Church and State

R.F. Leslie

  • God’s Playground: A History of Poland, Vol 1., The Origins to 1745, Vol. 11, 1745 to the Present by Norman Davies
    Oxford, 605 pp, £27.50, December 1981, ISBN 0 19 822555 5

Dr Davies claims that ‘very few comprehensive surveys of Polish history, written by British and American scholars, have ever been attempted.’ He sees himself as producing something which had a predecessor in W. F. Morfield’s Poland, first published in 1893. A glance at his bibliography reveals that modern interpretation of Polish affairs in English has long since progressed beyond the stage where a comprehensive history of Poland is really necessary, unless it represents a synthesis drawing upon most recent historical work. Dr Davies’s footnotes reveal that he has used English, French, Polish, Latin, German, Russian and Ukrainian sources. He may rightly say that his work is more up-to-date than The Cambridge History of Poland, edited by W. J. Reddaway and produced in 1941-50. The title of his work, God’s Playground, is perhaps not a very happy translation of the Polish expression Boze Igrzysko, but the reader must not be deterred by it, nor put off by the introductory chapters, because in the end Dr Davies gets to grips with factors which have a bearing on the events of the present day.

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