web site hit counter I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary

Availability: Ready to download

A magnificent wartime love story about the forces that brought the author’s parents together and those that nearly drove them apart   Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry—a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was A magnificent wartime love story about the forces that brought the author’s parents together and those that nearly drove them apart   Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry—a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, the industrialist patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family that owned factories, were patrons of intellectuals and artists, and entertained dignitaries at their baronial estates. Though many in the family had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, when the Germans invaded Hungary in March 1944, they were forced into hiding. In a secret and controversial deal brokered with Heinrich Himmler, the family turned over their vast holdings in exchange for their safe passage to Portugal.   Aladár survived Dachau, a fragile and anxious version of himself. After nearly two years without contact, he located Hanna and wrote her a letter that warned that he was not the man she’d last seen, but he was still in love with her. After months of waiting for visas and transit, she finally arrived in a devastated Budapest in December 1945, where at last they were wed.   Framed by a cache of letters written between 1940 and 1947, Szegedy-Maszák’s family memoir tells the story, at once intimate and epic, of the complicated relationship Hungary had with its Jewish population—the moments of glorious humanism that stood apart from its history of anti-Semitism—and with the rest of the world. She resurrects in riveting detail a lost world of splendor and carefully limns the moral struggles that history exacted—from a country and its individuals.   Praise for I Kiss Your Hands Many Times   “I Kiss Your Hand Many Times is the sweeping story of Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s family in pre– and post–World War II Europe, capturing the many ways the struggles of that period shaped her family for years to come. But most of all it is a beautiful love story, charting her parents’ devotion in one of history’s darkest hours.”—Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief, the Huffington Post Media Group   “In this panoramic and gripping narrative of a vanished world of great wealth and power, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák restores an important missing chapter of European, Hungarian, and Holocaust history.”—Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story and Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America “How many times can a heart be broken? Hungarians know, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s family more than most. History has broken theirs again and again. This is the story of that violence, told by the daughter of an extraordinary man and extraordinary woman who refused to surrender to it. Every perfectly chosen word is as it happened. So brace yourself. Truth can break hearts, too.”—Robert Sam Anson, author of War News: A Young Reporter in Indochina “This family memoir is everything you could wish for in the genre: the story of a fascinating family that illuminates the historical time it lived through. . . . Informative and fascinating in every way, [I Kiss Your Hands Many Times] is a great introduction to World War II Hungary and a moving tale of personal relationships in a time of great duress.”—Booklist (starred review)


Compare

A magnificent wartime love story about the forces that brought the author’s parents together and those that nearly drove them apart   Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry—a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was A magnificent wartime love story about the forces that brought the author’s parents together and those that nearly drove them apart   Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry—a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, the industrialist patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family that owned factories, were patrons of intellectuals and artists, and entertained dignitaries at their baronial estates. Though many in the family had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, when the Germans invaded Hungary in March 1944, they were forced into hiding. In a secret and controversial deal brokered with Heinrich Himmler, the family turned over their vast holdings in exchange for their safe passage to Portugal.   Aladár survived Dachau, a fragile and anxious version of himself. After nearly two years without contact, he located Hanna and wrote her a letter that warned that he was not the man she’d last seen, but he was still in love with her. After months of waiting for visas and transit, she finally arrived in a devastated Budapest in December 1945, where at last they were wed.   Framed by a cache of letters written between 1940 and 1947, Szegedy-Maszák’s family memoir tells the story, at once intimate and epic, of the complicated relationship Hungary had with its Jewish population—the moments of glorious humanism that stood apart from its history of anti-Semitism—and with the rest of the world. She resurrects in riveting detail a lost world of splendor and carefully limns the moral struggles that history exacted—from a country and its individuals.   Praise for I Kiss Your Hands Many Times   “I Kiss Your Hand Many Times is the sweeping story of Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s family in pre– and post–World War II Europe, capturing the many ways the struggles of that period shaped her family for years to come. But most of all it is a beautiful love story, charting her parents’ devotion in one of history’s darkest hours.”—Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief, the Huffington Post Media Group   “In this panoramic and gripping narrative of a vanished world of great wealth and power, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák restores an important missing chapter of European, Hungarian, and Holocaust history.”—Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story and Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America “How many times can a heart be broken? Hungarians know, Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s family more than most. History has broken theirs again and again. This is the story of that violence, told by the daughter of an extraordinary man and extraordinary woman who refused to surrender to it. Every perfectly chosen word is as it happened. So brace yourself. Truth can break hearts, too.”—Robert Sam Anson, author of War News: A Young Reporter in Indochina “This family memoir is everything you could wish for in the genre: the story of a fascinating family that illuminates the historical time it lived through. . . . Informative and fascinating in every way, [I Kiss Your Hands Many Times] is a great introduction to World War II Hungary and a moving tale of personal relationships in a time of great duress.”—Booklist (starred review)

