hungary: drifting into benign oligarchy?


Despite János Kádár’s death in 1989, democratic elections in 1990, and the departure of Soviet troops, Kádár’s taint lingers on. A Good Comrade by Roger Gough is the first full-length biography of Kádár in English since William Shawcross’s Crime and Compromise (1974). Shawcross had little to work with; Gough has had the benefit of opened Hungarian and Soviet archives, not complete and certainly not completely trustworthy, but which illuminate some of the murk of Kádár’s life.

From Shawcross on, there was a tendency to pose the question: Kádár, monster or pragmatist? Yes, he was put in power by the Soviet Union in 1956, crushing the popular anti-Soviet uprising in Hungary, killing thousands. Yes, he presided over the execution of hundreds of his compatriots who hoped for democracy and free speech. Yes, he is, of course, a dictator, but look at Hungary – they have decent restaurants and boutiques where you can buy tasteful lingerie.

more from the TLS here.