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The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat
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The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The Hungarians is the most comprehensive, clear-sighted, and absorbing history ever of a legendarily proud and passionate but lonely people. Much of Europe once knew them as "child-devouring cannibals" and "bloodthirsty Huns." But it wasn't long before the Hungarians became steadfast defenders of the Christian West and fought heroic freedom struggles against the Tatars (12 ...more
Paperback, 572 pages
Published August 8th 2004 by Princeton University Press (first published 1999)
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Lauren Albert
Oct 14, 2010 Lauren Albert rated it liked it
Shelves: history-european
There were clearly some editing/translating issues with the book. At the beginning, I would get confused by a sentence and then realize that it should have been part of the sentence which followed it. This happened multiple times. So, when I found the book confusing, I didn't entirely chalk it up to my ignorance. It was probably a combination of three factors:
1. Poor writing or editing or both.
2. Complex history with a lot of changing of allegiances.
3. My ignorance of the period(s) and of Hungar
Oct 15, 2010 Tlaloc rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Not having read any previous works dedicated solely to the history of the Hungarian people, this book was a worthy first choice. Like most history books, it is mostly concerned about politics and who's-who rather than illuminating the lives of the average man. Still, it's informative about the earlier period of Hungarian history (during, and directly after, their migration) and the more modern day times (especially during the union with Austria), all without sounding biased or nationalistic. If ...more
Paulo Reimann
Feb 11, 2014 Paulo Reimann rated it it was amazing
Great book. I started out of a Brazilian-Hungarian curiosity. I have studied Hungarian history but mostly under my parents view. The book initially felt too scholarly but I progressed the 600 pages, became mesmerised by the view, quality and moreover, fun to read. A must read for Hungarians and semi - Hungarians to see how unique and tough was/is the Hungarian story.
Mar 19, 2012 Vincent rated it liked it
Shelves: modern-europe
Paul Lendvai’s The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, is a fine political survey of Hungary’s past millennium. The focus is largely upon rulers and political intrigues, of powerful men and their struggles, and little attention is given to women or social history, save except for the plight of Jews under frequent antisemitism. The last chapter is devoted to Hungarian scientists and artists, though most emigrated to the West and did their work in foreign lands.

If one is not familia
Paul Haspel
Mar 23, 2014 Paul Haspel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hungary
Paul Lendvai's The Hungarians is the kind of history that can justly be called magisterial. This wonderfully thorough work of historical synthesis recounts the story of the Hungarian people from the earliest discernible beginnings of the Finno-Ugrian language group to political developments in contemporary Hungary since the successful 1988-89 revolution against communist rule. The book's subtitle -- A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat -- captures well a central paradox of Hungary's history: th ...more
May 20, 2012 Miklos rated it it was amazing
Swept up in the fever of discovering my ancestry, the fact that my fathers side of the family is Hungarian, and that my name is in itself Hungarian, I was eager to pick up a book on the history of the country. Lendvai's history of Hungary is a relatively compact, readable story of Hungary's origin and journey from nomadic beginnings to feudalism to Nazism, Communism, and finally to independence, all viz a vie occupations and both inter- and intra-conflicts. Hungary as a linguistic and cultural i ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Peter rated it it was amazing
A fascinating detailed history of Hungary and the Hungarian people. I learned countless things for the first time, including about the person, Falk Miksa, for whom my home street in Budapest was named. Many of the things were not as complementary as I expected from my history lessons in 5th grade under communism in Budapest. It gave me a more balanced view of the good and the bad in our history. As I read about the 20th century, it made me sad that my mom and dad were no longer around for me to ...more
Richard Koerner
Mar 20, 2016 Richard Koerner rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book but I must say that given the fact that they were giving information about more than one thousand years of history, that it was jam packed with names and by the end I was a bit confused about all sorts of people mentioned. It is clear that the book was written somewhat for a group of people already aware of much of the history. Although it was separated into time periods, I found it somewhat hard to place in my head and in the end I find that I need to have a bette ...more
Feb 24, 2012 Inert1 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, own
An interesting book. The author is a Hungarian emigre who left the country in the 1956 uprising. The book is written as though the reader has a fundamental familiarity with Hungarian history, and is not a scholarly work, although it provides some very interesting information. The translation and editing of the book are not great. There are sections where there are errors, which can be distracting.

Nevertheless, after reading the book, I want to read more about the topic.
Lily Bond
Jun 14, 2016 Lily Bond rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I was frustrated by the inconsistency of using or not using the Hungarian names- but overall, a good read for an expat in Hungary. History is such a crucial part of the identity that this was a good start to understanding a little bit more.
Jack Ippel
Apr 12, 2010 Jack Ippel rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is available to anyone for reading. It is a great history of the country. It was a bit difficult for me--I think the translation from Hungarian into English results in some very long sentences.
Feb 27, 2008 Don rated it liked it
Fair book, it brings a great deal of the author's prejudices and tastes to the event but its not a bad effort despite this.
Not a light read. Too demanding, if you just want to learn the general outline and know more about the Hungarians.
Dec 08, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hungary
I used this to prepare for going to Hungary, to the land from which my parents came from. A brilliant history of a complex land, caught between empires and spread out among many populations.
Viktoria Lodor-Martinecz
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Feb 13, 2015
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“The Magyars were claimed to be descendants of the hideous Asiatic Scythians of legend, half men and half apes, a witches’ brood begotten by devils. The sources—chronicles and annals—were all copied from one another, not on the basis of eyewitness accounts but following the characterisation of older chroniclers. Soon the “new barbarians” became identified with the Huns, who are remembered only too well in Europe. Attila had, after all, become in Western eyes the embodiment of barbarism, the anti-Christ, and at the time of the Renaissance he already appeared in Italian legends as the king of the Hungarians, constantly hatching plots, and depicted with dog ears, the bestial offspring of a greyhound and a princess locked up in a tower.12” 0 likes
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