30 review for I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I Kiss Your Hands Many Times by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák is an exceptionally well-written and beautiful memoir that will easily draw the reader deep into the complex and at times extraordinarily difficult lives of not only her parents; Hanna and Aladár, but Szegedy-Maszák’s family as well as a history lesson woven into this exceptional book. I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is a book to savor and I found myself rereading passages due to the beauty of the writing. My only regret was not having someone I Kiss Your Hands Many Times by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák is an exceptionally well-written and beautiful memoir that will easily draw the reader deep into the complex and at times extraordinarily difficult lives of not only her parents; Hanna and Aladár, but Szegedy-Maszák’s family as well as a history lesson woven into this exceptional book. I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is a book to savor and I found myself rereading passages due to the beauty of the writing. My only regret was not having someone to discuss the book with, which is why I highly recommend book discussion groups push I Kiss Your Hands Many Times to the top of their lists.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I really, really wanted to like this book. The concept is so intriguing: a prominent Hungarian family before, during and after WWII as well as their emigration to the United States. I sat down to read expecting an exciting tale of romance and adventure. But, I discovered soon into the first or second chapter that this memoir read much more like a history book. There was such a large amount of information thrown at the reader: dates, names, locations and events, that I felt like I needed to have I really, really wanted to like this book. The concept is so intriguing: a prominent Hungarian family before, during and after WWII as well as their emigration to the United States. I sat down to read expecting an exciting tale of romance and adventure. But, I discovered soon into the first or second chapter that this memoir read much more like a history book. There was such a large amount of information thrown at the reader: dates, names, locations and events, that I felt like I needed to have a notebook by my side to keep track of who did what and when they did it. I tried desperately to find a coherent story line, giving the author all benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, it was written so randomly that after six chapters, I gave up and put the book down. I may pick it again at some time and give it another go.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Szegedy-Maszák writes about how her parents met and married amongst the turmoil of the Second World War. Her parents grew up in Budapest. Hanna was born into a wealthy Jewish industrial family. Aladár came from a middle class Catholic family, worked for Hungary's foreign ministry and was 13 years older than Hanna. This was in 1940. At this time the "the Jewish problem" was growing in many parts of Europe, including Hungary, making it difficult for a Catholic man and Jewish woman to be romantical Szegedy-Maszák writes about how her parents met and married amongst the turmoil of the Second World War. Her parents grew up in Budapest. Hanna was born into a wealthy Jewish industrial family. Aladár came from a middle class Catholic family, worked for Hungary's foreign ministry and was 13 years older than Hanna. This was in 1940. At this time the "the Jewish problem" was growing in many parts of Europe, including Hungary, making it difficult for a Catholic man and Jewish woman to be romantically involved. So Hanna and Aladár had to be very discreet. Szegedy-Maszak's book is very detailed about the political concerns and problems in Hungary during the decade of the 40's. The German's took over Hungary, the Allies bombed it during WWII, and Russia eventually invaded the country after the war. The German's sent Aladár to Dacha. Hanna's large, powerful, extended family negotiated to give the Nazi's control of their important factories in exchange for being safely transported out of the country. They were considered Jewish even though they had converted to Catholicism years earlier. Aladár and Hanna's stories are difficult and sad. Unfortunately they mostly lack warmth. They also get lost in the details of the political situations and the stories of the many relatives. Some of Szegedy-Maszák knowledge of her parent's relationship comes from family stories, but most of it came from her father's letters and journals which partly explains their dryness. When she was growing up, she did not ask many questions about her parent's earlier lives. It was amazing that her mother's family could buy their way out of Hungary, to the beaches of Portugal, while most Hungarians were starving and the Jewish Hungarians were being exterminated. Szegedy-Maszák attempts to apologize some for their actions. Szegedy-Maszák writes that the phrase "I kiss your hand" is "an expression of welcome and departure." Aladár signed his letters to Hanna by writing "I kiss your hand many times." Thus the phrase becomes the book's title. I started reading this book but moved to the audio book when I discovered I could download it from the library. It was going to take me forever to read it. I received the ARC copy of the book three years ago but was not interested enough to read it until I started to clear out some books. My Hungarian Jewish grandmother came to America in the early 20th century.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    One of the problems so many family history memoirs suffer from is a lack of framing and contextualization. Children or grandchildren find a cache of letters, through them together with some photo inserts, and -- POOF! -- a book. "I Kiss Your Hands Many Times," thankfully, does not suffer from this problem. The author does an outstanding job of crafting an actual story out of the primary source materials. The tale she weaves is captivating and feels fresh compared to the countless other child-of-s One of the problems so many family history memoirs suffer from is a lack of framing and contextualization. Children or grandchildren find a cache of letters, through them together with some photo inserts, and -- POOF! -- a book. "I Kiss Your Hands Many Times," thankfully, does not suffer from this problem. The author does an outstanding job of crafting an actual story out of the primary source materials. The tale she weaves is captivating and feels fresh compared to the countless other child-of-survivors books out there. I am very pleased to have received my copy through the First Reads program and recommend it to other readers with an interest in survivor stories, Central/Eastern European studies, and family history. (Review originally published September 21, 2013.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I won this book on the GoodReads Giveaway. I loved loved loved this story. It is both historic and personal. This tale tells of the terrible suffering and miraculous redemption of the human spirit. Our will to live, the ever present survival instinct, may lead one to act in ways never imagined. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak writes a descriptive detailed narrative that tells of personal experiences in wartime, and how the will to live and the ties of family and responsibility continue to give purpose i I won this book on the GoodReads Giveaway. I loved loved loved this story. It is both historic and personal. This tale tells of the terrible suffering and miraculous redemption of the human spirit. Our will to live, the ever present survival instinct, may lead one to act in ways never imagined. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak writes a descriptive detailed narrative that tells of personal experiences in wartime, and how the will to live and the ties of family and responsibility continue to give purpose in life. I highly recommend this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mandolin

    This exquisitely beautiful book introduces the reader to the tumultuous period of Hungary's occupation by Hitler and illustrates its devastating effects on one family and on the love story that was complicated by its uncertainty and upheaval. With passages that read as if they were lifted from a romance novel ("your presence is the reason the world looks so lovely") and others from a gory horror story, the story's poignant dichotomy underscores the all-important truth that love conquers all - ha This exquisitely beautiful book introduces the reader to the tumultuous period of Hungary's occupation by Hitler and illustrates its devastating effects on one family and on the love story that was complicated by its uncertainty and upheaval. With passages that read as if they were lifted from a romance novel ("your presence is the reason the world looks so lovely") and others from a gory horror story, the story's poignant dichotomy underscores the all-important truth that love conquers all - hate, prejudice, war, famine and devastating, heartbreaking loss. The author introduces us to her large family in the current day and then draws the reader back through time to pre-war Hungary, when they enjoyed a privileged, elite life that sheltered them from the growing unrest arising in the rest of Europe. Composed of men and women who were vital both to the government and to the country's economy, the Szegedy-Maszak and Kornfeld families enjoyed a privileged status that kept them relatively isolated from the early pain throes of the war and, eventually, provided a means of triumph over their degradating humiliation at the hands of the Nazis and the Hungarian gendarme. Before that triumph, however, they, too, suffered from the unspeakable crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis, leaving many of them "wounded for life in [their hearts, in their souls]". Some were interred in labor camps while others were forced to find several hiding places with friends. All were victims of the prejudice and hate that stalked Europe. As their story unfolds, one can't help but feel sorrow and indignation at the fall of the family from its noble beginnings and the agony they suffered. By the end of the war, "everything that once was, [was] over." Despite the extraordinary difficulties that the war threw into their lives, however, young Hanna and Aladar - and the love that blossomed between them - were able to survive and their story is a lovely one. The letters they wrote to each other and their memories of the event, though guarded and still veiled by a sheer curtain of privacy that they kept between themselves and their daughter (the author), weave a spellbinding tale that is almost too touching to be real. With its richly detailed depiction of Hungarian life, culture and politics during the years of the second world war, its emotional account of the family's journey, its terrible descriptions of the concentration camps and their effect on some of the family and its insightful look into the resulting emotional and psychological changes those experiences wrought, I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is a memoir that is well-deserving of high praise. My only quibbles with the book would be the smattering of typographical errors that were present (which, granted, were in a reviewer’s uncorrected proof that I received from the publisher and will be fixed before final release) and the few portions of the book where the narrative is weighted down by just a little bit too much political detail. These faults are minor, however, and can be overlooked because of its overall quality. Certainly worth five stars!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    I would really give this 4.5 stars as it is close to a classic book on the subject. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak grew up in a family compound in the United States with a fascinating history that she didn't truly understand until after her parents death. This book follows her parents lives in Hungary in the years leading up to and including World War II. Her mother was born into an extremely weatlhy Jewish family while her father rose to prominence in the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Office. Both familie I would really give this 4.5 stars as it is close to a classic book on the subject. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak grew up in a family compound in the United States with a fascinating history that she didn't truly understand until after her parents death. This book follows her parents lives in Hungary in the years leading up to and including World War II. Her mother was born into an extremely weatlhy Jewish family while her father rose to prominence in the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Office. Both families had to make terrible sacrifices and lived through extremely terrifying situations during the war and it affected them for the rest of their lives. Sqegedy-Maszak writes with such clarity that it is easy to be swept into this story and she was able to write with such intensity about the weeks leading up to the occupation of Hungary that it was impossible to put down. I truly enjoyed this book and believe that the author did a magnificent job tranforming her family's complicated history into a compellingly readable book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mady

