Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Overview

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was perhaps the most dramatic single event of the Cold War and a major turning point in history. Though it ended unsuccessfully, the spontaneous uprising of Hungarians against their country's Communist party and the Soviet occupation forces in the wake of Stalin's death demonstrated to the world at large the failure of Communism. In full view of the Western media?and therefore the world?the Russians were obliged to use force on a vast scale to subdue armed students, factory ...

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Overview

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was perhaps the most dramatic single event of the Cold War and a major turning point in history. Though it ended unsuccessfully, the spontaneous uprising of Hungarians against their country's Communist party and the Soviet occupation forces in the wake of Stalin's death demonstrated to the world at large the failure of Communism. In full view of the Western media—and therefore the world—the Russians were obliged to use force on a vast scale to subdue armed students, factory workers, and intellectuals in the streets of a major European capital.

In October 1956, Michael Korda and three fellow Oxford undergraduates traveled to Budapest in a beat-up Volkswagen to bring badly needed medicine to the hospitals—and to participate, at street level, in one of the great battles of the postwar era. Journey to a Revolution is at once history and a compelling memoir—the author's riveting account of the course of the revolution, from its heroic beginnings to the sad martyrdom of its end.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Korda, the former editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, marries history and memoir in this vivid account of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. After sketching Hungary’s unhappy past, he recalls how he and three fellow Oxford students drove from London to Budapest in a rusty VW packed with much needed medical supplies. The son of a Hungarian émigré, Korda had never visited his father’s homeland, but, having been raised on stories of Spanish Civil War heroics, he was “determined not to miss out” on the adventure offered by a similarly stirring cause. Korda and his companions fell in with the students manning the barricades, and he describes what they witnessed with unflinching precision: the collapse of a building riddled by shelling (the “unacknowledged spectator sport of the twentieth century”) and tank turrets scattered “like huge crushed beetles.”
Publishers Weekly
In October 1956 the Hungarian people spontaneously rose up against an oppressive Soviet-imposed Communist regime and basked briefly in the light of freedom. In this history lesson-cum- memoir, Korda (Another Life) stitches an appealing retelling of his journey of discovery into the larger context of the desperate, short-lived Hungarian revolt. Part hard-nosed history lesson, part affectionate celebration of Hungary and Hungarian culture, and part sepia-tinged memoir, the book attempts to pull back the veil on the post-WWII machinations of the victorious Allies and expose how such diplomatic wheeling and dealing can devastate an entire nation. The first two-thirds are strong, with both a comprehensive overview of the postwar geopolitical scene and a finely tuned take on the specifics of the Hungarian situation. Korda's account of his own journey there during the revolution at age 24 is strangely flat. Along the way from the pastoral comfort of his native England to the rubble and corpse-strewn streets of Budapest, he has some near misses with life-threatening danger. At the border between Austria and Hungary, Korda and his mates encounter a machine gun-toting guard who offers them barack, homemade peach brandy, and a warning about the invading Russians: "there are some very bad guys in Gy r." While the tale at times has difficulty rising from the page, Korda's story is a worthy read. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Korda's lively personal account is complemented by Gati's more academic title. Born and raised in Hungary, Gati (European studies, Johns Hopkins Univ.; The Bloc That Failed) was a young journalist in Budapest at the time. Using hundreds of documents in the archives in Budapest, Moscow, and Washington, he has written a thorough and scholarly analysis of the revolution. An expert in Soviet and Eastern European politics, Gati seeks answers to such questions as why the Soviets changed course and decided to intervene in Hungary after initially pulling out, what effect the attitude of the United States had on the outcome of the revolution, and what role other world events played in forcing Hungary to be a lower priority to the West. Both authors have written honest, unromanticized accounts of those tragic days. They both agree that it was a sort of "David and Goliath" struggle and that although the revolution failed, it ultimately contributed to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. Gati's book is clearly the more scholarly, but both works are accessible and engaging. Recommended for public and academic libraries. [Victor Sebestyen's Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution is forthcoming from Pantheon. Ed.] Maria C. Bagshaw, Lake Erie Coll., Painesville, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A veteran writer and editor recalls his youthful, quixotic car trip to Budapest to deliver medical relief supplies during the brief Hungarian uprising against the Soviets in the fall of 1956. A novelist, historian and memoirist who has written gracefully about a range of subjects (Ulysses S. Grant, 2004; Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer, 1996; etc.), Korda turns his focus on the events of October and November 1956, when, in his view, the first cracks appeared in the Iron Curtain. Korda takes an unusual approach here: Some of his story is simply a swift summary of the Hungarian Revolution (admittedly adapted from more comprehensive histories); and some of it is his memoir of a sort of loopy, larkish car trip he and some similarly idealistic and foolish friends from England took into Hungary at the very moment tens of thousands of Soviet tanks were rolling into the country to squash the tiny (and unlikely) flower of freedom that was beginning to bloom amid Communist oppression. Korda makes a couple of key points. First, the brutality of the Soviet response cured many European and American leftists of their Communist sympathies. Second, the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, which was occurring at the same time, snuffed out the small flame of Hungarian hope that the United States would intervene in their country to oppose the Soviets. The author's understandable anti-USSR attitude is evident throughout, even in his descriptions of Soviet diplomats with their bullet heads, gold teeth and shapeless, colorless suits. The most gripping parts of his story are, unsurprisingly, the personal ones. He sees corpses in the street, hears artillery shells land nearby, watches buildings implode, faces unsmilingSoviet tank officers who point their weapons at him. Chastened and frightened, he and his friends eventually depart the country in a British convoy. A harrowing and horrifying tale told in spare and poignant prose-sometimes bitter, sometimes ironic, always powerful.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060772628
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/21/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 619,649
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Korda is the author of Ulysses S. Grant, Ike, Hero, and Charmed Lives. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He took part in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and on its fiftieth anniversary was awarded the Order of Merit of the People's Republic of Hungary. He and his wife, Margaret, make their home in Dutchess County, New York.

