by James A. Michener

Hardcover, 1983



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 of pride that burns through eras of romantic passion and courageous solidarity, their common story reaches a breathtaking culmination in the historic showdown between the ruthless Communists and rebellious farmers of the modern age. Like the heroic land that is its subject, Poland teems with vivid events, unforgettable characters, and the unfolding drama of an entire nation.   Praise for Poland   "Engrossing . . . a page-turner in the grand Michener tradition."--The Washington Post   "A Michener epic is far more than a bedtime reader, it's an experience. Poland is a monumental effort, a magnificent guide to a better understanding of the country's tribulations."--Chicago Tribune   "Stunning . . . an unmatched overview of Polish history . . . The families themselves come very much alive, and through them, Poland itself."--USA Today   "A titanic documentary novel."--The Wall Street Journal… (more)


(284 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ex_ottoyuhr
Michener's characterization and human interest are never very good, but his gimmick is history, and _that_ he does well. I learned more about Eastern European history from this novel and subsequent research along its lines than I have from any other source. It is astonishing that one can make it through American high school (or even college!) without once hearing about the Siege of Vienna...… (more)
LibraryThing member Pferdina
Starting sometime in the 1200's, the novel follows the fortunes of the inhabitants of a small village in Poland (and the aristocrats who own it) through 1981. It touches a lot of Polish history.
LibraryThing member daisyq
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 anything even vaguely resembling personality; since I put it down a couple of weeks ago I struggle to name even one.

The style, such as it is, is confusing. Sometimes it behaves like a history book, sometimes it lectures you about politics or political philosophy, sometimes the 'characters' lecture each other, and at others it weirdly drops into theatre dialogue. It is clunky and so very hard to read.

The only thing I appreciated was the page or so of notes at the beginning that indicated which characters or events were fictional.
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LibraryThing member fuzzy_patters
For whatever reason, I just could not get into this one. Michener's writing style seemed overly detailed to the point that the book became dry. I read the first 150 pages or so before I gave up on it, and it is not because I do not like history. I majored in history in college. I simply did not find this to be a very well written novel.… (more)
LibraryThing member santhony
Typical Michener novel, with Poland is the subject.
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
First Michener I've read. Interesting setting and history, wide in scope. Covers a lot of ground.
LibraryThing member nolak
Poland's history through eight centuries from the invasions of the Tatar's through modern day is told through the stories of three families, the Counts Lubonski, the petty nobles Bukowski, and the peasants Buk. Their pride in their heritage and courageous solidarity is at times unifying and at other times dividing.
LibraryThing member dickmanikowski
While I'd first read this probably 25 years ago, reading Robert Massie's recent biography of Catherine the Great made me decide to revisit the Michener book.
Frankly, POLAND isn't nearly as good as I remembered it being. Michener is a great storyteller, and he (and his librarian wife) certainly did their research to get the required historical, geographical, and cultural background. But some of the series of stories which comprise the book are schmaltzy and labored.
Maybe I shouldn't reread and Michener. But I will make an exception for his very early ADVENTURES IN PARADISE, the collection of stories that served as the framework of the musical SOUTH PACIFIC.
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LibraryThing member maryreinert
Filled with names I couldn't pronounce and places I've never heard of, this tells the story of the country of Poland through a few families. The magnates that ruled the country with absolute confidence that it was their right to control everything and the peasants who were tied to the land and were also confident that was their lot in life. The story opens with a political standoff between a rural farmer and the Minister of Agriculture who are at odds over the rights of the farmer verses the control of the Communist government. The final chapter brings the story full circle. The chapters between beginning in the 1200's lay the foundation for the beliefs and positions of each man.

Complicated and historically accurate, Michener has managed to provide the history of the country of Poland through the lives of several families. The horrors of the Nazi control and concentration camps are told in gripping detail.

Another wonderful Michener book.
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LibraryThing member busterrll
A major disappointment, given all the great writing Michener has done.
Characters were shallow and lifeless
LibraryThing member parp
What does it mean having to fight for freedom? It's not so obvious to those who were born in freedom and not even suffered lack of it much less experienced a tyranny.
All young people should read Poland and try to imagine whether they, should they live at that time, would be able to recognize two of the worst tyrannies ever right at their start.
What were those tyrannies? Read Poland and see. Are there any similar tyrannies forming up now?
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LibraryThing member mielniczuk
Sometimes fiction gives a better sense of reality than history. This novel helped me understand the sources of national pride and ongoing tensions in the country of my parents.
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
I was hoping for a great deal of historical Poland and I got that with this book. The misfortunes of Poland are many, and JAM put them together pretty well. Very few countries have voted themselves out of existence, but Poland was one. I hope the contemporary USA would pay some attention to this!


Hardcover (1983), Hardcover

Original publication date



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