Revisiting book on WWII resistance as Trump visits Poland

Quiet Hero by Rita Cosby

‘Quiet Hero’ by Rita Cosby recounts stories about the Polish Resistance and the author’s father.

With President Donald Trump’s visit to Poland, Americans may rediscover a country few US media pay much attention to. When Trump said, “[T]he West will never, ever be broken,” it resonated with his audience. Poland’s history is one long narrative about a commitment to liberty and freedom.

In 2010 I reviewed the book Quiet Hero by Rita Cosby. Cosby’s book recounts the Polish Resistance during World War II, something many aren’t aware existed. Cosby wrote her book after learning her father had been a Resistance fighter during the war.

Once Germany invaded Poland, Great Britain’s hopes for peace were dashed, and World War II became unavoidable. Germany had colluded with the Soviet Union prior to attacking Poland.

Poland lost approximately 6 million people from its population during the war. After World War II ended, then began the battle for freedom from communist rule.

I though about Cosby’s book when I saw the president speaking on TV this morning. 

On Twitter award-winning journalist and author Rita Cosby tweeted:

“So moving to see @POTUS #Trump honoring heroes of the #WarsawUprising in #Poland. My father and his comrades are smiling from above!”

I had the honor of meeting Cosby when she spoke about her book at an event preceding the Medal of Honor Convention in 2010 hosted by South Carolina. I also had the honor of composing a poem to commemorate the MOH event.

Personally, I am glad Trump is calling attention to a country long acquainted with the struggle for liberty. To learn more about Poland, see Brittanica’s overview of the country’s history.

Cosby currently hosts a show on talk radio, 77 WABC (New York), and she is a special correspondent for the TV show Inside Edition.

The following review, lightly edited here, was originally published at my site The US Report.

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Rita Cosby blends memoir and war history with ‘Quiet Hero’

Rita Cosby’s book Quiet Hero–Secrets From My Father’s Past contains a lot of personal narrative focusing on her relationship with her father and her upbringing in general. But the book also contains a lot of straight-up history told in a layman-friendly narrative. Many readers will be introduced to Polish Resistance fighters, and events in the war are recounted in personal terms often through firsthand accounts.

Until I read this, I always thought first of the French Resistance when I heard about resistance groups in WWII.

It’s a great book for learning more US and world history and it’s a great book for just curling up with.

Cosby’s book was born when she opened a suitcase that had belonged to her father. Her relationship with him was emotionally distant although she loved and respected him. Cosby’s dad had left the family when she was a young teen. After her mother’s death, Cosby describes sorting through her mom’s belongings and finding “a battered tan suitcase.” In that suitcase she came across “rusted tags bearing a prisoner number and the words Stalag IVB; and an identity card for an ex-POW bearing the name Ryszard Kossobudzki.”

Those singular items would lead the Emmy winning journalist and best-selling author whose face is a familiar sight on TV to a number of different countries and to numerous people with fascinating stories. She documents how she traced her father’s history, and she tells fine tales about the derring-do and the suffering that are twin conspirators in any war.

The book serves up mysteries and answers, and brings the reader to appreciate an unknown quantity in the war, a group of men and women hitherto unsung who made a difference by fighting for freedom as the world fought off assaults from madmen.

Cosby’s journey into her father’s past is a journey into her own. She comes to terms, with each discovery in an arduous research process, with the person she has become. She comes to understand how profoundly the war affected her father and his generation. He was a young teen when it all began—close to the same age Cosby was when her father divorced her mother. It seemed that as a cataclysm had interrupted his rites of passage, a personal cataclysm had interrupted her own. Her coming to terms with her father and with her own relationship with him are triumphs.

Quiet Hero is a great summer read but it’s also a great addition to the standing reference shelf. Cosby has filled in a gap where the Polish resistance was concerned. I found myself admiring Poland in a way I’d never thought of the country before—Poland’s triumph over her oppressors is a positive modern history development, a scarcity we can celebrate.

The book is meticulously researched, and introduces material about WWII in general. That history narrative laid finely atop a personal account makes the book an excellent read and a thing of value for the personal library.

(Review and commentary by Kay B. Day/July 6, 2017)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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