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Read an Excerpt



Journey to a Revolution


A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956


By Michael Korda


HarperCollins


Copyright © 2006

Michael Korda

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-06-077261-1



Chapter One


The Idol with Feet of Clay

Few things stand out less clearly at the time than a turning
point in history, at any rate when one is living through it.
As a rule it is only in retrospect that an event can be seen
clearly as a turning point. Historians write as if they were
looking at the past in the rearview mirror of a moving car;
and, of course, picking the "turning points" of history is
something of a specialty for many historians-in some cases,
the more obscure, the better. Turning points, however, are
much harder to recognize as they occur, when one is looking
ahead through the windshield.

To take an example, we now recognize that the Battle of
Britain was a turning point in World War II-fewer than 2,000
young fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force handed Hitler his
first defeat, and ensured that whatever else was going to
happen in 1940, Great Britain would not be invaded-but those
who lived through the Battle of Britain day by day did not
perceive it as a decisive, clear-cut event. The fighter pilots
were too exhausted and battle-weary to care; and the public,
while buoyed by the victories of the R.A.F. in the sky over
southern England, was still struggling to come to grips with
the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk
and the collapse of France, and would soon be plunged into the
first stages of what later came to be known as the blitz.
Those who-as children-saw the white contrails of the aircraft
swirling overhead in the blue summer sky, or watched the shiny
brass cartridge cases come tumbling down by the thousands, had
no sense of being witnesses to a "turning point"; nor did
their elders. It was only much later that this turning point
began to be perceived as one, and that Battle of Britain Day
was added to the list of annual British patriotic
celebrations.

In much the same way, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, while
it was clearly a major event, was not perceived as a turning
point in history until much later, when the unexpected
disintegration of the Soviet empire in eastern Europe,
followed very shortly by the total collapse of the Soviet
Union itself, could be traced back to the consequences of the
uprising in the streets of Budapest.

The three weeks of the Hungarian Revolution ended, of course,
in a victory for the Soviet Union, as everybody knows, but not
since Pyrrhus himself has there been so Pyrrhic a victory. The
Hungarians had chipped the first crack in the imposing facade
of Stalinist communism and had exposed the Soviet Union's
domination of eastern Europe for the brutal sham it was. For
the first time, people in the West-even those on the left-had
seen the true face of Soviet power, and it shocked them.

The Hungarians lost, but in the long run the Russians lost
more. Communism became much harder to sell as a humane
alternative to capitalism (or to western European democratic
socialism); and the Russians themselves, badly shaken by the
size and the ferocity of the uprising they had put down with
such overwhelming force, and dismayed by the attention it
received in the world's media, never attempted to repeat the
experience in Europe. From time to time, the tanks might be
sent rumbling into the streets again, as they were in Prague
in 1968, but they would not henceforth open fire on civilians.
Without apparently having given the matter much thought, the
Russians discarded the trump card in their hand: the belief on
the part of eastern Europeans that the Red Army would shoot
them down mercilessly if they rose against the puppet
governments the Soviet Union had imposed on them at the end of
World War II.

