In Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, Victor Sebestyen vividly recreates not only the days of the uprising but the events, meetings and days that led up to it. He goes back to give us snapshots of seminal moments in history that would decide Hungary's fate, such as the October 9, 1944, meeting in the Kremlin with Churchill, or October 15, 1949, a day that marked the execution of Laszlo Rajk, a fierce Stalinist and one of the chief architect's of Hungary's police state and the beginning of the Bolsheviks starting "to devour [their] own children".
With newly released and never-before-translated material from the Parliamentary library in Budapest, the Kremlin library, and his own family's diaries and eyewitness testimonies, Sebestyen is able to shed new light on what really happened. And he does so in a fast-paced, journalistic style that makes you feel you are right there witnessing it all.
This is a story of enormous courage in a fight for freedom and of ruthless cruelty in suppressing that dream. It was an uprising that took the world by surprise despite all the intelligence in Hungary at the time - from the CIA to the M16 and many others. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets armed with few rifles, gasoline bombs, even kitchen utensils - and for a while it looked like the revolutionaries might succeed. It was an uprising that captured the imagination of people throughout the world, and the Hungarians, Sebestyen writes, even thought that Eisenhower and the West were about to come to their rescue. But, at 4:14 in the morning of November 4, 1956, the Soviets launched a major attack to crush the uprising and succeeded. Thousands were killed and wounded, and nearly a quarter of a million refugees left the country.
This uprising was the defining moment of the Cold War and would signal the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. Sebestyen has written a uniquely compelling and lively account of this important historical moment.
©2006 Victor Sebestyen (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
If you speak Hungarian, or at least know how to pronounce Hungarian names, this book will drive you crazy. The reader has no idea how the Hungarian alphabet should be pronounced in English. But let's not blame the Rick Reitz. It's the producer's fault that Rick wasn't given a text where the Hungarian names and words, used in nearly every sentence of this book, were correctly transliterated so that he could have read them they way they should be said. István = Ishtvahn, Sándor = Shandor, Rákoczi = Rakotsee, not Rakoshee and Kádár is Kadar not KaRdar! Unbelievable, disrespectful.
But if you can tolerate the carelessness that led to the bad pronunciation, or if you don't know any better yourself, then this is a fascinating story of a tragic period of European history that should not be forgotten, for these events continue to influence events in Europe today.
Rick is an expressive reader with a pleasant voice that brings the atrocities told about in this book to life.
I would guess most people who bought this book are like me. My father fought in the 1956 revolution and I grew up among Hungarian refugees. I wanted to understand the history better as a personal journey into my family history.
Ok, for you non-Hungarians. What's in it for you? Russian expansionism is not new. There are some remarkable parallels with current events in Ukraine. Internal divisions and Russian intervention. Western European apathy and a United States that wishes to stop the Russians, but will only give limited involvement. Of course history doesn't actually repeat itself, but sometimes it does rhyme...
This is great survey of Post 1945 Hungary the Stalinist terror and 1956 Revolution. Now... I know outside of the few hungarian speakers this won't be an issue, But the pronunciation of Hungarian names and places is atrocious. Ok, so i realize how arcane and difficult Hungarian is but, there was no effort at consistent and correct pronunciation of places and names. I found this a bit disbarring distraction to a great book.
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