Story of a Secret State

  • by Jan Karski
  • Narrated by Janusz Guttner
  • 18 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

I do not pretend to have given an exhaustive picture of the Polish Underground, its organization and its activities. Because of our methods, I believe that there is no one today who could give an all-embracing recital...This book is a purely personal story, my story.
Jan Karski's Second World War memoir is a heroic act of witness: the courageous testimony of a man who risked everything for his country. First published in 1944, the book became an instant bestseller in the US while the war still raged in Europe. At times overwhelming in the details it reveals of the suffering of ordinary people, it is an unforgettable and deeply affecting record of brutality, courage, and survival under conditions of extreme bleakness.
During the first four years of World War II, Karski worked as a messenger for the underground, risking his life in secret missions. He was captured, tortured, rescued, smuggled through a tunnel into the Warsaw ghetto and, finally, disguised himself as a guard to infiltrate a Nazi death camp. Then, travelling across occupied Europe to England, with his eye-witness report smuggled on microfilm in the handle of a razor, he became the first man to tell the Allies about the Holocaust - only to be ignored.


What the Critics Say

"His account of his missions is an electrifying tale of false identities, near captures, spies and secret film capsules ... in human terms, Karski's account is invaluable." (Daily Telegraph)
"It deserves its status as a Penguin Classic, not only because it is a great historic document, but also because it's a cracking good read: Karski's adventures are worthy of the wildest spy thriller." (Nigel Jones, Telegraph)
"The bravery of the man who risked all to tell the world about the Holocaust is truly staggering ... an extraordinary testament to Man's inhumanity to Man, and the even more remarkable courage required to resist it." (Ben McIntyre, The Times)
"Story of a Secret State is now viewed as a classic insider's account of the Resistance in occupied Europe...After all the harrowing descriptions of Holocaust horrors there have been over the years from survivors of Auschwitz, Belsen, and Ravensbruck, Karski's vivid account of what he saw back in 1942 is still deeply moving. We feel his shock and incredulity that this could really be happening in 20th century 'civilised' Europe." (Tony Rennell, Daily Mail)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


What a story ! The author was certainly a hero and deserved all the recognition given to him.
I would hope that this book will be listened to by many.
Highly recommended.The authors' modesty, courage,loyalty and dedication shine throughout the book.How proud I would be to have known him.
Excellent narration,the fact that the narrator has a mid-European accent to his English added flavour and reality,as though the author himself were relating his testimony from those dark days.Lest we forget.
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- David "An avid audio fan, I listen mainly whilst walking my dog. I enjoy many and varied subjects,history,travel,espionage,crime,anything good"

Magnificent, Spellbinding, Intriguing, Inspiring

In short, this is a thrilling read.

The former Foreign Minister of Poland Władysław Bartoszewski in his speech at the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 27 January 2005, said:

"The Polish resistance movement kept informing and alerting the free world to the situation. In the last quarter of 1942, thanks to the Polish emissary Jan Karski and his mission, and also by other means, the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the United States were well informed about what was going on in Auschwitz-Birkenau."

Among much recognition and adulation bestowed upon him, Jan Karski, posthumously, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama on April 23, 2012.

See the write-up at wikipedia under "Jan Karski."

The narrator, Janusz Guttner, was brilliant... the best choice to read this magnificent book.

I cannot recommend this listen enough.
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- Marje

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-24-2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd