Review: “Soviet-Polish Relations, 1917-1921” – Piotr S. Wandycz

Piotr S. Wandycz examines Soviet-Polish relations in the period between the October Revolution of 1917 to the conclusion of the Soviet-Polish war with the signing of the Treaty of Riga in 1921. For a book published by Harvard University Press, Wandycz is surprisingly and refreshingly detailed and objective as he examines the diplomatic and military chess match between the Soviets in the context of the Russian Civil War and Piłsudski’s “White” Poland. Wandycz’s writing comes off as neither rabidly anti-Soviet nor pro-Polish nationalist. Indeed, his style of writing reminds me of Nicholas Bethell’s “Gomulka: His Poland, His Communism,” insofar as both authors commendably examine Polish-Soviet relations and issues despite their ideological convictions. On the one hand, Wandycz is critical of the Soviet march on Warsaw, which even Lenin later criticized, but supportive of the incessant Soviet peace initiatives despite their ideological motives. On the other, Wandycz is sympathetic to Polish nationalist ambitions, but critical of Piłsudski’s desire to restore Poland as a great power in Eastern Europe based on the 1772 borders and for a military victory over the Soviet Union. Overall, I am impressed with this book; it surpassed by expectations by a long shot.

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