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The Bridge at Andau

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,008 ratings  ·  239 reviews
At four o'clock in the morning on a Sunday in November 1956, the city of Budapest was awakened by the shattering sound of Russian tanks tearing the city apart. The Hungarian revolution -- five brief, glorious days of freedom that had yielded a glimpse at a different kind of future -- was over.

But there was a bridge at Andau, on the Austrian border, and if a Hungarian could
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 12th 1985 by Fawcett (first published January 1st 1957)
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 ·  2,008 ratings  ·  239 reviews

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Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hungarian
Michener states at some point in this book, and I am paraphrasing, that the atrocities suffered by a nation are too much for one reader to digest, but the trials of one person are enough to break your heart and build true understanding. That explains why Michener, a historian of enormous breadth and critical understanding, chose storytelling, and much of his backlist is historical fiction, telling the stories of history through the people who lived it. The Bridge of Andau is not a novel; Michene ...more
Susanna Chin
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Being of Hungarian descent and having both parents escape from Communist Hungary after actively partaking in the 1956 Revolution, I was very interested to read this book. I found it accurately supporting much of what my parents have described to me about the events in Hungary in 1956. I applaud Mr Michener in undertaking such a daunting task of recounting a part of history that unfortunately many people never even knew occurred.
Julie Daines
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't normally read non-fiction, and especially I avoid war non-fiction. But this book was so interesting and sad. The Hungarians fight for freedom from communist Russia is heartbreaking. I can't even comprehend the cruelties inflicted by one human on another. But this is an interesting look into the Hungarian's strength of spirit. I'm glad I read it. ...more
James Michener was right there at the Bridge at Andau, watching and helping some of the 200,000 Hungarian refugees that fled to safety into Austria in the weeks following the five-day Revolution in 1956. The book was published just months later, and Michener goes to great pains to detail his reporting practices and dedication to truth, knowing full well that the incredible stories he recounts are beyond belief. He also understands that, in 1957, much of the world is still on the fence about the ...more
Knowing that this was a product of the Cold War era I still had high hopes for this book, but the propaganda weighed it down.I didn't expect Michener to get all the facts since he wrote it shortly after Hungary was invaded in 1956, but I like primary sources. They often provide an immediacy that is lacking in later publications. Sadly this one was too immediate. It was nothing more than a piece of Agitprop ,which is odd, when one considers that Agitprop is credited to the Soviet Union and Commun ...more
Oct 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
A ten hour unabridged audiobook.

A very good overview of the Communist school system, and a world of informers which led to brutal repression of anyone who wasn't deemed to be loyal enough to the party. Those who fought back, both in the streets, and at home (giving their children real Hungarian history as opposed to the state approved versions they got at school) are real heroes of this movement and I'm glad their story was so well told. I really liked this book.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michener is an amazing writer. I’ve only read two of his books, but anticipate reading more. A friend described his writing as historical fact with a veneer of narrative to keep the story flowing and the events connected. His book Texas was a 1200-page history of the state beginning with conquistadors searching for El Dorado to the Dallas Cowboys. He’s written books about Alaska, South Africa under apartheid, and Jerusalem. The Bridge at Andau is about the Hungarian uprising against their Soviet ...more
Barbara King
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an amazing book that was written from testimony of those Hungarians who actually participated in the 1956 revolution attempt against the Soviet Union. Michener happened to be at the bridge at Andau when many of the refugees were crossing over and had an opportunity to get their stories firsthand. This book is a testament to the spirit and courage of the Hungarian people. It chronicles the events of the revolution in graphic detail, demonstrating the length people will go to to be free. Y ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents
Shelves: my-top-20-books
A must read for anyone who attends a state sponsored school. Michener meticulously documents the actions of the communist that ruthlessly ruled Hungary. The Hegelian Dialectic, which forms the basis of communism is exposed for the evil it is. All this aside, that which most impresses me is despite the hopelessness of the peoples situation, they still had a proud and moral compass which helped them combat the indoctrination of their youth each day.

Are we so vigilant in ensuring that our children
Frank Reiter
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading th\is book because my father was involved in these events. It was quite an emotional experience reading the details of what happened and wondering all the way through "Was he one of those?" or "Did he see that?"

Ultimately I could not finish this book. I found the detailed descriptions of how the Hungarians were tortured by the Russians so disturbing that it haunted me even when I was not reading about it. I ultimately decided that it was better for me not to continue.

The book i
T.W. Dittmer
Sep 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A story of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Michener interviewed Hungarian refugees during the writing and based the characters of the story on these interviews. I found the book so disturbing that I had to move on to some lighter reading when I finished it.
Mallory Mac
Another great Michener book. I'm incredibly impressed by how accurate it is, give that he published it in 1957 - one year after the events took place!

He does a great job, as always, of relating 'history' by focusing on a core group of 'characters' and bringing them to life. I visited Budapest a few years ago and learned of the 1956 revolution but didn't fully grasp the extent of the Hungarian people's bravery and the Soviets' atrocities until reading this book.
Alan Addison
Oct 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
In 1913 the Austro-HUNGARIAN Empire was one of Europe's great powers, ruling a vast swathe of conquered territory across Eastern Europe. The decision to annex Bosnia in 1908 and then use the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as a pretext for declaring war on Serbia (in an attempt to consolidate the hold on Bosnia) led to WWI and the deaths of millions of people. In the post-war political turmoil, Hungary shifted dramatically to the right and formed an alliance with Nazi Germany. In WWII ...more
An unashamedly biased presentation of the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the stories brought by the waves of refugees that fled Hungary for safety and freedom in the West. I would probably have given this book a higher rating if Michener hadn't chosen to display some depressingly era-appropriate but no less disturbing homophobia in his composite picture of the 'bad guy' of this book: a typical member of the AVO (Hungarian secret police). I suppose he wanted to add extra moral weight to his image of ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. When I was in Budapest last month I took a walking tour on communism in Hungary. I knew a little bit about the 1956 uprising, and the tour gave me a little more information. None of that prepared for the atrocities described in this book. I spent much of the book feeling sick to my stomach at what the Russians did to the revolting Hungarians. It was also sickening to read the descriptions of the Americans promising to help and then just not showing up. What a sad, disturbing history. I'm gl ...more
Anirudh Sharma C A
Aug 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A prelude to the imminent Soviet dissolution predicted way back in 1956! You’d appreciate the tenacity of young Hungarians and their fight against the communist Soviet Russia. Really loved how Michener spent time in Austria during these times of distress and documented it well.