More dangerous still, those governments themselves, whose
ultimate legitimacy rested on the threat of armed intervention
by the Soviet Union, ceased to believe that it would ever
intervene again to support them with force the way it did in
Hungary in 1956-and if the Russians would not, then how, when
push came to shove, were the "people's governments" of Poland,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic,
Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania to remain in power over the
long haul?

This is always a serious problem of empire, by no means
limited to the Soviet Union. In 1919, the United Kingdom used
violence, albeit on a considerably smaller scale, against the
congress party in India when General Dyer ordered his troops
to open fire on demonstrators in Amritsar, killing 379 of them
at Jallianwallah Bagh, and wounding perhaps three times as
many. The massacre horrified the British-except for the
impenitent General Dyer and his supporters-and the result was
an increasing reluctance on the part of the British government
to use force against the congress party at all. In
consequence, the threat of armed violence-one of the pillars
on which the raj stood-gradually became more and more remote
and unlikely. The Indians ceased to fear it, the British grew
increasingly unwilling to use it on a large scale, and
independence for India thus became only a matter of time.

In much the same way, the Hungarians' uprising against their
own unpopular government and the government's Soviet masters,
while it failed, fatally shook the confidence of the Soviet
government in its ability to control the countries of eastern
Europe-a confidence that had already been weakened by Stalin's
death, by the increasingly (and defiantly) independent
attitude of Tito's Yugoslavia, and by the widening ideological
rift between the Russian and the Chinese communist parties.

After 1956, the Soviet Union found itself in an increasingly
uncomfortable and ambivalent position vis-à-vis the eastern
European "people's democracies," since the Soviet leadership
was desperately trying to dismantle the remnants of Stalinism
at home and bring about a "thaw" in Russian life, while at the
same time continuing to prop up unrepentantly Stalinist
leaders in the Soviet Union's client states....

(Continues...)





Excerpted from Journey to a Revolution
by Michael Korda
Copyright © 2006 by Michael Korda.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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First Chapter

Journey to a Revolution
A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

Chapter One

The Idol with Feet of Clay

Few things stand out less clearly at the time than a turning point in history, at any rate when one is living through it. As a rule it is only in retrospect that an event can be seen clearly as a turning point. Historians write as if they were looking at the past in the rearview mirror of a moving car; and, of course, picking the "turning points" of history is something of a specialty for many historians—in some cases, the more obscure, the better. Turning points, however, are much harder to recognize as they occur, when one is looking ahead through the windshield.

To take an example, we now recognize that the Battle of Britain was a turning point in World War II—fewer than 2,000 young fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force handed Hitler his first defeat, and ensured that whatever else was going to happen in 1940, Great Britain would not be invaded—but those who lived through the Battle of Britain day by day did not perceive it as a decisive, clear-cut event. The fighter pilots were too exhausted and battle-weary to care; and the public, while buoyed by the victories of the R.A.F. in the sky over southern England, was still struggling to come to grips with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk and the collapse of France, and would soon be plunged into the first stages of what later came to be known as the blitz. Those who—as children—saw the white contrails of the aircraft swirling overhead in the blue summer sky, or watched the shiny brass cartridge cases cometumbling down by the thousands, had no sense of being witnesses to a "turning point"; nor did their elders. It was only much later that this turning point began to be perceived as one, and that Battle of Britain Day was added to the list of annual British patriotic celebrations.

In much the same way, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, while it was clearly a major event, was not perceived as a turning point in history until much later, when the unexpected disintegration of the Soviet empire in eastern Europe, followed very shortly by the total collapse of the Soviet Union itself, could be traced back to the consequences of the uprising in the streets of Budapest.

The three weeks of the Hungarian Revolution ended, of course, in a victory for the Soviet Union, as everybody knows, but not since Pyrrhus himself has there been so Pyrrhic a victory. The Hungarians had chipped the first crack in the imposing facade of Stalinist communism and had exposed the Soviet Union's domination of eastern Europe for the brutal sham it was. For the first time, people in the West—even those on the left—had seen the true face of Soviet power, and it shocked them.

