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Between East and West

Victor Sebestyen



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Weidenfeld & Nicolson
01 June 2022
Wallis Simpson, Theodore Roosevelt, Benito Mussolini, Evelyn Waugh, the great tenor Luciano Pavarotti, and the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, were all agreed: the best thing about Budapest is its position. With the Danube, Budapest forms one of the most beautiful cityscapes that exist along a river.

The older side, Buda, looks over at the picture-postcard panorama of modern Pest, developed in the late nineteenth century as the twin capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But the city is full of reminders of a more distant past, from the second century AD when the Romans located thermal springs in Buda. For around two hundred years from the 1520s most of Hungary was occupied by the Ottoman Turks - just one of the periods when geography and politics placed the country directly on the faultline between East and West.

Throughout history the centre of gravity in Budapest and among Hungarians has shifted between East and West - culturally, politically, emotionally. The shifts have sometimes been violent. Victor Sebestyen describes revolutions, bloody battles, the Uprising of 1956 and wars of conquest: some won, some lost. Others were more peaceful, although the repercussions were no less significant: for example, the fall of Soviet-style Communism. The story of Budapest is dramatic, and full of extraordinary, colourful personalities. This is history on the grand scale.
 Budapest: Between East and West

Imprint:   Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   560g
ISBN:   9781474610001
ISBN 10:   1474610005
Pages:   432
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sebestyen was born in Budapest, before his family left Hungary as refugees. As a journalist, he has worked for numerous British newspapers, including the Daily Mail, The Times and the Evening Standard. He is the author of Twelve Days, Revolution 1989, 1946 and Lenin the Dictator. His books have been published in over sixteen languages.

Reviews for Budapest: Between East and West

This book is a delight. Elegant writing, urbane knowledge, scholarly depth, and a beautifully-sketched cast of warlords, writers and empresses, communists and kings. Not just a superb portrait of Budapest but a history of 2,000 years of Central Europe. * Simon Sebag Montefiore * [Budapest is] magnificent, a really fine history. I was completely swept up in it. It's full of fascinating insights from an author with this city in his blood. Colourful detail and anecdote make it an exciting and often very entertaining read. Victor Sebestyen brings the key heroes and villains in Budapest's history to life. It's vivid, engaging and page-turning. * Victoria Hislop * Victor Sebestyen's Budapest is a compelling portrait of one of the most important cities in Europe. Full of sharp insights, elegant writing and vivid characters, it is a magisterial work spanning 2,000 years from the Romans to the present day. * Andrew Roberts * The task Victor Sebestyen sets himself is to explain both the 'boundless blindness' (in the words of Crown Prince Rudolf) and the 'extraordinary courage' (in Sebestyen's own) that have led Hungary to make the choices she has. The result is highly readable ... [Sebestyen] is excellent on the interwar regent Miklos Horthy. In fact he is excellent on 20th-century Hungary generally. It is a complex subject, but Sebestyen has written about it before, and his hand is very sure. * SPECTATOR * The most accessible and authoritative history of the city in a generation. -- Rory Maclean * TLS * Sebestyen's history of Budapest is full of fascinating facts ... The narrative swings back and forth between the broad sweep of Hungary's past and the almost tangible sense of the city: its streets, its people and its cafes - where the revolution of 1848 began and the words of the national anthem were written. The book ends with 1989, the fall of communism and the emergence of a young firebrand named Viktor Orban. For anyone seeking background on Hungary's recent history, this is an excellent place to start. -- Alix Kroeger * NEW STATESMAN *

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