One Nation's Nightmare: Hungary 1956
published in October 1981
On October 25, 1981, the anniversary, the Hungarian Freedom Fighters Association of Great Britain awarded to David Irving their medal: The best work on the 1956 Uprising in the English language.
-- Ferenc Kunszabó, editor, Hunnia magazine (Budapest).
The Northern Echo: David Irving . . . has undertaken another of his massive historical studies, consulting records and newly available documents, interviewing eye witnesses and survivors of the various factions; and all of it recounted in that detailed, dramatic fashion that sometimes resembles a film script. Irving's assessment of Kadar. . . and of Nagy -- and all the heroes, backsliders, collaborators -- is a valuable contribution to modern history, as is his description of those momentous eleven days.
The Sunday Independent (Dublin) The book is classic popular history, based on the sort of research that is truly awesome. In one magnificent sweep Irving has totally redeemed himself. He should now be allowed to take his rightful place against the very best of our popular historians. 'Uprising' is in every sense of the word uplifting.
The Sunday Express: Mr Irving has made a massive compilation of the many published accounts and of testimonies of refugees collected afterwards and deposited in American university libraries. One or two diplomats, notably an attaché in the American legation, have made diaries available, which confirm the crippling infirmity of purpose in the West. Always assiduous, Mr Irving has also interviewed survivors in Budapest and even in Moscow.
The Daily Telegraph: Today Soviet forces again stand poised, ready to restore Russian control of a restless satellite. Poland is surrounded by a force of some 25 divisions and no one can foretell whether or when they might move in. It is an appropriate moment to look back on the event of 1956 to see what lessons can be learned from them. David Irving's Uprising! is based on a great deal of painstaking research into documents relating to the Hungarian revolt and on interviews with survivors . . . Mr Irving tells the story in a lively, readable style. . .It is sometimes disturbing and confusing, but so was the situation in Hungary of 1956 so that the total effect of Uprising! may well be close to the real thing. . .today the Poles are displaying the same will to resist and the same restraint. But. . .the situation described so vividly in Uprising! was very different from the situation in Poland today. . .
The Sunday Express: ,. .a forthright journalistic profile of the 1956 anti-Russian Hungarian revolt. . . . A vivid but lurid, exclamatory book that will further enrage professional historians.
The Times: Mr. Irving has made a massive compilation of the many published accounts and of testimonies of refugees collected afterwards and deposited in American university libraries. One or two diplomats, notably an attaché in the American legation, have made diaries available, which confirm the crippling infirmity of purpose in the West. Always assiduous, Mr. Irving has also interviewed survivors in Budapest and even in Moscow. . .
The Observer: . . . Uprising!, a huge, 624 page work of propaganda . . . the labour and energy applied to Uprising! are phenomenal. He has interviewed participants in Hungary and abroad, spoken to the Soviet general in command of the November intervention and ploughed through the interrogation records of Hungarian refugees compiled by the CIA and American academics. This provides the book's . . . achievement: the piecing together of an astoundingly detailed account, almost shot-by-shot, of the street fighting in central Budapest from the first phase on 23 October to the final Soviet counter-offensive in the early hours of 4 November. . . A work which must have taken years to write and research.
Now: David Irving has amassed a goldmine of facts . . . (but his conclusions are open to challenge.)
In this 25th anniversary year of that Hungarian October, there will doubtless be various ritual examinations of dead heroes, villains and dreams. David Irving's Uprising! beats the field by six months. It is the bravura product of six years' stupendous research, and, as a racy, riveting read, good value even at £13.50 -- a little over tuppence a page.
Professor Norman Stone, Professor of History, Cambridge University: I couldn't put it down this weekend, especially the first onefifth of it. Really an achievement.
New Society: Irving has talked to survivors. Apparently, he was not even impeded by the Hungarian government in his effort to talk to some of the highly placed figures in Imre Nagy's entourage. . . The result is a narrative which is extraordinarily powerful, indeed compelling. Its first merit is that it makes the street fighting clear. . . . Here, for all the length of the book, the action around certain key points is very cleverly presented: the radio station, the headquarters of the secret police, the Kilián barracks . . . The great merit of Irving's book is that it has a sense of perspective. . . It is a tale which, very obviously, has a moral for Poland today.
New Statesman: David Irving . . . is a marvellous example of that new breed of rightwing propagandist-cum-historian. . . Respectable historians such as A.J.P. Taylor have praised Irving as a patient researcher of unrivalled industry and success. Irving is obviously envied by his colleagues for his ability to win the confidence of retired Nazi officials who provided him with the diaries and other Hitler memorabilia necessary for his revisionist scoops. . . . No doubt Uprising! will win a few accolades, for like Irving's other books, it too contains previously undisclosed documents, exclusive interviews and a mountain of historical trivia. Irving is, after all, the first Western historian chosen by the Budapest regime to be given access to material on the 1956 revolution.
The Guardian: American academics and the CIA deserve the credit for the endless supply of interviews with survivors and refugees conducted in the months after the uprising. Irving skilfully combines these sources, and his own much later interviews, with his daily narrative of events. The result is disconcerting, rather like reading a film script, but it works particularly well
The Birmingham Post: Irving's strength is the graphic reconstruction. This book is addressed to the general reader in the you are there style of history. There is much vivid reconstruction. . . But hundreds of interviews and a search through American records provides this blow by blow account of the uprising with its solid underpinning. Irving even managed to interview in Moscow the commander of the Soviet forces that moved into Hungary. It shows what can be done by persistence.
A controversial history; no doubt it will be widely read.
The Journal (Newcastle upon Tyne): The uprising remains an enigma. This book does much to trace the reasons for its initial success and eventual failure.
The Northern Echo: David Irving . . . has undertaken another of his massive historical studies, consulting records and newly available documents, interviewing eye witnesses and survivors of the various factions; and all of it recounted in that detailed, dramatic fashion that sometimes resembles a film script.
Irving's assessment of Kádár . . . and of Nagy -- and all the heroes, backsliders, collaborators -- is a valuable contribution to modern history, as is his description of those momentous eleven days.
The Sunday Independent: In every sense the book is a triumph. Of writing: I can think of no other popular historian who writes better. Of research: no academic could come anywhere near the gut-wrenching first-hand material that Irving has obtained from his sources. Of perspective: nothing has hitherto been published on the Hungarian tragedy . . . that comes close to Irving's impeccably honest overall view.
The book is classic popular history, based on the sort of research that is truly awesome.
In one magnificent sweep Irving has totally redeemed himself. He should now be allowed to take his rightful place against the very best of our popular historians. Uprising is in every sense of the word uplifting.
The Financial Times: As a researcher Irving is obviously indefatigable. . . . His book is crammed with details which obviously come from exhaustive investigation of documents and interviewing of witnesses.
The Irish Times: This is magnificent history, impressively researched, carefully assembled and cleverly presented. Mr. Irving uses to his advantage his outstanding gift of clear thinking . . . A first class and intelligible account of the rising, interweaving the common man's experience with the view from the military barracks, government office and foreign chancellery.
The Yorkshire Post: The sheer confusions of the Hungarian uprising are vividly depicted in a long, highly dramatised but eminently readable account. . . His book is remarkable for incredibly detailed documentation and for a personalization of events which makes the whole, gripping episode come vibrantly alive.