book review

  • The War Against the Taliban and Al–Qaeda. Afghanistan in the Years 1994–2012

    The book by Łukasz Jureńczyk entitled: „The war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Afghanistan in the years 1994–2012” (original title: Wojna z talibami i Al-Kaidą. Afganistan w latach 1994–2012) presents a broad spectrum of actions that have been taken by the international community and local activists, who set themselves the goal of overthrowing the Taliban groups in Afghanistan and combat the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization – Al-Qaeda. The basis for author’s dissertation was the situation in the country since the seizure of power by Al-Qaeda through a period of keeping it, until the most recent period. Ł. Jureńczyk took into account cultural contexts, the international situation, and the differences in the exercise of power by the terrorist organization and the socioeconomic outline. The reviewed publication was released by Scientific Publishing ‘GRADO’ in Toruń in 2013 and partially funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The book consists of 5 chapters – ‘The Taliban road to power’, ‘The Taliban regime’, ‘The causes of the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda’, ‘The Taliban war with AlQaeda” and ‘The attempt to democratize Afghanistan’.

  • The Determinants of Electoral Volatility

    The last presidential elections gave rise numerous questions and doubts – particularly in the scientific and media environments – regarding the conditions for electoral behaviours in Poles, as signalled by the results achieved by particular candidates. The media discourse abounded in more or less definite statements regarding voter turnout data for particular population groups, the destabilization of the electorate’s political preferences and the phenomenon of the transfer of votes in between the supporters of particular candidates, both in the historical approach and in the course of the election campaign. The intensity and temperature of these discussions were indicative of the fact how poorly this area is penetrated empirically.

  • Turkey–Poland 600 Years of Friendship

    There are still a  lot of things to be told about the history of Polish – Turkish relations. The preparations for the 600th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Turkey were the opportunity to fill blank spaces in this sphere. The book lays the ground and paves the way for further more detailed and illuminating research. The book is a  compilation of articles written by scholars, politicians and other experts from Poland and Turkey. The three editors, who are very knowledgeable in this topic, have jointly prepared a comparative analysis of Turkey and the EU. There are eight separate articles in the book. They put emphasis on the European Union and Turkey with regard to issues of the Middle East.

  • Book Review: M. Marczewska-Rytko, E. Olszewski (ed.), Myśl społeczna wielkich religii świata [The social thought of the major world religions], UMCS Press, Lublin 2013, pp. 345.

    Publication by multiple authors “The social thought of the major world religions” by the academic editor Professor Maria Marczewska-Rytko and Professor Edward Olszewski is the fourth publication of the series “Religious system in the contemporary world”. So far the following works have been published: M. Marczewska-Rytko, Religie i polityka w globalizującym się świecie [Religions and politics in the globalizing world], UMCS Press, Lublin 2010, pp.361; M.  Marczewska-Rytko (ed.), Religion in the Changing Europe: Between Pluralism and Fundamentalism. Selected Problems, UMCS Press, Lublin 2003, pp.240; M.  Marczewska-Rytko, Religie niechrzeœcijańskie w Polsce, [Non-Christian religionsin Poland], UMCS Press, Lublin 1997, pp. 143.

  • Book Review: Anna Potyrała, Unia Europejska wobec międzynarodowych sądów karnych. Geneza, istota i praktyka współpracy [European Union towards international criminal courts. Origins, nature and practice of cooperation], Wydawnictwo Naukowe WNPiD

    The EU towards international criminal tribunals. Genesis, Concept and Practice of Cooperation’ is a study that focuses on the important research question of the broad and multi-aspectual problem of criminal tribunals on the international arena. This has been tackled in many Polish and foreign publications, however, to date no work has studied the EU cooperation with the three international criminal tribunals – two ad hoc ones and a permanent one. Therefore, it is necessary to recognise the ambitious and pioneering task and venture that the chosen research field is highly appropriate not only if one casts an eye at the monograph title, but foremost the case put forward in the introductory part.

  • Book Review: Łukasz Zaborowski, Podział kraju na województwa. Próba obiektywizacji [Division of Poland into Voivodeships. An attempt at Objectivisation], Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, Warsaw 2013, pp. 164

    Issues related to the administrative division of Poland are among those problems that are intriguing to various social circles: researchers, scientists, economists, politicians. Disputes as to the number of voivodeships and their shape have been going on uninterruptedly since the introduction of the new administrative division of Poland in 1999. Every now and then we are faced with recurring debates, disputes about the need to introduce changes in Poland’s territorial organisation, yet with no effects. That is why issuing the publication “Division of Poland into Voivodeships. An attempt at Objectivisation” in 2013 seems justified and necessary. This study might spur deliberations on the reorganisation of territorial space on a voivodeship level.

