Cover: Jozef Pilsudski: Founding Father of Modern Poland, from Harvard University PressCover: Jozef Pilsudski in HARDCOVER

Jozef Pilsudski

Founding Father of Modern Poland

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Product Details


$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674984271

Publication Date: 06/28/2022


640 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

42 photos, 1 illus., 8 maps


The ultimate Pilsudski biography for our era. Deeply researched, authoritative, and very well written, it fearlessly faces the great mystery of the man. For how can the Father of Modern Poland, a soldier and statesman of genius and the savior of his country in 1920, be the same man who ruthlessly discarded democracy in a military coup only six years later? Zimmerman’s portrayal of Pilsudski in the courageous Polish Legions days will come alive for readers, but the complexity of the authoritarian period under the ‘Napoleon of Poland’ will give them pause for thought.—Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

Pilsudski had a profound influence on the politics of twentieth-century Europe, and his legacy is discernible to this day. Yet this extraordinary man—an idealistic political activist turned terrorist, military commander, statesman and finally virtual dictator—has been sorely neglected by historians outside Poland. This well-researched, balanced, and highly readable account of the truly Napoleonic trajectory of his life and complex political evolution is timely and very welcome.—Adam Zamoyski, author of Napoleon: A Life

Here is the ‘founder of modern Poland’ for twenty-first-century eyes. This fascinating portrait of Pilsudski, one of the most important political figures of twentieth-century Europe, is full of vivid details and incisive observations. Zimmerman has drawn from a huge body of material, much from newly available sources, and turned it into a critical yet brilliantly balanced analysis of a man and statesman.—Andrzej Nowak, Jagiellonian University

A thorough, nuanced biography of Pilsudski, whose extraordinary life sheds so much light on his era and the Poland of his dreams and of his making. Zimmerman highlights Pilsudski’s pluralist and federalist inclinations without downplaying his later authoritarianism. Pilsudski’s attitude toward Polish Jews in particular serves as a bellwether of his cultural pluralism and respect for minority rights. A much-needed, comprehensive account essential for readers seeking to understand this complex, important figure.—Patrice M. Dabrowski, author of Poland: The First Thousand Years

The personality and policies of Jozef Pilsudski have long been obscured by both ideological attacks and mindless adulation. This welcome new portrait places the marshal in his rightful position, not just as a military leader whose plans worked out and a would-be democrat whose plans went awry, but as a statesman with a broad, tolerant vision. Zimmerman’s emphasis on Pilsudski’s hopes for a multinational Poland, where all could live in harmony—including the country’s huge Jewish community—is spot on.—Norman Davies, author of God’s Playground: A History of Poland

Pilsudski was a central figure not only in the emergence and development of an independent Polish state but also in the larger history of interwar Europe. Zimmerman clearly portrays the complex, multifaceted nature of the man and his political legacy. While Pilsudski sought to create a multiethnic Poland in which all citizens would feel at home, his understanding of how a constitutional system should function was flawed, and he used brutal, extra-legal methods to suppress the opposition after he seized power in a coup. This welcome book will become the definitive treatment in English of Pilsudski, and I enthusiastically recommend it.—Antony Polonsky, author of The Jews in Poland and Russia

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