Budapest 1956. Locations of Drama.

TitleBudapest 1956. Locations of Drama.
Publication TypePublication review
AuthorsHarms, Victoria
Author(s) of reviewed materialDent, Bob
PublisherBudapest: Európa Könyvkiadó
ISSNISBN 963 07 8033 X
Review year


Full Text

This book is the rare, highly informative combination of a city guide, a historical analysis and an overview of contemporary memorials of the 1956 revolution as well as practical travel advice, which was published in Hungarian and English simultaneously. Bob Dent offers more than the usual chronological tourist guide to the events through explanations on the locations and events taking place in Budapest as well as the marks that the revolution has left on the capital's contemporary image.

The author who has been living in Budapest since 1986 makes the reader familiar with the most important primary, earlier as well as more recent research and visual sources. Dent comments on controversies and contradictions that surround historical analyses on this topic while maintaining an essayist style of writing. In the foreword, János M. Rainer, the Director of the Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and one of the most important authorities on communist Hungary as well as the events of 1956, remarks on the high quality of the work and praises Dent's unique approach to the history of the Hungarian revolution.

Dent structures his presentation according to his own revolutionary city map: The presentation is separated into districts such as 'Around Parliament', 'Around the Great Boulevard' or 'Beyond the centre'. Numerous references to sources and comments on their reliability assure the reader that Dent has accessed all necessary archives and consulted all the significant literature during his research. The author introduces protagonists (Nagy, Maléter, Király, Mindszenty etc.) while maintaining a balanced picture of the roles they and other social agents (workers, women, state security, Soviet army etc.) played. In addition to an extensive bibliography, the British born writer offers an informative, analytical appendix on some of the most controversial issues (e.g. anti-Semitism, revolutionary violence).

For specialists on the Hungarian Revolution Locations of Drama probably remains little more than of some entertainment value. It addresses contemporary controversies but refrains from taking stances. Nor does Dent argue for new syntheses that would contribute to the major debates. However, for newcomers to this history and people with an above average interest in Budapest this book offers an engaging and exciting introduction to this complex and troublesome part of Hungarian history. In contrast to most of the earlier publications on 1956, Dent does not follow any political agendas, which feels refreshing. Any reader will look at Budapest from a different point of view after reading this book. Literally speaking, it will open your eyes to seeing it more historically.