May 6, 2008

UNPAID DEBTS:

Magnetic Poles: Rory MacLean on an 'essential' travel book that sets out to celebrate and make sense of Poland's overwhelming history: a review of A Country in the Moon: Travels in search of the Heart of Poland by Michael Moran (Rory MacLean, 5/06/08, guardian.co.uk)

By following the course of the Vistula – one of the last great natural rivers in Europe – and then criss-crossing the country during the first international car rally in generations, he begins to fill the absences in our knowledge. On the road he relates – for example — the history of Partition, when thousands of intellectuals were forced to walk to Siberia – an 18-month journey – where they were chained to wheelbarrows night and day and worked to death. He considers our debt to the 8,500 Polish airmen whose élan and tactics helped to win the Battle of Britain. He details the iniquity of the Katyn massacre and betrayal of the Warsaw Uprising. He celebrates Chopin and the "frisson of close Polish dancing". His breadth of knowledge is profound, his views opinionated, his writing passionate and heart-felt. The result is the best contemporary travel book on Poland, reminiscent in its finest moments of Patrick Leigh Fermor's masterful Time of Gifts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 6, 2008 8:12 AM
Comments for this post are closed.