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

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"You are opening a Pandora's box," Marton was warned when she filed for her family's secret police fi les in Budapest. But her family history -- during both the Nazi and the Communist periods -- was too full of shadows. The files revealed terrifying truths: secret love aff airs, betrayals inside the family circle, torture and brutalities alongside acts of stunning courage "You are opening a Pandora's box," Marton was warned when she filed for her family's secret police fi les in Budapest. But her family history -- during both the Nazi and the Communist periods -- was too full of shadows. The files revealed terrifying truths: secret love aff airs, betrayals inside the family circle, torture and brutalities alongside acts of stunning courage -- and, above all, deep family love. In this true-life thriller, Kati Marton, an accomplished journalist, exposes the cruel mechanics of the Communist Terror State, using the secret police files on her journalist parents as well as dozens of interviews that reveal how her family was spied on and betrayed by friends and colleagues, and even their children's babysitter. In this moving and brave memoir, Marton searches for and finds her parents, and love. Marton relates her eyewitness account of her mother's and father's arrests in Cold War Budapest and the terrible separation that followed. She describes the pain her parents endured in prison -- isolated from each other and their children. She reveals the secret war between Washington and Moscow, in which Marton and her family were pawns in a much larger game. By the acclaimed author of "The Great Escape," "Enemies of the People" is a tour de force, an important work of history as it was lived, a narrative of multiple betrayals on both sides of the Cold War that ends with triumph and a new beginning in America.


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"You are opening a Pandora's box," Marton was warned when she filed for her family's secret police fi les in Budapest. But her family history -- during both the Nazi and the Communist periods -- was too full of shadows. The files revealed terrifying truths: secret love aff airs, betrayals inside the family circle, torture and brutalities alongside acts of stunning courage "You are opening a Pandora's box," Marton was warned when she filed for her family's secret police fi les in Budapest. But her family history -- during both the Nazi and the Communist periods -- was too full of shadows. The files revealed terrifying truths: secret love aff airs, betrayals inside the family circle, torture and brutalities alongside acts of stunning courage -- and, above all, deep family love. In this true-life thriller, Kati Marton, an accomplished journalist, exposes the cruel mechanics of the Communist Terror State, using the secret police files on her journalist parents as well as dozens of interviews that reveal how her family was spied on and betrayed by friends and colleagues, and even their children's babysitter. In this moving and brave memoir, Marton searches for and finds her parents, and love. Marton relates her eyewitness account of her mother's and father's arrests in Cold War Budapest and the terrible separation that followed. She describes the pain her parents endured in prison -- isolated from each other and their children. She reveals the secret war between Washington and Moscow, in which Marton and her family were pawns in a much larger game. By the acclaimed author of "The Great Escape," "Enemies of the People" is a tour de force, an important work of history as it was lived, a narrative of multiple betrayals on both sides of the Cold War that ends with triumph and a new beginning in America.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    I don't generally give books 5 stars. I guess I could give this one 4.5 because it was "too short". Kati Marton is an author of 7 books. In Enemies of the People she looks back on how her parents Endre and Ilona Marton lived in 1950s Budapest as foreign correspondents. Living a life of constant fear, they were targeted by the Hungarian secret police and imprisoned, thus affecting the entire family for the rest of their lives. Marton's memoir looks back at this bleak period in her parents' histor I don't generally give books 5 stars. I guess I could give this one 4.5 because it was "too short". Kati Marton is an author of 7 books. In Enemies of the People she looks back on how her parents Endre and Ilona Marton lived in 1950s Budapest as foreign correspondents. Living a life of constant fear, they were targeted by the Hungarian secret police and imprisoned, thus affecting the entire family for the rest of their lives. Marton's memoir looks back at this bleak period in her parents' history. Living in the west, the so-called enemy in this book we do not realize the terror that actually went on in soviet satellites during the Cold War. Only we know that the Cold War existed and that the soviets represented the evil empire. Marton allows us to go behind the iron curtain and reveals the day to day living in this post war environment. She says if her father had lived in another time and place, he would have made an excellent diplomat. Thus the educated class was persecuted in Hungary and other Soviet satellites. I am glad I picked up this book. It read like a true to life spy thriller and mercifully the protagonists were met with a happy ending in this case. It shows me the contrast between east and west at the time and how bright the United States appeared during the 1950s. I look forward to reading other books by this author and would recommend this one.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    At the beginning of this book, Kati Marton comments that we never really know our parents--this was never more true than in her case. Marton's parents came to the U.S. after fleeing Hungary following the 1956 uprising and as many questions as their two daughters asked, there were few answers. Both parents wanted to leave their past behind them in Europe. After the death of her parents, Kati applied for and received her parent's files from the AVO (the Hungarian Secret Police) and was able to fle At the beginning of this book, Kati Marton comments that we never really know our parents--this was never more true than in her case. Marton's parents came to the U.S. after fleeing Hungary following the 1956 uprising and as many questions as their two daughters asked, there were few answers. Both parents wanted to leave their past behind them in Europe. After the death of her parents, Kati applied for and received her parent's files from the AVO (the Hungarian Secret Police) and was able to flesh out the bare outlines of her parents lives during World War II to 1956 before leaving for the Unites States. Both of her parents grew up in Jewish families that were prosperous before World War II and both narrowly escaped the death camps. After the Soviet take over of Hungary in the early days of the Cold War, her mother and father worked as stringers for American wire services. Those contacts with American diplomats and American journalists served them well after they were arrested and each convicted of being "enemies of the people." Their two daughters were sent to live with a foster family for the year that both parents were imprisoned and it was only because of international attention that Marton's parents were set free. Even knowing that agents of the AVO were constantly watching them, both Martons sent out information during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution--which was encouraged by the U.S. government and then that same government refused to help. Eventually the family fled Hungary and Kati Marton and her sister were raised in Bethesda, Maryland where her mother taught French and her father was a journalist covering the State Department. Marton comments that her parents, because of their extremely private personalities, would not have been happy with this book. But their story is an extremely important one highlighting conditions behind the Iron Curtain in the post World War II period. More importantly, Kati's investigation into the lives of her parents allowed her to have a fuller understanding and appreciation of them both. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the politics of the post World War II period in Europe and in the Cold War.