    I have been curious to learn more about Hungary, its people and history since I lived in Budapest. This is an account of the writer's family history, how they managed to escape persecution as "jews" in Hungary during 2nd World War, how they suffered and what turned them into the human beings that she met. It was quite extraordinaire that she managed to describe her parents not as she knew them, but as she found them to be in the earlier times of their relationship through their letters and testim I have been curious to learn more about Hungary, its people and history since I lived in Budapest. This is an account of the writer's family history, how they managed to escape persecution as "jews" in Hungary during 2nd World War, how they suffered and what turned them into the human beings that she met. It was quite extraordinaire that she managed to describe her parents not as she knew them, but as she found them to be in the earlier times of their relationship through their letters and testimonies of other relatives and friends. Besides going through her family history, Marianne also did a remarkable job of recreating life in Budapest before and during 2nd WW. As a plus, the stay of the family in Portugal allowed me a glimpse onto the Portuguese life in this era, while the country remained "neutral" in this period of European destruction.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák is a well-written, engrossing story of the intertwining history of Hungary and her parents’ ancestors. Szegedy-Maszák frames the book as the romance of two people, her parents, and the exciting and traumatic events they lived through. The author (a first generation American of Hungarian immigrants) grew up in a house on Patterson Street in Washington D.C. surrounded by Hungarian relatives and reminders of I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary by Marianne Szegedy-Maszák is a well-written, engrossing story of the intertwining history of Hungary and her parents’ ancestors. Szegedy-Maszák frames the book as the romance of two people, her parents, and the exciting and traumatic events they lived through. The author (a first generation American of Hungarian immigrants) grew up in a house on Patterson Street in Washington D.C. surrounded by Hungarian relatives and reminders of a glamorous and accomplished Hungarian past: But a far more significant fact of life—the polar opposite of both the American dream and the immigrant experience—was the fundamental awareness, so fundamental that even now I hardly question it, that the lives of the younger generation were destined to be less interesting, less accomplished, less erudite, and less meaningful than those of the adults. Even though the civilized and soft-spoken members of the older generation who dominated the household had settled into a life of reflection instead of action, it didn’t matter. What mattered was what preceded us. The life before America. The life before the war. Yes, even life during the war. The daily grind in America paled in comparison to the eradicated Hungarian world; the past trumped the present (xix). It’s no wonder she feels this way. Szegedy-Maszák was born into a family with Jewish (converted to Catholics) and Gentile roots of amazing talent and accomplishments. It is perhaps no surprise she finds herself and American life a bit lacking. However, that is not a main theme of the book. She focuses on telling the story of her parents—Aladár Szegedy-Maszák and Hanna Kornfeld. In telling the story of her parents (and her grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins), she also tells the tragic story of Hungary (specifically Budapest) as a beautiful and proud European country weakened and torn apart by two world wars and Communist control. I enjoyed this book very much. It includes a lot of historical detail and I learned a lot about Hungary and how it was the last country under German control still defying the Nazis and trying to keep its Jewish population safe. Because the historical details are important and related to the main characters Aladár and Hanna, the book is never dry. Szegedy-Maszák quotes passages from her parents’ letters as they wrote to each other when the separated—she because she was in hiding from the Nazis and he because he was a political prisoner in the concentration camp Dachau. The love they have for each other and the longing they express is both sad and beautiful (in one letter he writes to her that despite his troubles and anxieties, “your presence is the reason that the world looks so lovely” 61). While I did not set out to read a book about the Holocaust, this book does delve into those horrible events because Hanna’s family is Jewish. This book is a repudiation of grief-porn novels such as The Book Thief--a book written to evoke sadness in readers merely by mentioning the word “Jew.” I Kiss Your Hands Many Times however does not aim for that kind of cheap emotion. Szegedy-Maszák reports the facts of what happened to Jews—and Jewish sympathizers—under the Nazi regime. This matter-of-fact reporting of atrocities affected me more deeply and troubled me more about the state of the human heart than any nonsense Markus Zusak’s manipulative novel did. More than ever, I see that novel as a disgraceful addition to Holocaust literature. The title of the book comes from a Hungarian expression that generally closes letters to friends and loved ones: “I kiss your hands many times.” Szegedy-Maszák explains it as a holdover of old-fashioned formalities; that when taking leave of a woman, the man kisses her hand. The gesture is so embedded in Hungarian culture that it is part of the language and expresses both welcome and departure. In one letter to Hanna, Aladár closes the letter by wishing her “sunshine, few frustrations and the knowledge that I kiss your hands many times” (xxiii). It’s a lovely sentiment. I highly recommend this book. The love story is beautiful and the historical detail is interesting (and tragic—the failure of the British and American governments to help Hungary defeat the Nazis and, later, the Soviet Union is difficult to read). The author includes pictures on the section pages to help the reader identify the people in the book (however the “list of illustrations” doesn’t appear until the very end of the book which I found annoying—all that flipping back and forth).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    From pre-war to German Occupation, to the Russian invasion, to communism, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak tells how her family was buffeted by the forces of history in 20th century Hungary. The stage is set with reminiscences of the family home in Washington, DC where letters and clippings were found upon the death of her mother. These flesh out the family story she knew as a child far away from the trauma of her parents' early lives. Her mother's family was one on the wealthiest industrial families in H From pre-war to German Occupation, to the Russian invasion, to communism, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak tells how her family was buffeted by the forces of history in 20th century Hungary. The stage is set with reminiscences of the family home in Washington, DC where letters and clippings were found upon the death of her mother. These flesh out the family story she knew as a child far away from the trauma of her parents' early lives. Her mother's family was one on the wealthiest industrial families in Hungary. While many were practicing Catholics, they were still ethnically Jewish. Her father, from a Christian middle class background, was a rising star in Hungary's diplomatic corps. The pre-war days were glorious for her mother's family: big houses, servants, country estates, art and jewelry collections and social status. As the war choked Europe, they were insulated from shortages by wealth and a country estate with a large working farm. As the Nazi's expanded to Austria and Czechoslovakia, their influence in Hungary forced changes. To meet the new 51% Christian ownership requirement the Kornfelds and Chorin enterprises transferred some ownership to Christians who had married into the family and to some managerial employees. In the 1944 German occupation, we learn how Marianne Szegedy-Maszak's mother and her family packed their bags and how they hid; how some were found, arrested, interrogated and eventually bargained with. Next is the story of the relocation to Portugal and places beyond having to leave some family members as "hostages" in Hungary. Her father in his diplomatic post warned of the Nazis. He had been to Germany and saw Hitler and his fanaticism up close. As an "ally" Germans were infiltrating Hungary's government and society, Aladar Szegedy-Maszak tried to get word to the Allies abroad that the (real) Hungarian government wanted to surrender. In the 1944 occupation we see Aladar Szegedy-Maszak hiding in plain sight (to flee would endanger his family), his arrest, his interrogations and his imprisonment at Dachau. At the war's end, for a brief interlude Aladar headed Hungary's Embassy in Washington, DC. His family, left behind, suffers for this human qualities and prescience as a diplomat. The narrative shows how the Soviets were able to control Hungary which had basically been purged of civil society by the Nazis. Aladar's attempts through his position at the Embassy to interest the west in Hungary are warmly met but were not successful. At the full Russian takeover, he resigns to an uncertain future. Those on both sides of the family have survivor's guilt. The Kornfelds and the Chorins face public criticism for their deal with the Nazis as others suffered. Alador's memories of his days in Dachau compound his disposition to depression. This history is an excellent companion to Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 which gives and overview of how Russia capitalized on the ruins of war to take over Eastern Europe. War weary democracies were not going to risk extending war by challenging Stalin, the Soviet Union and local Communist partisans in power. Like Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 it helps to make the history of central Europe accessible to the general reader of English. It is both a serious work of research and a family narrative. I highly recommend this book and salute its author for bringing it all together.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This was a cut above other Holocaust memoirs. It concerned Hungary and an extended Hungarian family, an unusual setting and subject. I liked the beautiful love story between the author's parents, more amazing since it was true. After her mother died, her father having predeceased her mother, Marianne discovered a cache of letters from her father to her mother written over a period of years. A friend who knew Hungarian translated them for her. Though Marianne did not have the letters her mother wr This was a cut above other Holocaust memoirs. It concerned Hungary and an extended Hungarian family, an unusual setting and subject. I liked the beautiful love story between the author's parents, more amazing since it was true. After her mother died, her father having predeceased her mother, Marianne discovered a cache of letters from her father to her mother written over a period of years. A friend who knew Hungarian translated them for her. Though Marianne did not have the letters her mother wrote her father, she pieced together the tragic, then ultimately triumphant story of her parents' love, which survived years of separation and hardship. Of the extended family: some are Jewish; some Gentile. The history of the Hungary of the wartime years is given. I did not know most of it; that was an education. The upper-class extended family lead a quiet life. Aladár, a diplomat in the Hungarian foreign service, and Hanna meet at a party and fall in love. After the Nazi invasion of Hungary, everything is turned upside down. Part of the family goes to Switzerland; Hanna and other family members go to Portugal, both neutral countries. Aladár is interned in Dachau. His experiences are horrific. At one point, he is part of a medical experiment on blood clotting. After the Americans liberate Dachau, he is released. He and Hanna finally marry in Budapest, after so many years of separation, keeping in touch by letter. Aladár had even proposed marriage by letter. After the war and a short-lived democratic government, the Soviet Union takes over and Aladár resigns his foreign service job. They are able to come to America. Finally, Aladár works for the Voice of America until he retires and they live in Washington, D.C. on Patterson Street. Little by little, other members of the extended family come to the U.S. and many live with them. They even plant a flower garden to remind them of their old home in Hungary. The author, as she is clearing out the house after her mother's death, finds other momentos of those wartime years, in addition to the letters. The final sentence of the book is: "So what was once Patterson Street, boils down to my grandparents and my aunt, my [three] brothers and me, and a love story of grandeur and tragedy between my mother and my father." The outstanding thread holding the memoir together was the miraculous, unbelievable love story of Marianne's parents. The narration was sometimes too matter-of-fact, too dry, and too detailed. I didn't connect with anyone except Hanna and Aladár. The death of their first baby son was poignant; with an earlier diagnosis and treatment, the baby could have lived. The effect Hungarian history of the wartime period had on Marianne's family and the privations suffered by the Hungarian people was told well. The title comes from the custom of kissing a lady's hand and means extra politeness and affection. Aladár most often signed his letters to Hanna with those words. This was an Advanced Reader's Copy, sent to me by the publisher.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Patty Mccormick

    What makes this book so remarkable is that it is a work of non-fiction. It is a true story. In Hungary thirty-two Jews obtain release to neutral countries, after striking a bargain with the Nazi party. In the late spring of 1944 thirty-two family members of a wealthy Jewish family gain freedom from persecution and escape to Portugal and Switzerland. After weeks of negotiations, Ferenc Chorin of the Manfred Weiss Company and Csepel Industries buys his family’s way out of Hungary by turning the fam What makes this book so remarkable is that it is a work of non-fiction. It is a true story. In Hungary thirty-two Jews obtain release to neutral countries, after striking a bargain with the Nazi party. In the late spring of 1944 thirty-two family members of a wealthy Jewish family gain freedom from persecution and escape to Portugal and Switzerland. After weeks of negotiations, Ferenc Chorin of the Manfred Weiss Company and Csepel Industries buys his family’s way out of Hungary by turning the family holdings over to the Germans. The Germans wanted the family’s businesses for several reasons. The holdings included a munitions factory and a large labor force. One other factor was that the Reich wanted it for financial reasons. The holdings and stocks represented a significant portion of the wealth of Hungary. Becher is an agent working for Himmler and negotiates the deal with Chorin. There was one draw back, one member from each family had to remain in Germany to prevent the families from slandering the Germans. I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is the story of Hanna’s family. Ferenc Chorin was her uncle. Although most of Hanna’s family had been Catholic for over twenty years the Hungarian government during World War II labeled them as Jewish. It was something that even years later when Hanna is in America she covers up. She even told her children not to tell their cousins. This book describes the history of Hungary and it’s politics before and after World War II and the effects on her family. The Hungarians were happy when Hitler attacked Russia. The Hungarians had no knowledge of the concentration camps and their activities. They felt that communism was their biggest fear. The love story of Hanna and Aldar is the foundation of the book. Aldar is employed in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry. This places him in a very difficult position during his negotiations with Germany due to his known anti-Nazi beliefs and his relations with Hanna. He met Hitler and ate lunch with him in his dining car. Aldar tells of his meeting with Hitler and the discussion that they had. Aldar later becomes a political prisoner in Dachau in November of 1944. Hanna and Aldar both survive the trials and the tribulations of the war and their love with stands the test of time. Overall I liked the book. It is very dense with facts and the politics take up a large portion of the story. They are an integral part to the understanding of the events that occur. I tend to gravitate toward the human interest part of the books I read. I am more interested in the thoughts and emotions of the characters than the politics. I would have liked a map of Hungary and Budapest in the front pages of the book. I am horrible at geography. I enjoyed the many photos that were included, but there were no captions under them identifying the people. This book is an incredible story of one family’s survival of the Hitler regime. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elsa

    I visited Budapest a couple of weeks ago and my guide in the Dohany Synagogue mentioned this book as a very interesting reading. It was a portrait of Hungary during WWII seen by the point of view of a wealthy Jewish family. I was determined to buy a book about Hungarian history, so, when I saw this book in the bookstore, I decided to buy it. “I kiss your hands many times” is the story of the Marianne Szegedy-Maszak ’s family, since the end of XIX century until the present day. Through old letter I visited Budapest a couple of weeks ago and my guide in the Dohany Synagogue mentioned this book as a very interesting reading. It was a portrait of Hungary during WWII seen by the point of view of a wealthy Jewish family. I was determined to buy a book about Hungarian history, so, when I saw this book in the bookstore, I decided to buy it. “I kiss your hands many times” is the story of the Marianne Szegedy-Maszak ’s family, since the end of XIX century until the present day. Through old letters and new conversations, she discovered stories that she never knew, even though she was very close to her family. Some parts of the book are not easy to read. I know a lot about WWII, but I’m not very familiar with the details of Hungary history on this period. Well, to tell the truth, I’m not very familiar with any period of Hungary history. For many years the only thing I knew about Hungary was that once it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and I only knew that because I saw Sissi’s trilogy films, with Romy Schneider. It also does not help that I cannot speak a word in Hungarian, and so it was very difficult for me to memorized names and locations. As a History book I have read better, but I don’t think that the main idea of this book was to tell the History of Hungary, the purpose was to tell the personal story of a family. There were several interesting aspects in this book, but for me what made it a worthwhile reading was the story of Hanna and Aladár, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak’s parents, not for the story itself, is not a very original story, but because it was told through the eyes, and feelings, of their daughter. She spoke of love, incomprehension, pride, shame, the loss she felt when they die, and I saw myself in so many of the things she said. I believe all children have some, or all, of this feelings for their parents, one time or another. I guess it’s easy to tell the story of our ancestors, the distance of time and space give us a detached perspective that makes the storytelling much simpler. However, with parents, everything is completely different. Parents are too close, and certain things in their past are never spoken, they don’t tell, and we don’t ask. We never saw our parents as romantic figures, they look so normal, so common, so detached from the intense feelings that we saw on movies or read about in books. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak discovered that her parents, who lived through extraordinary events, really fell in love with each other, and that love, despite all the ups and downs of daily life, lasted until the day they died. She spend years without really knowing her parents. Did I knew mine? Does anyone?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shari Larsen

    This is the story of the author's parents, Hanna and Aladar, who met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry, he was anti-Facist and anti-Nazi, and was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Daschau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, an industrialist who owned one of the largest factories in Hungary and patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family. Though they converted to Catholicism decades before, in the eyes of the law the This is the story of the author's parents, Hanna and Aladar, who met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry, he was anti-Facist and anti-Nazi, and was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Daschau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, an industrialist who owned one of the largest factories in Hungary and patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family. Though they converted to Catholicism decades before, in the eyes of the law they were still considered Jewish and were forced to go into hiding. This memoir follows the lives of Hanna and Aladar, and their families, from 1940-1947, and how their lives were complicated by politics and war. Much of the story comes from the letters Aladar had written to Hanna over those years. This was a fascinating story, though it seemed to slow down at times with discussions of politics. I do not fault the author with this though, I realize the politics were essential to the story, it's just that politics have never been a subject that has interested me, not even American politics. The heart of the story though was the love story of Hanna and Aladar; they were at risk at that time just by being together; in those days, it was illegal for Jews to marry non-Jews, even though Hanna was not a practicing Jew. Aladar was also in a position where could have married several other eligible women to further his political career, but he chose love. I learned a lot reading this book. I have read other books in the past, both fiction and nonfiction, dealing with the Holocaust, but this is the first time I have read about what took place in Hungary. I don't know if Aladar Szegedy-Maszak is considered a hero in Hungary, but he should be; he risked his life trying to bring peace to Hungary and keep the Jewish population there safe. There were a few family photos included in the book, but no descriptions about the photos or any information as to who they were. I wish I could have known more about the photos and when they were taken. Also, including a family tree would have been helpful as the book delved into a lot of family history. I received a free early reviewer's copy of the book through www.LibraryThing.com; it will be on sale 8/27/2013.

