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Enemies of the people by Kati Marton
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Enemies of the people (2009)

by Kati Marton

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1649107,759 (3.5)11

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Reading some of the comments on the three-starred and fewer-starred reviews here is surprising. One claim is that it is badly written. In what universe? I can agree there is perhaps a bit of dryness, but that's it. The story's substance more than makes up for this.

Another criticism, that Marton is repetitive. Not so much, actually. What Marton does is periodically reflect on her parents given the new info she has learned.

At least one person seemed surprised it was a memoir. Another wanted more info about life in Communist Hungary. Exactly how much info can one book (that's not a textbook) give? This book gives a detailed account of one family's, and many individual persons', lives in Hungary. This is not a census in narrative form.

Meanwhile, no one has seemed to understand the point of how very complicated all the persons in the book were. Secret Police harassing the parents and the parents later giving shelter to one of those very secret police, for example. U.S. diplomats who befriended the Martons and kept in mind, nonetheless, the idea that they might be spies for Hungary. The status of the Martons in the U.S. It wasn't an all-encompassing embrace by their new country: both the FBI and Hungary's Secret Police spied on them for years. These are complexities that shed light on what it means to be a person who does more than go to work and shop for groceries and watch soccer or football games. We can learn from it, but instead we're writing these limited reviews and comments. Some of the most important stuff here has flown over the heads of a great many - if not most - of the people who say they've read the book.

Of course, there are problems. As a reader, I felt Marton frustratingly gives a pass to her father on his treatment of his wife. But, hey, he's her father; she has a right to her viewpoint; and, I don't know everything about their family relationships. So, it's a point of gossip rather than a way to evaluate the book. One commenter felt Marton hasn't worked out her issues with her parents. So she shouldn't write a book? We're readers, not Marton's therapists.

Secondly, there were two or three translations that were inaccurate, which is curious since she is a native speaker. Thirdly, Marton does not use diacritical marks on her many Hungarian words and names. This is unfortunate and, to a Hungarian speaker, very obviously missing. If the book is going to exhibit the language, particularly one that so few speak, it should accurately depict it. It's puzzling why Marton failed to do this.

Overall, I found this book absorbing and a valuable insight on this bit of history and on human nature.
( )
  anieva | Jun 1, 2013 |
I was mesmerized by this book. As a younger baby boomer, I don't remember the Hungarian Revolution, but I have a good friend who fled Hungary when he was 8 during this time. He's discussed his memories but Kati brought them to life. She puts everything in the context of people -- there are only a few truly evil people (Stalin and his puppet leaders) but good people did not good things (her Mother's best friend had promised to take Kati and her sister in if her parents were arrested -- and then backed out when the time came out of sheer fear)- driving home how oppressive, how degrading, how soul-deadening the communist regime was for those who lived behind the Iron Curtain. Even the privileged ones (and due to her parents status as AP and UP reporters—which put them constantly in danger and ultimately led to their improsonment—Kati lived quite well), went in fear of their lives. And as the story of her parents' arrest, trial, and subsequent release show, the concept of justice, fair play, honor were totally ignored; the needs of the state triumphed. A great example of a story that should not be forgotten.. ( )
  NellieMc | Feb 3, 2011 |
A very interesting subject and one worth reading to expand one's understanding of life under the Communist rule during the Iron Curtain in Hungary. The author definitely had respect, love and admiration for her parents who were an interesting story of survival under a difficult government but also their lives in general as both mother and father survived the advancement of the Nazi regime into their country during WWII. For the most part, the author tries to give a chronological retelling of her parents defiance of Communist rule in Hungary but at times it does become tedious as she returns over and over to the same event. Having grown up at the same time as the author, but in America, it was interesting to compare the difference. ( )
  kmmt48 | Sep 8, 2010 |
i agree with reviewer 4. very ironic to learn about your parents from scummy secret police files. is it european not to talk about your life? my father never did. found out everything from his sister but i had to keep asking. no police files! my mom was more forthcoming but many things were kept to herself. ( )
  mahallett | Aug 1, 2010 |
From memory, their memoirs, interviews and most importantly the Hungarian Secret Service Files and FBI files, the author tells the story of her journalist parents who lived in Budapest from 1947 to 1958 before immigrating to America. It's a fascinating story. I've tended to think the cold war was largely contrived. I have to adjust that concept. ( )
  snash | Jul 5, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
To watch [Marton] read her parents' file and glimpse old snapshots of herself, all preserved by the state that would have crushed her parents if it could, is to watch her remember, and maybe even discover, why she is who she is.
added by Shortride | editNewsweek, Louisa Thomas (Oct 26, 2009)
 
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For Mama and Papa - who led us on our journey. And for Richard.
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"It would be better if you came alone this time," Dr. Katalin Kutrucz, the head of the Hungarian Secret Police Archives, suggested on the phone.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Renowned author Kati Marton tells how her journalist parents survived the Nazis in Budapest and were imprisoned by the Soviets.

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