  3. 5 out of 5

    anieva

    Reading some of the comments on the three-starred and fewer-starred reviews here is surprising. One claim is that it is badly written. In what universe? I can agree there is perhaps a bit of dryness, but that's it. The story's substance more than makes up for this. Another criticism, that Marton is repetitive. Not so much, actually. What Marton does is periodically reflect on her parents given the new info she has learned. At least one person seemed surprised it was a memoir. Another wanted more Reading some of the comments on the three-starred and fewer-starred reviews here is surprising. One claim is that it is badly written. In what universe? I can agree there is perhaps a bit of dryness, but that's it. The story's substance more than makes up for this. Another criticism, that Marton is repetitive. Not so much, actually. What Marton does is periodically reflect on her parents given the new info she has learned. At least one person seemed surprised it was a memoir. Another wanted more info about life in Communist Hungary. Exactly how much info can one book (that's not a textbook) give? This book gives a detailed account of one family's, and many individual persons', lives in Hungary. This is not a census in narrative form. Meanwhile, no one has seemed to understand the point of how very complicated all the persons in the book were. Secret Police harassing the parents and the parents later giving shelter to one of those very secret police, for example. U.S. diplomats who befriended the Martons and kept in mind, nonetheless, the idea that they might be spies for Hungary. The status of the Martons in the U.S. It wasn't an all-encompassing embrace by their new country: both the FBI and Hungary's Secret Police spied on them for years. These are complexities that shed light on what it means to be a person who does more than go to work and shop for groceries and watch soccer or football games. We can learn from it, but instead we're writing these limited reviews and comments. Some of the most important stuff here has flown over the heads of a great many - if not most - of the people who say they've read the book. Of course, there are problems. As a reader, I felt Marton frustratingly gives a pass to her father on his treatment of his wife. But, hey, he's her father; she has a right to her viewpoint; and, I don't know everything about their family relationships. So, it's a point of gossip rather than a way to evaluate the book. One commenter felt Marton hasn't worked out her issues with her parents. So she shouldn't write a book? We're readers, not Marton's therapists. Secondly, there were two or three translations that were inaccurate, which is curious since she is a native speaker. Thirdly, Marton does not use diacritical marks on her many Hungarian words and names. This is unfortunate and, to a Hungarian speaker, very obviously missing. If the book is going to exhibit the language, particularly one that so few speak, it should accurately depict it. It's puzzling why Marton failed to do this. Overall, I found this book absorbing and a valuable insight on this bit of history and on human nature.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    A totally absorbing read. First of all, Marton could never have written this book without the records contained in the Hungarian Secret Police Archives, and without the assist of the archivist there. So, as an archivist, it makes me proud. But certainly there is more to the value of this story, which I talked about with anyone who would listen. Marton, an excellent writer tells the story of her parents' arrests in Cold War Budapest from two perspectives: from her childhood memories and her resea A totally absorbing read. First of all, Marton could never have written this book without the records contained in the Hungarian Secret Police Archives, and without the assist of the archivist there. So, as an archivist, it makes me proud. But certainly there is more to the value of this story, which I talked about with anyone who would listen. Marton, an excellent writer tells the story of her parents' arrests in Cold War Budapest from two perspectives: from her childhood memories and her research as an adult. It touches on so much, loss, assimilation, espionage, marriage and more.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Kati Marton takes the reader on an exciting journey through her parents' lives behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary--in essentially a memoir format, which mostly works. Marton's educated, worldy parents are writers for AP and UP who speak several languages and had enjoyed mostly privileged upbringings before World War II and their Jewish backgrounds made the world much more difficult for them. They served in the Hungarian resistance during WWII, and later are targeted by the Communist leaders of H Kati Marton takes the reader on an exciting journey through her parents' lives behind the Iron Curtain in Hungary--in essentially a memoir format, which mostly works. Marton's educated, worldy parents are writers for AP and UP who speak several languages and had enjoyed mostly privileged upbringings before World War II and their Jewish backgrounds made the world much more difficult for them. They served in the Hungarian resistance during WWII, and later are targeted by the Communist leaders of Hungary as "enemies of the people," mostly because of their intellectualism, association with Westerners living in Hungary, and unwillingness to readily succumb to the "comrade-ship" surrounding them. Survivors of near constant surveillance, as well as one- to two-year prison terms in Fo Utca, a dank prison in the heart of Budapest, the elder Martons ultimately triumph as happy suburbanites in the D.C. area, where they end up shortly after managing to exit Hungary in 1957. Kati, the younger of two sisters, researched much of her parents' story through AVO files made available to her only in the mid- to late 2000s, and also through some FBI files (as her parents were considered somewhat suspicious by both the Communists and Americans for a time). A younger brother was born to the family about a year after their arrival in America--Andrew Thomas Marton-- and Kati herself has led an interesting life, having worked as an ABC News foreign correspondent and having married, first, Peter Jennings, and second, Richard Holbrooke (recently deceased). I learned a great deal about Hungary under Communist rule in reading this book, while at the same time it was almost a voyeuristic look at Kati Marton's very personal journey to discover the "truth" about her parents' earlier lives.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    About three-quarters of the way through this novel (on an airplane without a backup book), I realized a huge printing problem -- page 146 skipped to 179. Bad timing.... the narrator's dad is in prison in Hungary under charges of treason against the state, her mother just got picked up by the Hungarian Secret Police and is also in prison.... and the narrator, young Kati Marton, is desperate for news about her parents. Not a good spot for a printing mistake!! This was a fascinating read. Cold War About three-quarters of the way through this novel (on an airplane without a backup book), I realized a huge printing problem -- page 146 skipped to 179. Bad timing.... the narrator's dad is in prison in Hungary under charges of treason against the state, her mother just got picked up by the Hungarian Secret Police and is also in prison.... and the narrator, young Kati Marton, is desperate for news about her parents. Not a good spot for a printing mistake!! This was a fascinating read. Cold War spying, freedom of the press, false imprisonment of anti-Communist people... lots of drama. I thought the author did a good job of relaying a complicated story with many characters. This is a non-fiction account of the imprisonment of Kati Marton's parents in Hungary and their eventual trip to the U.S. and Kati's investigation of the files maintained on her parents by both the Hungarians and U.S. Interesting read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Definitely an interesting read about a journalist couple in cold war Hungary. I like the storyline but the author (their daughter) had a hard time removing her sense of identity from her parents' actions. Although it was interesting to hear how their life influenced their daughter's, her anxiety over how their choices affected her identity, etc. was a big tiresome to me. But again, a solid read - especially if you have some interest in cold war history. Definitely an interesting read about a journalist couple in cold war Hungary. I like the storyline but the author (their daughter) had a hard time removing her sense of identity from her parents' actions. Although it was interesting to hear how their life influenced their daughter's, her anxiety over how their choices affected her identity, etc. was a big tiresome to me. But again, a solid read - especially if you have some interest in cold war history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This one really resonated with me as I’ve just finished my own memoir about my life with parents also living at the crossroads of history. Marton’s story of life in Budapest during the 1950s is far more dramatic than mine, but often in my own book, I say that as a child, I knew little of what was going on in my parents’ lives. ...and yet, the tension of their lives lived in Cold War Washington affected mine and my brothers’ in subtle and indelible ways.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    Totally caught me. I don't that much about Hungary except they had a revolt in '56. Marton's parents worked for the UP and AP during the period after WWII ended when the Communists picked up where the Nazis left off. Her father was with the Resistance during the War and her mother didn't talk about it. Years later it was learned that her parents were taken to Auschwitz. There were no pictures of them. Her other grandparents were waiting to go to Australia. The Martons were fluent in multiple langu Totally caught me. I don't that much about Hungary except they had a revolt in '56. Marton's parents worked for the UP and AP during the period after WWII ended when the Communists picked up where the Nazis left off. Her father was with the Resistance during the War and her mother didn't talk about it. Years later it was learned that her parents were taken to Auschwitz. There were no pictures of them. Her other grandparents were waiting to go to Australia. The Martons were fluent in multiple languages, including English. Thus, they caught on with United Press and Associated Press. Part of their jobs was to attend the weekly press conference at the American Legation. Once the powers that be threw out all of the western reporters, they were the only ones attending the weekly press conference. So it looked as though they were in league with the Americans and were spies. The AVO (secret police) kept a watchful eye on them. It appears that almost everyone they knew (Hungarians) was spying on them and reporting back. And, separately, they were picked up and spent 1-2 years in prison while their children were shuffled off to a pensioned professor in a motley household, not too far from the state orphanage where Marton feared his children were. This is the story as Kati Marton has pieced it together (she and her sister were 5-8 years old when the parents were imprisoned) from now available AVO records and remembrances of her parents' friends and associates. I found it very moving. At the very beginning she notes "who of us really knows our parents". We don't really know what they have been through or what they are really like. Maybe I could identify because her father was a fencer and I remember my father fencing when I was young. Not the champion that her father was, but still. Apparently the Hungarians were still watching her father, even after coming to America. Hatching a plot as to how they could finagle Marton or his wife to return to Hungary. They thought they would only need two hours (maybe a little more) to convince them to spy for Hungary. And her father almost went back to Hungary - on a trip with Ambassador Averill Harriman. That trip fell through though, luckily for him.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Kati Marton's new memoir is a beautifully written story of Before and After. "Before" is Marton's birth and early childhood in Budapest and "After" is her life in the United States when her family was allowed to leave Hungary in 1956, in the wake of the failed Hungarian Revolution. Kati was the younger daughter of Endre and Ilona Marton, both of Jewish heritage, who survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary in WW2 as well as the Communist rule of Hungary after the war. Her parents were noted writer Kati Marton's new memoir is a beautifully written story of Before and After. "Before" is Marton's birth and early childhood in Budapest and "After" is her life in the United States when her family was allowed to leave Hungary in 1956, in the wake of the failed Hungarian Revolution. Kati was the younger daughter of Endre and Ilona Marton, both of Jewish heritage, who survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary in WW2 as well as the Communist rule of Hungary after the war. Her parents were noted writers who both worked as international correspondents for UPI and AP from 1946 to 1956. They were friends with most of the western diplomats - particularly the US and the Brits - who served in Budapest. The Martons were highly westernised, at a time when any connection to the West drew the notice of the Hungarian communist government and the Secret Police, the AVO. Their lives were closely monitored by the AVO, who often employed spies, including the Marton children's nanny and landlady. In 1955, both parents were arrested and tried as "spies" by the Hungarian government. Endre Marton was sentenced to 13 years in prison; his wife to six. They were later freed and allowed to leave Hungary for Austria, and then the US, by the Hungarian government, who seemed to think they'd be less dangerous if living abroad. Most of what Kati Marton remembers is the more "personal" of the ordeal her parents faced. She was a young child, with a sister a couple of years older, and they were both cossetted by their parents - when possible - and experienced the terrifying consequences of being children "in flux" when their parents were arrested. Marton was able to piece together her parents' ordeal years after when she was given both copies of their AVO files and some United States documents. She writes about her parents problems with the Hungarian state at a kind of "remove", which allows her to depict them as subjects, not parents. However, she writes with love and respect about her parents as "parents". It's a lovely memoir of an interesting family.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I read this book after watching "The Lives of Others," another sad saga of Communist oppression. This book takes place in Hungary, while the movie takes place in Germany, but both deal with the human effects of Secret Police oppression. It's a grim tale, but an uplifting one in a way, since the author's parents stay true to their principles and are eventually able to flee to the U.S. and build new lives. I connected with the events, since the democratic opposition in Belarus, with whom I dealt, h I read this book after watching "The Lives of Others," another sad saga of Communist oppression. This book takes place in Hungary, while the movie takes place in Germany, but both deal with the human effects of Secret Police oppression. It's a grim tale, but an uplifting one in a way, since the author's parents stay true to their principles and are eventually able to flee to the U.S. and build new lives. I connected with the events, since the democratic opposition in Belarus, with whom I dealt, have to handle some of the same pressures, although i would say not to the same awful degree. The description of the hardships that U.S. diplomats suffered also reminded me of the pressures endured by my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk. At the same time, the account of the U.S. diplomats' quiet heroism made me proud of my chosen profession. I would also say that my estimation of the author's husband has gone up a notch. If Dick Holbrooke can attract and marry Kati Marton, then he must have some additional redeeming features beyond his intellect that compensate for what is reputed to be a very bad temper. Finally, I realized that there are always interesting stories that are often neglected in immigrants' rush to become Americanized and homogenized. I'll not hear an accent again without having some curiosity about the story of the speaker's journey to American and American citizenship.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    A fascinating memoir of the politics of the cold war era written by Kati Marton, a former journalist and ABC and PBS news correspondent. She was born into and grew up in a somewhat privileged Jewish Hungarian family where her parents were journalists for the American wire services during the communist era and during the Hungarian revolution in 1956. Although this is a time of mayhem and political intrigue in Europe, little of this undercurrent is conveyed. Yes, her parents are both arrested and A fascinating memoir of the politics of the cold war era written by Kati Marton, a former journalist and ABC and PBS news correspondent. She was born into and grew up in a somewhat privileged Jewish Hungarian family where her parents were journalists for the American wire services during the communist era and during the Hungarian revolution in 1956. Although this is a time of mayhem and political intrigue in Europe, little of this undercurrent is conveyed. Yes, her parents are both arrested and imprisoned and she and her sister were separated and lived with another family until their release but I never sense the danger that must have been imminent. Perhaps she was too young to feel its presence or perhaps her parents had instilled confidence in her that it would all work out in the end but there is no suspense in this personal history. Another factor may be that we’re told in the beginning that her family survive and immigrate to America but I really feel it could have been told in a more exciting fashion. There is an interesting sense of privilege and intellectual entitlement that’s somehow conveyed by the author that I’m certain she isn’t even aware of but note that after coming to America and becoming a journalist herself she mentions that she married ABC newsman Peter Jennings and later Richard Holbrooke, a prominent diplomat and Assistant Secretary of State.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Connie Kronlokken

