove their mettle, which they did quickly and decisively. Their contributions and those of the over 140 Polish pilots who participated in the battle were seen ...more
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steven Z.
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible wealth of information this book was... One of the best books I've read. Period.

The tumultuous, horrendous, heroic and romantic history of Poland is not something that many people are aware in todays world, and what an eye-opening insight did I have while reading this book..

This book is mainly centred around the experiences of a specific group of polish fighter pilots belonging to the Kościuszko squadron. But it starts with the dawning of ww2 in 1939 when hitler and his
Bart Thanhauser
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When my Polish friend insisted that I read this book, I responded with a bad 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 ...more
Nov 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the fourth of Lynne Olson's books I've read, and much of the information in this book about Polish fliers in the RAF was covered in Last Hope Island as well. That said, the contribution of the Polish pilots to the Brits winning the Battle of Britain was immense. It can reasonably be postulated that the Brits would have lost the battle without the contributions of the Poles, and this is not something generally taught in history class.

Olson also points out that Poland was the only country
Mel Bossa
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
May 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 29, 2008 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
Carl Bromwich
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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!
James K.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
David Angier
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Michael Herman
Every now and then you read something that completely changes your entire view of an era of history. This book did that. More than that, it made me realize once again how the things we masses ignorantly praise may actually be the pinnacle of injustice in reality.
Barbara Mader
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hashem Ahmed
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2, 2013, non-fiction
Good book. Poles played major role in battle of britain. Unfortunately, they suffered the most in war.
From 1795 to 1989 the nation of Poland was essentially under occupation or a puppet to either Germany (Prussia) and Russian (then the Soviet Union). Briefly, post-World War I, Polish ruled Poland from 1918 to 1939 until the horrors of both fascists and communists. This book explores that time and focuses on the five Kościuszko Squadron airmen: Mirosław Ferić, Witold Łokuciewski, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Jan Zumbach, and Witold Urbanowicz.

This book was given to as a gift from my late grandmother wh
Pam Walter
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, history, poland
This book is an absolute must read for anyone interested in WWII history. It is about war,​ politics, and what bargaining chips one country needs to be on a winning team. We find that devotion and honor in the form of blood sweat and tears do not count as bargaining chips. I am learning from recent reads how ill-informed I have been on world history and American history.

Central to the story is The Kosciuszko Squad
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Lynne Olson is a New York Times bestselling author of eight books of history, most of which deal in some way with World War II and Britain's crucial role in that conflict. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called her "our era's foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy."
Lynne's latest book, Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's

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