ABOUT THIS BOOK
Writing in The New Republic, Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz said of Adam Michnik, "Before his unbending will, which pushes him to pay with his own person every time he encounters injustice. I feel what probably was felt by an average Hindu confronted by the devotion of Gandhi: admiration mixed with incredulity and hope. . . . Michnik is one of those who bring honor to the last two decades of the twentieth century."
Years in advance of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Poland underwent one of the most radical and painful social and political upheavals of our century. Through a wide body of writing and an unswerving political commitment that took him from prison to parliament, Adam Michnik was a central figure in these events—culminating in 1989 with his role in formulating the political deal that brought Solidarity to power. Michnik's writings, most of them smuggled out of prison, have been translated into many languages; but until now, only isolated essays have appeared in English.
In The Church and the Left, Michnik gives full expression to the ideas that have shaped the drama of Poland and of our time. The unlikely alliance of the Catholic Church and the dissident Left is one of the most fascinating and confusing features of the Polish revolutionary movement. No other book better explains the logic of this powerful coalition—or its future implications. In superb discussions of liberalism and nationalism, of secularism and clericalism, Michnik illuminates the unique makeup and direction of Poland's social revolution and, at the same time, offers unparalleled insight into the internal struggles still present in Eastern Europe.
Today, as religious revivals proliferate and secular progress, whether liberal or communist, comes under suspicion, the relationship of religion to politics has become a pressing issue far beyond the boundaries of Poland. As none has done before, Michnik's clear and thoughtful book gives us the means to understand this volatile mix as it has transformed Poland and as it figures in the future we see taking shape.