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In this most timely book, Richard C. Lukas offers the historical perspective that any reader, scholar, or layman needs to grasp the political turmoil in Poland in the decades after World War II. Bitter Legacy is the first major analysis of Polish-American relations from the Potsdam Conference through the Polish elections of 1947, the critical period during which Poland became a satellite in the Russian sphere. Drawing on an impressive array of primary and secondary sources, a number of which have never been used by scholars before, Lukas shows in detail why and how American policy was never able to reverse the process, begun at the Yalta Conference, that transformed Poland into a communist state. In a clear and unambiguous style, he deftly combines two traditions in the writing of diplomatic history—one that stresses intergovernmental relations and one that emphasizes domestic concerns and pressures.

The result is a revealing book that adds significantly to our understanding of Polish-American relations and of domestic history in Poland and the United States during this important Cold War phase. It will appeal not only to scholars but also to all those with an interest in Poland’s history.

Bitter Legacy is a sequel to Lukas’s earlier volume, The Strange Allies, which has been acclaimed as the best treatment in English of United States-Polish relations during World War II. If offers the same impeccable scholarship and balanced interpretation that characterized Lukas’s earlier study.

Richard C. Lukas has authored, co-authored, or edited nine books including Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust and The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939-1944. Until his retirement, he was adjunct professor of history at the University of South Florida.

"A solid and informative history of what happened in those years, especially on the lesser known questions of relief and rehabilitation, repatriation of Polish nationals, and economic aid."—Foreign Affairs

"A thorough overview of the period written in a lively and engaging style and illustrated with delightful anecdotes drawn from the personal letters of some of the principal Polish and American actors."—Slavic Review

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






International relations, United States, Poland


International Relations

Bitter Legacy: Polish-American Relations in the Wake of World War II
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