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Recommended Books & Movies
  • Poland by James A. Michener. Like the heroic land that is its subject, this book teems with vivid events and unforgettable 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.
  • God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 1 by Norman Davies. This new edition of Norman Davies's classic study of the history of Poland has been revised and fully updated with two new chapters to bring the story to the end of the twentieth century. Professor Davies presents the most comprehensive survey in English of this frequently maligned and usually misunderstood country.
  • God's Playground: A History of Poland, Vol. 2: 1795 to the Present by Norman Davies. The most comprehensive survey of Polish history available in English, God's Playground demonstrates Poland's importance in European history from medieval times to the present. In each volume, chronological chapters of political narrative are interspersed with essays on religious, social, economic, constitutional, philosophical, and diplomatic themes.
  • The Jews in Polish Culture by Aleksander Hertz. A brief overview of the history of the Jewish people in Poland. A richly perceptive sociological consideration of the Jewish community as a caste in 19th and early 20th-century Poland and a book that should be part of any study of modern Polish culture or Diaspora Jewry.
  • Cosmos and Pornografia: Two Novels by Witold Gombrowicz. Cosmos, a metaphysical thriller, revolves around an absurd investigation. It is set in provincial Poland and narrated by a seedy, pathetic, and witty student, who is charming and appalling by turns, and whose voice is dense with the richly palpable description that characterizes Gombrowicz's writing. The second, Pornografia, explores a sinister plot in which the elderly live vicariously through the young.
  • View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems by Wislawa Szymborska. From one of Europe's most prominent and celebrated poets, a collection remarkable for its graceful lyricism. With acute irony tempered by a generous curiosity, Szymborska documents life's improbability as well as its transient beauty to capture the wonder of existence. Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, winners of the PEN Translation Prize.
  • Culture Smart! Poland: A Quick Guide to Customs & Etiquette by Greg Allen.  "Welcome to Poland, the historical bridge between East and West at the heart of Europe." A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice. 
  • The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz. The best known prose work by the winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature examines the moral and intellectual conflicts faced by men and women living under totalitarianism of the left or right.
  • A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland by Michael Moran. Moran keeps company with a gallery of fantastic characters in this uproarious memoir and meticulously researched cultural journey. Moran shows the quirky, colorful side of Polish life obscured by memories of communism, but does not neglect the dark side of Polish history. This captivating journey into the heart of a country is a timely and brilliant celebration of a valiant and richly cultured people.
  • Breathing under Water and Other East European Essays by Stanislaw Baranczak. These superb essays focus on the role that culture, and particularly literature, has played in keeping the spirit of intellectual independence alive in Eastern and Central Europe. Baranczak brings into sharp relief the works and personalities of many legendary figures of recent Eastern European political and cultural history and makes vivid the context from which they spring. 
  • Another Beauty by Adam Zagajewski. This brilliant memoir is Adam Zagajewski's recollection of 1960s and 1970s communist Poland, where he was a fledgling writer, student of philosophy, and vocal dissident at the university in Krakow, Poland's most beautiful and ancient city.
  • The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories by Bruno Schulz. Bruno Schulz's untimely death at the hands of a Nazi stands as one of the great losses to modern literature. This volume brings together his complete fiction, including three short stories and his final surviving work. Illustrated with Schulz's original drawings, this edition beautifully showcases the distinctive surrealist vision of one of the twentieth century's most gifted and influential writers.
  • A Traveller's History of Poland by John Radzilowski. Since the horrors of the Second World War and Soviet control, Poland has gradually regained its rightful place in Europe. Radzilowski vividly describes the beginnings of the country, first fragmented then reborn to overcome the aggression of the Teutonic Knights and its greedy neighbors. The book includes a full chronology, a list of monarchs and rulers, a gazetteer, historical maps and is fully illustrated.
  • Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin. A panoramic and epic novel in the grand romantic style; the rich story of Poland in the late 1700s--a time of heartache and turmoil as the country's once peaceful people are being torn apart by neighboring countries and divided loyalties.  Based on the true eighteenth century diary of Anna Maria Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the historic Third of May Constitution.
  • A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka. On the eve of World War II, in a place called Half-Village, a young man nicknamed the Pigeon falls in love with a girl fabled for her angelic looks.  Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and at times heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.
