Books and Periodicals Received

Transition to Democracy in Poland. Edited by Richard F. Staar. New York. St. Martin's Press. 1993. xiv + 271 pages. 15 Tables & Index. Hardcover.

An up-to-date collection of twelve essays on fundamental problems of the post-communist period in Poland. The essays deal with political parties and activities, the present political system, constitutional reform and local government reform, economics and privatization, monetary policy, foreign trade and national security relations. The Introduction by Richard F. Staar gives an excellent overview of the problems and prospects for Poland.

We noticed one flaw in A. Michta's essay on Poland's political system. As Mr. Michta rightly points out, a major drawback of this system is the electoral law which the constitutional commission drafted and agreed upon in 1991. This electoral law makes it possible for very small parties to put forth candidates and win, which encourages the formation of new parties on the one hand, and on the other, virtually precludes the creation of a truly representative parliamentary majority. According to Mr. Michta, "Walesa submitted a draft electoral law to the Sejm" [and] the law was accepted. In fact, Mr. Walesa had little to do with that law. The electoral law was drafted by a committee headed by Bronislaw Geremek. That Mr. Geremek signed such a draft rather than fighting for a better solution, or resigning his chairmanship of the committee (and thus drawing attention to the potentially disastrous consequences of the proposed draft) may indicate one of two things: 1. that Mr. Geremek is not a good politician, and could not have predicted future developments, or 2. that he helped draft this electoral law to make the Polish parliament as unrepresentative of the voice of the majority as possible, and thus allow the "reformed" communists to return to the political game.

Mr. Michta should have addressed this topic in some detail. In his essay, he uses the passive voice ("The new electoral law itself had proven a bone of contention. The proposal had been vetoed twice by President Walesa....") and, while poking fun at some of the lesser parties brought into play as a result of the electoral law, he fails to address the issue of who played a key role in this, and when.

A History of the Poles in America to 1908, by Waclaw Kruszka. Part One. Edited, with an Introduction, by James S. Pula et al. Translated by Krystyna Jankowski. Washington, DC. The Catholic University of America Press. 1993. xxiii+362 pages. Hardcover. $49.95.

Part One was serialized in Kuryer Polski, Kuryer Tygodniowy and Gazeta Wisconsinska in 1901-4. The entire opus was published in thirteen volumes between 1905-08. The author, a Catholic priest, was one of those feisty spirits who approach all they do with passion. Kruszka believed that America would create an entirely new type of Pole; he fought (unsuccessfully) against the schism which produced the Polish National Catholic Church, a small but determined splinter group still in existence, and he quarrelled with his bishop, his fellow-priests and many more. While unable to rise to the level of a professional historian, Kruszka produced nevertheless a document of great authenticity. His work has been carefully edited by a team headed by Professor James Pula. Too bad the volume does not have an index.

The Doll, by Boleslaw Prus. Translated by David Welsh. New York. Hippocrene/Dedalus [171 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10016-1002]. 1993. US ISBN 0-7818-0158-3. UK ISBN 1-873982-75-5. vii+702 pages. Paperback. $16.99/+9.99.

Originally published by Twayne in 1972, this magnificent translation by David Welsh is much recommended for its readability and relevance. The picture of Isabella Lecka on the cover has supermarket appeal, but do not be fooled. In Soviet-occupied Poland the school-bound versions of Lalka [The Doll] were heavily censored. A number of passages in the translation had never appeared in the post-World War II editions of Prus' novel. Talk of heavy-handed interference with literary affairs!

The Doll is typical of the allegedly optimistic positivist ideology (which, in spite of the author's disclaimers, influenced the entire output of this extremely able and intelligent novelist). Characters in this novel have served as role models for Polish youth, and the results have been less than positive. The Doll contains a wealth of observations about Polish society, relations between the sexes, Polish and European politics, and humanity in general. A splendid read.

Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Translated by Stanley F. Conrad. New York. Hippocrene-Dedalus Ltd. 1993. Map. List of characters. 493 pages. Paperback. $14.95/+8.99.

This Nobel Prize winner remains a classic even though its fortunes have ebbed over the years. First published in 1896 in several languages, it became a breathtaking success in America. Then its fortunes waned, but in recent years it seems to have regained some of its previous strength. The novel is crisply written and quite profound even though it lacks the customary features of twentieth-century novels: stream-of-consciousness narration and a pagan philosophy. A most edifying work, to be recommended to students, and the best fictional account we know about of early Christianity.

The Teutonic Knights, by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Translated by Alicia Tyszkiewicz. Edited and revised by Miroslaw Lipinski. New York. Hippocrene Books. 1993. 787 pages. Map. Hardcover. $24.95.

A splendid edition of Sienkiewicz's 1897 classic. The translation reads easily and smoothly, almost like a Harlequin novel. Yet this is a novel with a message, resounding with patriotism and nobility of spirit. It does present the Teutonic Knights in a light that is hardly flattering, however. This is a typical work written "from the other side," like the accounts of the English conquest of Scotland written by the Scots. It deals with the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, however, and so national animosities presented there should not be taken too seriously. A longer review to follow.

Tylko modlitwa ocaleje: Liryka religijna poetow gdanskich [Only Prayer Will Survive: Religious Lyrics of the Gdansk Poets]. Edited with an Introduction by Tadeusz Skutnik. Gdansk. Drukarnia Kurii Biskupiej. 1988. 145 pages. Illustrations. No price. In Polish.

