Antony Polonsky has just completed a three-volume history The Jews in Poland and Russia Volume 1, 1350–1881; Volume 2, 1881–1914 (Oxford, 2010); Volume 3, 1914–2008 (Oxford, 2012). In 2011, the book was awarded the Kulczycki Prize of the American Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies for the best book in any discipline on any aspect of Polish affairs, and in 2012, it won the Pro historia Polonorum prize by the Senate of the Republic of Poland for the best book on Polish history in a foreign language published in the last five years. This article describes how the book came to be written, describing the influence of the author's youth in apartheid South Africa, his decision to study the history of twentieth century Poland and his involvement with the Solidarity Movement. As one of the organisers of the conferences in the 1980s and as principal editor of Polin: Studies in Polish-Jewry, he has been at the centre of the developments which have transformed our understanding of the Polish-Jewish past and Polish-Jewish relations. The article describes how he came to write his three-volume history and what he hoped to achieve in this way.