"Drogi Polaków do niepodległości. W 150. rocznicę powstania styczniowego" is a collection of thirty-five scholarly essays devoted mostly to nineteenth century Polish history, with several works discussing matters of the later part of this century, at times catering to the subject of the early interwar period. As the title suggests, particular attention is given to the various ways in which Poles tried to regain independence at the time of the partitions (1795-1918). The book is divided into four parts, each discussing different aspects of the Polish struggle for independence. Regardless of the anniversary of the January Uprising mentioned in the title, the volume does not limit itself to articles devoted solely to the subject of that particular event. The editors of this volume are renowned scholars specialising in nineteenth century history. Wiktoria Śliwowska is a specialist of Russian history in that period and many of her works concentrate on the subject of Polish exiles in the Russian Empire. Lidia Michalska-Bracha works on the subject of Polish history and memory in the late nineteenth century, while Wiesław Caban focuses on the local history of the Kielce region and Polish-Russian relations during the period of the January Uprising.
Part one of the book ("Drogi Polaków do niepodległości. Kraj. Zesłanie") presents eleven essays discussing activities of Poles at home and in exile directed at regaining independence before 1863. Significantly, only two chapters discuss issues related to the Great Emigration, while the rest concentrates either on the events in partitioned Poland, or in exile (zesłanie) to Russia.  Despite this approach – signifying a continuous shift from analyses of the post-1830 emigration to Western Europe to a growing number of local studies or, as a number of chapters in this volume illustrate, of political activities taking place in Russian exile – this part of the book offers few interesting studies. Two articles deserve particular attention. Anna Barańska ("Polskie dążenia niepodległościowe w oczach wielkiego księcia Konstantego (1815-1830)") analyses Grand Prince Constantine's approach to Polish conspiracies before the November Uprising. For all his declared "Polishness", the unofficial ruler of the Kingdom of Poland was "unable to understand Polish patriotism and Polish desire for freedom" (p. 27). It is hardly surprising that his policies were widely perceived as anti-Polish and became one of the main reasons for the outbreak of the 1830 revolution.
Aleksander Bogolubow's chapter – with the rather misleading title "O pomysłach na niepodległość Polaków zesłanych w XIX wieku na Kaukaz" – offers an overview of Polish exiles in the Caucasus region. The majority of Poles arrived there as military conscripts in the aftermath of the November Uprising and some of them decided to join forces with independent Caucasian highlanders in their struggle against the Russians. However, as the author concludes, even though Polish soldiers "dreamed of escaping to join the highlanders, they almost never joined them willingly" (p. 132). Bogolubow's extensive use of diaries and memoirs, as well as Russian archival sources, makes this chapter a highly valuable piece of research contributing to our knowledge of exiles in Caucasus. Here, the contrast with Aleksander Sielicki's short essay ("Losy Polaków z Czarnomorskiej Linii Brzegowej w świetle materialów Archiwum Państwowego Kraju Krasnodarskiego"), a rather uninspiring piece offering nothing but a list of primary sources from one particular archive, is especially striking.
The largest part of the book (comprising thirteen chapters) is the one devoted entirely to the events of the January Uprising (1863-64). Despite the fact that the January Uprising has attracted the attention of scholars on many occasions, resulting in several other collections of essays , the chapters published in this section of "Drogi Polaków do niepodległości" illustrate that there is still a lot to be said about this event. These essays discuss a variety of subjects, from the preparations in exile (discussed by Andrzej Szmyt in "Przygotowania do powstania styczniowego w środowisku emigracyjnych demokratów"), through detailed analyses of particular events during the Uprising itself (Jerzy Zdrada's "Romuald Traugutt – Polesie 1863" and Eugeniusz Niebielski's "Rybnica – Jurkowice – 20-21 października 1863 roku. Dzieje dwóch bitew oddziału Czaowskiego") to studies devoted to different reactions to the struggle (Franciszek Nowiński's "Powstanie styczniowe w oczach Agatona Gillera" or Janusz Karwat's „Konspiracyjne związki młodzieży gimnazjalnej w Poznańskiem wobec powstania styczniowego 1863-1864").