    I vividly recall being 11 and watching on our brand new television the Soviet tanks rolling into Budapest in 1956. It was just amazing to me. Kati Marton was there, age 7. Her parents had just gotten out of prison and were covering the story as journalists. When her father gets a call from a worker that he and his wife may be rearrested, Marton writes. "I remember my father returning to the dinner table and very quietly and calmly telling us to get our coats. My mother needed no explanation. 'The I vividly recall being 11 and watching on our brand new television the Soviet tanks rolling into Budapest in 1956. It was just amazing to me. Kati Marton was there, age 7. Her parents had just gotten out of prison and were covering the story as journalists. When her father gets a call from a worker that he and his wife may be rearrested, Marton writes. "I remember my father returning to the dinner table and very quietly and calmly telling us to get our coats. My mother needed no explanation. 'The hole,' she said. He nodded and so, single file, we crept quietly out the door, but not to the street. We moved quickly to the back of the house, separated from the Rogerses' residence by a chain link fence, covered with shrubbery. Sometime earlier, an American diplomat had taken wire cutters to that fence and made a hole large enough for human passage. Although the shrubbery was thickly overgrown, we nevertheless found the hole, squeezed through one at a time, and emerged on American diplomatic territory on the other side." Marton writes of highly dramatic events as simply and as clearly as she can. Within a year, her parents had gotten legal passports and left for America. In this book, she goes back to review all the files the secret police kept on her parents, and learns much about them she didn't know as a child. Excellent, personal history.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sep

