by Reg Gadney ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 23, 1986
Timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, this is a moving testimonial to human bravery as well as a frequently infuriating portrait of political and ideological duplicity. Drawing on contemporary news releases, radio transcripts and eyewitness accounts, Gadney provides a day-by-day retelling of the tragic events of October 23--November 4, 1956. The history of those 13 fall days and of the subsequent events bristles with ironies. Contrary to what has long been widely believed in the West, the Revolution was not an attempt by Hungarians to align their country with the Free World. It was, rather, an effort to regain national autonomy within a socialist context. Both Radio Free Europe and The Voice of America either knowingly or unwittingly misinterpreted this fact and, as a result, ""validated"" the repressive Soviet response. ""The American radio stations completely failed to tell the truth. American journalist Leslie Bain recalls the remark of a Hungarian refugee in Vienna:"" 'It would be sheer ingratitude on the part of the Soviets not to decorate the directors of Radio Free Europe with the Order of Lenin.'"" The British and French governments were equally insensitive (and equally culpable) in their decision to continue with their Suez adventure at precisely this time, thus diverting world attention from the Hungarian conflict. Even Dag Hammarskjold, then U.N. Secretary General, comes in for some harsh words in Gadney's account. While Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy may have been vacillating and Janes Kadar, Nagy's eventual successor, duplicitous in their handling of the situation, politicians and statesmen outside the battle-wracked country are also revealed as self-serving, cynical and/or ineffectual. It is only the mass of ""freedom fighters"" from General Pal Maleter (executed along with Nagy and two others in June, 1958) to the 14-year-old kids and 70-year-old grandfathers who flung themselves against tanks who gain the reader's unequivocal respect here. For them, then, this is a fitting monument to human aspirations and ideals.
Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1986
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986
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