  15. 5 out of 5

    wade

    A woman's nicely done tribute to her family who were able to survive the holocaust in Hungary. This includes parents, grandparents and extended family members. The were prominent people both politically and economically being connected to the Hungarian government and also being large business owners which helps them to some extent as the Nazis have to a least somewhat careful in their treatment. The majority of the book takes place between 1940 and 1945 before the author was born. She skillfull A woman's nicely done tribute to her family who were able to survive the holocaust in Hungary. This includes parents, grandparents and extended family members. The were prominent people both politically and economically being connected to the Hungarian government and also being large business owners which helps them to some extent as the Nazis have to a least somewhat careful in their treatment. The majority of the book takes place between 1940 and 1945 before the author was born. She skillfully assembles diaries, personal papers, letters and government documents in this very thorough and compelling story on family survival during that terrible time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Carroll

    This was the third historically accurate novel I've read about Central Europeans in the run-up to WWII (others were Hare with Amber Eyes and Invisible Bridge). Each was heartbreaking in the trust that Jews involved placed in their fatherland, the cruelty of humans to other humans, and the resourcefulness necessary to survive such chaos. I Kiss your Hands Many Times was perhaps less elegantly written compared to Hare with Amber Eyes, but the suspense and historical detail was very absorbing. This was the third historically accurate novel I've read about Central Europeans in the run-up to WWII (others were Hare with Amber Eyes and Invisible Bridge). Each was heartbreaking in the trust that Jews involved placed in their fatherland, the cruelty of humans to other humans, and the resourcefulness necessary to survive such chaos. I Kiss your Hands Many Times was perhaps less elegantly written compared to Hare with Amber Eyes, but the suspense and historical detail was very absorbing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I enjoyed this book. Fascinating story tracing two families. Learned a lot about the history of Jews and the coming of the Germans to Hungary in WWII. Especially meaningful in light of upcoming trip to Budapest.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary Poignant and painful; beautiful and wrenching…Szegedy-Maszak takes us through a time and place in a way nobody else could. If you are a serious historian, please consider this a must-read. When I applied to receive this story as a Goodreads giveaway, I did so as an historian, conscious of a blind spot in my own education. I knew too little of Hungary and its past, apart from that it had become a part of the Soviet block at some point I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary Poignant and painful; beautiful and wrenching…Szegedy-Maszak takes us through a time and place in a way nobody else could. If you are a serious historian, please consider this a must-read. When I applied to receive this story as a Goodreads giveaway, I did so as an historian, conscious of a blind spot in my own education. I knew too little of Hungary and its past, apart from that it had become a part of the Soviet block at some point, and then became independent once more. I wanted to learn more about the country’s political and economic history, and if I had to read a love story to do that, then I would. When the book arrived, I gasped as I pulled it from its envelope. Beautifully bound in hardcover with folio-cut pages and a pearlescent cover featuring the family about which she writes, I held it in my hands, showed it to my family, and then swore my head would not be turned by the beauty on the cover, and the painstakingly aesthetic manner in which the interior is designed. The family tree at the start of the book actually turns out to be essential, because many people are mentioned many times here, and to keep them straight, I would have to keep flipping back. But I didn’t know that yet. I saw the literary (and as it turns out, highly appropriate) quotes that adorn each chapter’s beginning, along with images from the past, snapshots of what is no more. So…incredibly good taste, and no expense has been spared. But can she write? Oh yes! And by the time I was done, I had no fewer than fifty sticky-noted pages, and worse, every single one of them marks a passage that seems really important. Now I must pick and choose, which is a dreadful predicament. Though it tells a good deal of what took place behind the scenes before, during, and after the second world war in Hungary (albeit from the very conservative perspective of considerable material interest and self-involvement), it is also a deeply personal story, told well by an already accomplished writer with a literary pedigree a mile long and granite solid. This is her first book, but Szegedy-Maszak is already a respected writer and journalist. Her love of family and the details that governed their lives in Hungary, Europe, and the USA are what makes this memoir compelling. For many, this will be a more palatable way to learn history as well. Because of the role of extended family, which is inextricably intertwined with that of her parents, the reader must wade through lengthy genealogy in the beginning. I have read other reviews saying that the reviewer gave up on the book because of the initial level of detail, and indeed, at first it is tempting to wonder why anyone who is not related to the author would have an interest. Though the author has doubtless already hacked away at the introductory chapters and removed portions that it hurt her heart to pull and cut, a little more pruning at the start would make this book more readable. It’s a 4.5 on my very picky scale anyway, though, because what comes after its somewhat tedious beginning is remarkable and well told. It is a very scholarly yet heart-felt telling of how world events have impacted her family, and vice versa, and it is when she describes poignant experiences in a painterly, often painful way that her family’s story becomes most absorbing. The writer grows up in a multigenerational household in which children are almost irrelevant, seated below the salt at the long formal dinner table. Everything the elders value and discuss has come and gone. Her mother descends from the Weiss and Kornfeld (later to become “de Kornfeld”) families, and her mother’s grandfather was once the most wealthy industrial and agricultural baron in all of Hungary. Now most of the empire is gone, and the family sighs wistfully and speaks about the past, when they were someone, when a mere phone call or visit from Weiss or Kornfeld could cause a policy change, or change someone’s life. *consider everything after this to be a spoiler alert* Her parents had been very different people. Her mother had grown up in a vacuum of sorts created by immense wealth and privilege. Even as the Nazis stormed across Europe, Hungary was, by the author’s telling, insulated for a long time, unlike their unlucky neighbors, the Poles. Hungary wanted the land that had been lost to Czechoslovakia in the Treaty of Trianon following the First World War, an immense piece of real estate inhabited primarily by Hungarians, and which had been taken from them. When Nazi tanks rolled into Austria and boundaries were redrawn, the Hungarians held their breath. They understood that with the USSR fighting as an Allied nation, they would see no restitution of land from the Allies. Thus, they became an Axis power, at first tentatively, with the hope that if enough munitions were produced by the Manfred Weiss Works, makers of tanks, munitions, and later in the war, airplanes, the Germans would see no need to invade and supervise Hungary. And this was the Hungarian argument against occupation: we can do so much for you independently, oh Germany. Don’t trouble yourselves coming here. It’s all good. In the midst of all this, Hanna Kornfeld, the writer’s mother, meets a brooding intellectual and politician, Aladar Szegedy-Maszak. When he signs his letters to her—first formal, then impassioned, but with the restraint decorum