Adam Zamoyski

Biography

Adam Zamoyski’s background singles him out among British historians. His parents left Poland when it was invaded by Germany and Russia in 1939, and were stranded in exile when the Soviets took over in 1945. Although born in New York, he was brought up in England and spent much of his youth in France and other European countries.

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He was educated at Downside and Oxford, where he read History. Bored by the parochial way in which it was taught, he switched to Modern Languages (he speaks French, Italian, and Russian as well as Polish) which proved invaluable, giving him a broader historical perspective.

Avoiding the constraints of academe, even visiting professorships, he has ploughed a resolutely independent furrow, choosing to research and write about often unfashionable subjects.

Drawn as much by the historical processes at work there as by family ties, he began to visit Poland in the late 1960s and explore its history and culture. The Polish Way, which featured in the best-seller lists for several weeks when it came out in 1987 and was reprinted many times over the next three decades, opened up a neglected area of Europe’s past, transcending national boundaries. As do all his books – most notably Holy Madness and Phantom Terror, whose sweep covers more than a century and three continents.

As well as publishing over a dozen books, he has contributed to all the major British papers and periodicals, and lectured widely in England, Europe and the United States.

Alongside his professional activities, Adam Zamoyski has always been profoundly concerned with cultural heritage, its preservation and popularisation, and with the environment.

He is married to the painter Emma Sergeant and divides his time between London and their farm in Poland.

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Books

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Articles

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Napoleon a Warmonger?

Napoleon a Warmonger?

Author's Note: This morning (Sat 9th January, 2021) on Radio 4 I heard ‘On this day in 1799 William Pitt introduced Income Tax for the first time, in order to fund the war against Napoleon.’Fact: on 9 January 1799 this country was at war with the French Republic, and ‘Napoleon’ was General ...
Napoleon a Bloodthirsty Ogre?

Napoleon a Bloodthirsty Ogre?

Closely linked to the perception of Napoleon as a warmonger is that of a bloodthirsty ogre responsible for the death of millions, and in the interests of truth it is worth examining the extent of the carnage.Most recent estimates of the dead and missing in the French army between 1792 and ...
Historical Parallels

Historical Parallels

Historical ParallelsI like it when current affairs start ringing historical bells, and the former French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann came up with a real clanger recently when she averred that the consequence of Brexit was to bring together 27 countries in a Continental bloc which ...
How Poland Saved Europe from Bolshevism

How Poland Saved Europe from Bolshevism

The end of World War I was greeted with relief throughout Europe, but in most countries this was accompanied by profound disillusionment with the political and social establishment which had brought it about. Such feelings led to revolution in Russia, Germany and Austria, and violent unrest in ...

Book Reviews

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Adam Zamoyski’s Books of 2020

Adam Zamoyski’s Books of 2020

I have just finished reading Margaret MacMillan’s War: How Conflict Shaped Us, which I found compellingly absorbing. Fast-paced and refreshingly short at no more than 270 pages of text, the book covers every aspect of war from prehistoric times to the present first hesitant steps in remote ...

Author Interview(s)

Adam Zamoyski

Adam Zamoyski

What first attracted you to the period you work in?I came to it after quite a long ramble through other periods, beginning with a childhood fascination with Ancient Rome (I loved the helmets), followed by Medieval Europe (knights in armour, castles, cathedrals), the early 17th century (Cavaliers, The Three Musketeers) and the ...