Emi­gra­cjo soli­dar­no­ścio­wa, oto dobry pre­zent dla wła­snych dzie­ci i zna­jo­mych anglo­ję­zycz­nych, rów­nież w wer­sji na tablet/Kindle




Sum­mer 2020, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 253–256
Sio­bhan Doucet­te, Books Are Weapons: The Polish Oppo­si­tion Press and the Over­th­row of Communism.

Revie­wed by A. Ross Johnson,
Woodrow Wil­son Inter­na­tio­nal Cen­ter for Scholars

Sio­bhan Doucet­te has pro­vi­ded the English-spe­aking reader with a com­pre­hen­si­ve exa­mi­na­tion of the uncen­so­red print media that deve­lo­ped in Poland from the mid1970s to 1990. Samiz­dat and under­gro­und lite­ra­tu­re exi­sted thro­ugho­ut the Soviet bloc. What distin­gu­ished Poland from other Com­mu­nist-con­trol­led coun­tries was the mass sca­le of the uncen­so­red media. That was possi­ble becau­se typew­ri­ters pro­du­cing car­bon copy type­scripts were repla­ced by sim­ple prin­ting machines—an echo of the mass pro­duc­tion of books made possi­ble by Guten­berg prin­ting machi­nes. The sca­le was susta­ina­ble becau­se inde­pen­dent publi­ca­tions were sold, not given away, and authors and espe­cial­ly prin­ters were paid for the­ir work by NOVA and other inde­pen­dent publi­shing houses that arose.

The inde­pen­dent Polish press “employ­ed” tho­usands of authors, prin­ters, and distri­bu­tors and had an esti­ma­ted 200,000 readers prior to 1980. From August 1980, when the inde­pen­dent tra­de union Soli­da­ri­ty was par­tly legi­ti­mi­zed, until Decem­ber 1981, when mar­tial law was impo­sed and Soli­da­ri­ty was for­ced under­gro­und, some 1,900 serial titles and some 2,500 mono­gra­phs appe­ared. By mid-1981, one third of the popu­la­tion had access to uncen­so­red publi­ca­tions. Hen­ce the accu­ra­cy of the Polish term dru­gi obieg (second cir­cu­la­tion) for what deve­lo­ped into an inde­pen­dent media sys­tem paral­le­ling regi­me media and out­si­de the con­trol of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, the cen­sor­ship offi­ce, and paper distri­bu­tion officials.

Dra­wing on Polish-lan­gu­age lite­ra­tu­re, inc­lu­ding Justy­na Bła­ze­jow­ska, Papie­ro­wa rewo­lu­cja: Z dzie­jów dru­gie­go obie­gu wydaw­ni­cze­go w Pol­sce 1976–1989/90 (War­saw: Wydaw­nic­two IPN, 2010); Jan Ola­szek, Rewo­lu­cja powie­la­czy: Nie­za­le­zny ruch ˙ wydaw­ni­czy w Pol­sce 1976–1989 (War­saw: Wydaw­nic­two Trze­cia stro­na, 2015); and 253 Book Reviews Paweł Sowin­ski, ´ Zaka­za­na ksiaz­ka: Uczest­ni­cy dru­gie­go obie­gu 1977–1989 ˙ (War­saw: Wydaw­nic­two ISP PAN, 2013), and on exten­si­ve rese­arch in Polish archi­ves, Doucet­te skil­l­ful­ly tra­ces the emer­gen­ce and evo­lu­tion of the inde­pen­dent Polish press after the ear­ly 1970s in the con­text of poli­ti­cal and social deve­lop­ments during tho­se years.