Top 10 Books to Read About Hungary, Part II

I may have written a 200-word summary of Hungarian history in my March 15th holiday post, but needless to say, it’s worth reading more. How about 608 pages more? Plus a heavy-hitting masterpiece of fiction…

3. The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, by Paul Lendvai. It isn’t easy to find a history book that’s readable, let alone as absorbing and inviting as this one. Lendvai, who fled Hungary in 1957, traces the Hungarian people from their arrival in the Carpathian Basin in 896 to the fall of Communism, revealing the secret to Hungarians’ endurance despite their linguistic and cultural isolation. Lendvai also provides a distance that lends credibility and impartiality to the story, though his Hungarian heritage gives him a solid background. Full of anecdotes and portraits both edifying and horrifying, this mammoth volume attempts to tell the whole story, in a way that’s as gripping as your favorite novel, be it romance, horror, comedy or tragedy. Next up on my (long) reading list: Lendvai’s One Day That Shook the Communist World: The 1956 Hungarian Uprising. For more on Lendvai’s books, see the publisher’s website:

4. Embers, by Sándor Márai. This book intrigued me because it revolves around one long conversation on one evening. An entire novel about one evening? Yes, it works. Precisely because it’s a simple setting for a complex story delving into the nature of friendship, honor and trust. An elderly general invites an old friend for dinner. The friend had been missing under mysterious circumstances for 41 years…  Next I plan to read Márai’s Portraits of a Marriage, which explores not just love, but the relationship of love and society, and promises to reveal more about the Hungary before World War II… Check out this blog for more about Márai and his work

Stay-tuned for more of my magyar fiction and non-fiction favorites tomorrow…

About adriknows

One day, people looking for tips on life in Budapest started coming to me. Friends, then friends of friends, and so on. People were telling newcomers and longtime Budapesters alike, “Adri knows!” Now it’s time to share what I’ve picked up over more than a decade of fun-and-frequently-frazzled family life in the big BP.
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1 Response to Top 10 Books to Read About Hungary, Part II

  1. Andrea says:

    I’ve put both of Lendvai’s books that you mention on my reading list, thanks for the suggestion!

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