  • Warsaw by Richard Foreman. The story follows Jessica , Adam and Thomas who all try to survive the Ghetto even though they stand on different sides. While Jessica and Adam have to deal with fear of death everyday, Thomas is coping with trying to retain his self and humanity. Between Warsaw and Treblinka love and friendship are still possible. The story is set against the carefully researched historical information about the Ghetto, which compliments the fiction.
  • Warsaw Requiem by Bodie and Brock Thoene The Zion Covenant series tells the courageous and compelling stories of those who risk everything to stand against the growing tide of Nazi terrorism that is sweeping through central Europe under the dangerous and deceitful guise of Hitler's Third Reich. A new study guide is included in each book.
  • The Bravest Battle: The Twenty-eight Days Of The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Dan Kurzman. The book is a testament to the Warsaw Jews, who fought for survival with dignity and courage, and is the first full-scale, step-by-step account of the climatic twenty-eight-day struggle of the poorly armed Jews against their Nazi exterminators. This moving history cannot be matched for its authenticity and drama. 
  • Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw by Norman Davis. One of the most dramatic and shameful episodes in World War II was the doomed Warsaw uprising of 1944, an uprising that failed because the Allies betrayed it. Now that story comes to its full terrible life in this gripping account by the bestselling historian Norman Davies. In August 1944, encouraged by the advance of the Red Army, the Polish Resistance poured forty thousand fighters into the streets of Warsaw to reclaim the city from the hated Germans. For sixty-three days the Wehrmacht methodically set about crushing the rebellion and destroying the city. Following the battle’s desperate progress through the cellars and sewers of Warsaw, Rising ’44 retrieves its subject from the shadows of history, revealing its pivotal importance to the outcome of World War II and the Cold War that followed.
  • Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin. The story of Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker, who helped nearly four hundred Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and into hiding during Wold War II.
  • Courier from Warsaw by Jan Nowak. Polish contacts had long been trying to inform the world about the German-Nazi extermination of Jews, but their warnings fell on deaf ears, even in western Jewish circles.  The book includes many other details of the Polish Underground activity, such as an almost-successful assassination of Hitler during his victory parade in Warsaw in 1939. Much information is given about the widely circulated Polish Underground bogus publications in German, designed to undermine German troop and civilian morale.
  • When Shlemiel Went to Warsaw: And Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Eight stories, some inspired by traditional Jewish tales, feature such characters as Shlemiel, Todie, Rabbi Leib and Menaseh. The length, the style, and the humor of these stories make them a happy source for storytelling; individual readers will have the added pleasure of the Zemach illustrations, distinctive in their own right."
  • The Treasure (1949) First Polish comedy made after WW II. A newly married couple are continually thwarted in their efforts to find some sort of home in a devastated Warsaw.
  • Giuseppe in Warsaw (1964). Legendary Polish screen stars Zbigniew Cybulski and Elzbieta Czyzewska star in this light-hearted comedy set in German-occupied Poland during World War II. Cybulski plays an artist whose kind-hearted sister, Maria, brings an Italian deserter named Giuseppe into their Warsaw apartment. Trouble begins when Giuseppe falls in love with Maria, who tries to keep her involvement in the Polish underground under wraps. 
  • The Pianist (2002) Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm award at the 2002 Cannes film festival, The Pianist is the film that Roman Polanski was born to direct. A childhood survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland, Polanski was uniquely suited to tell the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew and concert pianist (played by Adrien Brody) who witnessed the Nazi invasion of Warsaw, miraculously eluded the Nazi death camps, and survived throughout World War II by hiding among the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto. 
  • The Battle of Warsaw (2011) The Battle of Warsaw sometimes referred to as the Miracle at the Vistula, was the decisive battle of the Polish-Soviet War. That war began soon after the end of World War I in 1918 and lasted until the Treaty of Riga resulted in the end of the hostilities between Poland and Russia in 1921. Before the Polish victory at the Vistula, both the Bolsheviks and the majority of foreign experts considered Poland to be on the verge of defeat. The stunning, unexpected Polish victory crippled the Bolshevik forces. In the following months, several more Polish follow-up victories saved Poland's independence and led to a peace treaty with Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine later that year, securing the Polish state's eastern frontiers for the next twenty years.