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Leopold Tyrmand, a Polish Jew who survived World War II by working in Germany under a false identity, would go on to live and write under Poland’s Communist regime for twenty years before emigrating to the West, where he continued to express his deeply felt anti-Communist views. Diary 1954—written after the independent weekly paper that employed him was closed for refusing to mourn Stalin’s death—is an account of daily life in Communist Poland. Like Czesław Miłosz, Václav Havel, and other dissidents who described the absurdities of Soviet-backed regimes, Tyrmand exposes the lies—big and small—that the regimes employed to stay in power. Witty and insightful, Tyrmand’s diary is the chronicle of a man who uses seemingly minor modes of resistance—as a provocative journalist, a Warsaw intellectual, the "spiritual father" of Polish hipsters, and a promoter of jazz in Poland—to maintain his freedom of thought.
“Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the culture, not just the politics, of Stalinism.”—Anne Applebaum, author of Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956
“The year 1954: Stalin was dead but Stalinism not yet. Leopold Tyrmand, a dandy, lived in a Warsaw which was slowly beginning to breathe. Half document, half elaborate, stylized literary diary, this book is a window through which we gaze at a fascinating spectacle: how human life can be reborn after catastrophes.” – Adam Zagajewski, author of Unseen Hand: Poems