Since its beginnings, Poland has been a moving target, geographically as well as demographically, and the very definition of who is a Pole has been in flux. In the late medieval and early modern periods, the country grew to be the largest in continental Europe, only to be later wiped off the map for more than a century. The Polish phoenix that rose out of the ashes of World War I was obliterated by the joint Nazi-Soviet occupation that began with World War II. The postwar entity known as Poland was shaped and controlled by the Soviet Union. Yet even under these constraints, Poles persisted in their desire to wrest from their oppressors a modicum of national dignity and, ultimately, managed to achieve much more than that.
Poland: The First Thousand Years is a sweeping account designed to amplify major figures, moments, milestones, and turning points in Polish history. These include important battles and illustrious individuals, alliances forged by marriages and choices of religious denomination, and meditations on the likes of the Polish battle slogan “for our freedom and yours” that resounded during the Polish fight for independence in the long 19th century and echoed in the Solidarity period of the late 20th century.
The experience of oppression helped Poles to endure and surmount various challenges in the 20th century, and Poland’s demonstration of strength was a model for other peoples seeking to extract themselves from foreign yoke. Patrice Dabrowski’s work situates Poland and the Poles within a broader European framework that locates this multiethnic and multidenominational region squarely between East and West. This illuminating chronicle will appeal to general readers, and will be of special interest to those of Polish descent who will appreciate Poland’s longstanding republican experiment.
About the Author
Patrice M. Dabrowski has taught at Harvard University, Brown University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and currently works at the University of Vienna. She is the author of Commemorations and the Shaping of Modern Poland.
"The book provides even chronological coverage of a full 1,000 years of history and is exhaustive in scope, with the numerous subheadings lending it an almost encyclopedic quality. Dabrowski writes in an accessible, and in some places conversational, style, doing away with distracting jargon and replacing it with rhetorical questions, entertaining anecdotes, and well-chosen maps and images." —Journal of Modern History
“A major achievement, lucidly and engagingly written.” —Cosmopolitan Review
“The book is very readable and fluidly written. The action flows gracefully from one setting to another with appropriate transitions and cues along the way. Dabrowski’s presentation contributes fresh interpretations of events in several important respects.” —Keely Stauter-Halsted, University of Illinois at Chicago
“Dabrowski provides an engaging and reliable overview of over ten centuries of Polish history. She has done so in a balanced, fair manner with regard to a broad range of controversial issues. And she has done so in a way to make the reader comfortable with matters for which he or she might bring relatively little in the way of previous knowledge or interests.” —Paul W. Knoll, University of Southern California
“A work of truly impressive and painstaking scholarship, Poland: The First Thousand Years is enhanced with the inclusion of a list of illustrations, an informative preface, a Note on Names, a pronunciation guide, an eight page list of suggestions for further reading, and a thirty-nine page index. Very highly recommended.” —Midwest Book Review Bookwatch
"A comprehensive, balanced, clearly written, and engaging new history of Poland . . . May Poland: The First Thousand Years find many readers. They will not be disappointed in what they see." —The Polish Review
"Poland: The First Thousand Years deserves being considered as one of the most valuable synthetic depictions of the history of Poland ever penned by an Anglo-Saxon author." —Acta Poloniae Historica
"In this sprawling and ambitious work, ... Dabrowski proceeds systematically from Poland's foundational myths, with their roots at the end of the first millennium, to the fall of Communism and the establishment of democracy in 1989. Dabrowski avoids academic prose, and even those with no background will find the text engrossing. Precise yet lyrical, she convincingly connects the lessons of Polish history to issues of universal import." —Publishers Weekly
"Elegant writing with frequent vivid metaphorical language and skillful rearticulation of idiomatic and historic Polish proverbs into English make Dabrowski’s prose captivating and easy to read. . . . [A] well-written, informative volume.” —H-Net Reviews
"This is a clearly presented and compellingly written survey of the history of Poland from its founding in the tenth century through to the present day." —Canadian Slavonic Papers