    Ms. Marton's book is an amazing memoir/biography. It is a memoir because she describes her own experience in Hungary up until the 1956 Revolution. It is a biography because it the story of her parents lives briefly during World War II and then the Communist Regime. The exciting and interesting part is that she was able to get copies of the files that the Hungarian Secret Police kept on her parents. They were followed everywhere. Hundreds of informants, some very close associates, reported on most Ms. Marton's book is an amazing memoir/biography. It is a memoir because she describes her own experience in Hungary up until the 1956 Revolution. It is a biography because it the story of her parents lives briefly during World War II and then the Communist Regime. The exciting and interesting part is that she was able to get copies of the files that the Hungarian Secret Police kept on her parents. They were followed everywhere. Hundreds of informants, some very close associates, reported on most of their activities. This huge amount of information was both a blessing and a curse. One delightful day involves her father taking her and her sister shopping for school supplies and then out for a treat. Martin could not remember the day but the files told her it happened. By reading the files, Marton gets an intimate view of her parents' private lives. Both spent time in prison on trumped up espionage charges. The interrogators kept notes. It does not appeare that they were tortured physically. Their many cellmates regularly reported back everything they said or did. (WARNING: don't tell your cellmate or mates ANYTHING) The abundance of information makes for an interesting reading on her parents' characters and on how they coped in both a Communist era Budapest both as a "free" person and later as prisoners.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janie Panagopoulos

    Interesting account of a family and their courageous journey to America from war torn Hungary. The story details Kati Marton's parents as International Journalist in Budapest and what their lives were like behind the Iron Curtain. Both parents imprisoned for their writing, files and documents were kept at the AVO to build cases against them. After the death of her parents, she (Kati Marton) requested their files in both the United States and Budapest and was astonished by the detailed records that Interesting account of a family and their courageous journey to America from war torn Hungary. The story details Kati Marton's parents as International Journalist in Budapest and what their lives were like behind the Iron Curtain. Both parents imprisoned for their writing, files and documents were kept at the AVO to build cases against them. After the death of her parents, she (Kati Marton) requested their files in both the United States and Budapest and was astonished by the detailed records that were kept against the entire family. Marton pieced together her childhood and the lives of her parents to give the reader an account of the terror they lived through. The documents analyzed to piece together the story included government security files, FBI files, secret documents from Budapest, and accounts of neighbors, nanny's, personal friends, and work colleagues that betrayed the family. This peek behind the Iron Curtain is amazing and chilling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Sarlog

    While the book was interesting from a historical perspective in allowing a personal view of post World War II Hungary under the communists and the ensuing Hungarian Revolution, I didn't find myself sympathizing as much as I should have with the plight of her parents. The emotional distance I felt was probably due to the writing, and I think that Kati Marton, being so integrally a part of the story, was unable to draw me in as an outsider because she was so much an insider. Also, while living und While the book was interesting from a historical perspective in allowing a personal view of post World War II Hungary under the communists and the ensuing Hungarian Revolution, I didn't find myself sympathizing as much as I should have with the plight of her parents. The emotional distance I felt was probably due to the writing, and I think that Kati Marton, being so integrally a part of the story, was unable to draw me in as an outsider because she was so much an insider. Also, while living under communist rule must have been horrible, her parents were fortunate because of their AP connections with the United States, and seemed able to prosper in spite of their adversity and provide a decent life for their children.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Kati Marton has written an account of her childhood during WW2 in war torn Hungary. It is a very good introduction to a small section of war torn Europe for anyone's reading list on the Holocaust or Hungarian memoirs. I was very interested in reading about Hungary's situation during the war and that is why I chose to read this book. Kati Marton and her family were so close and devoted to one another. the things that happen to them during the war and after during the cold war challenge them at ev Kati Marton has written an account of her childhood during WW2 in war torn Hungary. It is a very good introduction to a small section of war torn Europe for anyone's reading list on the Holocaust or Hungarian memoirs. I was very interested in reading about Hungary's situation during the war and that is why I chose to read this book. Kati Marton and her family were so close and devoted to one another. the things that happen to them during the war and after during the cold war challenge them at every turn. They were stoic, brave and this memoir is well written and kept my interest. If you are interested in how the war affected the people of Hungary during the war this is a good book to read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This was an incredible story. The only thing that keeps it from being an equally incredible book is the in the presentation. It's the story of Marton's parents and how she learned more about them from the AVO, Hungarian Secret Police, records after their deaths than from them while they lived. The material is both shocking and riveting but the story is told in a very "matter-of-fact" way that doesn't allow it to come alive. It's more like reading a history book than to have a wonderful teacher d This was an incredible story. The only thing that keeps it from being an equally incredible book is the in the presentation. It's the story of Marton's parents and how she learned more about them from the AVO, Hungarian Secret Police, records after their deaths than from them while they lived. The material is both shocking and riveting but the story is told in a very "matter-of-fact" way that doesn't allow it to come alive. It's more like reading a history book than to have a wonderful teacher describe it for you. Worthwhile read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sera

