God's Playground

God's Playground
Author Norman Davies
Country United States
Language English
Subject History of Poland
Publisher Columbia University Press
Publication date

God's Playground is a book written in 1979 by Norman Davies, covering the history of Poland.

Davies was inspired to the title by Jan Kochanowski's 1580s Boże igrzysko (Mankind: Bauble of the Gods).

The book (or two, as many editions are split into two volumes) has received good reviews in international press[1] and is considered by many historians[2] and other scholars[3] to be one of the best English-language books on the subject of history of Poland. The author received several Polish honours.




  1. Editorial reviews:
    "Superbly readable, rich in detail.... Davies understands and exquisitely conveys the importance of historical consciousness in Polish life.... This is beyond doubt not only the best book on Poland in the English language; it is the book on Poland. Anyone writing on Polish affairs- past or present- will have to read it. It is a masterly work..Davies is the foremost historian of modern Poland. Of his previous books, God's Playground: A History of Poland is widely regarded as a landmark account" Carlo D'Este, New York Times Book Review
    "...widely viewed as the best single-volume general history of Poland." Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
    "He offers one of the best histories of the country. It is a book that reads, not as non-fiction history, but as a popular novel of our times." Polish American Journal
    "The magnificence of God's Playground is that Norman Davies has given ust the music as well as the libretto, the passion, poetry, myth, and ancedote as well as the facts...Davies writes with spirit, and his enjoyment is infectious."
    The Observer
    "A yawning gap in Anglophone historical literature has now been filled...Dr Davies writes interestingly and well. His moods vary between cool detachment, passionate involvement, and ironic comment. His range of sources is wide and imaginative...a very substantial achievement." Times Literary Supplement
  2. "This is a remarkable book... this is a major work that is imaginative, thought-provoking and extremely well written".-- Piotr S. Wandycz, review in The American Historical Review, Vol. 88, No. 2 (Apr., 1983), pp. 436-437, JSTOR
    L. R. Lewitter, review in The Historical Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Dec., 1983), pp. 1032-1034 JSTOR
    Anna M. Cienciala, review in the Slavic Review, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Autumn, 1983), pp. 510-512, JSTOR
  3. "This two-volume book is a truly magnificent work, and there is no doubt that it is the best introduction available to the incredible imboglio of Polish history. I am not thinking only of its scholarly merit and its depth of insight. Nor only of the fact that the book reads extremely well, thanks to the author's vivid style, his wide spectrum of sources... and his good sense of humor.... What is even more worthy of recognition is that Professor Davies had managed to maintain an equilibrium between understanding and objectivity, sympathy and criticism." Stanisław Barańczak, Polish literature lecturer at Harvard University
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