An uneven collection by 23 poets on religious themes. The best poems are by Boleslaw Fac and Aleksander Jurewicz. There are some other good poems, but there is also quite a bit of chaff.

A Marriage of Convenience: The New Zionist Organization and the Polish Government, 1936-1939, by Lawrence Weinbaum. East European Monographs, Boulder. No. CCCLXIX. Distributed by Columbia University Press. 1993. xiii + 295 pages. Illustrations. Hardcover. $39.00.

A detailed and measured account of the creation and growth of Zionist organizations in the Second Polish Republic, and how they fared with the government and with nonJewish people. Due to Poland's extraordinarily large Jewish population (Polish Jews were more numerous than all the other Jews of Europe put together), the problem of Jewish migration from Poland to Palestine was eagerly discussed by the Zionists. The 1939 German invasion put an end to the plans in which Jews and Catholics collaborated in relative amity.

Poland Challenges a Divided World, by John Rensenbrink. Baton Rouge & London. Louisiana University Press. 1988. x + 246 pages. Bibliography. Index. Hardcover. $19.95.

This book passed almost unnoticed because of what happened one year after it was published, yet it deserves a reconsideration. Rensenbrink leans toward a conclusion similar to that drawn by Lawrence Goodwyn in Breaking the Barrier: that Poland's Solidarity has fundamental significance not only for Poland but for the rest of the world. Reviewer Michael Kaufman says that "Mr. Rensenbrink sees the connection between what has happened in the factories of Gdansk, Wroclaw, and Warsaw and what is now happening in Gorbachev's Kremlin."

Janek: A Story of Survival, by Alick Dowling. Letchworth, Great Britain. Ringpress Books. 1989. 220 pages. Numerous photographs and maps. Hardcover. ISBN 0-948955-45-7. +14.95.

Janek is Jan Leja, a Polish prisoner in the Soviet gulag and soldier in General Sikorski's Polish Army who stayed in the West after World War II to father a large family. Written by a British physician who befriended Mr. Leja and heard the story of hell from him. We have read dozens of stories about the Soviet gulag but this one ranks among the most blood-curdling ones. Excellently written and edited, much recommended. A longer review to follow.

The Most Beautiful House in the World, by Witold Rybczynski. New York. Viking. 1989. 211 pages. Index. Hardcover. $18.95.

The author of bestselling books on architecture describes how he built a dream house for himself. He not only designed it but actually did all the work. The book is chockfull of funny anecdotes and historical information.

Rossi\ i Vatikan nakanune revol]cii: vospominani\ diplomata, by Ieromonah Nikolay Bok O.I. [Russia and the Vatican on the Eve of the Revolution: Memoirs of Rev. Nikolai Bok, O.I.] New York. The Russian Fund at Fordham University. 1962. 82 pages. Paper. $1.35. In Russian.

This rare book contains reminiscences by the representative of the Russian czarist government to the Vatican before the October Revolution. Revealing comments on Russian diplomacy and its treatment of the Vatican. Insights into the Russian intelligence concerning Polish Catholicism.

Mastering Polish, by Albert Juszczak. New York. Hippocrene Books (171 Madison Ave, New York 10016). 1993. 320 pages. Paperback. $14.95. Audiocasettes available.

A new Polish textbook by former President of the Kosciuszko Foundation. A readable textbook based on conversations.

Lettre du Foyer Oriental Chrétien. Edited by Irene Posnoff. No. 2 (139). April-June 1993. C.C.P. 000-0064635-33-Foyer Oriental Chrétien - Avenue de la Couronne 206, 1050 Bruxelles.In French.

A tri-quarterly dealing with Eastern Orthodox countries including Russia. We gleaned from it that Svetlana Allilueva became a Roman Catholic in 1982, thanks partly to a "Polish friend" in London. She has remained a Catholic ever since.

The Polish Heritage Art Calendar for 1994. Edited by Jacek Galazka. New York. Hippocrene Books, Inc. 1993. $9.95. CDN $12.95.

It is not too late to purchase this exceptionally beautiful wall Calendar. It features reproductions of twelve paintings from the Polish Gallery in Lwow (Lviv in Ukrainian). Among the painters are Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jozef Brandt, Wlodzimierz Przerwa-Tetmajer, Jacek Malczewski, Jozef Pankiewicz, Jozef Czajkowski, Jonasz Stern and Zygmunt Menkes.

Other Books Received:

With God in Russia, by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. New York. McGraw-Hill. 1992. xv + 302 pages. Paperback.

American Presidents and the Middle East, by George Lenczowski. Durham and London. Duke University Press. 1990. Third printing in paperback, 1992. vi + 321 pages. Maps and Index.

The Cemetery of Nations in the Siberian Tundra, by H. Tautvaisa. Published by The Lithuanian Social Democratic Union of America. 112 pages. Paper.

My Century: the Odyssey of a Polish Intellectual, by Aleksander Wat. Edited & translated by Richard Lourie. Foreword by Czeslaw Milosz. Berkeley. University of California Press. 1988. xxx + 407 pages. Hardcover.

Synods of the Polish National Catholic Church 1904-1958. Compiled and edited by Casimir J. Grotnik. East European Monographs, Boulder. Distributed by Columbia University Press, New York. 1993. xiv + 603 pages. Hardcover.

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