    A rather dry account of her parents being under surveillance and arrested. It seems like there is a good story here, but she just doesn't know how to tell it in an interesting way. I keep putting off continuing this book, so I'm going to give it up. A rather dry account of her parents being under surveillance and arrested. It seems like there is a good story here, but she just doesn't know how to tell it in an interesting way. I keep putting off continuing this book, so I'm going to give it up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Flowergarden24

    This is a very interesting account of Kati Marton's life during the time period in Budapest. It was a good glimpse of the hard times experienced by her parents and other people under Soviet control. I enjoyed the photos of the people mentioned and the revelations she finds by reading the AVO files. This is a very interesting account of Kati Marton's life during the time period in Budapest. It was a good glimpse of the hard times experienced by her parents and other people under Soviet control. I enjoyed the photos of the people mentioned and the revelations she finds by reading the AVO files.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I need to stop reading all these cold-war books! I didn't mean to follow up Mountain of Crumbs with this book, but it just happened that way. But this book was just as interesting and informative. It tells the story of the Marton Family who grew up in Hungary and who were actively spied on by their own government. For nearly 10 years, they tried to find some dirt on this family and finally they "found" enough information to convict them of spying for the Americans. (The "trial" was really a sham I need to stop reading all these cold-war books! I didn't mean to follow up Mountain of Crumbs with this book, but it just happened that way. But this book was just as interesting and informative. It tells the story of the Marton Family who grew up in Hungary and who were actively spied on by their own government. For nearly 10 years, they tried to find some dirt on this family and finally they "found" enough information to convict them of spying for the Americans. (The "trial" was really a sham. There were no witnesses, no evidence, and no jury. They were just presented with the charges, allowed to make a plea and then their sentence was given. Some kind of justice, right?) The author of this book talks about how writing this and looking in the now available AVO (Hungarian Secret Police) files taught her many things about her parents and her family. Memories she had forgotten were spied on a written down for the files. Family ski trips, outings with her father, a favorite sweater. Good things she's glad she remembers. But also things she didn't know and maybe was better off not knowing. The infidelity of both her parents, the betrayal of those closest to her, and the broken promises of those who vowed to care for her and her sister. Again, much like Mountain of Crumbs this book does not focus on the atrocities of that time. We know that they were going on. People were starving, being killed and even tortured by their own government all because of the perceived threat of America far far away. But this book doesn't talk about that. It talks about how her family did everything right and still were found guilty by their own country. This is a quote from the book talking about that very thing: "One common superstition of totalitarian governments is that people will be more contented if they don't know the unpleasant things that are going on and that a regime will be admired in the outside world if it conceals its sins and stupidities. . . Espionage in such a a country is what the Government says it is." So just the fact that her parents were journalists reporting the news about Hungary made them spies in her countries eyes. (The author's mother's charges included talking about the price of eggs and bread to foreigners. I'm not kidding about that) They didn't want the outside world knowing anything, for fear the people inside the country would realize how they were truly living. The other part that hit me was this: "My initial 'How could they!' has been supplanted by another question. How would I survive under such a system? What price would I pay to preserve my own freedom and my children's future?" I think that's something that we all have to think about, especially when we judge others that have gone through systems like this. Things that I would never think about doing before I would consider now because of my daughter. You just survive. Ultimately, I think that the author does a great job of telling her amazing and almost unbelievable story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Notes to Facebook friends and family, I just finished reading Kati Marton's harrowing non-fiction work "Enemies of the People." In order to uncover her family's true history in their native Hungary, Marton has to return to the East European country. She has learned that after some twenty years after the fall of Soviet Union in 1989 a secret file kept by the Hungarian Communist authorities has been made available to her. Soon after beginning to sift through the hundreds or thousands of documents Notes to Facebook friends and family, I just finished reading Kati Marton's harrowing non-fiction work "Enemies of the People." In order to uncover her family's true history in their native Hungary, Marton has to return to the East European country. She has learned that after some twenty years after the fall of Soviet Union in 1989 a secret file kept by the Hungarian Communist authorities has been made available to her. Soon after beginning to sift through the hundreds or thousands of documents she becomes overwhelmed by not just the shear size of the file, but the scope of it. She quickly learns why her parents never wanted to talk about this nightmarish time in their lives. The brief periods of Marton's childhood she could recall were ones she cherished as being rich with love, joy, and adventure. But this was not the life her mother and father were living at the time. This time period began during the Nazi occupation of Hungary during WWII. Hungarians celebrated being freed, just long enough to realize a demon had kicked out the devil. Thus the country was then cutoff from the rest of the world by Stalin's iron fisted communist USSR as the country got caught in the maelstrom of the cold war and the closing of the Iron Curtain across eastern Europe. The trade off of one military dictatorship state for another proved things indeed could go from bad to worse. This was George Orwell's "Animal Farm" in real life. And it was no comic tale. Marton's parents were Hungarians, but worked as foreign correspondents for western owned United Press International and Associated and were committed telling the unvarnished truth about the harshly enforced authority against freedom of speech along with the sham "free elections". People voting against the single Communist Party candidates were closely watched by the Secret Police and there paid informants. Any whispered words criticizing the government could land someone in prison. No one could be trusted. Even those so called "Watchers" were being watched by others who could be being watched by yet others. Any of the members of the chain could be called a traitor by anyone else and then be charged, imprisoned, and perhaps executed as a warning to others. The pacing of the book took a few chapters to get used to as it went back and forth between the Hungary of the forties and fifties and her having to sift through the files all those years later. I'm sure she felt many emotions while going through those files which I'm sure were not in perfect chronological order. Not hard at to put this one on my short list of 5-Star books. This is one of most, confusing, disturbing, true stories I've ever read. Another that comes mind is "Unbroken" by Lauren Hillenbrand.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This is a worthwhile book, both a memoir and a journey of discovery for Kati Marton. Her Hungarian parents were well known journalists who worked as foreign correspondents for the Western wire services They were Jewish, but raised their daughters as Catholics, never telling them that their maternal grandparents died in the concentration camps. The Martons survived the Holocaust by hiding and outwitting the Nazis. After the War they began to resume life as a highly educated, socially adept young This is a worthwhile book, both a memoir and a journey of discovery for Kati Marton. Her Hungarian parents were well known journalists who worked as foreign correspondents for the Western wire services They were Jewish, but raised their daughters as Catholics, never telling them that their maternal grandparents died in the concentration camps. The Martons survived the Holocaust by hiding and outwitting the Nazis. After the War they began to resume life as a highly educated, socially adept young couple. However, as the grip of the Stalinist government settled over Hungary, the Marton family was suspected to be spies for the United States. The secret police followed there every move and planted spies in their household. This book is the result of the author's investigation of the Hungarian secret police files kept on her parents. Added to the information she found in the AVO files are her own memories of her childhood in Budapest, her fascinating, intelligent mother and her distinguished, learned father. She writes of her relatively happy, seemingly secure years as a little girl. However it was just a matter of time before the Communists laid their trap. Both of the Martons were arrested and spent terrible months in prison while their little girls were left with near strangers. After their release they reported on the Hungarian Revolution, once again risking their lives and their daughters' so that the world could see behind the Iron Curtain. Finally they were able to come to the United States where their daughters suddenly found themselves in the Washington D.C. suburbs of the early '60's . Once again the Marton's were under suspicion. Not only did the Hungarian secret police follow them, so did the FBI. By this time Endre Marton was an AP journalist in the State Dept. I, like other readers, thought the book confusing at times, rather jumpy. The writing often was not chronological. Once I adapted to the shifting pace and once I got into the book, I was gripped by it. The style seemed to reflect Marton's career as a journalist. The story she tells is amazing; it could be the basis of a Cold War espionage thriller. But it is all true.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Fisher

