One Day That Shook the Communist World: The 1956 Hungarian Uprising and Its Legacy

Princeton University Press
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On October 23, 1956, a popular uprising against Soviet rule swept through Hungary like a force of nature, only to be mercilessly crushed by Soviet tanks twelve days later. Only now, fifty years after those harrowing events, can the full story be told. This book is a powerful eyewitness account and a gripping history of the uprising in Hungary that heralded the future liberation of Eastern Europe.

Paul Lendvai was a young journalist covering politics in Hungary when the uprising broke out. He knew the government officials and revolutionaries involved. He was on the front lines of the student protests and the bloody street fights and he saw the revolutionary government smashed by the Red Army. In this riveting, deeply personal, and often irreverent book, Lendvai weaves his own experiences with in-depth reportage to unravel the complex chain of events leading up to and including the uprising, its brutal suppression, and its far-reaching political repercussions in Hungary and neighboring Eastern Bloc countries. He draws upon exclusive interviews with Russian and former KGB officials, survivors of the Soviet backlash, and relatives of those executed. He reveals new evidence from closed tribunals and documents kept secret in Soviet and Hungarian archives. Lendvai's breathtaking narrative shows how the uprising, while tragic, delivered a stunning blow to Communism that helped to ultimately bring about its demise.

One Day That Shook the Communist World is the best account of these unprecedented events.

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About the author

Paul Lendvai is a leading European journalist and senior commentator on Austrian television. He is editor in chief of the Vienna-based international quarterly Europäische Rundschau. He is the author of thirteen books, including The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Dec 16, 2010
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Pages
312
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ISBN
9781400837649
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Austria & Hungary
History / Europe / General
History / General
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Revolutionary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Hungarians is the most comprehensive, clear-sighted, and absorbing history ever of a legendarily proud and passionate but lonely people. Much of Europe once knew them as "child-devouring cannibals" and "bloodthirsty Huns." But it wasn't long before the Hungarians became steadfast defenders of the Christian West and fought heroic freedom struggles against the Tatars (1241), the Turks (16-18th centuries), and, among others, the Russians (1848-49 and 1956). Paul Lendvai tells the fascinating story of how the Hungarians, despite a string of catastrophes and their linguistic and cultural isolation, have survived as a nation-state for more than 1,000 years.

Lendvai, who fled Hungary in 1957, traces Hungarian politics, culture, economics, and emotions from the Magyars' dramatic entry into the Carpathian Basin in 896 to the brink of the post-Cold War era. Hungarians are ever pondering what being Hungarian means and where they came from. Yet, argues Lendvai, Hungarian national identity is not only about ancestry or language but also an emotional sense of belonging. Hungary's famous poet-patriot, Sándor Petofi, was of Slovak descent, and Franz Liszt felt deeply Hungarian though he spoke only a few words of Hungarian. Through colorful anecdotes of heroes and traitors, victors and victims, geniuses and imposters, based in part on original archival research, Lendvai conveys the multifaceted interplay, on the grand stage of Hungarian history, of progressivism and economic modernization versus intolerance and narrow-minded nationalism.

He movingly describes the national trauma inflicted by the transfer of the historic Hungarian heartland of Transylvania to Romania under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920--a trauma that the passing of years has by no means lessened. The horrors of Nazi and Soviet Communist domination were no less appalling, as Lendvai's restrained account makes clear, but are now part of history.

An unforgettable blend of eminent readability, vibrant humor, and meticulous scholarship, The Hungarians is a book without taboos or prejudices that at the same time offers an authoritative key to understanding how and why this isolated corner of Europe produced such a galaxy of great scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Turn: Washington’s Spies, now an original series on AMC

Based on remarkable new research, acclaimed historian Alexander Rose brings to life the true story of the spy ring that helped America win the Revolutionary War. For the first time, Rose takes us beyond the battlefront and deep into the shadowy underworld of double agents and triple crosses, covert operations and code breaking, and unmasks the courageous, flawed men who inhabited this wilderness of mirrors—including the spymaster at the heart of it all.

In the summer of 1778, with the war poised to turn in his favor, General George Washington desperately needed to know where the British would strike next. To that end, he unleashed his secret weapon: an unlikely ring of spies in New York charged with discovering the enemy’s battle plans and military strategy.