required—he concludes with “I kiss your hand”, which is merely the equivalent of the Western “yours truly” (when we aren’t) or “sincerely” (even less so). It was a format, until it was more. He is an intellectual, a scholar, and a very busy man. He is anti-fascist, and trying to somehow involve the Allied forces, so that Hungary can make its separate peace with Britain and the US, but Britain holds off, regarding Hungary as not of primary importance strategically (and in fact, they are surrounded by fascists, so it would be a stretch by the time Hungary makes its entreaty), and also, Hungary is regarded as opportunist. Here the author bristles, and I think she doth protest too much. My sense is that the time to contact the Allies was when Hitler invaded Poland. One doesn’t offer Hitler endless munitions, and then complain to the Allies when he sends his troops in to do exactly what they’ve done everywhere else in Europe. Aladar, however, is not offering endless munitions; he is trying to persuade anyone who will listen to him that the fascists must be resisted at all costs. He is arrested for his anti-fascist activities and sent to Dachau. He survives , partly because he is treated as a political prisoner, which for some reason is considered a relatively (RELATIVELY!) privileged category, and also because the fascists don’t cast their eye toward Hungary until near the end of the war. And when they come, they do it in the way only fascists can. The Danube runs red with blood. This is not allegory, but a literal reference. Despite every record that was burned, every photograph that was destroyed, there is still plenty of documentation, and the author provides it all, the child of the scholar become scholar herself. The bibliography at the book’s end, along with the notes for each chapter, is impressive. Once Aladar is free, his experience leaves him brooding, nearly broken, and overcome with survivor’s guilt. It is with trepidation, then, that he contacts Hanna once more when the war has ended, because as he tells her, he is not the same man he was before the war; he has no money and no job; yet the one thing he knows is that he loves her and wants to marry her if she is still interested. He kisses her hands many, many times. Interestingly, Hanna is fine. Her family has swung a deal. They will sign over all of the factories, the real estate, in fact the large majority of the family fortune, in exchange for their lives somewhere outside the Nazi realm. Let us go to a neutral country, and you can have it all. The fascists want to hold a few of the family back as hostages. It is here that the writer’s aunt blanches and almost does not sign. Yet the family understands that there is really nothing to keep the Nazis from taking everything and having every last one of them killed. With the coolness that generally characterizes the ruling class, the family cuts its losses and runs. Who can blame them? Others would surely have done the same, given the chance. They go to Portugal initially; later some will try to rebuild a life in Budapest, others in Switzerland. But it is Aladar whose political practices and courage open the door to the United States. It is remembered after the war that he has pleaded all along, from the very beginning, for Hungary to become a part of the Allied umbrella. He had met Hitler, and he had heard him speak. He knew the guy wasn’t someone you wanted to rule your people. He did everything he could to take Hungary into Allied hands, but it didn’t happen. He nearly died in the undertaking, and now, the US gazes at him with a bit more focus. He is a friendly face in war-torn Europe, and might make an excellent liaison with the new Hungarian government When the war is over, is appointed minister to Hungary for the USA. With a moue of distaste at the notion of leaving Europe, and understandable grief at leaving her family at such a wrenching time, Hanna agrees to marry Alastar and move to the USA. Numerous family members will later follow. But small countries all lose when enormously powerful countries sit down, victorious, to divide the post-war map, as if it were a smallish birthday cake where everyone at the table ought to get a little piece. Hungarians will not determine the fate of Hungarians. The USSR has paid dearly in human flesh and material loss, and now it will build itself a buffer zone to protect its turf against future incursion. The Allied nations understand the nature of Stalinism (and this is my own historical interpretation; the writer embraces the Cold War era view of "totalitarianism" with regard to the now-moribund USSR). It is ultimately conservative; the USSR was not interested in expanding across the globe, only in holding onto its own power base. Just as France gained back land it had lost, and just as the US experienced unprecedented power and influence over the globe, so would Mother Russia see to it that her own needs were met. Hungary was diced up even finer, since a fair amount of anti-Stalinist sentiment prevailed there. When they were finished, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and other satellite states stood like sentries on the Soviet perimeter. As for the heroic Aladar, he refuses to recognize the new Hungarian government. He welcomes the wife of the deposed head of state, one who was friendly toward a capitalist system. The Smallholder Party that Aladar favored has gone down, but he is not out of the fight yet. Soon, the newspapers in the Stalinist orbit will display a photograph of the Hungarian minister kissing the hand of this woman as she leaves the US, and he is branded a traitor. His courage gets him nothing in the US except the opportunity to remain with his family as a US citizen (small potatoes for the writer’s family, yet something that is held dearly and hard to get these days!) I was chagrined to see that he went to work for the right-wing (my characterization, not the author’s) Radio Free Europe. He had the integrity to resign when he learned this enterprise was CIA-run, but the Voice of America cannot be regarded by a Marxist (of the non-Stalinist variety) such as myself. The writer is at her strongest when she injects the deeply personal moments into her narrative: a family member explains to her that when she views the photographs of bodies piled high at the death camps, she searches the faces of the corpses to “see if one knows anyone.” Suddenly the Holocaust becomes up close and personal in a way only trumped by Schindler’s List and Night. Family members have died there; this was not as clean an exit for her family as it is made out to be in the press. Though despondent over the loss of his country’s autonomy; his own survivor’s guilt, including his inability to save the members of his family in Hungary who were killed or hurt by the Stalinists in retaliation against his activities abroad; and finally, the death of his and Hanna’s first-born and namesake, Alastar still travels to Hungary with the writer, his daughter, in the late 70’s, and he is still sharp enough mentally to shush her when she naively inquires about the number of police all over the airport. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak points out that he must have been clinically depressed, but not enough medical advances had been made for him to have anything to help him beyond Valium, a drug that’s great for anxiety, but doesn’t really do much for depression. Though the writer seems perhaps most deeply attached to the female members of her family, I find myself more taken with her father, who despite his political leanings that are almost opposite to my own, was clearly a man of principle and integrity, and who knew how to roll up his sleeves and do what needed doing. In retirement, he finds that he needs to see things grow; he loses himself in the family garden, and visitors mistake him for the gardener. There is so much more to see here, and this is clearly a work wrought from love of family and origin rather than something done primarily for fiscal gain. For those interested in the Holocaust; Hungarian history; or for women like Szegedy-Maszak (and me) who find that we understand our mothers so much better only after they grow old and die, this book should not be missed. The first few chapters are slow, but forge on, and you will be rewarded.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom Bilcze

