Here, in lucid, uncluttered, and dispassionate form, is Poland's political history from September 1939, when German and Soviet tanks rolled in, until 1989, when the communist regime faded out. Paczkowski, a Polish historian, treats in great detail the wartime occupation and the dramatic decade of the 1980s; in between, he deals well, if briefly, with the creation of the regime, the explosive 1950s, and the dress rehearsals of the 1970s. His analytical restraint and unemotional judgment inspire confidence, as does his dual role as firsthand observer and professional historian. It is, however, disconcerting that a book this scholarly has no footnotes, even for direct quotations.
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