Winner of Borders "Original Voices" Book of the Year and a New York Times Editors' Choice, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber tells the hilarious and improbable true story of Attila Ambrus, the Robin Hood of Eastern Europe. He's the onetime pelt smugger, goaltender (possibly the worst in the history of pro hockey), pen salesman, Zamboni driver, gravedigger, church painter, roulette addict, building superintendent, whiskey drinker, and native of Transylvania who's decided that the best thing to do with his time is to rob as many banks as possible.
Welcome to Julian Rubinstein's uproariously funny and unforgettable account of crime in the heart of the new Europe. Part Unbearable Lightness of Being, part Pink Panther, and part Slap Shot, Rubinstein's tale is a spectacular literary debut - and a story so outrageous that it could only be true.
©2004 Julian Rubinstein; (P)2006 Time Warner AudioBooks, a division of the AOL Time Warner Book Group
"Must be heard to be believed." (The Onion)
"Offers that simple pleasure, a great story." (Esquire)
"Outrageously entertaining." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Rubinstein has found a story of the sort that would make even the most dry-mouthed journalist slobber. Sometimes sad, often hilarious and always absurd." (The New York Times)
The author/narrator is fantastic. I listened to this book three times and am still intrigued!! I'm scanning audible weekly for new Julian Rubenstein books.
I loved this story. Each time I found myself thinking, "This is too farfetched," I remembered that it's actually a true story! The reader is great and even the music, which I usually find distracting, is very professional and adds to the feel of the story.
When I downloaded this book I thought it was a novel. A Transylvanian pelt smuggling, hockey playing, bandit -- it had to be fiction. In this case fact is so much more entertaining than fiction. It is easy to start rooting for the whiskey bandit -- hoping he will take a turn for the better as he tries to make a go of living in the newly democratic captial of Hungary.
The adventures of Atilla the bandit and the Inspector Clouseau-like head of robbery who pursues him are fascinating. Meanwhile I found I learned a great deal about post-communist eastern European countries without even trying.
I was excited, but it's just OK. The narrator's clearly non-professional voice and sporadic snippets of instrumental music made me feel like I was listening to "This American Life". Like that show, this book is interesting but slow and kind of dull.
There is far too much history of the region in the beginning, needlessly extending the length of the book. It is strictly chronological; I feel it would have been far better if it jumped around a bit to keep things interesting. The protagonist isn't really much of a hero, or even an anti-hero: he's a drunken liar with no sense of purpose. His only motivation is money, for spending.
There's an entertaining quality to the story - the bumbling heists, incompetent police - but not much actually happens. He robs some post offices and banks, gets away with small amounts, and is eventually caught.
I stopped listening when my next credit came along and only finished it months later when I ran out of other books.
On a personal note, the historical background on the country helped explain why my Romanian college roommate was such a pathetic loser.
The audio edition of this book is fantastic--really a radio comedy/drama. It is introduced by Attila Ambrus himself, the eponymous Whiskey Robber, as he served time in jail for his string of non-violent bank robberies in Budapest in the 1990s. The author is the main narrator, with voices supplied by a wildly diverse array of people from comedians Dmetri Martin and Eugene Mirman to author Gary Shteyngart, and music by One Ring Zero.
It is the crazy-but-true story of how Attila, a hapless and basically unpaid professional hockey goalie (as well as a pen salesman, pelt smuggler, and serious drinker and would-be high roller), applied himself to the profession of bank robbery, becoming a national folk hero as he left the overworked and under-equipped police sputtering in his wake. Great characters, detailed reporting, and a wry style drive the story along irresistibly. The author even manages to work in a quick background history of Hungary and paints a cynical picture of 1990s Budapest, when the influx of western-style capitalism only changed the style of corruption.
A most enjoyable roller-coaster ride, highly recommended for anyone who is traveling to Hungary, who enjoys true crime reporting, or who just wants a highly entertaining true tale.
The cast does an amazing job of bringing this book to life. I definitely recommend this one.
1st one ever
The presence of many different narrators like an audio soap opera
When Attila escapes from jail
Not extreme, it was really enjoyable, it made me laugh
Keep writing on true crime....
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
This would be pretty funny as a comedy film. Somebody's gotta pick this up and run with it.
José M. Batista
This is an interesting and well told biography, although I think it would benefit if trimmed somewhat.
What I really did not appreciate was an uninspired narration sprinkled with mostly difficult to understand and ridiculous sounding theatrics.
The tale is a good one, one that has its environs in a society under turmoil. If there was ever a case for someone to commit a crime the Whiskey Robber's modus operandi should be followed. The Whisky Robber was a man who became a modern-day folklore hero in two countries because the socio-economic conditions of a post-communist country warrants a man taking the banks, the wealthy, and the government to task with grace. I enjoyed the inclusion of familiar political figures, such as Al Gore. A fantastic look into Hungary’s recent past. Rubinstein was spot on in taking the reader through the complicated times of an unemployed professional hockey player. It makes one think… what would I do in this situation? I recommend this to anyone who wants a well-written view into another world.
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