The Hungarians lost, but in the long run the Russians lost more. Communism became much harder to sell as a humane alternative to capitalism (or to western European democratic socialism); and the Russians themselves, badly shaken by the size and the ferocity of the uprising they had put down with such overwhelming force, and dismayed by the attention it received in the world's media, never attempted to repeat the experience in Europe. From time to time, the tanks might be sent rumbling into the streets again, as they were in Prague in 1968, but they would not henceforth open fire on civilians. Without apparently having given the matter much thought, the Russians discarded the trump card in their hand: the belief on the part of eastern Europeans that the Red Army would shoot them down mercilessly if they rose against the puppet governments the Soviet Union had imposed on them at the end of World War II.

More dangerous still, those governments themselves, whose ultimate legitimacy rested on the threat of armed intervention by the Soviet Union, ceased to believe that it would ever intervene again to support them with force the way it did in Hungary in 1956—and if the Russians would not, then how, when push came to shove, were the "people's governments" of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania to remain in power over the long haul?

This is always a serious problem of empire, by no means limited to the Soviet Union. In 1919, the United Kingdom used violence, albeit on a considerably smaller scale, against the congress party in India when General Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on demonstrators in Amritsar, killing 379 of them at Jallianwallah Bagh, and wounding perhaps three times as many. The massacre horrified the British—except for the impenitent General Dyer and his supporters—and the result was an increasing reluctance on the part of the British government to use force against the congress party at all. In consequence, the threat of armed violence—one of the pillars on which the raj stood—gradually became more and more remote and unlikely. The Indians ceased to fear it, the British grew increasingly unwilling to use it on a large scale, and independence for India thus became only a matter of time.

In much the same way, the Hungarians' uprising against their own unpopular government and the government's Soviet masters, while it failed, fatally shook the confidence of the Soviet government in its ability to control the countries of eastern Europe—a confidence that had already been weakened by Stalin's death, by the increasingly (and defiantly) independent attitude of Tito's Yugoslavia, and by the widening ideological rift between the Russian and the Chinese communist parties.

After 1956, the Soviet Union found itself in an increasingly uncomfortable and ambivalent position vis-à-vis the eastern European "people's democracies," since the Soviet leadership was desperately trying to dismantle the remnants of Stalinism at home and bring about a "thaw" in Russian life, while at the same time continuing to prop up unrepentantly Stalinist leaders in the Soviet Union's client states . . . .

Journey to a Revolution
A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956
. Copyright © by Michael Korda. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Half of a good read

    I find myself to be an admirer of fictional writing. As a result, when confronted with Michael Korda¿s Journey to a Revolution, I found myself hesitant of reading. Despite my general distaste for his form of writing, I discovered many aspects of his novel positive, alongside various negatives. The book begins with an overview of Soviet history leading up to the Hungarian Revolution. While the historical overview provides insight into his later account of his trip delivering medicine to Hungary, I found it to be rather long and repetitive. For example, Michael Korda mentions the influence of the Hungarian Revolution in the future fall of the iron curtain in his first chapter, ¿The Idol with Feet of Clay.¿ However, within the chapter he repeats the same fact well over five times. The historical portion of the novel is also far too large in comparison to Korda¿s personal account of his trip to Hungary only until page 112 do we first begin to see Korda¿s preparation for the journey to Budapest in his VW. Mind you, Journey to a Revolution ends on page 205. The novel, in its entirety, was written in a very elegant and scholarly tone, and in such a way that it was still understandable to the average student. Korda also uses both personal and historical references, which both add to his overall credibility as we are given information regarding a nation that is generally unheard of. Also, throughout his diction of pre-revolution history, he did not neglect in including images. I admit, I am somewhat ignorant of eastern history, specifically Russian therefore I found the use of images to be very helpful in piecing together the historical portion of the novel. As Korda¿s historical overview comes to a close, he reopens with his preparation to travel to Budapest with medical supplies. I found this latter portion of his novel to be the most interesting. Though it serves its purpose of enriching the reader in the images of war-torn Hungary, it also tends to put a smile on your face. For example, when Korda is told precisely how to get his camera film back home from his trip: ¿The man from MI6 leaned close to me, and in a conspiratorial voice said, `French letters, old boy. Put two film cartridges in a French letter, tie up the end, then stick the whole thing up your bottom. Simple as pie.¿ He sipped his martini for a moment. `Helps to lubricate it a bit first, you know. Vaseline, that kind of thing.¿ It was a breath of fresh air to hear the story from an eye witness to the event, and a credible one at that. This transition from a historical on look to a personal narration through the revolution added further to his well researched documentation of the revolution as well as the events leading up to it. In conclusion, I found the book both informative, and interesting. Though it has its low points, the novel picks up in pace as it shifts from a historical perspective, to Korda¿s personal narration of his journey through the revolution. I would recommend the novel to those interested in reading a historical and personal account of the Hungarian Revolution.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Journey Review

    Journey to a Revolution an interesting book. The first section provided a history lesson about Hungary, such as declaring war towards United States and Great Britain in World War II, I agreed with the author that this was the worst political mistake Hungary could¿ve make. Reading about historical facts brought curiosity and expanded my knowledge about other countries in their effort. The second section, although it had minimal action, provided suspense when Michael Korda and his American and British friends traveled to Hungary, where each patrol warned his company to stay away as they appeared closer to Budapest. If they could only safely travel to Budapest and deliver the medical supplies with no casualties! An interesting read although heavy on the historical facts, it does provide insight on another European's perspective in the revolution. Recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2010

    Very well done

    In the first half of the book the author did a very good job of describing the history of Hungary to set up the events of the revolution. In the second half of the book, his first hand account of the revolution was interesting because he was able to describe the events and people that he actually came in contact with. I enjoyed the book because the author described something that I had no knowledge of in a way that was interesting and readable. The book had a very nice flow to it and was very informative, yet not super-saturated with needless details. I would recommend this book to any fan of general history, European histor, or simply a good story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Journey to a Revolution

    ¿Journey to a Revolution¿ is a story of four young students who are undergraduates at a university, including the author, who took off to Budapest. It is told with great detail, suspense, humor, and even some rage. This all took place during 1956 the purpose was to bring popular medicine to Budapest hospitals and to participate in one of the great battles of history. Michael Korda, the author, paints a stunning and detailed picture of the events and the people. I could picture the characters as if I were there. It is very detailed but sometimes too in depth that it got boring, because there was too much information when it should have just gotten straight to the point. Michael explains major issues to the point to which the British and Americans were involved in making the Hungarians feel they could expect military support from the West. He describes very well, day by day, the route of the revolution, from its heroic beginnings to the sad ending. 'Journey to a Revolution' is not a terrible book but it is certainly not something that caught my attention and made me want to keep reading. The first half of the book provides a historical, and more political viewpoint on the events leading up to the revolution which was ultimately crushed by Soviet tanks and troops while the British and French were off on a plan to retake the Suez canal from Egypt. I found Michael Korda's memories of his youthful trip/adventure in Hungary at the time of the Revolution very interesting but you would only like this book if you like history. If you like to learn about history you will definitely like this book, because almost the whole first half of the book is about the political history of Hungary, from the beginning of the 1900s up to the 1956 revolution. Although the book is described as being about the revolution, it is really mostly about the past. Don¿t get me wrong some of the historical facts mentioned are very interesting and you do learn a lot from the book but I am more of an action or comedy person. It had an even amount of uninteresting facts as well as some fascinating information. It was easy to read and follow along but at times some of the language used was confusing. I honestly didn¿t think I was going to be able to finish reading the entire book after reading only the first few pages but towards the middle of the book is when it got good. Journey to a Revolution made me realize never to give up on a book even if you seem uninterested in it because after all it could turn out to be the best book ever. In this case it was not the best book I have ever read but it is certainly one that had a great ending and was one worth reading after all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Korda Colbert

