Friday, September 21, 2012
Finding Poland by Matthew Kelly
In the last few years, a number of excellent books about what happened to the Poles who were taken east to Siberia by the Soviets during World War II have appeared. I've posted about several of these books here: Krysia Jopek's novel Maps and Shadows, Andrew Bienkowski's memoir One Life to Give: A Path to Finding Yourself by Helping Others, and Halina Ablamowicz's anthology Polish Poetry from the Soviet Gulag. And there are a handful of other fine books that retell the story of the hardships suffered by the Poles as they were taken by the Soviets from the sections of Poland that came under their control when they and the Nazis invaded Poland at the start of the war. Stefan Waydenfeld's Ice Road and Wesley Adamczyk's When God Looked the Other Way come to mind.
To this short list must be added Matthew Kelly's Finding Poland.
Part memoir, part history, part family biography, part eulogy for a generation quickly receding, Kelly's book will touch any Polish-American who has ever looked at old photographs of grandparents whose names have been forgotten or stared at yellow pages written in Polish sixty, eighty, or a hundred years ago. We all stare at similar pictures brought from the Old Country, try to decipher those letters, and wonder what the lives of those relatives who are now gone and perhaps forgotten were like. Kelly, I'm sure, did the same as a young boy.
And as an adult, a historian teaching at the University of Southampton, UK, he set out to answer the questions that he must have asked himself as a boy: Who were those people in those fading photographs, why were they taken from their homes, what did they suffer, and how did the suffering change them?
As he retraces the footsteps of his family, Kelly finds answers that will change the way you think about the past and who you are as you step into tomorrow.
The book is available here in the US through Amazon.
Kelly at present doesn't have an American publisher but some sample pages of the book are available online. I highly recommend you take a look at the introduction and the opening chapter entitled "Trains."
Click here to access the sample pages.