In This Review

Vanished by the Danube: Peace, War, Revolution, and Flight to the West
Vanished by the Danube: Peace, War, Revolution, and Flight to the West
By Charles Farkas
State University of New York Press, 2013, 490 pp

This memoir is like a photo album of images from Farkas’ life arrayed alongside all the contextual details of the four decades of Hungarian history the author covers. Farkas was born in Hungary in 1925, trained as a lawyer, and left the country as part of the post-1956 exodus, ending up as a library director in a small community in upstate New York. As the relatively privileged son of landlords, he spent his youth like many boys of his age and social class: playing imaginary games, biking, chasing girls, and struggling with school. But what makes his account interesting is the incredible detail with which he relates events, down to the food served, the songs played, and the jokes told at parties. Hardship arrived with World War II, when he and his classmates were conscripted into a labor battalion to dig defensive trenches in Transylvania. Their lives were upended again with the coming of communism, and once more when the Soviets quickly crushed the momentary hope inspired by the Hungarian revolt of 1956.