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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A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea
A Burning Sea

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 ...
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 ...
Narodnost: Russia and Nationalism

Narodnost: Russia and Nationalism

I wish I could remember which German chancellor it was who said that the Russians’ idea of a secure frontier is one with Russian soldiers on both sides of it. The present war, and indeed all the sabre-rattling along the Russia’s frontier with the Baltic republics over the past few years are ...
No Fool Like an Old Fool: Kissinger on Ukraine

No Fool Like an Old Fool: Kissinger on Ukraine

Kissinger on UkraineIn his doctoral thesis, published in 1957 as A World Restored. Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-1822, Henry Kissinger put up a strong defence of the settlement reached at the Congress of Vienna. He argued that as there could be no going back to the ...
Historians & Hollywood

Historians & Hollywood

Yet another film on Napoleon and, inevitably it seems, yet more myths are added to the old. As Simon Schama nicely observed, Ridley Scott and his ilk are not content with ‘just making films about Napoleon so much as climbing into his saddle, beguiled by the siren song of Movie Destiny’. Such ...
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
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 ...