    A fascinating book from an amazing point of view. Imagine if you were 10 years old, living in communist Hungary shortly after the takeover. Your own parents end up the last two reporters in contact with the West even after the borders are shut. While you perceive the uneasiness and later the arrest of your parents, it's not until the present day that the full truth comes to light. Kati Morton was told to not look at the files of the secret police, to keep her memories as they were. However, she A fascinating book from an amazing point of view. Imagine if you were 10 years old, living in communist Hungary shortly after the takeover. Your own parents end up the last two reporters in contact with the West even after the borders are shut. While you perceive the uneasiness and later the arrest of your parents, it's not until the present day that the full truth comes to light. Kati Morton was told to not look at the files of the secret police, to keep her memories as they were. However, she dives in to discover her family was one of the most closely watched. Entire days from her childhood that she can't remember are mapped out minute by minute. She learns of her parents affairs but also of their fierce love of the children which wasn't always easy to read in their strict parenting at the time. She also learns how the secret police slowly broke them in jail, and how deep their despair really went.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    What a story! I felt like I was the author's side-kick on an intense investigative journalist piece. The writing is definitely journalism -- not fluffy. Facts and memories corroborated and backed-up with evidence. Sometimes the proof interrupted the flow of the story, but I appreciated it. So often I read books -- and some news articles -- where I am expected to take the author's word for it. And that drives me crazy. The story was all the more intense because it is about the author and her famil What a story! I felt like I was the author's side-kick on an intense investigative journalist piece. The writing is definitely journalism -- not fluffy. Facts and memories corroborated and backed-up with evidence. Sometimes the proof interrupted the flow of the story, but I appreciated it. So often I read books -- and some news articles -- where I am expected to take the author's word for it. And that drives me crazy. The story was all the more intense because it is about the author and her family. Marton's parents were the last free-press journalilsts behind the Iron Curtain, reporting on the communists for the Associated Press and United Press from their home country of Hungary. Their every move was watched -- even the children's nanny turned out to be a spy. Incredible to see the things that people went through in defense of their basic rights and freedoms. How would I have acted in the same situation?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    The first of the book--about 80 pages or so--was very difficult reading because there was no chronology, just background, impressions, and overview, without clear sequence or purpose...just a lot of info. It read like the rambling remembrances of an obviously adoring daughter, so it was extremely biased (someone said that children are never the best biographers of their parents). Plus, her writing was a bit verbose in places. However, the last half of the book was really worthwhile; this section The first of the book--about 80 pages or so--was very difficult reading because there was no chronology, just background, impressions, and overview, without clear sequence or purpose...just a lot of info. It read like the rambling remembrances of an obviously adoring daughter, so it was extremely biased (someone said that children are never the best biographers of their parents). Plus, her writing was a bit verbose in places. However, the last half of the book was really worthwhile; this section covered specifically the Cold War era. Because I hadn't seen many personal stories from this era or about Hungary, the book was an important addition to my reading. Ironically, this woman's search for her family's past was aided and actually preserved by the very agency, the AVO, that shadowed her parents for years and years. This was a great look at living inside a Communist country during the Stalin years and shortly thereafter.

