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This biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Storozynski (president, Kosciuszko Foundation) is a long overdue tribute to the man who built West Point, helped revolutionize his native Poland, was imprisoned by the Russians, and died in exile in Switzerland. For US historians, the first part of the book covers well-known territory, though the author adds much previously unpublished material from Kosciuszko's letters. His later career, well known to Poles, barely registers in US historiography. The virtue of this book lies in seamlessly pulling together Kosciuszko's several lives for US readers, as well as elucidating the complex and subtle interconnections of the US and Polish revolutionary movements. The style is entertaining (readers learn that Kosciuszko had an active but frustrated libido, and that Washington spelled his name at least two dozen different ways, even on occasion getting it right), but the scholarship is also painstaking (despite a few lapses, like incorrect aristocratic titles). Kosciuszko was in many ways ahead of his time, both as a military engineer and as a humanitarian: he was appalled by slavery in the US, and once back in Poland, he fought for civil rights for serfs and Jews. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. T. S. Martin Sinclair Community College
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One of the largely forgotten heroes of the American Revolution was a Polish immigrant with a virtually unpronounceable last name-Thaddeus (Tadeusz) Kos'ciuszko (kosh-chew-sko). A brilliant military engineer, Kos'ciuszko arrived in Philadelphia in August 1776 and, on Benjamin Franklin's doorstep, volunteered his services to the Revolution. He proceeded to construct defenses for Philadelphia, helped devise a successful battle plan at Saratoga, and designed the defenses at West Point-the plans that Benedict Arnold was so interested in selling to the British. Much to the chagrin of his French counterparts, he was appointed chief engineer of the army and participated in the final campaign at Yorktown. Kos'ciuszko returned to Poland eager to emulate the American independence movement there, leading the Polish army against the Russian invasion. Unfortunately, that cause was lost, and he was captured but later pardoned by Tsar Paul I. For the rest of his life, he championed human rights. Using new archival sources in Switzerland and Poland, Storozynski has written a complete biography of a truly great republican. Strongly recommended for both lay readers and specialists.-David Lee Poremba, Cagan Crossings Community Lib., Clermont, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Prize-winning journalist Storozynski pulls military strategist and engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) back from the brink of obscurity by including almost every documented detail to create the first comprehensive look at a man who once famously symbolized rebellion. His were the plans sold to the British by Benedict Arnold. And Kosciuszko's years of devotion to the American cause framed his efforts to transform Poland into a self-governing republic freed from the oversight of Russia's interests. He antagonized Catherine the Great and, later, Napoleon. Kosciuszko rallied the first Jewish military force since biblical times to fight for Polish independence, and consistently supported equality and education for peasants, Jews, Muslim Tatars and American slaves-which earned him the devotion of the masses and lectures by the upper classes. Readers of military and American history should take note: the minute details will enthrall devotees. Casual readers will benefit from Storozynski's expert crafting of a readable and fact-filled story that pulls readers into the immediacy of the revolutionary era's partisan and financial troubles. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved