Paperback / softback
March 15, 2021
9.02 Inches (US)
6.10 Inches (US)
.74 Pounds (US)
$24.95 USD, £17.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Our Man in Warszawa

How the West Misread Poland

Written by a Brit who has lived in Poland for more than twenty years, this book challenges some accepted thinking in the West about Poland and about the rise of Law and Justice (PiS) as the ruling party in 2015. It is a remarkable account of the Polish post-1989 transition and contemporary politics, combining personal views and experience with careful fact and material collections. The result is a vivid description of the events and scrupulous explanations of the political processes, and all this with an interesting twist – a perspective of a foreigner and insider at the same time. Settled in the position of participant observer, Jo Harper combines the methods of macro and micro analysis with CDA, critical discourse analysis. He presents and interprets the constituent elements and issues of contemporary Poland: the main political forces, the Church, the media, issues of gender, the Russian connection, the much-disputed judicial reform and many others.

A special feature of the book is the detailed examination of the coverage of the Poland's latest two elections, one in 2019 (parliamentary) and the other in 2020 (presidential) in the British media, an insightful and witty specimen of comparative cultural and political analysis.

About the Author

Jo Harper is a freelance British journalist based in Warsaw, writing for the BBC, PoliticoDeutsche Welle and others. He is editor of Poland's Memory Wars: Essays on Illiberalism (CEU Press, 2018) on the rise of PiS, and holds a PhD from the London School of Economics on Polish political history.


"The book is both a study of Polish politics and a critical analysis of journalism. Harper demonstrates convincingly that journalism not only describes reality but, through its performative language, constructs reality.
Harper shows that, all too often, the term 'populism' is used not so much to describe or analyse reality as to deprecate those with whom we disagree, and that the very discourse of Western journalists resembles the populism attributed to PiS. Harper shows that the success of PiS cannot be explained in simple terms, such as a revolt of the excluded against the privileged or as a conflict between rural and urban dwellers, the 'winners' or 'losers' of transformation or the uneducated versus the educated.
The book is an informative and interesting study not only of Polish politics but also of the relationship between politics and journalism."—Krzysztof Jaskulowski, Europe-Asia Studies


"Foreign observers of Poland have long played an important role in internal Polish affairs and Poles' perceptions of themselves. Our Man in Warszawa shows in riveting detail through lived experience, press accounts, and countless interviews just how important that role is today. Jo Harper's much-needed, carefully crafted, extremely readable and fascinating narrative reveals the assumptions and stereotypes underpinning foreign reporting that echo between Britain to Poland. Our Man in Warszawa is essential reading for anyone seeking to truly understand Poland's politics, 'populism,' and 'culture wars.'"—Janine R. Wedel

"The author's first professional internship was with a publisher of a Marxist magazine. I do not know if he still believes that social existence determines consciousness, but he is aware that today consciousness—and not only in Poland—is more defined by identity and by those who define themselves as 'identitaires.' In Poland this is about inferiority complexes mixed with a superiority complex towards the allegedly decayed West, faith in a leader, intolerance, and national and pseudo-religious slogans. Harper—a journalist with a scientific background—paints a perfect picture of contemporary Poland."—Marek Ostrowski

9789633863954 : our-man-in-warszawa-harper
Paperback / softback
216 Pages
$24.95 USD

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Poland's Memory Wars

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