Three essays in this part of the volume discuss the life and writings of Agaton Giller, pointing at the significance of this publicist before, during and after the Uprising. However, unfortunately, they are all either too brief or too general to be considered as valuable contributions. Paradoxically, the most traditional analyses touching on well-known themes, such as those by Zdrada and Szmyt, prove to be the best in terms of research and presentation. The former offers a detailed study of Romuald Traugutt's involvement in the insurrection, his early decisions, successes and failures that preceded his later career as the most successful leader of the movement. As Zdrada points out, the idea of guerrilla war in the Polesie region did not take into consideration Russian experience gained on the Caucasus, the hostility of the locals and a general knowledge of Polish tactics published by leading Polish theoreticians (p. 295). The last chapter presented in this part of the book, Mariusz Kulik's "Czy służąc w obcym mundurze, można być patriotą?", is another valuable study looking at the ways in which Poles in the Russian Army approached to problem of the Uprising. As the author argues, "while serving in the Russian Army, it was possible to remain a Pole, but not always a Polish patriot" (p. 384). The number of officers who deserted and joined the Polish struggle remained, nevertheless, a minority.
The third section takes a closer look at the results of the events of 1863-64 and their impact on Poland, Poles and other nations of the Russian Empire. The essays presented in this part discuss a wide range of subjects, but the most significant is the topic of commemoration and remembrance of the January Uprising. Henryka Ilgiewicz ("Wkład towarzystw wileńskich w utrwalanie pamięci o XIX-wiecznych powstaniach narodowych i ich bohaterach") looks at the ways in which Polish uprisings were commemorated in Wilno by both Poles and Russians. The chapter explores the significance of pro-Russian activities in the decades following the Uprising and the change they underwent in the interwar period. Unfortunately, the author does not look at the post-1945 period and, consequently, the chapter leaves the impression of being unfinished. The articles by Waldemar Rezmer ("Józef Piłsudski i powstanie styczniowe") and Anita Młynarczyk-Tomczyk ("Margrabia Aleksander Wielopolski w historiografii i edukacji szkolnej – od II Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej do czasów współczesnych") both offer interesting insights, but, at the same time, are very brief and lack a deeper analysis of the subjects in question. In the case of Rezmer's article, it can be explained by the subject itself, which has received a lot of attention from various scholars over the years.
The last two essays form a separate section titled "Varia". None of them fits into themes discussed in the previous parts of the collection and their link with the subject of Polish independence movements across the nineteenth century remains unclear. This is particularly visible in a sociological overview presented by Aleksandra Porada in her "Kto, kiedy, dlaczego? Nauki społeczne w poszukiwaniu przyczyn i mechanizmów zjawiska buntu przeciw władzy", where the subject of Polish uprisings is almost non-existent. Porada's analysis of various sociological theories explaining the reasons for outbreaks of rebellions, uprisings or revolutions does not really fit into the wide context of this volume. Moreover, the majority of theories presented in her essay deal with twentieth, rather than nineteenth century events. Maciej Górny's "'Terytorium z piętnem politycznej konieczności'. Polscy geografowie w walce o granice" concentrates on the way in which Polish geographers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century contributed to the restoration of independent Poland. Despite Górny's brief overview of the predominant perception of Polish borders throughout the nineteenth century (the myth of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth within the borders of 1772), he mainly concentrates on the way in which Polish geography influenced the Versailles debates in Paris in 1918-19 and the impact the perception of Polish geography had on the future shape of the Second Polish Republic.
"Drogi Polaków do niepodległości" is no different from other collections of essays. The book is a mixture of better and worse scholarly essays which touch upon a variety of subjects (not always directly connected to the main topic of the volume). It does not help that the article by Witold Wojdyło ("'Chybiony patriotyzm?' Powstanie styczniowe w myśli politycznej Narodowej Demokracji") has already been published in the volume "Polska-Białoruś. Wspólne dziedzictwo historyczne. Powstanie styczniowe w tradycji i myśli politycznej Polski i Białorusi", while Waldemar Rezmer's text („Józef Piłsudski i powstanie styczniowe") is very similar to his article published in the aforementioned volume (where it appears under the title „Tradycje powstania styczniowego w polskiej myśli wojskowej II Rzeczypospolitej"). Moreover, the editors made the curious decision to publish four chapters in Russian, without even providing short abstracts in Polish. Despite these drawbacks, the collection offers a number of insightful works analysing many unexplored areas of Polish nineteenth century history.
 In Polish, there are different words describing both types of exile: while voluntary or forced emigration to Western Europe is usually known as emigracja or wychodźstwo, forced exile to Russia, either to Caucasus or Siberia, is called zesłanie. The essays in this part of the book concentrate on the latter.
 A list of similar publications can be found in the brief Introduction to the volume, pp. 9-10.