Hungarian Studies Newsletter, 1975 (3. évfolyam, 6-8. szám)

1975 / 6. szám

HUNGARIAN STUDIES NEWSLETTER _____________BOOKS____________ Shawcross, William. CRIME AND COMPROMISE: JANOS KÁDÁR AND THE POLITICS OF HUNGARY SINCE REVOLUTION. New York: E.P. Dutton, 201 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003, 1974. 311 pages, source notes, $10.00 cloth. This is a journalist’s account of Janos (Kressinger, Czer­­manik) Kádár and the Ka'dárization of Hungary. Several details of Kadar’s life hitherto unknown to the general public are revealed. He emerges as an honest but unhappy man. “Strange ... difficult to understand, weak, uncertain and unoriginal; he is a dedicated and well-instructed Party worker who will accept, unquestioningly, his Party’s order rather than an individual who is able and eager to make his own decisions.” Nevertheless, from having been the most hated person in 1956-Hungary, he became one of the most popular leaders in the Soviet Bloc by 1974. The author speaks of Kadár’s family background, his health, party career, and finds in his life a personality resemblance to those of Attila Jo'zsef. His political success is ascribed to “a change in the national mood, brought about by the gentler way he has fingered those instruments of government which Rákosi had handled so roughly ... and by the way in which he has completely discarded some of the bludgeons in whose indiscriminate power Rákosi most gloried.” The author expresses contempt for conditions of pre-war Hungary, to which he makes occasional references. His assessment of the post-war era is not charitable either, but rests on more solid foundations of personal experience and extensive consultation. His observations encompass some of the most important socio-economic dimensions, in addition to the political perspectives of present day Hungary. Kádár’s role in the 1956 uprising, and his relationship to Khrushchev, to László Rajk, and to Imre Nagy are discussed and credit is allowed to him for the electoral reform of 1971, and for the more effective role a union may play in wage settlements now than before. The author nevertheless asserts that "the roots of Stalinism may have been buried deep in Hungary, but they have not burned out.” He writes about the decreasing number of political arrests, and the unwieldy nature of the bureaucracy. He is critical of the New Economic Mechanism and its effects on values and cultural life, and he says that “by theend of 1970 Hungarian labor had indeed become a commodity.” He speaks of art, literature, films, and the press. Of the intellectuals he says they “still have not really marked out in their minds whether the people should be given what they, the intellectuals, think they want ... or whether they should try to educate them by their work.” He makes keen sociological observations on status, prestige, prostitution, profiteering, moonlighting, and the new morali­ty. Urbanization, education, housing, suicide, abortion, youth, pop music, foreign travel, relationship to the Soviet Union are treated extensively. He sees Hungarian society once more as static. He concludes that whatever im­provements there have been, they came at a high prize. “Stalinization and Kádárization are not the only ways in which Hungary could have been transformed.” He points to neighboring Austria as a comparison. This is another book in which the publisher felt justified to save expenses by omitting diacritical marks and by tolerating frequent Hungarian misspelling. However, these annoying and at times misleading shortcomings do not lessen the value of the substance. The twenty-seven-year old author is on the staff of the London Sunday Times, and is co-author of Watergate (1973) and author of Dubcek (1971). Vardy, Steven B. HUNGARIAN HISTORIOGRAPHY AND THE GEISTGESCHICHTE SCHOOL. Cleveland: Árpád Academy, 1450 Grace Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44107, 1974. 96 pages, biblio., $4.00 paper. First publication in the series “Studies by Members of the Árpád Academy.” This is a bilingual publication in which the English text, the bibliography, and the index cover 36 pages. An introduction by Ferenc Somogyi, Secretary General of the Academy, prefaces the study, which is actually a transcript of the author’s formal lecture delivered to the Árpád Academy in 1973, and a byproduct of his extensive research soon to be resulting in a book as The History of Hungarian Historiography. The comprehensive study examines the role of the Geistgeschichte School during the interwar period in Hungary. Geistgeschichte (szellemtörte'net) is defined as an orientation which believes that social evolution is a product of “creative spirit.” It rejects the notion of the existence of “laws and objective reality in the history of human society,” but rather believes that “history is the totality of single and unique phenomena.” After tracing the development of the School and opposing currents in a developmental perspec­tive of Hungarian historiography, the author presents a description of the anti-Geistgeschichte schools of the period, such as Elemer Mályusz’ Ethnohistorical School, Ferenc Eckhart’s Legal History School, and István Hajnal’s Universal (Continued on page 2)