I have read quite many books about Krakow and its history. As Krakow used to be the capital city of Poland, and is still thought by many to be the cultural centre, each building hosted some important person or event. The more precise information there were in the text, the less I seemed to remember after having read one. Loads of names, greater loads of dates and information was provided each time. When I heard about ‘A history of Krakow for everyone’ by Jan Malecki, I thought it would be another book full of details, dates and information hard to remember. However, the book surprised me with the easiness of reading it.
Though I still tend to confuse the times of rule of Polish kings, their wives and children, the history of Krakow seemed to explain the political situation to show the reader the political context in which Krakow was at the certain time. It is created like a story that one reads very quickly, but at the same time it provides dates and specific information that are necessary for understanding the history of the city. The book offers its readers couple of idle pictures, referring to Krakow or Polish history, and loads of information that are divided into the most important periods of city’s life. Not only one can get to know Polish kings and princes, and the events that influenced their rule, but also individuals that influenced Krakow and its past. Important facts, however, do not ‘bomb’ or scare the reader with its amount but enable them to get the idea of the past of the city. The book at some points gives the feeling of reading belles-lettres rather than history but still helps to get the basic overview on Krakow’s history.
It took me one weekend to get through ‘A history of Krakow for everyone’ (and I did not spend the whole weekend reading only). It has 300 pages but big letters and easy language and style let one go through it very quickly. I cannot say that the book is exhaustive on Krakow’s history- but there are hardly any exhaustive books on complex topics – but it is for sure a good starter or reminder of facts that we already know about. It helps also to structure the information that we already have on the topic. However, my review is from the point of view of the person who already got acquainted with the history of Krakow. It is for me impossible to imagine how a person, who had never before heard anything about history of Krakow, would find it to read. I believe it is worth trying as the book is something between a fairy-tale and the annuals, providing the reader legends and stories as well as historical facts.
I can truly recommend ‘A history of Krakow for everyone’ by Jan Malecki – but especially to those that are to a certain degree acquainted with history of Poland (knowing at least names of some rulers or some most important historical facts from the past of the country). The reader will not get bored as once you start reading the book, you will want to have read it to the very end.
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