Although, I had expected an unbiased opinion, I felt the author’s hatred towards communism got the better of him and it was quite visible with the vilification of communism in every chapter which made it a bit redundant.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The stories horrified, shamed, and drew me to such feelings of compassion and bravery that I would indeed say it was a very good book.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
A good deal of Cold War propaganda.Fairly boring,abandoned.
Mar 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
"There were young men in Budapest who laid down their lives because they wanted to return to a system in which a man could sit with friends over a glass of beer and let the wild flow of ideas lead where it would". The Bridge at Andau is a factual account of the Hungarian struggle and eventual emigration of a people against Russia and their version of "communism" in the late 1950's. The book details the strength and honour of a people who had enough with the tension and stress of living under a R ...more
Judith Kovacs
Jan 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Since both of my parents and my husband (as a toddler) were refugees during the 1956 Hungarian revolution, I have no idea why I hadn't heard of this book before. It was an amazing (if terrifying) account of what went on during those few months. I was sometimes shocked at the stereotyping, but then had to remind myself that it was written in January of 1957, so... Anyone who's remotely interested in what the Russians did in Hungary to maintain communism should read this. ...more
Lauren McDonnell
Really interesting, and timely/chilling, given Russia’s current invasion of the Ukraine. Most of it was good journalism from Michener, whom I only knew for his novels; however the last two chapters or so are mostly a late-1950s staunch capitalist’s admonishments for Communist sympathizers in light of the attempted Hungarian revolution. Generally enjoyable and interesting—gives a good portrait of the Hungarian people from the time.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great read if one has forgotten (or never knew of) the atrocities of the Soviets, this is but a thin slice of what it was like to be in the thrall of Moscow during the Cold War. Sadly, one can't help but cringe reading the final chapters as Michener describes interacting with Chinese communists... Whereas Michener mentions the Suez Crisis as a handy retort for his Chinese interlocutors, what stands out now, with the remove of 60+ years, is that this admirable book was written and published at ...more
Christopher Sutch
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
There are a couple of things Michener does well in this bit of pseudo-reportage about the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the refugee crisis that followed, but there are many more things he doesn't do nearly as well as he should. First, he does tell several stories of the events in Budapest in a competent and occasionally gripping way (his account of how the "revolutionists," as he calls them, managed to destroy so many Soviet tanks is pretty riveting stuff). His focus on individual values and the ...more
R.G. Ziemer
Nov 30, 2013 rated it liked it
My copy of “The Bridge at Andau” by James A. Michener sat around my junior high classroom for years as part of the schoolroom library. To my knowledge, not a single student ever read it; nor did I, until I picked it off my bookshelf last week. I should have read it a long time ago.

I learned a lot of startling facts about the brief and violent Hungarian Revolution, but what I can’t get out of my head is the realization that these events took place when I was eight years old. On October 23, 1956,
Launette Shaw
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm on a quest to learn about Europe. Don't ask me why, but I started with the country of Hungry. This is the story about Hungry's revolution from Russia's occupancy. James Michener usually writes historical novels but this is different. He is on sight in 1956 as the refugees are crossing the Bridge of Andau and is interviewing them. They tell their stories and he writes them. ...more
Apr 25, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
4 stars for the thorough research. For me, non-fiction is a tough read, but I try to read some each year to learn more. This history of the 1956 Hungarian revolution was heartbreaking. It is made even more so seeing how history repeats itself with the brutality of the Russians’ current invasion of Ukraine and targeting of civilians. It seems to always be about greed and control. The strength and perseverance of the Hungarian people is clearly portrayed by Michener’s first-hand stories from refug ...more
joanna ☀️
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam Nelson
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I put this on hold at the library, decided not to read it, and forgot to take it off hold. When it came in on ILL, I decided I might as well put forth a good effort, and I was really glad I read it. I really like Michener most of the time, but his early episodic fiction and non-fiction tends to lose me, Pulitzer for "Tales" notwithstanding. With this one, it's a mixture of intriguing subject matter and authorial passion. Michener always wears his heart on his sleeve. He's good at injecting his o ...more
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
It has taken me forever to read this book, for a number of reasons. I originally picked it up in July before a planned trip to Hungary in September, but it has taken me 5 months to actually get to the end. Other, more interesting books got in the way. I owned this books o there was no rush to finish it before it needed returning to the library. I thought maybe going to the country and being able to relate to the locations in the book might help. All these things put me off getting to the end qui ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Erik by: Elle Crowhurst
Shelves: non-fiction
The story told is an important one, and one worth knowing. For that reason, I am glad I read this book.

However, the way it was told was a little disappointing. For one thing, the author had some odd turns of phrases or oddly constructed sentences, and it took me a few re-reads to understand what he meant. Also, some of the words he used didn't mean what I believe he thought they meant.

Another problem was that the story felt rather disjointed until the end. Sometime the author would switch from o
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for

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