  27. 4 out of 5

    LindaJ^

    This is a facsinating look at the life of the Marton family in communist-ruled Hungray and, to a lesser degree, in the US after being allowed to leave Hungry. Marton's mother was a UP correspondent and Marton's father an AP correspondent in Hungry post WWII. Both were arrested and convicted of treason in Hungry but released in the days just before the Hungarian revolution of 1956 when the government was interested in winning favor with the US. Marton's father had been part of the resistance duri This is a facsinating look at the life of the Marton family in communist-ruled Hungray and, to a lesser degree, in the US after being allowed to leave Hungry. Marton's mother was a UP correspondent and Marton's father an AP correspondent in Hungry post WWII. Both were arrested and convicted of treason in Hungry but released in the days just before the Hungarian revolution of 1956 when the government was interested in winning favor with the US. Marton's father had been part of the resistance during WWII and Marton's mother's parents died at Auschwitz. One of the fascinating parts of the book for me was how the Martons faced questioning once in the US from the FBI, which was suspicious of them because of they were allowed by the post-revelution communist government to leave Hungray. Some may consider the history diluted because it is colored by the author emotions as she learned her parents' history, which they had not shared with their children.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bobbi

    Because all 4 of my grandparents were born in Hungary - and I am old enough to remember the 1956 Revolution this was very interesting... My cousin bought it - my older sister read it and now after I read it is my pleasure to pass it to one of my other cousins. As I read this and looked at the author's photo I kept thinking that she looked familiar as did her name... So when eading the Epologue I realized that I did indeed know of her she was once married to Peter Jennings and had two of his chil Because all 4 of my grandparents were born in Hungary - and I am old enough to remember the 1956 Revolution this was very interesting... My cousin bought it - my older sister read it and now after I read it is my pleasure to pass it to one of my other cousins. As I read this and looked at the author's photo I kept thinking that she looked familiar as did her name... So when eading the Epologue I realized that I did indeed know of her she was once married to Peter Jennings and had two of his children. This book is about her parents theri ordeals they lived through as Hungarian reporters for AP and UP during one of the worst times in Hungary's history. I knew things were bad but this was so startling that something that they lived through could have happened in their own country. Luckily the veil of dread and communism has been lifted decades ago.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rhapsodyblue00

    Based on the reviews. I expected it to be really gripping! It was not. The story was interesting, but seemed to get bogged down in the Small details, and I felt it skirted the real issues. If, as the hype indicated, her parents were spys, then there was very little that seemed too horrible. I know, I know, jail is not a pretty place, but many, many people were jailed during the Cold War, and not all of them were guilty of anything. I just didn't feel any great pulling of my heart strings for thes Based on the reviews. I expected it to be really gripping! It was not. The story was interesting, but seemed to get bogged down in the Small details, and I felt it skirted the real issues. If, as the hype indicated, her parents were spys, then there was very little that seemed too horrible. I know, I know, jail is not a pretty place, but many, many people were jailed during the Cold War, and not all of them were guilty of anything. I just didn't feel any great pulling of my heart strings for these people. However, during the time I was reading it, the author's husband, who was serving as the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, had a heart attack and died. That must have been endlessly agonizing. I really feel a great sadness for Kati Marton at this time. It was not a complete waste of time, but I just expected more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Listened to this as an audiobook. For once, I didn't check the narrator. She's actually quite competent when allowed to be so, but has been directed, apparently, to pro-nounce ev-er-y sy-lla-ble to the extent that it seriously interferes with comprehension of the book. She pronounces the word "our," for example, as "ow-wer" throughout the book. I couldn't get beyond the deliberately stilted delivery to enjoy the book, which actually is quite an exciting tale. That narration constantly acted as a Listened to this as an audiobook. For once, I didn't check the narrator. She's actually quite competent when allowed to be so, but has been directed, apparently, to pro-nounce ev-er-y sy-lla-ble to the extent that it seriously interferes with comprehension of the book. She pronounces the word "our," for example, as "ow-wer" throughout the book. I couldn't get beyond the deliberately stilted delivery to enjoy the book, which actually is quite an exciting tale. That narration constantly acted as a barrier rather than a bridge to the book. I listened to the whole thing because I did want to find out what happened, especially when her parents, the last foreign correspondents in Hungary after WW2, were arrested as spies. We know from the beginning that they got out, but how? It's a fascinating story. Be sure you read it, though, rather than listen to the Audible audiobook.

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