“Heroes of Solidarity” New Book Gives Insight Into Poland’s Movement to Freedom

Monday, February 28, 2011

Heroes of Solidarity Book PresentationSC State University’s professor of Educational Leadership, Dr. Casimir J. Kowalski, says “it’s all about leadership” of the new book, “Heroes of Solidarity,” in whichhe serves as senior editor. “This book is about leaders and those who together sacrificed and put the value of their country and families above themselves, risking their lives,” he added.

“Heroes of Solidarity” gives insight on the Solidarity Movement in Poland and details the lives of some of the leaders whose ideas and vision for Poland came in many forms. The leaders faced the struggle for freedom together, fully aware of the perilous risks.  Through demonstration of the power of religious faith and mortal character, in the end they won independence and freedom.

Kowalski recently presented the new book to Dr. Joyce Blackwell, vice president of Academic Affairs, and Dr. Frederick Evans, interim dean of the school of graduate studies. “What is amazing about this book is that it gives voice and visibility to those persons that we consider to be unsung heroes and heroines. Oftentimes, when we think about movements, especially movements of this significance and magnitude, we don’t particularly think about certain individuals--we think about those whose names with which we are most familiar and who hold key positions,” says Blackwell. Describing the book’s research as groundbreaking, she adds that it is important for other faculty members, particularly within the School of Graduate Studies, to be heavily involved in research. 

Sharing a similar notion, Evans adds, “Dr. Kowalski’s book further illustrates and reflects the commitment of professors in our graduate studies program whose primary focus is to fulfill SC State’s mission of providing teaching excellence, research and service.”

In her review of “Heroes of Solidarity,” Dr. Diane Hulett, assistant professor in the Department of English and Modern Languages at SC State University, says, “for many, the Solidarity movement in Poland begins and ends with Lech Walesa.  The charismatic leader was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1982 and received the Nobel Prize for 1983.  Yet as important as Walesa was to Poland’s struggle for freedom from the Soviet Union, he was only one of many voices that spoke for Polish independence.

Heroes of Solidarity,” also co-edited by Dr. Joseph Cangemi, emeritus professor of psychology at Western Kentucky University; and Hillary Czaplicki, past vice president of the Polish American Congress, offers readers the opportunity to meet Walesa and ten other heroes deeply devoted to the Polish cause. Working with noted Polish university scholars, as well as professionals from businesses, churches and government, Kowalski, Cangemi and Czaplicki give readers a chance to “learn about leadership behavior that has, in reality, impacted the world,” noted Hulett. 

Hulett continues to expound on “Heroes of Solidarity” with the following commentary:
“While the editors acknowledge there may be controversy about the choice of heroes, the collection does allow a variety of voices to speak to the external and internal forces shaping the Solidarity movement-from the historical repression of the Polish people under Communism, to the most significant event ending the trade union strike in May 1988, and forward to Polish independence.  Each chapter is written by a Polish university scholar or professional in the field—including journalists, historians and political activists—with a majority of entries from the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Political Studies, both in Warsaw, Poland.”

In addition to the detailed biography and commentary on each “hero,” readers will find a wealth of photographs of the key figures, events and locations that shaped the course of the Solidarity movement, including key moments in the history of the Polish American Congress and major milestones in the production of the book. Many of the photos come from never-before-seen archives and from private individuals and are published here for the first time.

The book is clearly a labor of love, both from its editors and writers and from its featured leaders. It also, however, offers its readers an in-depth analysis of the lessons of leadership that resulted from the success of Solidarity. The book includes an essay of remarks made by a panel of participants and Kowalski, keynote speaker, during a discussion at the 68th Annual Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America Conference in Milwaukee, Wis. in June 2010.  The essay enumerates important “Lessons of Leadership” that can be drawn from Solidarity, including revolutions that are radical need not be violent; people, when driven by a common sense of mission and acting in unison, can make pivotal changes in the course of history; and Solidarity was a movement, not a political party, a movement reflected by a universal yearning for a better way of life. 

Hulett concludes in her review by stating, “reading this book offers an experience of significant historical value from the unique perspective of those who made it happen.  “Heroes of Solidarity” will add to your awareness of history and may change the way you look at what makes great leaders.”

For more information on “Heroes of Solidarity,” visit www.McGrawhill.com.