I would like to post a review of one of the most interesting books I’ve read on the history of WW2. I found it especially moving as it talks about the much underestimated role of the Polish Army on the battlefields and in the allied victory of World War 2.
It is not easy to recommend a book which glorifies the involvement of a nation in a certain historic event when one is a member of this nation. Especially in regards to World War II emotions take over and it’s difficult to remain impartial, as every nation has its ‘own version of history’. Nonetheless I would like to give it a go.
Last year I read “No Greater Ally: The Untold Story of Poland’s Forces in World War II” by Kenneth K. Koskodan (an American with Polish ancestry) and it was the first book on WW2 which was both engaging and extremely enjoyable, like a good novel. I couldn’t put it down and waited with anticipation to the next chapter.
The book gives an account of true events involving Polish forces during the War, which are underrated or completely ignored by the official history records. The stories are mainly based on the reports of Polish veterans who survived as they managed to flee Poland before the end of the war. Their stories are heartbreaking, incredible and astonishing. I also learnt about certain events of which I have never heard before, as they are not recorded in any sources.
Most of reviews of this book I have read on line are very positive and personal, often marked by the readers’ connection to the subject either through personal interest or due to their family members’ involvement in the events. I also noted some criticism of the author by a Canadian reader, who claims that some facts quoted in the book are inaccurate, which I respect and take into consideration. The Canadian reader points out factual errors which refer to some events from the Battle of Britain and D-Day. He also criticises ‘Americanised’ names of military units. As English isn’t my first language and I didn’t study history in any English speaking country I haven’t noticed the difference. I would personally add though, that there is numerous repetition of information which creates a bit of chaos in keeping the timeline. On the other hand repetition as such can be positive as it helps to remember details from previous chapters. What regards the factual errors, well, even the most prestigious publications on history or the Media are not free of them. I therefore don’t consider all I read as ultimate truth but rather another source worth exploring.
The same review says that “The book falls into the category of historic accounts which present Poland as a victim and a martyr, and lacks any critical examination of mistakes on the military and strategic level. May be so, to some extent. It is, however, the ‘untold story’, as the title states, which aims to give justice to unimaginable heroic actions of those who wanted to share it with the readers. It is not factual historic literature written by a historian whose intent is to clarify and examine Polish Army’s mistakes and achievements. I agree that the book clearly glorifies the role of Poles in WW2 and doesn’t criticise them for mistakes they may have made, but I dare to say that Poles as a nation condemn themselves enough for both the past and the present. We have a tendency to beat ourselves up over anything and everything.
In my opinion this book gives Poles recognition and respect they deserve in world’s history. It’s very refreshing, motivating and uplifting. The are many nations that suffered in various world conflicts and their fight for freedom has not been recognised. This book helps to bridge just one of the gaps.
All together a very good read for Poles, those with Polish roots and anyone who is simply interested in the history of WW2 in that region.