The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was perhaps the most dramatic single event of the Cold War and a major turning point in history. Though it ended unsuccessfully, the spontaneous uprising of Hungarians against their country's Communist party and the Soviet occupation forces in the wake of Stalin's death demonstrated to the world at large the failure of Communism. In full view of the Western media—and therefore the world—the Russians were obliged to use force on a vast scale to subdue armed students, factory workers, and intellectuals in the streets of a major European capital.
In October 1956, Michael Korda and three fellow Oxford undergraduates traveled to Budapest in a beat-up Volkswagen to bring badly needed medicine to the hospitals—and to participate, at street level, in one of the great battles of the postwar era. Journey to a Revolution is at once history and a compelling memoir—the author's riveting account of the course of the revolution, from its heroic beginnings to the sad martyrdom of its end.
Korda, the former editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, marries history and memoir in this vivid account of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. After sketching Hungary’s unhappy past, he recalls how he and three fellow Oxford students drove from London to Budapest in a rusty VW packed with much needed medical supplies. The son of a Hungarian émigré, Korda had never visited his father’s homeland, but, having been raised on stories of Spanish Civil War heroics, he was “determined not to miss out” on the adventure offered by a similarly stirring cause. Korda and his companions fell in with the students manning the barricades, and he describes what they witnessed with unflinching precision: the collapse of a building riddled by shelling (the “unacknowledged spectator sport of the twentieth century”) and tank turrets scattered “like huge crushed beetles.”