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UNVANQUISHED- the life and times of Joseph Pilsudski, the man who liberated Poland and saved Europe from Bolshevik revolution. The "father of Polish independence," Pilsudski is one of the most consequential, yet little known, historical figures of the twentieth century.




- 2014 Amicus Poloniae Award presented by the Polish American Historical Association for distinguished service to Polonia by a person who is not of Polish descent

- IPBA's 2012 Benjamin Franklin Award for History Book of the Year

- IPPY's 2013 Gold Medal for World History

- IndieReader's  Discovery Award for History

- ForeWord's History Book of the Year, Silver Medalist

- Next Generation Award for Biography




A comprehensive, rich in detail, and very readable biography of Poland's outstanding national hero.  The author makes  a compelling case that Marshal Pilsudski not only reignited long-  partitioned Poland's quest for independence but also, by decisively  defeating in 1920 at the gates of Warsaw the westward march of the  Soviet Army, prevented a communist revolution in post-World War I  Germany.

                                                                       Zbigniew Brzezinski

US National Security Advisor (1977-81), Trustee for the Center for Strategic and International Studies  


A lyrically gripping biography… a panoramic foray into the history of the lands of the Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania…also a study in military strategy, an inquiry into geopolitics, and a glimpse at political decision making…a stupendous improvement...                                                              

                                                                    Marek Jan Chodakiewicz

                                 Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC.


A "can't put it down book" if there ever was one...Hetherington has composed a synthesis of the political history of Poland with a focus on Pilsudski that is comprehensive and fair-minded.

                                                                   Donald E. Pienkos   

                                Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee                                                                    


                               (see full comments and other reviews under "Unvanquished-Reviews" tab)


Unvanquished: Joseph Pilsudski, Resurrected Poland, and the Struggle for Eastern Europe

Note- a search on Amazon may direct you to the 2011 first edition. Please go to http://www.amazon.com/Unvanquished-Pilsudski-Resurrected-Struggle-Eastern/dp/0983656312/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_2 to purchase the 2012 second edition.


Unvanquished is the epic story of Joseph Pilsudski (1867-1935), the father of Polish independence. Poland was once one of the most powerful, prosperous, and progressive states in the world. But at the time of Pilsudski's birth, Poland did not officially exist, as the country had been partitioned by its German (Prussian, Austrian) and Russian neighbors in 1795.  Through a combination of perseverance, singleness of purpose, and luck, Pilsudski was able to resurrect Poland as an independent republic, and through his inspirational leadership, to protect the state against its traditional enemies.

Pilsudski was an unlikely messiah. During much of his life, he was impoverished, imprisoned, or under constant threat of arrest. He was denied a university education, a traditional career, or a normal family life. Yet somehow he emerged as the leader of the restored Polish state, and although lacking formal military training, defeated the Red Army, which was intent on spreading the Bolshevik Revolution to Poland, and beyond. He was Poland's preeminent patriot, the most charismatic politician of the era, and a quintessential modern hero.

The story is not only important, as it provides essential yet little known insights into the cause of WWII, but it is eminently interesting. Pilsudski’s life reads like a novel, and includes swashbuckling tales of his involvement in a plot to kill the czar, Siberian exile, life in the underground, and a dramatic prison escape. He led one of the most successful train robberies in European history, and used the money to prepare Polish militia for the upcoming war which, as he predicted, liberated Poland from over a century of foreign rule. He began WWI as an Austrian general leading the vaunted Polish Legions against the Russians, and ended it as a prisoner of the Germans. In November 1918, he became the leader of the resurrected Polish state. His dramatic and unlikely defeat of the Red Army in 1920 not only preserved Poland’s sovereignty, but saved Europe from Bolshevik revolution. Pilsudski was the only statesman to successfully stare down both Hitler and Stalin, and his planned pre-emptive war against the Nazi regime, while rejected by the West, might have spared Europe from the nightmare of WWII.

Yet few outside of Eastern Europe are familiar with Pilsudski and Poland's story, partially because this history has often been deliberately distorted. Poland has been the victim of two hundred years of negative publicity, in part orchestrated by her enemies, which has manifested itself in everything from revisionist history to bad jokes. This book is an attempt to set the record straight.

Unvanquished chronicles one of the most inspiring of human endeavors; the triumph of the lost cause. As Pilsudski's life illustrates, a cause is lost only when it is abandoned, and that it is the struggle, win or lose, that defines us. Or as Pilsudski put it, "to be vanquished and not surrender, that is victory."




Hetherington brings Joseph Pilsudski to life…Unvanquished is a riveting biography which reads almost like an adventure novel. It is well written and documented.                                      — Polish Weekly

Unvanquished is a monumental work of stunning detail and impressive depth... a must-read for anyone interested in this fascinating…character and the tumultuous times in which he lived.                                                                                  —Mark G. McLaughlin, ForeWord Clarion Review

Hetherington warrants praise for the thoroughness of his research and the consistently engaging quality of his prose. His ability to sift through the lion's share of Polish history and interweave that history with the singular life of freedom fighter, and eventual dictator, Joseph Pilsudski, is a remarkable feat...there's much to be enjoyed, and much to be learned.                                                                                        — Kirkus

A comprehensive, compelling biography…fascinating history. Like a novel you hate to put down, it is readable and captivating.                                                                                  — Polish American Journal                        

Hetherington tells the complete story of a man who stood at the center of the stage in Eastern Europe for more than a generation. …The book rolls on at a detective-story pace. It is historically accurate without pedantry, and it creates suspense and excitement. Read the first chapter, "The Citadel," and you will not let go until you reach the back cover.

                                                       —  Ewa Thompson, Research Professor of Slavic Studies, Rice University

“Unvanquished” is an important and majestic biography as complex, as engrossing, and as important as its subject. It’s required reading for anyone who wants to understand all of Europe as well as Poland  

                                                                      —Steven Maginni , IndieReader

A "can't put it down book" if there ever was one...Hetherington has composed a synthesis of the political history of Poland with a focus on Pilsudski that is comprehensive and fair-minded. Moreover, it is very well written and includes many interesting photographs and other materials.

                                                                                   — Donald E. Pienkos
                                                               Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee


 The Second Edition includes the following improvements;

- Unvanquished has been thoroughly reviewed by several Polish history professors, who have examined the book for accuracy, directed the author to pertinent references, pointed out errors, and made insightful and constructive additions to the book.
- feedback from numerous reviewers has been incorporated.  Topics considered more interesting to readers have been slightly expanded while relatively inconsequential detail has been eliminated or placed in footnotes. Important concepts have been clarified.
- existing maps have been made more readable, and two maps depicting Polish populations and historical boundaries have been added.
- typos (typical for a first edition) have been significantly reduced.
-expanded sections on Pilsudski’s foreign policy, as well as a more thorough examination of international relations in inter-war Europe, have been included.
- more emphasis has been placed on the motives, objectives, and personal factors which influenced Pilsudski’s actions.
- As a result of additional research, Pilsudski’s 1933 plans for a preventive war against Hitler has been described in more detail.  This section includes important and surprising information, and serves to illustrate the fundamentally flawed diplomatic efforts by Western powers to restrain Nazi Germany.