Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World

Jan Karski, foreword by Madeleine Albright. Georgetown Univ., $26.95 (398p) ISBN 978-1-58901-983-6
First published to instant acclaim in 1944, Karski’s memoir—supplemented here with photos, facsimiles, and a foreword by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright—tells of the four years (1939–1943) he served as the leading liaison officer in the Polish Underground during Nazi occupation. Only 25 in 1939, Karski recounts his work linking various aspects of the underground’s extensive administrative, political, and economic apparatuses, as well his capture and subsequent torture at the hands of the Gestapo (he likens being beaten by a rubber stick to “the sensation produced when a dentist’s drill strikes a nerve, but infinitely multiplied and spread over the entire nervous system”). After his capture, Karski was twice smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto, where he was horrified to discover “hunger, misery, the atrocious stench of decomposing bodies, [and] the pitiful moans of dying children.” At a death camp, he witnessed Jews being murdered in cattle cars through asphyxiation and burning by quicklime. Sent in 1942–1943 to London and Washington, D.C., where he met with British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and FDR, respectively, Karski delivered the first shocking eyewitness reports of the Holocaust to the Western world. Briskly paced, this is a gripping and immediate account of Nazi brutality from a brave leader of the resistance. Karski, who died in 2000, was awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. B&w photos & illus. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-14-119666-4
Paperback - 391 pages - 978-1-931541-39-8
Paperback - 414 pages - 978-1-62616-031-6
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-0-14-119667-1
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