Budapest

Poland in the Darkness of World War II
December 20, 2012

The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War By Halik Kochanski (Harvard University Press, 734 pp., $35) The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery By Witold Pilecki translated by Jarek Garliński (Aquila Polonica, 460 pp., $34.95)   ONCE, THE Allied history of the Second World War—the Anglo-American history of the Second World War, the Victors’ history of the Second World War—was the only one we thought mattered.

Two Darknesses
August 02, 2012

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948 By Madeleine Albright with Bill Woodward (Harper Collins, 467 pp., $29.99)   MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, née Korbel, is the first woman and the second foreign-born person to have attained to the highest-ranking Cabinet position in the American government, that of secretary of state. She is also the first East European to have served in any Cabinet position.

Freedom Porn
April 20, 2012

Parallel Stories By Péter Nádas Translated by Imre Goldstein (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1,133 pp., $40)  Péter Nádas’s novel begins with the most formulaic kind of narrative device: the discovery of a corpse.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Bites the Hand that Feeds Him
March 26, 2012

On March 15, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stood before nearly 100,000 of his fellow countrymen in Budapest and declared, “Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate.” Drawing an explicit connection between the European Union, which Hungary enthusiastically joined in 2004, and the Soviet Union, which brutally crushed a Hungarian revolt in 1956, Orbán said, “We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches.” This style of demagoguery is nothing new for Orbán.

David Thomson on Films: Remembering Margaret Sullavan, Who Would Have Been 100 (or 102) This Year
September 27, 2011

Every now and then, you run into people who have not seen The Shop Around the Corner. These men and women seem normal enough. They speak English, they wear clothes, they comb their hair. They may be walking the dog or looking for a pinot noir at a party, and they say, “What was that film you mentioned?” They’re good-natured about their ignorance, especially when you tell them the film is 71 years old and in black-and-white. There are people who reckon those conditions are beyond their range or pay level, like the famine in East Africa or the bubbling of the permafrost in Siberia.

The Charnel Continent
December 02, 2010

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin By Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 524 pp., $29.95) ‘Now we will live!’... the hungry little boy liked to say ... but the food that he saw was only in his imagination.” So the little boy died, together with three million fellow Ukrainians, in the mass starvation that Stalin created in 1933. “I will meet her ... under the ground,” a young Soviet man said about his wife. Both were shot in the course of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, which claimed 700,000 victims.

A Deal With The Devil
July 17, 2010

Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

A Deal With The Devil
July 17, 2010

Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

The Prisoner Intellectuals
May 05, 2010

The key to understanding radical Islam and Communism? Prison culture.

The Freedom Of Europe Commemorated
November 09, 2009

Over the years, my good friend Jacques Rupnik has written commentaries in TNR about the decline of communism in Eastern Europe. Given the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 53rd anniversary of bloody Budapest, Rupnik, a professor at Science-Pol, has written a longish essay for Le Monde, some about the past, some also about the future. Alas, in French. Point de vue L'Europe de l'Est, vingt ans après, par Jacques Rupnik LE MONDE | 09.11.09 | 14h05 Le 20e anniversaire de 1989 semble marqué par la "confusion des sentiments".

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