Publisher: Mill City Press, Inc.
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Synopsis: Degrees of Courage tells the story of three women of a Hungarian family, mother, daughter, and granddaughter, their lives set against the most dramatic decades of the 20th century from 1900 through 1970. As historical events rumble on, each is confronted with problems beyond individual control, be it turn-of-the-century Victorian prejudice, devastating wars, or life under a terror-driven regime. To cope, they carried on with equal courage but with vastly different outcomes: one was able to overcome, one was destined to break under pressure, and one turned all to her advantage.
The book contains strong elements of historical truth familiar to many people, especially to Hungarians who lived through the horrors of WWI, WWII, and the subsequent Communist takeover that led to a bloody revolt against the hated Stalinist dictatorship. It is a testimony of what it took to live in an age and time when today's "Let it be" mentality was simply unimaginable.
Guest Post: I've been asked during a recent interview, what I would like the readers to reflect on after reading my book. My first thought of course was to have a better understanding of Hungary's position during both WWI and WWII, how its economical and geometrical situation influenced the country's political standing. In 1914, at the outbreak of WWI, Hungary, as a full partner of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, had little choice but fight on the side of Austria, and eventually Germany, for which it paid a terribly unjust price. No other country on the loosing side received a more severe punishment at the Paris peace conference than Hungary, depriving the country three-quarter of its pre-war territory and forcing 36% of its population (31% of which were ethnic Hungarians) to live as oppressed minorities of neighboring countries. The treaty was signed in June 1920 under duress at the Trianon Palace of Versailles, and set the stage for the endless demands from Hungary to regain its annexed territories. No one but Germany responded, and when with Hitler's help Hungary regained some of its lost territories, the country's fate was sealed in terms of fighting on Germany's side during WWII. Later in the war the Regent of the country tried to sever the tie with Germany, but it was too late, and it brought on the German occupation in March 1944. Until then the Jewish population was safe within Hungary, Hitler called it the "Jewish island of Europe." That ended with the occupation, which unleashed the full horror of the Holocaust.
People thought the nightmare was over when the war ended in 1945, but instead, with the sanction of the Yalta conference, the country fell under Communist dictatorship that lasted for 45 years. The only interruption was a few days of freedom during the bloody 1956 uprising. It failed under Soviet military intervention, that was followed by sever persecutions. With the Communist government again fully in control, the country settled into what became known as "Goulash Communism" that finally expired in 1990.
Well, that was my first thought, but then I added another. The United States of course can not be compared to a small Central European country, but after reading the book, Americans might appreciate more the freedom they enjoy. They might see how freedom can systematically taken away until it's too late. The book illustrates this with the postwar changes in Hungary, how the Communists slowly and deliberately took control of the government, placing trusted and dedicated party members in every important position, making false promises, using propaganda not available to other parties, squeezing out others who disagree with their politics by accusations, libel and defamation, until all power is in their hands. Once it is achieved, and all opposition is eliminated, they have the power to dictate, to silence, to pass laws that serve their purpose, not the people. And they did it in the name of the People's Democracy. In such centrally controlled, unopposed government civil liberties are gone, people must learn to watch what they say and do, that brings on fear and suspicion. I hope people reading the book will realize how fragile freedom is, how people can be lulled into a state where they can't see the signs that threatens their freedom. The message should be: in times of changes be vigilant, hold your rights sacred, guard your freedom, even if doing so requires certain degrees of courage.
There are 3 copies of 'Degrees of Courage' (print or .mobi) for giveaway!
TO ENTER: Please leave a comment with your email address. The winners will be chosen at random once the giveaway ends January 24, 2014. This giveaway is open to U.S. only.