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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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  789 Ratings  ·  174 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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2009)
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Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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.
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, read-in-2010
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.
Jill Meyer
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Janie Panagopoulos
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
James Lang
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Artfully constructed nonfiction account of the author's efforts to uncover the history of her parents, who were journalists hounded and eventually imprisoned by the government in the early years of Communist Hungary. A journalist herself, the author understands well how to tell this story, and her parents are heroic protagonists. I read this while visiting Budapest, and it enriched my experiences there significantly. Especially recommended for those interested in 20th-century history, Hungary, o ...more
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be fascinating. Since I have a trip planned to visit Budapest next year, I've been reading some mostly historical fiction to familiarize myself with Hungarian history, especially after WWII. And although I don't read a lot of nonfiction, this book was very interesting! Couldn't put it down!

Easy to read, in spite of my limited knowledge of history and has left me with a desire to visit some of the places described in this memoir.
Catherine Checkley
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely loved this book, author Kati Martin so fortunate to have been able to follow her parents history from the files the AVO left behind in Budapest and sadly the FBI. Her parents suffered and endured so much in their lives and maintained a true sense of who they were -she should be so proud.
Stephen Lack
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a period of history I know relatively little about, especially from the perspective of those living behind the Iron Curtain. Very interesting portrait of life under the Soviet regime in Hungary.
Rusty Ridgeway
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book regarding specifics of her childhood in Budapest. Great history filled with sites still viewable today.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating story about post WWII Hungary through the lens of a particular family.

I learned a lot and it was a decent book, though a little dry as an audiobook.
Feb 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Drew Sudell
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd read this when it first came out and just re-read it. Part family history, part spy thriller, part history of Hungary in the 50's, part homage to a romantic Central Europe that is no more, it is more than anything a lesson on the vast invasive nature of the surveillance state, where no detail is too small and everyone is watching everyone. I think it is that last part that drew me to re-read it. That and the desire to hear a story of perseverance and ultimate victory over the totalitarian st ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nancy Kennedy
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Kati Marton is an award-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 StoryEnemies 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 P ...more

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“each week, before they dealt the cards, my father presented his typed report on himself and my mother to Marika, who copied it in her hand, then burned the original.” 1 likes
“It’s the ones who don’t tell you they are informing,” he said, “that you have to worry about.” 0 likes
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