  • Book Review: Patryk Wawrzyński, Prezydent Lech Kaczyński. Narracje niedokończone [President Lech Kaczyński. The Unfinished Narratives], Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, Toruń 2012

    With these words of Mark Antony – as a motto – Patryk Wawrzyński could start his book. Published in 2012, the work is titled, President Lech Kaczynski. The unfinished narratives (Prezydent Lech Kaczyński. Narracje niedokończone), and it is just such an attempt of doing justice to the tragically deceased president of the Republic of Poland. The author has undertaken the task of presenting the views of Lech Kaczynski as they actually were – separating them from incorrect interpretations and opinions attributed by other actors of the Polish political scene: his opponents as well as allies. The book presents what the president actually said and wrote, and not his image created in the minds of contemporaries. This also means that it is concerned not with the president’s actions, but his own narratives. The author points out, however – in accordance with the approach of social constructivism – that these narratives affect political reality. Wawrzyński suggests considering Kaczynski’s own words as part of a transmission belt “between national culture and the international community.” This allows the author to illustrate “how cultural narratives, unique to given countries, are transferred – through the political behaviour of its leaders – to the international level and universalized in order to be understood independently from the particular heritage”.

  • Book Review: Andrzej Lubowski, Świat 2040. Czy Zachód musi przegrać? [World 2040. Does the West have to lose?], Znak, Kraków 2013

    The book entitled “World 2040. Does the West have to lose?” by Andrzej Lubowski was released in 2013 by “Znak” Publishing House. The content is divided into four parts. Part one is entitled “Tough Life of a Fortune-teller”, part two – “Where Are We and Where Are We Heading To?”, part three – “Riddles, Hopes, Pitfalls” and the last one entitled “Slides of Future”. The book ends with an epilogue. Andrzej Lubowski is a well-known economist and journalist. He has published articles from economic and the managerial fields. He graduated from Warsaw School of Economics. He lives in the US and he has been working in the US financial sector for nearly 20 years now. He used his experience of working at Citibank, Visa USA and both Polish and American boards of supervisors in writing the evaluated book. The Author’s professional career has been aligned to the energy sector, technologies and banking. He is aware of the difficulties that come with the attempts of forecasting in which way the world will be developing. According to this he quotes Niels Bohr’s words: “The forecasting is extremely difficult, especially the forecasting of the future”. The author tries to set himself against three visions of the world in 2040 that have been created by an analysts of Goldman Sachs bank (“BRIC swallows G7” theory), the analysts of Citibank (“Africa outruns Europe”) and Robert Fogel, a Nobel Prize winner in economy (“China declasses the world”). These three perspectives are based on the belief that the World 2040 development factor of most importance is the demography. The starting point of the discussion is the Author’s opinion that the energy policy and the specific mental determinants of the particular nations are more important than the demographic issues.

  • Book Review: Joanna Marszałek–Kawa, Constitutional Status and Functions of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Following the Accession to the European Union, ELIPSA Publishing House, Warsaw 2012, p. 713

    The monograph of Joanna Marszałek-Kawa concerns one of the key problems of the European integration process: the impact of European Union membership on the position of the national parliament. It is clear that EU membership affects the constitutional status and functions of national legislature in a number of ways. The author hypothesised the following: „After the accession of Poland to the European Union, both the Polish constitutional status and functions of the Sejm of the RP have significantly changed. The Council of Ministers became an authority that partly assumed its competences, which in practice should be viewed as dominance of an executive over a legislative branch. As a result of accession, prerogatives of the Sejm were significantly reduced in favour of the government. The fall of legislative sovereignty took place when the amendments made were more and more oft en assessed.” 

  • Book Review: Poland's Security: Contemporary Domestic and International Issues, eds. Sebastian Wojciechowski, Anna Potyrała, Logos Verlag, Berlin 2013, pp. 225

    Bringing together distinguished Polish scholars and researchers, the book Poland’s Security: Contemporary Domestic and International Issues presents different aspects of security of present-day Poland. The volume’s primary intent is to “emphasize the complex, multi-faceted, dynamic, and evolutionary nature of the subject, the multiplicity of problems in the area of security, and the diversity of its determinants”. Attention is paid not only to the military (or “hard”) security, but also to other sectors, such as economic, societal or energy security. A specific gap, which the editors set out to cover, is the scarcity of a practical application of theoretical considerations in the respective field.

  • Book Review: Wojciech Marcin Stankiewicz, Wektory rozwoju współczesnej rzeczywistości międzynarodowej a siła niektórych zagrożeń patologicznych, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego, Gdańsk 2012, pp. 224

    Pathologies are considered to be one of the cell elements of culture-civilization life. This phenomenon has been known since the beginning of the formation of organizational structures of humans, including social and political ones. High esteem should be taken to refer to the essence of revealing the scale of pathological phenomena in contemporary international realities. It is noted that the various entities that generate international order undertake actions to reduce and eliminate them. This is an extremely difficult cognitive challenge, due to the fact that violence is often regarded as the way of achieving objectives, as well as that it is very strongly associated with legitimate state structures.

  • Book Review: Karolina J. Helnarska, Cultural factor in French Foreign Affairs, Adam Marszałek Publishing House, Toruń 2013, p. 410

    France with its turbulent history, of foreign affairs and rich culture, has over the centuries been a fascinating topic of academic research for historians, political scientists, lawyers, sociologists, culture experts and publicists. And no wonder, since this country – as a continental superpower – was always conducting its politicson a global scale and was – still is – an important player in the international arena. From medieval times, the 17th century especially, France has been considered an important centre of European and world culture, even of civilisation in general, who’s status and role grew stronger in the Napoleonic era, when the French language became the language of diplomacy and politics, the language of people of science and culture. Culture, its rich content and spiritual values quickly became a part of France’s foreign policy. 

