Mad Dreams, Saving Graces: Poland: A Nation in Conspiracy

Michael T. Kaufman, Author, Robert D. Loomis, Editor Random House (NY) $19.95 (270p) ISBN 978-0-394-55486-0
The Poles, in Kaufman's probing portrait, are a ``people steeped in legends of suffering, loss, and sacrifice'' who ``for a very long time have seen themselves as the suffering Christ of nations.'' As a New York Times correspondent based in Warsaw for three and a half years, the author found the Polish political and social scene ``a mixture of putrefying Communism and idiosyncratic Polish romanticism.'' His trenchant observations capture the drab patterns of everyday life in a backward, pauperized economy, the ferment of a thriving cultural underground, the conspiratorial antics of Solidarity leaders and strong-arm tactics in what remains a police state, albeit an ``idiosyncratic, sloppy'' one. Kaufman takes a hard look at anti-Semitic tendencies within the Solidarity movement and in Poland generally, ``a country without Jews.'' His report of his father's visit to Warsaw in 1985, after a half-century's absence, makes for dramatic contrasts. The Poles' mixed reactions to Gorbachev, as recorded here, indicate that many view Soviet reforms as countermeasures designed to preserve the U.S.S.R.'s ebbing power. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
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