Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America

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Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America
By Kati Marton
Simon & Schuster, 2009
288 pp. $26.00
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Marton, an American author and award-winning journalist, recounts the harrowing experiences of her Hungarian parents under Nazi, and then communist, rule. Endre and Ilona Marton were well-known journalists in Budapest, he for the Associated Press and she for United Press. By the early 1950s, they were the last permanently accredited independent journalists behind the Iron Curtain. They were arrested in 1955 after an informant in the American legation exposed Endre for transmitting a copy of the Hungarian government's 1954 budget, officially a state secret. Imprisoned in 1955 and then pardoned in 1957 by a beleaguered regime, the Martons and their two daughters, Kati and Julia, found refuge in the United States, where Endre resumed his career as a respected Associated Press correspondent, now covering the State Department. From secret police files and numerous interviews, Kati Marton re-creates the "routine terror" under which her parents lived and worked in Hungary. She reveals how her parents were "spied on and betrayed by friends, colleagues, even their children's babysitter." In short, "someone was watching them, or listening to them, during most of their waking hours. Of their private lives, there remained virtually none." Under the stressful life imposed on them, the Martons suffered some professional and personal dents in their otherwise courageous behavior. Kati Marton's gripping account of personal triumph over daunting odds is also a compelling reminder of the evil and destructive force of totalitarianism.