Steve Yarbrough at Literary Hub:
From the moment I landed in Warsaw, where I was collected by my future sister- and brother-in-law, my feelings were conflicted. I already knew a lot about the country, partly from having read recent books like Timothy Garton Ash’s masterful The Polish Revolution: Solidarity, Norman Davies’ exhaustive two-volume history Heart of Europe, the novels of Tadeusz Konwicki and Marek Hłasko and the poetry of Czesław Miłosz and Zbigniew Herbert. In addition, while growing up I had read a lot of World War II fiction set in Poland and, if much of it was poorly written, it was also historically enlightening. I knew, for instance, that the last group of fighters from the Ghetto Uprising had died in the basement of a house at Miła 18 and that in 1944 the Soviet army had halted its advance on the Vistula’s east bank and watched while the Germans destroyed the city, which had subsequently been rebuilt from rubble during the darkest days of the Cold War. The country’s resilience was hard not to admire.
Yet a lot of things bothered me. Though Martial Law had technically ended four years earlier, you could not walk down the street in any major city without seeing soldiers.