Victor Sebestyen

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AN ECONOMIST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • A vivid and enthralling account of the historical and cultural events that defined Budapest, a unique city in the heart of Europe, on the fault line between East and West—from the critically acclaimed author of Lenin

“A compelling portrait of one of the most important cities in Europe. Full of sharp insights, elegant writing and vivid characters.” —Andrew Roberts, author of The Chief

Victor Sebestyen has written a sweeping, colorful and immersive history of the capital of Hungary, from the fifth century to the present day: a metropolis whose location in Europe has marked it as a crucial city—at times rich and prosperous, at times enduring unbearable hardship. It has stood at the center of the world-changing historical developments for hundreds of years: the Muslim invasion, The Reformation, both World Wars, fascism, the Holocaust and Communism.

Sebestyen mixes colorful details and anecdotes about the people, streets and neighborhoods of his hometown with its rich cultural legacy of literature, music, and architecture. He shows how its people have shifted culturally, politically and emotionally between East and West, through many revolutions, bloody battles, uprisings, and wars of conquest won and lost. He vividly brings to life the many rulers: the ruthless early Magyar, Hun, and Mongol chieftains, celebrated medieval kings and princes, Ottoman Turks, and the Hapsburgs, including the beloved Empress Elisabeth (“Sisi”). We also learn about colorful figures in politics, the arts and the sciences, among them Theodor Herzl, father of modern political Zionism; film pioneer Alexander Korda who held court with the director of Casablanca, Michael Curtiz, young reporter Billy Wilder, and photographer Robert Capa in the glamorous New York Café still going today; Edward Teller, inventor of the H bomb; and Countess Elisabeth Báthory, a cousin of the King of Poland, who became a serial killer, among many others.

Sebestyen’s compelling history of Budapest is a lively page-turner as well as being uniquely revelatory and authoritative account of one of the most important cities of Europe.

Product details

ISBN-13: 9780593317563

Number of pages: 432

Format: Hardback

Imprint: Pantheon

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