Foreign media praise Fairweather's biography of Polish wartime hero
The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero who Infiltrated Auschwitz, about Polish soldier Witold Pilecki, by former war correspondent Jack Fairweather has received very positive reviews, Grzegorz Mazurowski from the Pilecki Institute has told PAP.
The book, written by Fairweather in cooperation with the Pilecki Institute which studies the fate of Polish citizens in 20th century history, has achieved great success on the American and British publishing market, Mazurowski, the institute's spokesman, said on Friday. He pointed to extensive and very positive reviews published by a number of renown newspapers such as US's The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and UK's The Times and The Spectator.
"Few books have enthralled, incensed and haunted me as The Volunteer has done," Neal Bascomb from WSJ wrote in a review entitled "A Noble Hero in a Savage New World." "There were times I felt compelled to set it aside. There were others when hours of reading passed in what felt like moments. I told myself that I couldn’t finish it—review be damned!—and yet hurried to the end. The actions of Witold Pilecki, and the superb account of them by Jack Fairweather, inevitably engendered an array of intense emotions," he added.
"What distinguishes The Volunteer is Fairweather's meticulous attention to accuracy. He spent five years in the archives in Poland, the UK, the USA, Israel and Germany unearthing more family papers and interviewing the surviving men who had fought with Pilecki. His notes and bibliography run to almost 100 pages, and he uses speculation only very sparingly and when the facts seem irrefutable," Caroline Moorehead from The Spectator wrote in a piece titled "The 'rumours' we chose to ignore."
The Volunteer was published in late June, early July, on both sides of the ocean. The British version was published by Penguin Random House and the American version by Harper Collins. Currently, Pilecki's biography is being translated into seven languages: Polish, Dutch, Czech, Russian, Lithuanian, Spanish and Portuguese.
Pilecki was a Polish soldier in the pre-war Polish cavalry who, in German-occupied Poland, founded a Secret Polish Army resistance group in November 1939 and subsequently joined the 1942-formed underground Home Army (AK). Pilecki is best known for having deliberately allowing himself be captured by the Nazi Germans and sent to Auschwitz. He was the author of the so-called Witold's Report - the first comprehensive account of what was happening in the Nazi German Auschwitz concentration camp. After escaping from Auschwitz, Pilecki informed the Western Allies about the atrocities taking place in the camp. Arrested on May 8, 1947, by Poland's then communist authorities on charges of working for "foreign imperialism," he was sentenced to death after a show trial. Pilecki's burial site remains unknown.