  • Book Review: M. Chmaj, W. Skrzydło, System wyborczy w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej [The Election System in the Republic of Poland], Wolters Kluwer Polska – LEX, Warsaw 2011, pp. 182

    In 2011, the long-awaited fourth issue of the book System wyborczy w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej was published by the Lex publishing house. The issue includes the codification of election law, which was enacted in 2011.The authors of the presented issue are two outstanding Polish constitutionalists.

  • Book Review: The Civil Bill on Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Poland, ed. Stanisław Wykrętowicz, Scientific Publishing WNPiD UAM, Poznań 2012, pp. 164

    Publication on the topic of the economic self-government regime in Poland deserve special cognitive attention. The book The Civil bill on Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Poland, edited by Stanisław Wykrętowicz – expert and researcher of these issues – is the result of years of research conducted by research centres (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Wrocław University of Economics, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, University of Gdańsk) and cooperation between circles of researchers and the representatives of chambers of commerce and local government practices.

  • Book Review: Sebastian Wojciechowski, The Hybridity of Terrorism, Logos, Berlin 2013, pp. 216

    The issue of modern terrorism is a significant subject of academic research. For decades the representatives of many branches of science, ranging from psychology and sociology, through history, law and political science to criminology, in particular, have been trying to find basic answers to a number of fundamental questions concerning the nature, manifestations, evolution of terrorism, and combating it. A definite majority of studies that have been around are fragmentary, selective or descriptive, and they do not make a significant contribution to the state of knowledge. There are very few studies that discuss the matter in question in a comprehensive, in-depth and original manner. This cognitive gap has clearly been to some extent filled by the latest publication by Professor Sebastian Wojciechowski, entitled The Hybridity of Terrorism. While the title may seem somewhat general, it actually points to a crucial feature (or a set of features) of the phenomenon it analyzes. In the simplest terms, dealing with terrorism we come across a cluster of elements, and relations between them, that sometimes are independent from one another, sometimes coexist side by side, and most frequently complement each other, constituting terrorism and influencing its evolution.

  • Book Review: Jean–Paul Guichard, Antoine Brunet, China the International Hegemonic Leader? Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Emka, 2011, pp. 324

    Two renowned French economists Antoine Brunet and Jean-Paul Guichard are the authors of the interesting book entitled “China the international hegemonic leader? Professor Guichard from a University in Nice deals with the economic analysis as well as with the international relations and Antoine Brunet, the founder of AB Marches, in the years 2003–2007 won first place in the French economists ranking. For ten years he was chief of the strategic HSBC France bank. Since the date the book was published a discussion broke out over the question asked in the title. The intention of the authors was to uncover the totalitarian aspirations of China for domination over the world. €They propose a thesis that the western world faces a war and the means of defense is the economy.

  • Book Review: Jakub Nowak, Online Activity of Citizens. Theories and Practice, Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie–Skłodowskiej, 2011, pp. 270

    Dynamic changes occurring within the area of the new media include not only technological, but also social, cultural and political transformations. The increasing role of the Internet in contemporary democratic societies is the subject more and more often studied by scientists. Jakub Nowak’s book Online Activity of Citizens.

  • Book Review: Jacek Poniedziałek, Postemigrational Creation of a Regional Identity. Study of Contemporary Meaning of the Warmińskomazurski Region, Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, 2011, pp. 435

    Jacek Poniedziałek’s book is devoted to issues extremely important and current. Exploration of the social identity formation process, including a regional identity, has now a great importance not only from a cognitive point of view. Transformational changes in Poland after 1989 meant not only profound changes in the system of public authorities and the economic system. They also had a signifi cant impact on the consciousness of Polish society and its attitude towards the state, power apparatus, and the most important problems of collective life. Extremely important direction of changes in the public authority model became a more and more articulated desire for decentralization and deconcentration of unified and the indivisible sphere of state power so far.

  • Book Review: Przemysław Jan Sieradzan, The Red and Brown. The Alliance of the Radical Right and Left in Present–day Russia, Warsaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza ASPR–JR, 2010

    The monograph constitutes the fourth volume of an interesting series “Power, Elites, Leadership” edited by Tadeusz Bodio. The author divided his work into six chapters, of which two initial ones, focusing on the years 1991–1993, concern historical and genetic issues. The remaining chapters are devoted to the ideological standpoints of the major political trends of “the alliance of extremes”.

  • Book Review: Polityka zagraniczna. Aktorzy – potencjały – strategie, ed. T. Łoś–Nowak, Warszawa: Poltext, 2011, pp. 575

    The question of what will be the shape of international policy in the next decades, especially at the moment, when the European Union (and other regions) struggle with a financial crisis is difficult to answer as a new international order is still in the stage of transformation. Berefore, the beginning of the twenty first century is a perfect opportunity to sum up the foreign policy of the selected countries including Poland.

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