    I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is a well-written chronicle of Hungarian Jews in the first half of the twentieth century. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak was fortunate to have her father’s journals, letters between her parents and family, and access to many family members and acquaintances to write this chilling and intriguing story of the family. My paternal family immigrated to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. I was surrounded by Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans during my youth. I I Kiss Your Hands Many Times is a well-written chronicle of Hungarian Jews in the first half of the twentieth century. Marianne Szegedy-Maszak was fortunate to have her father’s journals, letters between her parents and family, and access to many family members and acquaintances to write this chilling and intriguing story of the family. My paternal family immigrated to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. I was surrounded by Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans during my youth. It left a deep impression of these people and foods in my life. Three years ago, I retired and bicycled through Hungary in search of my roots. My Hungarian guides shared some history of the country, especially during the WWII and Cold War years. This book filled in the pieces and gave me a deeper look into what the lives of Hungarians, particularly Jewish Hungarians, looked like at that time. The Nazi’s Final Solution, the Holocaust, and the plight of European Jews is something that the world should never forget. This story brought that time into perspective for me with a deeply personal story. Thank you Marianne Szegedy-Maszak for your perseverance and talent to bring your family’s story to light.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Waterman

    This book is a historical chronicle of the Szegedy- Maszak and related families as events surrounding World War 2 extend to Hungary. I was absolutely captivated by this true story as related by the author upon discovering her parents love letters after their deaths and having them translated. Her mother was a Jewish daughter of a wealthy factory owner, her father a political advisor and leader of Hungary. The author relates candidly that growing up solidly middle class after her parents exile to This book is a historical chronicle of the Szegedy- Maszak and related families as events surrounding World War 2 extend to Hungary. I was absolutely captivated by this true story as related by the author upon discovering her parents love letters after their deaths and having them translated. Her mother was a Jewish daughter of a wealthy factory owner, her father a political advisor and leader of Hungary. The author relates candidly that growing up solidly middle class after her parents exile to America she did not glimpse the opulence of their former lifestyle until a visit to Budapest with them as an adult. The love story she further uncovers after their deaths is shared amongst the social and political backdrops of their time and will leave you thinking of them and their lives for a long time. I listened to this book on audible and while it was so helpful with pronunciation, I also loved hearing the inflection of the authors tone change as events tore at her personally. I was quickly captivated. I also recommend the text version for the family tree and some photos that are included.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Iciek

    A truly moving story about the author's parents, their families, and experiences in World War II Hungary and postwar U.S. The author's descriptions of prewar Hungary and Budapest left me with a deep desire to visit this city. The horrible traumas the country experienced during the war under the Germans were bad enough, but it sounds as though they were only exceeded by the rapacious cruelty of the Soviets once their tanks rolled into the country. The author's father, Alodar Szegedy-Maszak, was a A truly moving story about the author's parents, their families, and experiences in World War II Hungary and postwar U.S. The author's descriptions of prewar Hungary and Budapest left me with a deep desire to visit this city. The horrible traumas the country experienced during the war under the Germans were bad enough, but it sounds as though they were only exceeded by the rapacious cruelty of the Soviets once their tanks rolled into the country. The author's father, Alodar Szegedy-Maszak, was a Hungarian diplomat. He met Hitler on several occasions, and was strongly anti-Nazi. When the Nazis invaded and took over the country in 1944 he was eventually arrested and sent to Dachau for several months until the Americans liberated the camp. On his return to Budapest in early 1945, he was soon back in diplomatic service and sent to the US with his new wife, Hana Kornfeldt, as minister from Hungary. Within 15 months, however, the Communists had taken over, and Alodar, a fervent anti-Communist, lost his position and stayed in the US. The story of the author's family's intense experiences of World War II are vividly painted in this unforgettable book. Highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Narmene

    What an enormous disappointment. I ended up skimming through the last 30 pages because at that point I just had enough. I bought this book expecting the author to dive into the letters shared between her mother and father (as was advertised). Instead it was essentially a history textbook with a sprinkle of quotations from some letters thrown in here and there. I learned way more about Hungarian politics than was probably necessary. It felt like the author spent the entire book trying to explain What an enormous disappointment. I ended up skimming through the last 30 pages because at that point I just had enough. I bought this book expecting the author to dive into the letters shared between her mother and father (as was advertised). Instead it was essentially a history textbook with a sprinkle of quotations from some letters thrown in here and there. I learned way more about Hungarian politics than was probably necessary. It felt like the author spent the entire book trying to explain that her family also suffered through the war. However, nearly all of her family members spent their time living comfortably in the warmth of Portugal. Unless you are a history buff who has a unique interest in learning more about the political situation in Hungary during WWII I would not recommend this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rayna

    Incredibly beautiful, densely detailed, exhaustively researched book that tells the story of the author's parents and their respective families, their histories in Hungary, experiences during the war years and afterwards. What I love best about this book is how the deeply personal story of Hanna and Aladar is placed in the larger frame of world events, and how the author alternates gracefully between relating historical events and telling you the story of her family. The result is both sweeping Incredibly beautiful, densely detailed, exhaustively researched book that tells the story of the author's parents and their respective families, their histories in Hungary, experiences during the war years and afterwards. What I love best about this book is how the deeply personal story of Hanna and Aladar is placed in the larger frame of world events, and how the author alternates gracefully between relating historical events and telling you the story of her family. The result is both sweeping and intimate.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dorky Girl

    This book really wasn't my cup of tea and I wished there were more love letters to read, but I would highly recommend this book if you like memoirs mixed with history. Make sure to pick up this book! Full Review Here >> http://callievamp.blogspot.com/2013/0... This book really wasn't my cup of tea and I wished there were more love letters to read, but I would highly recommend this book if you like memoirs mixed with history. Make sure to pick up this book! Full Review Here >> http://callievamp.blogspot.com/2013/0...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Simon Shapiro

    Fabulously interesting subject, but not well written. Too much repetition, and far too much extraneous information. It looked as though the author included every scrap of information she found about her family. A strong editor should have forced her to cut the length of the book in half, and it would have been terrific. I baled out after about a third of the book. My time is too valuable to me.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I didn't know much about Hungarian history before starting this book, but I learned a lot. This was a completely different WWII story than I've read before and I enjoyed learning about their family and how they survived. It did seem to run a little long and could probably have ended right after he resigned from being the Hungarian ambassador, but overall a very worthwhile read. I didn't know much about Hungarian history before starting this book, but I learned a lot. This was a completely different WWII story than I've read before and I enjoyed learning about their family and how they survived. It did seem to run a little long and could probably have ended right after he resigned from being the Hungarian ambassador, but overall a very worthwhile read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alicja Chojnacka-bailly

    Gripping account of the fate of two Hungarian families during WW2 and in the years leading up to Hungary falling behind the Iron Curtain. The book is very well researched and a great read both for history affectionados and those who fancy a riveting story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    A beautiful account of a family history set in WWII, however, there is some detail which is purely what the author inferred to certain events. In some ways, I found some similarities in the author's father to how Madeleine Albright has describe her father and childhood in her books. A beautiful account of a family history set in WWII, however, there is some detail which is purely what the author inferred to certain events. In some ways, I found some similarities in the author's father to how Madeleine Albright has describe her father and childhood in her books.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    Enlightening story of hungary's role during World War II told from the perspective of two specific Hungarian citizens and their families stories. The names were hard to follow in the audio form as well as the different family member connections which is why I gave it three stars. Enlightening story of hungary's role during World War II told from the perspective of two specific Hungarian citizens and their families stories. The names were hard to follow in the audio form as well as the different family member connections which is why I gave it three stars.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tiffanie

    The history is sad and spectacular. The family's story is incredible and gives a good window into that difficult time. The history is sad and spectacular. The family's story is incredible and gives a good window into that difficult time.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.