The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat (Paperback)
  • The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat (Paperback)
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The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat (Paperback)

(author)
£16.99
Paperback 632 Pages / Published: 24/09/2020
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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, Sandor 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 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.

Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9781787383364
Number of pages: 632
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
The writing of national histories is. . .justified by the erudition and intellectual brilliance of the [author]. To this one must add, as a special attraction, the charm, wit and healthy cynicism of The Hungarians.' * Times Literary Supplement *
'Glorious, immensely readable' * The Economist *
'A pleasure to read. . . . Mr. Lendvai has done a remarkable job. His book is easily the best history of Hungary in English. . . . What's remarkable is how many extraordinary individuals, admirable and otherwise, we come across in this small nation's history.' -- Stephen Goode * Washington Times *
'When Paul Lendvai, the indefatigable observer of Eastern Europe, writes a book, he usually has something exciting to relate. This book is a well-constructed mixture of historical facts, political judgements, and cultural anecdotes.' * Der Spiegel *
'Researched and constructed in a masterly fashion, this should become a standard work on Hungary. . .It reads almost like a historical novel. . .warmly recommended.' * Die Presse *
'This brief narrative of Hungarian history, elegantly translated into English, is written with verve, profound insights, and just the right degree of cynicism. It well explains the dilemma of a respectable old state squeezed between more powerful neighbours, the contradiction between individual genius and repeated national failure, and the recurring tragic conflict between the defense of nationhood and messianic nationalism.' -- Istvan Deak, Seth Low Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University
'[R]ewarding, entertaining, and well written. . . . [F]ar more substantial than the witty musings to be found, for example, in Luigi Barzini's 'The Italians'. . . . No one who is interested in Hungary should miss reading this book.' -- Nicolas Parsons * Hungarian Quarterly *
'An outstanding storyteller. [Lendvai] not only presents scientifically based facts and analysis but also tells the reader a story. . .. A compact overview of Hungarian history, a wonderful collection of biographical sketches and a subtle description of the 'Hungarian temperament'.' * Neue Zurcher Zeitung *
'An exhaustive history of the Hungarian people. . . . The author has written a sympathetic account of Hungarian history. Yet the book also exposes the blemishes along with the heroism. . . . For those interested in the history of an art of Europe that has been shrouded in mystery and cliche, it's a helpful handbook.' -- Anne Gyulai * The Montreal Gazette *

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