Heart of Europe
A Short History of Poland
"Heart of Europe" was written from start to finish in 1982-2 during a nine-month fellowship at the Japanese National Slavic Research Center at the University of Hokkaido. Since the Center Library had few Polish books other than basic reference works, it was largely composed straight from my head and with the help of notes and photocopied articles supplied from afar by colleagues. For good measure, and as a feat of intellectual gymnastics, I wrote the historical narrative in reverse chronological order, starting in the present, then coming full circle with a final chapter about the tense situation in Poland after Jaruzelski's war.
To mind, this book was an important work that never gained proper recognition, at least until the publication of a Polish edition many years later. Thanks to its marketing as "A Short History of Poland', many people thought it to be just a truncated version of "God’s Playground", which it definetely was not. It contained many broadened essays on Polish cultural and political traditions which have stood the test of time, and the chapter "Spiders' Webs and Galley Slaves" was a systematic, uncompromising and elegant de-construcion of the Communist part-state.