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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  8,217 ratings  ·  459 reviews
Like the heroic land that is its subject, James Michener's Poland teems with vivid events and unforgettble characters. In the sweeping span of eight tumultuous centuries, three Polish families live out their destinies and the drama of a nation—in the grand tradition of a great James Michener saga.
Mass Market Paperback, 616 pages
Published November 1984 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1983)
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Peter I could believe it was Michener on some sort of stimulant I suppose, but hear my argument: The sentence structure and usage exposed in Poland is…more I could believe it was Michener on some sort of stimulant I suppose, but hear my argument: The sentence structure and usage exposed in Poland is unlike any of his other work. It's much more complex than his normal narrative style. I don't believe all the works attributed to Michener are his own writing. I suspect his wife contributed as well as other ghost writers. (The Drifters, 1971, I feel, is not his writing) Two very successful and long novels appeared in 1981, "Space" and "Poland". Both novels claim to have been written by Michener. There is no way the same guy wrote both books at the same time. I think James A. Michener wrote neither Poland or Space. I think he did a lot of research and planning for the books, but none of the writing. In 1981 there was a huge incentive to collude between a writer, a publisher, and a ghost writer, all three of whom would profit tremendously from falsely attributing works to the most famous writers. Wouldn't you know it?
Two of the best money makers produced an unbelievable amount of writing in these years: Steven King and James A. Michener. Steven King has admitted he doesn't remember writing certain terrible works with his name on them. Why do you think that is? (A: He didn't write them) He colluded to rip off the populace. I speculate that James A. Michener took the money, too. I'm talking about a lot of money. Enough money to make people do things. Poland is a great novel. If there is a ghost writer I hope that history can one day recognize that person. (less)

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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,217 ratings  ·  459 reviews

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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
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
Stephen Gallup
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Doreen Petersen
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Fantastic book! Being of Polish heritage I found this book to be especially good. I would recommend this one.
First Michener I've read. Interesting setting and history, wide in scope. Covers a lot of ground.
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
Thomas Devine
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Bodosika Bodosika
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
B Wojcik
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 Ru
Carolyn Harris
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Andrew Breslin
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
May 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Shawn Thrasher
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Rob Rogers
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Every Michener novel is a full-course meal, and Poland is an especially nourishing one. Through a series of chapter-long vignettes, each of which takes place at a different point in history yet involves the same series of families, Michener captures both the nation's long history and the unique pressures from which it has suffered -- both from enemies without and conflicts within its social classes. His use research is phenomenal, describing a Tatar charge and a Chopin mazurka with equal skill a ...more
Lorry Chwazik
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Michener uses this quote “A Pole is born with a sword in his right hand, a brick in his left. When the battle is over, he starts to rebuild'' several times in this documentary novel about the history of Poland, and it easily encapsulates the theme. Even a cursory glimpse of its history leaves one incredulous that the country exists today; lacking natural borders and hampered for centuries by the ruling class of feudal magnates who fought against a centralized government and too often owed their ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“How cruel are the repetitions of History.”
This is my first novel by Michener and It did not disappoint. It was a page turner and I could not put it down. I have Polish heritage and the epic story he created to explain Polish history from 1200 to 1983 was amazing. It pulled at my heart strings and was so rich with Polish history. The names and places are hard to pronounce but I just used Google Translate.
At one point I even looked up and listened to all the composers and pieces he was using in t
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
"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
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was in college at the suggestion of a friend of mine who was serving as a missionary in Poland at the time. I had read some James Michener previously and would consider myself a fan. "Poland" completely blew me away because it once again made me realize how little history I know. Michener is known for being a good researcher and I am often taken in by the way he brings history to life. Poland has a rich and tragic history that is rarely considered important in world event ...more
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Since visiting Poland, I have wanted a way to absorb more Polish history, this book is a good way to do it.
[James was reading it in Copenhagen and recommended it too.]
Michener is not among the greatest of writers, one does not 'savor every sentence'.

But he's a good storyteller and that keeps me reading.
He stresses that the Poles have always resisted having a strong leader. It was a long long time before regional 'warlords' were willing to relinquish some of their powers to the central government
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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 t
“a soldier lives always for the next battle, because he knows that before it arrives impossible changes can occur in his favor.” 12 likes
“Rampaging horsemen can conquer; only the city can civilize.” 4 likes
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