The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, by Samuel P. Huntington. New York. Simon & Schuster (1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020). 1996. 368 pages. Hardcover.
An expanded version of Huntington's 1993 article in Foreign Affairs. Huntington argues that after the fall of ideologies such as nazism and communism, a new era of politics will be marked by reemergence of the concept of civilization. He goes on to identify major world civilizations, among them the Western one, and he draws its eastern border in western Ukraine and western Belarus. That is to say, he implicitly acknowledges the role of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in shaping civilizational consciousness of central and eastern Europe, and implicitly argues in favor of central Europe's reintegration with the West via NATO and EU. Small wonder that those who would like the Yalta agreements to reemerge are so strongly opposed to Huntington's book.
In this configuration, Russia and Eastern Orthodoxy occupy a space between the increasingly assertive Chinese, Indian and Islamic civilizations, and the civilization of the West. Perhaps the only loose end of this book is Huntington's failure to articulate more fully the place of Byzantium and its descendants. It does not seem that the vitality of this cultural formation matches that of Islam or of the West, yet its distinctness is beyond doubt.
There is much more to this book than just an assertion of the right of the Central Europeans to return to their civilizational home. There is a global vision of how various civilizations are likely to align themselves in the future, where the fault lines lie and which places are dangerously exposed to conflict. This incomplete note is meant to draw attention to two problems: first, the book is an ally of Central Europeans and their aspirations. Second, it is likely to be attacked by those who find the concept of civilizational distinctness abhorrent. Notwithstanding a silence that surrounds this book in the media, it has been noticed and discussed informally at universities. A purchase of this book would extend its influence further. Much recommended.
Encyklopedia Polski. Edited by Roman Marcinek. Introduction by Tadeusz Chrzanowski. Krakow. Ryszard Kluszczynski Publishers (30-110 Krakow, ul. Kraszewskiego 36, tel/fax 21-22-28). 1996. ISBN 83-86328-60-6. 808 pages, 8'' x 11''. Reproductions of numerous Polish paintings, other illustrations, maps, graphs. Hardcover. No price given, but the superb quality of paper and reproductions indicates an upscale item.
The Kluszczynski Publishers specializes in beautifully edited encyclopedic volumes. We reviewed Kronika dziejow Polski in SR (September 1996). The book under review has the usual encyclopedic format, and its contents were composed by some sixty Polish scholars anchored at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Jagiellonian University and other Krakow universities and colleges, as well as in the country's museums and scholarly institutes. The volume covers Polish history and social life from Mieszko I to contemporary politicians. While those already deceased are decidedly favored, Polish political life in the 1990s is accurately featured. Among foreigners, those who influenced Poland's fate are featured too, from Ivan the Terrible to Brezhnev's doctrine (but no Brezhnev nor his successors).
Encyklopedia is a reliable source of basic facts about Polish writers, politicans, artists and public figures. It pays detailed attention to Polish history, shaking off the glum interpretations imposed by the Soviet occupiers and their Polish underlings. As is usual with books authored by a vast array of authors, some omissions and disagreements are inevitable. We were piqued by the uncharacteristically dilletantish entry on Sarmatism, but we loved the emphasis on children's literature (Jan Brzechwa, Julian Tuwim, Jan Twardowski, Kornel Makuszynski, Stanisaw Jachowicz).
Recommended for libraries; a coffee table attention-getter.
Polish American Studies, Vol. LIII, No. 2 (Autumn 1996). Edited by James S. Pula. Published by the Polish American Historical Association and the Catholic University of America. 114 pages.
The PAHA journal holds a place of increasing importance in the intellectual debate on Polish-related issues in the United States. The present issue features an article by Daniel Buczek on several topics, among them the continuing cultural struggle for 'the soul of the youth' of American Polonia among 'the Polish [Roman Catholic] parishes,' 'the secular, non-religious intelligentsia, concentrated in the Polish language press' and 'the secular associations grouped...in the so-called Polish Homes.' This unresolved (and, one conjectures, not entirely spontaneous) struggle (which Professor Buczek traces back to the pre-World War II period) continues to the present day, and it saps away a good deal of Polish energy and attention. An awareness of this very real issue needs to be raised significantly in American Polish communities before any long-term solutions can be found.
In this connection, it is important to keep in mind the issue Professor Stanislaus Blejwas once raised in his polemic against Czeslaw Milosz in the New York Times: that the 'old' Polonia, originally blue-collar and proficient in a Polish dialect but not in literary Polish, has often suffered slights from the university-trained 'intelligentsia' who seem to believe in their innate superiority over their less educated brethren in the Polish diaspora. The separation between the old and new Polonia has been enforced by the structure of Polish organizations in this country and the pattern of meetings, conventions and the like. Kudos to Professor Buczek for raising these issues.
Literatura polska w latach II wojny swiatowej (Polish Literature in World War II), by Jerzy Swiech. Warsaw. Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN. 1997. 583 pages. Numerous indices and illustrations. Hardcover. In Polish.
