Dealing with Dictators
The United States, Hungary, and East Central Europe 1942-1989
Indiana University Press 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & Society December 4, 2018 Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed
How does a political regime function? What contributes to a regime’s longevity and its subversion? Laszlo Borhi’s Dealing with Dictators: The United States, Hungary, and East Central Europe 1942-1989 (Indiana University Press, 2016) invites readers to consider the complex nature of regimes. The focus of Dealing with Dictators is Hungary, which during and after the Second World War is presented as “a weak client state”, borrowing Laszlo Borhi’s description. Through meticulous research, Laszlo Borhi illustrates how Hungary gradually developed into an independent state. This process, however, was not only gradual but conflicting and complicated as well. In Dealing with Dictators, Hungary’s major political counterparts were the Unites States, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other. This combination located Hungary in an unfavorable situation for the development of the country’s domestic and international policies. However, as Borhi’s research demonstrates, a “weak state,” under certain conditions, generates decisions that change not only the internal state of affairs but external as well.
Dealing with Dictators reconstructs the multi-faceted process of the country’s political development. The book includes a vast database of economic and political events that signaled various stages of transformation. In addition to a detailed account that navigates various levels of political engagement and which, in fact, eventually puts political players of different caliber on one level, Dealing with Dictators offers acute observations of the cultural considerations that reflected (and at times triggered) internal and external modifications. Laszlo Borhi invites his readers to navigate a complex web of events that narrates a (hi)story of Hungary, which is presented and constructed as a space of dialogical political and cultural interactions.