cover image The Liberation of One

The Liberation of One

Romuald Spasowski. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $24.95 (687pp) ISBN 978-0-15-151276-8

When Spasowski, Poland's ambassador to Washington, defected to the U.S. in 1981, his sudden leap to freedom, he shows, capped a gradual disillusionment with communist ideology. This candid, epic autobiography charts his political ""awakening'' through a career that spanned the roles of intelligence agent, ambassador calling on Peron, Kennedy and Castro, and deputy foreign minister. Spasowski writes that ``people's Poland'' is a myth; a handful of Warsaw bureaucrats backed by police power and Soviet might control an entire people. But as the dutiful son of an eminent Polish Marxist, the author was slow to change his thinking. Some of the book's most moving sections recreate his adolescent years in Nazi-occupied Poland, where he saw with disbelief that both Russians and Germans persecuted Poles. With ruthless honesty he divulges a love affair that nearly wrecked his marriage. Later sections describe how Solidarity missed opportunities to consolidate its power. Spasowski's odyssey is told with great literary skill and spiked with instructive disclosures about Poland's ruling elite. Photos. (March 31)