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Could it have been different?

Eric Hobsbawm: Budapest 1956, 16 November 2006

Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 
by Michael Korda.
HarperCollins, 221 pp., $24.95, September 2006, 0 06 077261 1
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Twelve Days: Revolution 1956 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 340 pp., £20, August 2006, 0 297 84731 7
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A Good Comrade: Janos Kadar, Communism and Hungary 
by Roger Gough.
Tauris, 323 pp., £24.50, August 2006, 1 84511 058 7
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Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt 
by Charles Gati.
Stanford, 264 pp., £24.95, September 2006, 0 8047 5606 6
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... jaunt, they are historically serious and not only recollect but analyse emotion in tranquillity. Victor Sebestyen’s Twelve Days is well documented, based on up to date knowledge, and vividly written. Roger Gough’s important biography of Kádár shows considerable understanding of a difficult, and in the end haunted, historical figure who ...

They’re just not ready

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev Betrayed, 7 January 2010

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment 
by Stephen Kotkin, with Jan Gross.
Modern Library, 240 pp., $24, October 2009, 978 0 679 64276 3
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Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 451 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 85223 0
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There Is No Freedom without Bread: 1989 and the Civil War that Brought Down Communism 
by Constantine Pleshakov.
Farrar, Straus, 289 pp., $26, November 2009, 978 0 374 28902 7
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1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe 
by Mary Elise Sarotte.
Princeton, 321 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 14306 4
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... away.) And most of them, to be fair, are at least striving to find some new and striking analysis. Victor Sebestyen’s book, although it has sharp perceptions, is not really a new wide-angle survey of why these revolutions happened or what the year’s consequences were. Instead, he provides a detailed and useful narrative, country by country rather than ...

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