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

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  591 ratings  ·  146 reviews
"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 ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2009)
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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 ...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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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.
May 13, 2010 Sera rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Stephen Colbert
Shelves: never-finished
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.
Denise Hall
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 ...more
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 ...more
I'm a bit too young to have felt the fear that ran through the Cold War years. Yes, in my childhood we still had the USSR, and we still had stories of defections, but I didn't get the same sense of sheer terror that the Marton family must have lived under behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s. I cannot even imagine being imprisoned and interrogated just for being a journalist with close ties to American diplomats, but that is exactly what happened to both of Kati Marton's parents. It's shocking a ...more
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
Kati Marton's story of her parents' commitment to the journalism trade through pre-war anti-Semitism, Nazism and Communism in Hungary makes for a harrowing tale. Her knowledge of her parents' past and ours emerges from multiple files compiled by the much-feared Hungarian Secret Service in post-war Communist Hungary. Like the Staasi in East Germany the Hungarian Secret Police recorded every report, every interview and every frightening interrogation in horrifying detail, as if capturing each word ...more
Nancy Kennedy
For those of us raised in a Western democracy, this story of Kati Marton's family is almost unimaginable. The last journalists reporting from behind the Iron Curtain in 1950s Hungary, Endre and Ilona Marton lived in and worked amidst the intrigues, the betrayals, the paranoia and the terror of daily life in a Communist regime.

Kati Marton goes in search of her family's history, interviewing those who knew her parents and gaining access to the files of the Hungarian secret police. Even knowing as
I enjoyed reading this memoir by a daughter about her parents' rather remarkable lives. They managed to stay a step ahead of Eichmann during WWII and then worked as AP and UP correspondents during the Cold War when relations between the U.S. and Stalinist Hungary were extremely tense and strained. I have not read much about the Cold War era, so it was fascinating to learn in more depth about the machinations of the police state. Mr. & Mrs. Marton were extremely brave and courageous individul ...more
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 ...more
It is a very interesting and touching story about a scary time in Hungarian history. The authors' parents were defiant anti-communists, mixing with American diplomats and openly expressing pro-western sentiment in an era where people were taken away for much less, yet - perhaps due to their high on the radar status being reporters for AP and UP - they escaped unscathed for a long while. By the time they were arrested, the political landscape was changing and they ended up released a few months l ...more
Kati Marton's parents were Hungarian journalists working for Western news outlets behind the Iron Curtain, a courageous choice that became reason enough for them to be declared enemies of the people by the Communists in Hungary. The story of their lives as revealed through personal memories and their secret police files makes for an engrossing read on many levels.

The book does a masterful job of peeling back the bare facts that are public knowledge about the Martons to reveal the deeper history
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 ...more
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 ...more
This is a retrospective biography written by a woman who lived in communist Hungary as a child and was forced to board with a family of strangers when both of her parents were arrested by the Hungarian Secret Police (AVI). Marton's parents spoke little about their time in custody to her after the family emigrated to the United States and much of her biography is drawn from the files of the AVI which she accessed after the fall of the communist regime.

The process of relearning your childhood thr
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
I decided to read this book after reading the biography of Madeline Albright. There are similarities in Marton's story and Albright's story. Both are children of Jewish parents who kept their identity hidden. However, Marton pursued the story in a way that Albright did not, at least at first. Her method was fascinating and in some ways, heartbreaking. She went to Budapest and was able to read the AVO (secret police) files on her parents. The files were huge and covered years before their impriso ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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Kati Marton is anaward-winning former correspondent for NPR and ABC News. She is the author of eight books, the most recent of which is the New York Times-bestselling memoir Paris: A Love Story.Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. Her other works include The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, Hidden Pow ...more
More about Kati Marton...
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