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The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat

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The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat Cover

ISBN13: 9780691119694
ISBN10: 0691119694
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Synopsis:

"This brief narrative of Hungarian history, elegantly translated into English, is written with verve, humor, profound insights, and just the right degree of cynicism. It well explains the dilemma of a respectable old state squeezed between more powerful neighbors, the contradictions between individual genius and repeated national failure, and the recurring tragic conflicts between the defense of nationhood and messianic nationalism. It is supplemented with fascinating essays on, for instance, the complexities of Jewish and German assimilation into the Hungarian nation."--István Deák, Columbia University

"When Paul Lendvai, the indefatigable observer of Eastern Europe, writes a book, he has in general something exciting to relate. . . . Lendvai's book is a well-constructed mixture of historical facts, political judgments, and cultural anecdotes."--Der Spiegel

"Lendvai has written a standard-setting work, always at the highest level of historical research yet so eminently readable, so entertaining--only a journalist out of passion with profound knowledge of history is able to write in this way. . . . Lendvai's presentation of the thousand years of Hungarian history in Europe is not only comprehensive, it is also just."--Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Synopsis:

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.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the English Edition page xi

Introduction 1

1. "Heathen Barbarians" overrun Europe: Evidence from St Gallen 7

2. Land Acquisition or Conquest? The Question of Hungarian Identity 12

3. From Magyar Mayhem to the Christian Kingdom of the Árpáds 27

4. The Struggle for Continuity and Freedom 38

5. The Mongol Invasion of 1241 and its Consequences 49

6. Hungary's Rise to Great Power Status under Foreign Kings 62

7. The Heroic Age of the Hunyadis and the Turkish Danger 75

8. The Long Road to the Catastrophe of Mohács 86

9. The Disaster of Ottoman Rule 94

10. Transylvania-the Stronghold of Hungarian Sovereignty 106

11. Gábor Bethlen-Vassal, Patriot and European 114

12. Zrinyi or Zrinski? One Hero for Two Nations 126

13. The Kuruc Leader Thököly: Adventurer or Traitor? 137

14. Ferenc Rákóczi's Fight for Freedom from the Habsburgs 145

15. Myth and Historiography: an Idol through the Ages 155

16. Hungary in the Habsburg Shadow 160

17. The Fight Against the "Hatted King" 177

18. Abbot Martinovics and the Jacobin Plot 183

19. Count István Széchenyi and the "Reform Era": the "Greatest Hungarian" 191

20. Lajos Kossuth and Sándor Petöfi: Symbols of 1848 206

21. Victories, Defeat and Collapse: the Lost War of Independence, 1849 222

22. Kossuth the Hero versus "Judas" Görgey: "Good" and "Bad" in Sacrificial Mythology 242

23. Who was Captain Gusev? Russian "Freedom Fighters" between Minsk and Budapest 260

24. Elisabeth, Andrássy and Bismarck: Austria and Hungary on the Road to Reconciliation 266

25. Victory in Defeat: the Compromise and the Consequences of Dualism 281

26. Total Blindness: The Hungarian Sense of Mission and the Nationalities 299

27. The "Golden Age" of the Millennium: Modernization with Drawbacks 310

28. "Magyar Jew or Jewish Magyar?" A Unique Symbiosis 329

29. "Will Hungary be German or Magyar?" The Germans' Peculiar Role 348

30. From the Great War to the "Dictatorship of Despair": the Red Count and Lenin's Agent 356

31. The Admiral on a White Horse: Trianon and the Death Knell of St Stephen's Realm 373

32. Adventurers, Counterfeiters, Claimants to the Throne: Hungary as Troublemaker in the Danube Basin 389

33. Marching in Step with Hitler: Triumph and Fall. From the Persecution of Jews to Mob Rule 406

34. Victory in Defeat: 1945-1990 427

35. "Everyone is a Hungarian": Geniuses and Artists 466

Summing-up 504

Notes 508

Chronology of Significant Events in Hungarian History 533

Index 557

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

livnah, February 6, 2009 (view all comments by livnah)
Seldom does one come across a thousand-year history that feels more like a tale of individuals from a common thread than small snapshots from different periods. I picked-up this book years ago but never read it until after returning from Budapest last year. By the time I reached page twenty the itch that had told me I should go back to Budapest became a full personal requirement. The author spends most of the book weaving the stories of nearly a thousand years of history from a people's beginnings on the Eurasian steppe to mainland Europe, their identity (as "Huns" and/or "Magyars"), their culture, their social structure, the monarchies, their lands, and the centuries of being Europe's "barrier" between the Empire and the Turks. When the reader suddenly finds themselves midway through the 20th century they're faced with a modern history only half-written and half-lived, and presented with a contemporary overview of the personalities that have come from the Hungarian people that few would ever have identified, not only from musicians such as Liszt and Bartok, but renowned economists, physicists, mathematicians, artists, and actors that have changed the entire world as we know it. By the time you close the back cover you feel that you have only begun to know an almost alien people, unlike most cultures while like so many at once. A culture that was often grouped with others however never belonged to any of them. A people so amazingly intricate and yet so simple that it requires one to review their own life and how they themselves fit into the world around them - both the product of their surroundings and yet an amazingly different entity on their own.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780691119694
Subtitle:
A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat
Translator:
Major, Ann
Translator:
Major, Ann
Author:
Lendvai, Paul
Author:
Decker, Jefferson
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
Europe - Austria & Hungary
Subject:
Austria & Hungary
Subject:
European History
Subject:
World History-Austria
Subject:
Euro
Subject:
pean History
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
July 2004
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
55 black-and-white plates. 9 maps.
Pages:
608
Dimensions:
8 x 5 in 31 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Europe » Eastern Europe » Hungary
History and Social Science » World History » Austria
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe
History and Social Science » World History » General

The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat New Trade Paper
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Product details 608 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691119694 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "This brief narrative of Hungarian history, elegantly translated into English, is written with verve, humor, profound insights, and just the right degree of cynicism. It well explains the dilemma of a respectable old state squeezed between more powerful neighbors, the contradictions between individual genius and repeated national failure, and the recurring tragic conflicts between the defense of nationhood and messianic nationalism. It is supplemented with fascinating essays on, for instance, the complexities of Jewish and German assimilation into the Hungarian nation."--István Deák, Columbia University

"When Paul Lendvai, the indefatigable observer of Eastern Europe, writes a book, he has in general something exciting to relate. . . . Lendvai's book is a well-constructed mixture of historical facts, political judgments, and cultural anecdotes."--Der Spiegel

"Lendvai has written a standard-setting work, always at the highest level of historical research yet so eminently readable, so entertaining--only a journalist out of passion with profound knowledge of history is able to write in this way. . . . Lendvai's presentation of the thousand years of Hungarian history in Europe is not only comprehensive, it is also just."--Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"Synopsis" by , 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.

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