From gallant officers in the Revolutionary War to bruising football heroes, the Polish contribution to the making of America has been continuous and rich. Kuniczak's aim is to showcase--with a lavish collection of photographs--neglected Polish-Americans beginning with the glassblowers and pitchmakers who arrived in Jamestown in 1608. Kuniczak notes that in the first half of the 19th century Poles arrived only in ""wavelets""; most remained in Europe in hopes of liberating their homeland. But Galveston, Texas--of all places--had a preview of the coming tide in 1854 when 800 native-clas Polish peasants landed with their bedding and pots and pans. In the early years of mass immigration, their lives in the Pennsylvania coal fields and the Gary, Indiana, steel mills were backbreakingly hard; speaking a variety of regional dialects, they found their ""Polish identity"" and ""ethnic solidarity"" in the U.S. when they reacted against the disdain of the English-speaking natives. Though a streak of Polish romanticism can be found in Kuniczak's own writing, he is generally discerning, and especially so on the touchy subject of the Poles' longstanding lack of enthusiasm for higher education for their sons and (especially) their daughters. A fine, unpedantic introduction for the grandchildren and their neighbors.