This book belongs to the series titled 'Wielka historia literatury polskiej,' or an unabbreviated history of Polish literature. Several volumes have already appeared, of which Jerzy Ziomek's Renesans, now in its sixth edition, was the finest so far, now to be replaced by Swiech's volume. In addition to synthesizing information and criticism about the well known writers who later published in Soviet-occupied Poland and in emigration, the author presents writers and movements suppressed under the Soviets, e.g., an underground association called Unia which had 20,000 members in 1942 and which published such periodicals as Kultura Jutra (January 1943-June 1944). Unia's orientation was Christian and patriotic, and its plans included renunciation of western Ukraine and western Belarus, and moving the western border of Poland to where it is today. Members of the association stressed similarities between nazism and communism, considering both of them abhorrent. They were represented in the London government-in-exile, and maintained connections with the Home Army (AK). Those active in Unia's publications included Jerzy Braun (1901-75), Artur Gorski (1870-1959), Karol Ludwik Koninski, Wojciech Zukrowski, Zofia Kossak, and the budding Catholic intellectual Jerzy Turowicz. Kultura Jutra published such poets as Tadeusz Gajcy, K.I. Galczynski, Jerzy Braun, Tadeusz Hollender, Jerzy Zagorski, Anna Swirszczynska; it reviewed books by Krzysztof Baczynski and Tadeusz Borowski. The importance of Jerzy Braun for Polish culture can hardly be overestimated (although his notions of ethnic identity seem archaic today), and we welcome the attention given to him in Literatura polska. This thick tome is chock full of facts, dates, and interpretations. It reads extremely well, a rarity among encyclopedic works.
Follow me: the Memoirs of a Polish Priest, by Monsignor Stanisaw Grabowski. Edited with a Preface by John Radzilowski. Roseville, MN. White Rose Press (P.O. Box 18403, Minneapolis, MN 55418-0403). 1997. xiv +146 pages. Paper.
Father Grabowski (1911-1993) survived the Nazi concentration camps to which several thousand Polish priests were deported during World War II (1,800 were deported to Dachau alone; of these, 830 survived until 1945). This is one of those blood-curdling books that one long remembers. Grabowski's subsequent emigration to the United States facilitated the writing of it. This memoir is remarkable as he records not only the tragedies of his life, but also his journey of faith. His increasingly profound faith and understanding of ontological realities made it possible for him to come to terms with malignant people and their monstrous doings. Catholic priests were exposed to unbelievable torture. Particularly horrible are the descriptions of medical 'experiments' performed on the priests, and their death at the hands of the SS men and of ordinary German criminals.
Other Books Received:
Borders of Language and Identity in Teschen Silesia, by Kevin Hannan. New York. Peter Lang Publishers (275 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001). 1996. 280 pages. Hardcover. $49.95.
An interdisciplinary study of the borderland that intersects the territory of the Polish, Czech, and Slovak languages. The book explores ethnic consciousness in the border areas.
Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature. Vol. XLVII, Nos 3-4 (Spring-Summer 1995). Editor: Joseph Schwartz. Guest editor for the issue: Halina Filipowicz. Topic: "Sacrum in Polish Literature."
Modernistic and secularist approaches to sacrum in selected works of Polish literature.
Artists from Ukraine: Works on Paper. Catalogue designed by Susan J. Baker and Lydia Bodnar Balahutrak. Foreword by Ann Trask. The O'Kane Gallery, University of Houston-Downtown (One Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002). 1997. 40 pages. Paper.
Color reproductions of prints and other works on paper by twenty artists from contemporary Ukraine. To eyes accustomed to the conventions of 'postmodern' American paintings and interior design, the works reproduced appear to be strikingly intense and original.
The Enigma of General Blaskowitz, by Richard Giziowski. London (Leo Cooper) and New York (Hippocrene Books). 1997. 532 pages. Photographs and maps. ISBN # 0-7818-0503-1. Hardcover. $29.95.
A biography of Johannes Blaskowitz, the Nazi general responsible for the taking of Warsaw in 1939. According to the biographer, Blaskowitz was one of the few Nazi generals who protested German atrocities in Poland in 1939-1940. For that, he was transferred to the western front where atrocities were the exception rather the rule.
Culturelink: Network of Networks for Research and Cooperation in Cultural Development, No. 21 (April 1997). Zagreb: Institute for International Relations. 155 pages. Paper.
Moje zycie, by Tadeusz Burzyski. Edited by Anna Burzyska. Index, photographs. Houston, Texas. Skok Communication Arts. 1997. 439 pages. Hardcover. In Polish.
An autobiography in verse by one of Houston's remarkable engineers.
"Robert F. Kelley. Wokol amerykanskiej polityki wschodniej w okresie miedzywojennym,' by Bogusaw W. Winid. Dzieje Najnowsze [Warsaw], Vol. XXXVIII (1996), 47-63.
A scholarly study of the Division of Eastern European Affairs in the US State Department in 1926-1937 headed by R.F. Kelley. The author points out that Kelley's awareness of the problems of Soviet imperialism was an exception rather than the rule in the US State Department whose traditions of friendship with Russia at the expense of Russia's neighbors go back to the nineteenth century.
Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust, by Michael C. Steinlauf. Syracuse, NY. Syracuse University Press. 1997. Paper $16.95.