Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union
By Laszlo Borhi
Central European University Press, 2004, 354 pp.
From the wealth of new Cold War history comes insight into how it looked, felt, and was for third parties. Borhi opens the Hungarian archives for English readers and tells from a Hungarian perspective the familiar stories of the end of World War II, the imposition of the Soviet model on Eastern Europe, and the explosion of 1956. Not only does this yield new detail that considerably complicates the stark narrative of the Cold War years, but it also puts motivations and events in a new light. Borhi lays heavy stress, for example, on the economic reasons of Stalin and his successors for subjugating a country such as Hungary. Then there are the surprises, as in his day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the run-up to the Soviet intervention in the fall of 1956: how conflicted, confused, and misled Khrushchev and the Politburo were over the decision, and the degree to which the coincidental French-British assault on Egypt played a causal role.