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A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: The Forgotten Heroes of World War IIby Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud
Synopses & Reviews
A Question of Honor is the gripping, little-known, and brilliantly told story of the scores of Polish fighter pilots who helped save England during the Battle of Britain and of their stunning betrayal by the United States and England at the end of World War II.
Centering on five pilots of the renowned Kosciuszko Squadron, the authors show how the fliers, driven by their passionate desire to liberate their homeland, came to be counted among the most heroic and successful fighter pilots of World War II. Drawing on the Kosciuszko Squadrons unofficial diary-filled with the fliers personal experiences in combat-and on letters, interviews, memoirs, histories, and photographs, the authors bring the men and battles of the squadron vividly to life. We follow the principal characters from their training before the war, through their hair-raising escape from Poland to France and then, after the fall of France, to Britain. We see how, first treated with disdain by the RAF, the Polish pilots played a crucial role during the Battle of Britain, where their daredevil skill in engaging German Messerschmitts in close and deadly combat while protecting the planes in their own groups soon made them legendary. And we learn what happened to them after the war, when their country was abandoned and handed over to the Soviet Union.
A Question of Honor also gives us a revelatory history of Poland during World War II and of the many thousands in the Polish armed forces who fought with the Allies. It tells of the countrys unending struggle against both Hitler and Stalin, its long battle for independence, and the tragic collapse of that dream in the “peace” that followed. Powerful, moving, deeply involving, A Question of Honor is an important addition to the literature of World War II.
"A lively tale of Poland's famed WWII fighter wing, which contributed materially to the RAF's victory in the Battle of Britain.... A fine portrait, and a well-placed condemnation of a shameful episode in history: the betrayal of Poland." Kirkus Reviews
"Following up the acclaimed The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Frontlines of Broadcast Journalism, the authors offer a solid addition to WWII aviation history." Publishers Weekly
"Exciting and compelling, a fine story too rarely told, a tribute to the Polish fighting spirit, and a well-written war history about a distant but very good neighbor." Alan Furst
"This book presents us with one of the most disgraceful ethical horrors of World War II?how, believing the need to support Stalin at all costs, we discredited, and later neglected, our oldest, bravest, and most trustworthy ally in order to conceal the truth of a revolting crime." Robert Conquest
"The Polish airmen who had escaped their savaged country in 1939 made a major contribution to the Royal Air Force’s victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940. 303 Squadron, which they formed, was the most successful of all RAF units in shooting down German aircraft, attempting to bomb Britain into surrender. Their subsequent treatment by the British government including its refusal to let the survivors march in the Victory Parade of 1946, in craven deference to Stalin, was one of the most shameful episodes of the Cold War." John Keegan
"A gripping account of personal gallantry and of political treachery. On a par with the recent best-sellers about the fighting men of World War II." Zbigniew Brzezinski
Book News Annotation:
The Polish fighter pilots of the Kosciusko Squadron played a singular role in the Battle of Britain and other World War II engagements, gaining, for a time, fame and admiration from the British people. Journalists Olson and Cloud combine their story with a narrative of the political and military fate of their home country during and after World War II, condemning the way these "forgotten heroes" and their hopes for Poland's independence were betrayed by Allied forces.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"A Question of Honor" is the gripping, little-known story of the Polish fighter pilots who saved England during the Battle of Britain and of their stunning betrayal by the United States and Britain at the war's end. 55 photos & 2 maps.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 467-475) and index.
About the Author
Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud are coauthors of The Murrow Boys, a biography of the correspondents whom Edward R. Murrow hired before and during World War II to create CBS News. Olson is the author of Freedom?s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970. Cloud, a former Washington bureau chief for Time, was also a national political correspondent, White House correspondent, Saigon bureau chief, and Moscow correspondent for Time. Olson was a Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. She and Cloud are married and live in Washington, D.C.
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