The Struggle And The Triumph

The Struggle And The Triumph

by Lech Walesa
     
 

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From the time he founded Solidarity in 1980 to the historic moment in December 1990 when he took the oath of office as the first freely elected president of Poland in half a century, Lech Walesa has had all eyes upon him. He became the symbol of freedom and hope not only for Poland but for all the countries in the former Eastern Bloc. Walesa's dreams for his own…  See more details below

Overview

From the time he founded Solidarity in 1980 to the historic moment in December 1990 when he took the oath of office as the first freely elected president of Poland in half a century, Lech Walesa has had all eyes upon him. He became the symbol of freedom and hope not only for Poland but for all the countries in the former Eastern Bloc. Walesa's dreams for his own beleaguered homeland rejuvenated the entire world's faith in democracy, and inspired a movement that changed the map of Europe and altered the course of history. Here, in his own words, is his unforgettable story. Picking up where his earlier volume of memoirs, The Way of Hope, left off, Walesa continues his account of Poland's inexorable march toward independence by reliving what may have been the darkest moment of all. The murder of Father Popieluszko by government thugs in 1984 was a crime of such callous horror that it froze the attention of the nation and the world. Despite everything they had accomplished up to then, Solidarity and Walesa, like Poland itself, were still mired in the dull nightmare of totalitarianism. Forced underground and dodging the secret police, they struggled to stay alive. Yet Popieluszko's death was not in vain. Under the nurturing guidance of Pope John Paul II and the warming rays of glasnost, Solidarity rose again, until even the Polish government and its apparatchiks could no longer ignore Walesa and his unstoppable movement. "There is no freedom without Solidarity" once more echoed off factory walls and resounded from church pulpits. By 1989 Solidarity was legal again and, after eight years of persecution, able to negotiate openly with the government, participate in popular elections, and, with Walesa still at the helm, lay the foundation for the future of Poland. But more than just an inside account of Poland's recent history, The Struggle and the Triumph is also a candid self-portrait by this fascinating, unique, and outspoken man. In ten dramatic years, Walesa travel

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this speechifying autobiography, Poland's president delivers a dramatic and self-dramatizing account of the rise of the Solidarity movement, his role in the labor strikes of 1988, his battle with the Polish Communist party and his election to the presidency. Interspersing transcripts, Walesa presents a witty, Kafkaesque replay of government wiretapping and judicial harassment of him through 1986, and vividly re-creates the news-making kidnap and murder of the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko in 1984. He credits Solidarity's survival as due in large measure to the moral support of the Roman Catholic Church. In down-to-earth prose, the former electrician writes about his father's internment in a Nazi concentration camp, his own religious faith, and the joys of family life and of raising eight children. But in denying the existence of ``racially based'' anti-Semitism in Poland, past or present, he ignores history. Glaringly short on specifics about his plans for Poland's future, his self-portrait is padded with accounts of a blur of meetings, talks and travel, as well as encounters with Elie Wiesel, George Bush, Elton John, Pope John Paul II and Francois Mitterrand, among others. Photos. (Sept.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Walesa, leader of Poland's Solidarity labor movement, here continues his autobiography from 1983 to his election to the Polish presidency in 1990. As in the previous work, A Way of Hope ( LJ 1/88. o.p.), Walesa does not provide a context to understand events but instead presents his philosophy and major life influences. From his power base in Solidarity, Walesa portrays his maturing role as a national and international leader and his commitment to nonviolence to achieve political and economic reform. Walesa characterizes Poland's struggle as the precursor of reform in other Eastern European nations in the wake of Soviet change. This autobiography belongs in most collections.-- Rena Fowler, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Kirkus Reviews
Not a full-fledged life but, rather, the last decade or so in the on-going adventures of the portly, apple-cheeked forklift- repairman and Nobel Prize laureate who triggered the collapse of the Communist empire. Walesa opens in 1984, a year of despair: Solidarity has been outlawed; passivity rules; Poland is in the clutches of "vulgar and dim-witted apparatchiks." Seven years later, Walesa would be elected president of his nation. According to Walesa, the key player during this turnabout was not himself but Pope John Paul II, under whose spiritual leadership "Europe recovered its identity, becoming a continent of free countries." Emotions surge during the Pope's three visits to Poland, each "as necessary as the sun," rallying a brutalized people to renew their struggle for freedom and justice. Mostly, though, we get the struggles of the Walesa clan: Lech, in and out of prison, hunting for a new house, quitting tobacco; wife Danka, "my guiding light," battling the police, shooing reporters from the kitchen; six children coming of age during the rebirth of a nation. Signs of revolution are everywhere, and not the least of them are visits by world celebrities—Thatcher, Bush, Elton John—to the humble Walesa household in Gdansk to support the cause. Finally, the state edifice cracks and free elections are held in 1989. Much detail is offered about internal political squabbles that hold little interest for Americans. On the other hand, Walesa confronts squarely the problem of Polish anti-Semitism and comes off as a real mensch. Whether describing his triumphant speech to Congress, his devotion to the Virgin Mary, or his fear that his sons may emigrate to Western Europe orAmerica, he sounds just like what he is: a working-class hero, salt-of-the earth. As satisfying as a platter of kielbasi and pierogi—and without all the fat.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559702218
Publisher:
Hachette Book Group
Publication date:
01/01/1994
Edition description:
1st English-Language Edition
Pages:
348
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 6.00(h) x 0.78(d)

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