Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies


Honorable Mention

A Minor Apocalypse: Warsaw during the First World War

Honorable Mention: Robert Blobaum
Title: A Minor Apocalypse: Warsaw during the First World War (Cornell University Press)

Though dealing with only one five year period in one city, A Minor Apocalypse transforms the way we think about the entire expanse of modern Polish history. Even as Blobaum emphasizes the horrific suffering endured by Varsovians during WWI, he manages to break out of the framework of national martyrology, giving voice to a range of figures who had been silenced by the conventional framework for understanding the years leading up to Polish independence. At the start of the book we discover that Varsovians were by no means committed to independence or hostile to Russian rule, and as the war progressed the national cause was far from the front burner for the city’s residents. By recovering the voices of ethno-religious minorities, women, and the poor, Blobaum casts a much needed light on the quotidian struggle to survive, as food supplies dwindled and diseases spread. Since the First World War concluded with the establishment of an independent Polish state, the misery of the war itself has faded from public consciousness. Thanks to A Minor Apocalypse, that will no longer be the case.

Winner: Lisa Jakelski