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The Bridge at Andau: The Compelling True Story of a Brave, Embattled People Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1985

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Editorial Reviews


“Precise, vivid . . . immeasurably stirring.”The Atlantic Monthly
“Dramatic, chilling, enraging.”San Francisco Chronicle
“Superb.”Kirkus Reviews
“Highly recommended reading.”Library Journal

From the Publisher

THE BRIDGE AT ANDAU by James Michener tells the story of the Soviet suppression of Hungary in November 1956. The bridge at Andau was an escape route for Hungarian refugees fleeing to Austria. Michener was on the Austrian side of the border watching these young (average age was 23, including many children), well educated (from one university 500 students, 32 professors, and their families fled), and talented (including musicians, athletes, writers, engineers and other professionals) people come through swamps and guards to reach non-communist Austria. The Austrian people were exemplary in their welcome of the Hungarian refugees.

Randy Hickernell, Ballantine Sales Rep.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (September 12, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449210502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449210505
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Arsenault on April 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Michener is one of the great historians of the 20th century. Not only is his research vast and impeccable, but Michener is able to translate his research into a wonderfully readable book. The Bridge at Andau is no exception.
In the mid-1950's Michener was living in Austria, along the border with Hungary. From this unique vantage point, he was able to observe the large exodus of Hungarians fleeing their communist nation. His observations and discussions with these refugees brought many aspects of the communist regime to light.
He was able to bring the reader into a communist state and to reveal its inner workings, including how the government controlled the masses. At the time, this was no easy task, as the Iron Curtain was nearly impenetrable to Westerners. Nevertheless, Michener was able to piece together countless interviews with these refugees and create an accurate picture of life under the red flag.
He discussed nearly every facet of the politics of the Hungarian people. He told of intellectuals beginning their theoretical revolution, and he told of the students who were the first to pick up arms against the police forces and Soviet army. Michener also spoke of the workers, the bones of communism, and how they turned their back on the system and tried to destroy it.
Unfortunately, the revolution failed and the Hungarians were forced to flee or face dire repercussions. And Michener was there to chronicle their tales.
The Bridge at Andau is a fascinating book and a document of Cold War history. It is definitely worth reading.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Marfak on July 28, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I had just returned from Budapest, a beautiful city still digging out from 45 years of Communist mis-rule. The tour guide, a lovely lady in her mid-50's with a lilting accent, spoke of the Russians with disdain. She positively spat out the word "Russian." As one who had majored in political science during the 1970's and who was familiar with the 1956 revolution I had a visceral understanding of what fueled her venom.

When I returned to the United States I bought this book, which was written in 1957 based on hundreds of interviews with Hungarian refugees. It eloquently explained the horror and moral bankruptcy of Communism in the context of the revolution. Through this book I understood exactly what the tour guide was saying and why she was saying it. I think this book is as relevant today as it was then.

If you ever have a chance to visit this beautiful city, do it. You will not be disappointed. And read this book first. You will not be disappointed by that, either.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte A. Hu on October 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first read about teenage children disabling tanks and killing the occupants with rocks, clubs and bottles filled with gasoline, I thought the Marines could learn a lot from these children. Their communication, teamwork and overwhelming dedication amazed me.
I read about a 12-year-old boy who strapped a half-dozen grenades to his body, pulled a wire to pull all the pins and stepped in front of the tracks of a tank. After the tank ran him over and killed him, the grenades went off, derailing the tracks and disabling the tank, so that other children could throw gasoline bottles inside the turret to kill the drivers. I realized then this was not military mastery, but desperation spawned from people who had nothing left to live for.
"It should not have happened," said the minister who told the story of the 12-year-old boy. "Somebody should have stopped such a child. But he knew what he was fighting against."
"The Bridge at Andau," by James Albert Michener, is based on interviews with survivors of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against communist Soviet occupation. Written in 1957, the book was checked out of the Depot library five times during the late 50s and early 60s. From then on, it has silently gathered dust on the shelf. Within three years after the uprising, interest in the estimated 40,000 to 80,000 Hungarians slaughtered by the Soviets had vanished.
This book tells the story of the Soviet expansionist theory which was not taught in the Woodland High School. Instructors provided amazingly lukewarm descriptions of Soviet Communist Theory as a philosophy of taking care of the common people.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Windsor on October 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book years ago, yet its theme and message still abide with me. Michener personalizes the plight of a whole nation under the iron grip of an alien ideology as brutal and merciless as it is stupid. As someone who has travelled extensively in Hungary and other parts of Eastern Europe, I cannot but be saddened by the deliberate and systemic suppression and attempted annihilation during the last century of the rich variety of cultures that have grown and flourished in that part of the world.
Unfortunately, the 1956 Hungarian revolution took place only within the borders of modern Hungary, not within historic Hungary. Consequently, Michener's book does not address the hardships of ethnic Hungarians in bordering lands, such as Romania. Because the 1956 uprising happened on the borders of the Iron Curtain, however, it provided Michener a brief opening through which he could view the horrors of Marxist-Leninist "scientific socialism." The Bridge at Andau brings these horrors to life for those of us in the Free World.
"Nonfictional" accounts of historical events tend to describe them impersonally, largely as sequences of governmental actions. Michener's novel drives home the consequences of the Yalta conference for the ordinary people who later had to pay the price for those actions. I recommend this book highly to anyone who wants to understand the personal devastation wrought by utopian ideologies such as Marxism.
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