    Journey To A Revolution Journal To A Revolution tells the daring story of Michael Korda¿s well intentioned but all together foolish adventure behind the Iron Curtain. Offering an outsider¿s perspective on the Hungarian revolution of 1956, Korda`s narrative is surprisingly interesting. The author¿s control of the English language is impressive and he frequently sprinkles the narrative with wit. Looking at this one would expect the novel to be a great piece of literature, but that¿s hardly the case. Journey To A Revolution has a strong author, a compelling true story, and literally hundreds of pages of facts to back it up. So then¿what is the problem? Well, Journey To A Revolution is a novel that finds itself irrevocably mired in a Catch-22. The first part of the novel is a (let me phrase this delicately) thorough history lesson on eastern Europe, specifically Hungary and Russia. It covers the Hungarian people¿s contribution to world culture, how it was bullied time and again by its larger neighbors, and how Russia is a tumor to the European people. Doesn¿t sound too bad does it? In fact this entire segment of the novel can be summed up as thus: 1. Russia is bad 2. Hungary is great 3. Russia is bad. Now I¿ll agree that Korda managed to phrase this in altogether more elegant prose but that is essentially what it boils down to. Those three points repeated again and again for one hundred and twenty pages. That is a hundred and twenty pages out of two hundred and five. Literally fifty eight percent of the novel was summarized with six words. So then why not just cut out this part? Well, because without it the average reader wouldn¿t fully appreciate not just the bravery Michael Korda had to have to stick his head into the Russian bear¿s mouth, but also of the tremendous courage the Hungarian people had in their effort to liberate themselves from Soviet oppression. This stems from the fact that American public school systems don¿t focus on the history of nations of whose histories did not in some way intertwine with America¿s. If you cut out the history than the story doesn¿t mean much to the average reader. However if the history is kept to the extent it is then the majority of readers won¿t even make it past that part. This isn¿t to say Korda is not a good author, in fact it just underscores the fact that probably is. Michael Korda¿s Journey To A Revolution might have been extraordinarily well researched but just was not an enjoyable read. Korda might be a renown journalist, but to be quite honest I cannot shake the feeling that a pseudo journalist, say perhaps Stephen Colbert, might not have done a better job. Not to say fiction is more entertaining than history, but that history can be framed in such a way that is far less tedious.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Journey to a Revolution

    Don William¿s Jr. once said that ¿the road of life has many twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lesson comes from the journey, not the destination¿. Michael Korda¿s Journey to a Revolution demonstrates that choices and chances individuals take in life can open up many opportunities. Unlike the majority of readers, this book made me question myself and the path I aspire to take in life. The historical events and experiences that are described in the book are interesting, but what I found more remarkable was the book¿s ability for me to further discover myself. The experiences that Korda went through obviously helped him become the person he is today and from this I learned a vital lesson. Everyday you hear people preaching that conquering fear and taking risks help a person to grow. In the past, more often then not I overlooked these people and continued on with the things that came my way. Only now do I truly understand the message they are trying to tell me. The encounters that present themselves in everyday life or the act of stepping out of my comfort zone to complete a task are all helping to shape my experience in this world. Throughout this historical memoir, Korda describes key dates and diplomatic issues of the Hungarian Revolution. Thinking back to my own memoir, I realized how easily I can identify the defining moments in my life that changed me as a person. Similar to Korda¿s reasons for traveling from England to Budapest, I learned of my desire to help people around me that are less fortunate. Aiding people has also shaped my academic choices. I aspire to provide an environment in which individuals can optimally function and get the best out of themselves. Most importantly, the risk that Korda and his three fellow Oxford companions take when moving out of their comfort zone and limiting the luxuries they have in life is the single factor that kept me from closing the cover and pushing this book aside. To have the courage and will to travel through a war-torn country when everyone else is trying to escape is commendable. It also made me picture myself in such a situation and then I realized in a modified version, I am. The courage it takes to leave my homeland Australia, my family and everything I know behind, in order to expand my horizons and reach my full potential is courageous and extremely scary. Yet at the same time it is incredibly rewarding. Interestingly enough, not only did I explore my own path while reading this book, I found myself comparing Korda¿s journey to that of Elie Wiesel as he describes in his autobiography Night, who is mentioned in Korda¿s book. Compared to Wiesel¿s book, Korda¿s journey is rather slow and uneventful and his experiences are through the eyes of a witness, not a victim of war. Through the eyes of Korda, the events of the Hungarian Revolution were not expressed as powerful as they could have been. The set of circumstances were completely different. Wiesel documents his experiences during 1945 when he was a child being tortured in numerous concentration camps. He describes the gory details, such as watching his father die in his arms. This is the difference between the two authors. In this case, presenting issues and events from a different perspective allowed for a broader range of knowledge to be expressed. Being a volunteer, who made a personal choice to put himself at risk in order to help others, deserves praise. He helped prove that in life, the journey is more important than the destination. In turn, helping me to appreciate my own journey to discovery and create my own revolution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2006

    Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956

    A well wrtitten book, presenting a fascinationg close-up look at one of the most tragic events of the Cold War. A recommended read for anyone not familiar with events of late-October and early November 1956. I found a strange error in this well-researched book when the author refers on several occasions to Hungary's common boarder with West Germany. What map was he looking at? The fact that T.G. Masaryk and not Edvard Benes was the leader of the Czechs at the end of WWI, as is written on page 48, is not relevant in the context of this book. (Benes did succeed Masaryk as presdident of Czechoslovakia in the 1930s.) Harry R. Kirsch

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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