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The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World Paperback – Bargain Price, November 6, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074326116X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743261166
  • ASIN: B001AQTZ4A
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,232,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Noted journalist and bestselling author Marton (Hidden Power) offers a haunting tale of the wartime Hungarian diaspora. The nine illustrious Hungarians she profiles were all "double outsiders," for, as well as being natives of a "small, linguistically impenetrable, landlocked country," they were all Jews. Fleeing fascism and anti-Semitism for the New World, each experienced insecurity, isolation and a sense of perpetual exile. Yet all achieved world fame. The scientists Leo Szilard, Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner, along with game theorist and computer pioneer, John von Neuman, spurred Albert Einstein to persuade Franklin Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb. Robert Capa and Andre Kertesz became legendary photojournalists. Alexander Korda was the savior of the British film industry, and Michael Curtiz directed Casablanca. Arthur Koestler penned the monumental anti-Communist novel Darkness at Noon. Marton intricately charts each man's career in the context of WWII and Cold War history. Herself Hungarian-born, the daughter of journalists who escaped Soviet-occupied Hungary in 1957, Marton captures her fellow Hungarians' nostalgia for prewar Budapest, evoking its flamboyant cafes, its trams, boulevards and cosmopolitan Jewish community. Marton writes beautifully, balancing sharply defined character studies of each man with insights into their shared cultural traits and uprootedness. 16 pages of photos, map. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Among the Hungarian Jews who made their way to England and America as Hitler rose to power were four scientists, two filmmakers, two photographers, and a writer. These men, products of the same few Gymnasien and cafes, delivered the Manhattan Project, game theory, and "Casablanca." Marton, who fled Hungary as a child in 1957, illuminates Budapest's vertiginous Golden Age and the darkness that followed (a darkness that some of her subjects, notably Arthur Koestler, never shook). Seeing how abruptly the world could change, the Hungarians didn't doubt that they could change it. They also stuck together; even Leo Szilard, who crusaded against the bombs that he made possible, and Edward Teller, who sold Reagan on missile defense, stayed friends. By looking at these nine lives - salvaged, and crucial - Marton provides a moving measure of how much was lost.
Copyright © 2006 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Kati Marton, an award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent, is the author of Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, a New York Times bestseller, as well as Wallenberg, The Polk Conspiracy, A Death in Jerusalem, and a novel, An American Woman. Mother of a son and a daughter, she lives in New York with her husband, Richard Holbrooke.

Customer Reviews

The book is well-written and very interesting.
Diana gonzalez
The nine men whose lives are written about in this book include the scientists Edward Teller, John Von Neumann, Leo Szilard, and Eugene Wigner.
Michelle
It was a refreshing comeback with Kati Marton's The Great Escape.
T. Hernandez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Denes Marton on March 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this book quite interesting although not very well written. I am also less than happy with some of choices made by the author - why these nine are featured when some of them (A. Korda, for example) are not in the same league of significance as others. Why were others ignored?
But that was all well until I read that E. Wigner never returned to Hungary late in his life and was never honored there officially. I met Wigner in Budapest in the late seventies on one of his several trips to Hungary and I know that he received numerous acknowledgments there. Among others, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. So I wonder, what else is inaccurate in the book?
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Marc Flanagan on March 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ms Marton is a wonderful writer and her subject matter is close to her heart as she is a transplanted Hungarian, like the subjects of her fascinating tale: "The Great Escape". Marton has focused on nine Hungarians,scientists, film makers and photographers, who fled their homeland because of the country's intolerance to their religion. To a man they went on to make their mark in their respective fields the common thread besides their birthplace, was their everlasting affection for Budapest as one of the subjects stated "Everything I am is because of my experience growing up in Budapest". A very fine read, as a result of the book, I have been looking into travelling to this fabled city .
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In this very insightful work the lives of only nine people, saved from the Holocaust, are delved into and their impact on the world shown. John Von Nueman, Edward Teller and Robert Capa are only a few of these. The idea is partly to give a slice of life of the Hungarian Jews who were able to flee, showing how they made new lives and impacted the world. But the more sad and disturbing question is, imagine the contribution the 400,000 or more Hungarian Jews could have had, had the German Nazis and their collaborators not murdered them, gassing them all as they were deported in just a few weeks in 1944, destroying in one breadth an entire world.

Seth J. Frantzman
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michelle on December 2, 2007
Format: Kindle Edition
During the dark days before the Nazi ambush overcame all of Europe, nine Jewish men fled from Hungary. Determined to escape their homeland away from anti-Semitism, nine men went on to change the world. In The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World, Kati Marton, records the lives of these nine men and their significant achievements. She also shows how each of these nine men individually changed by their experience in Budapest, and how a city that once welcomed and accepted Jews, quickly changed into a dictatorship and the Nazi nuisance began to overcome Europe. While these nine men were able to escape, about seventy percent of Hungary's Jewish population was destroyed in the later days of World War II.
The nine men whose lives are written about in this book include the scientists Edward Teller, John Von Neumann, Leo Szilard, and Eugene Wigner. Also mentioned are moviemakers, Michael Curtiz and Alexander Korda. Legendary photographers Robert Capa and Andre Kertesz, and the political writer, Arthur Koestler are also included. Of the nine, Teller, Wigner, and Szilard gained recognition for their work in physics and on the atomic bomb; Von Neumann was the developer of electronic computers and the Game Theory. Of the filmmakers, Curtiz, the only one of the nine to be raised in an Orthodox household, directed Casablanca, and Korda produced The Third Man, as well as numerous propaganda films for the Allies. Meanwhile, Capa is known through his photographs; Francisco Franco's was a Spanish dictator during the devastating airborne assault in the Spanish Civil War. Along with Kertesz, he helped to pioneer the field of photojournalism.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In the opening chapter of this book Marton tells of a visit made by Eugene Wigner and Leo Szilard in the summer of 1939 to a vacationing Einstein in a small town in northern Long Island. In this conversation Wigner and Szilard inform him that the process of nuclear fission most likely can be harnassed to produce bombs of unprecedented destructiveness. What strikes me here is Einstein's response. He says that he had not considered this. This is not the main point of Marton's story. (Her main point is to show the great influence two of her nine Hungarians will have on the twentieth century i.e. Their meeting with Einstein will eventually lead to Einstein's letter to Roosevelt and the Manhattan Project which will build the bomb) But it was for me a quite remarkable revelation. Einstein had no idea of the tremendous destructive power his search for pure 'truth' for those harmonic laws which to him had such great beauty, would lead. The irony of this is truly awful and astounding.

In this book Marton tells the respective stories of nine remarkable figures,the physicists John von Neumann, Wigner, Szilard, Teller, two photographers, Andre Kertesz, Robert Capa, the film directors Michael Curtisz, Alexander Korda , and the writer Arthur Koestler. All of these Jewish Hungarians raised in Budapest had to leave their native Hungary to make their marks upon the world.

I am not convinced that the photographers and the directors are in the same class as the physicists. But their stories are told in a fascinating way. The various identities taken upon himself by Arthur Koestler and his intellectual transformations in themselves make a remarkable tale.

The question of the negative implications of some of their activities , the fact that one can also change the world for Evil, is an implicitly central theme of this work.
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