Washington’s small band included a young Quaker torn between political principle and family loyalty, a swashbuckling sailor addicted to the perils of espionage, a hard-drinking barkeep, a Yale-educated cavalryman and friend of the doomed Nathan Hale, and a peaceful, sickly farmer who begged Washington to let him retire but who always came through in the end. Personally guiding these imperfect everyday heroes was Washington himself. In an era when officers were gentlemen, and gentlemen didn’ t spy, he possessed an extraordinary talent for deception—and proved an adept spymaster.

The men he mentored were dubbed the Culper Ring. The British secret service tried to hunt them down, but they escaped by the closest of shaves thanks to their ciphers, dead drops, and invisible ink. Rose’s thrilling narrative tells the unknown story of the Revolution–the murderous intelligence war, gunrunning and kidnapping, defectors and executioners—that has never appeared in the history books. But Washington’s Spies is also a spirited, touching account of friendship and trust, fear and betrayal, amid the dark and silent world of the spy.


From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“An elegant synthesis done by the leading scholar in the field, which nicely integrates the work on the American Revolution over the last three decades but never loses contact with the older, classic questions that we have been arguing about for over two hundred years.”—Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers

A magnificent account of the revolution in arms and consciousness that gave birth to the American republic.

When Abraham Lincoln sought to define the significance of the United States, he naturally looked back to the American Revolution. He knew that the Revolution not only had legally created the United States, but also had produced all of the great hopes and values of the American people. Our noblest ideals and aspirations-our commitments to freedom, constitutionalism, the well-being of ordinary people, and equality-came out of the Revolutionary era. Lincoln saw as well that the Revolution had convinced Americans that they were a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty. The Revolution, in short, gave birth to whatever sense of nationhood and national purpose Americans have had.

No doubt the story is a dramatic one: Thirteen insignificant colonies three thousand miles from the centers of Western civilization fought off British rule to become, in fewer than three decades, a huge, sprawling, rambunctious republic of nearly four million citizens. But the history of the American Revolution, like the history of the nation as a whole, ought not to be viewed simply as a story of right and wrong from which moral lessons are to be drawn. It is a complicated and at times ironic story that needs to be explained and understood, not blindly celebrated or condemned. How did this great revolution come about? What was its character? What were its consequences? These are the questions this short history seeks to answer. That it succeeds in such a profound and enthralling way is a tribute to Gordon Wood’s mastery of his subject, and of the historian’s craft.


From the Hardcover edition.
ZUM 50. JAHRESTAG DES UNGARN-AUFSTANDS.
Historische Darstellung, politische Bewertung und persönlicher Erlebnisbericht.

Der Publizist Paul Lendvai floh 1956 nach der Niederschlagung des Ungarn-Aufstands aus seiner Heimat. 50 Jahre später blickt er zurück und erkennt die ungarische Tragödie als Ausgangspunkt für die spätere Befreiung Osteuropas.

"Der Vater wurde geohrfeigt wie ein Kind, geprügelt wie ein Pferd; in ihrer Not schlugen sie ihn auf die Nieren, dann systematisch auf den Körper." Fast 50 Jahre nach der Niederschlagung des Ungarn-Aufstands entdeckte der ungarische Schriftsteller Péter Esterházy, dass sein Vater Fürst Esterházy, unter den Schlägen des Kadar-Regimes innerlich zerbrach. Auch für den renommierten Publizisten Paul Lendvai ist der ungarische Volksaufstand, den er hautnah erlebte, gegenwärtig. In seinem neuen Buch verbindet er seine persönliche Geschichte mit den historischen Hintergründen und den politischen Konsequenzen. Ausgehend von den eigenen Erlebnissen, ergänzt durch Berichte Überlebender, Aussagen in Geheimprozessen und anhand von Protokollen aus Partei und Regierung rekonstruiert Lendvai den Aufstand, der am 23. Oktober 1956 wie ein politisches Naturereignis das Land erfasste und das System von sowjetischer Fremdherrschaft und ungarischen Helfershelfern mit elementarer Kraft hinwegfegte. Er verfolgt den Weg des Aufstands bis zum Zusammenbruch, protokolliert die blutige Abrechnung mit Ministerpräsident Imre Nagy und allen Wegbereitern, den Rachefeldzug des Kadar-Regimes und die Folgen für den ungarischen "Gulaschkommunismus". Sein Fazit: Der Ungarn-Aufstand war eine historische Zäsur für das Europa des 20. Jahrhunderts. Er war die Vorhut jener Umwälzungen in Prag 1967, in Warschau 1981 und für die ungarische Grenzöffnung 1989, die zum Zusammenbruch des Ostblocks führten und das Gesicht Europas entscheidend veränderten.

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