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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite fascinating
A fascinating collection of short biographies of the many Hungarian Jews who became world leaders in their different fields from physics to film and photography. Sadly all had to make their homes elsewhere mainly USA, France, UK - hence the title.
Published on 8 Jan 2009 by R. J. Horrocks

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1.0 out of 5 stars I purchased this book because I have a research project ...
I purchased this book because I have a research project involving Dennis (aka Dionys or Denes) Gabor who won a Nobel Prize for his invention of holography and this book included him amongst the nine Jews. I expected to learn something about Gabor from the book. However, it mentions him only on three separate occasions, stating simply that he won a Nobel prize for...
Published 1 month ago by University professor


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hungarian genius, 23 July 2010
By 
Book fiend "Enthusiast" (Petersfield, Hampshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I happened to be interested in most of these engaging people (though it probably wouldn't have been much fun to live with any of them) and the book filled quite a number of gaps. The illustrations, too, have been most carefully chosen. All these characters can't help it if they rather fade out in the end and such drama as there is is subtle. The book's only slight drawback is that it is written in a style eminently suitable for the Reader's Digest. Very readable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite fascinating, 8 Jan 2009
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A fascinating collection of short biographies of the many Hungarian Jews who became world leaders in their different fields from physics to film and photography. Sadly all had to make their homes elsewhere mainly USA, France, UK - hence the title.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I purchased this book because I have a research project ..., 6 July 2014
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I purchased this book because I have a research project involving Dennis (aka Dionys or Denes) Gabor who won a Nobel Prize for his invention of holography and this book included him amongst the nine Jews. I expected to learn something about Gabor from the book. However, it mentions him only on three separate occasions, stating simply that he won a Nobel prize for physics, nothing more. Wikipedia, Notes of the Royal Society and the European Patent Office World Patents Database are far more informative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must-keep' book for the quotes and the invaluable insights, 3 Oct 2013
Although the writing-style of this book occasionally had me re-reading sentences to clarify their meaning - and it's not easy to keep up with the chronological/parallel biographies of nine different people - I couldn't put this book down and I am so thankful for Kati Marton for writing it. Perhaps it succeeds or fails according to who is reading it and what their purpose it. For me it was a treat to find within the covers of one book so rich an insight into the tragedy, complexity and brilliance of such unusually talented people forever haunted by their own experience of anti-Semitism within what they had understood to be their own nation - and of the brutality of both Nazism and Soviet Communism. Although these men inhabited a variety of worlds, many of them, despite their brilliance and academic or career success, seemed to find no escape from the restlessness and rootlessness of exile and `being foreign.' It was a lesson in itself for me not only regarding what these different individuals achieved and suffered but also about the development of America's involvement in the 2nd WW - and the troubled period in Europe from the 1st WW onwards. I found myself wanting to listen in on the coffee house conversations in European cafes - and envied some of them their vibrant education as children. It is a `must keep' book for me because of the number of quotes from various people that are so valuable. It left me wanting to read or see the books and films referred to so that I could enter more fully into such a cataclysmic period of history. Perhaps one of the most valuable and yet worrying aspects of these nine biographies is their relevance to today. The loss to Hungary of nine such gifted people purely on the basis of ethnicity and due to the implementation of totalitarian systems is something that should have us all on our guard. Marton shows how important it was that people saw `the writing on the wall' and got out whilst others were still in disbelief that atrocious things were inevitable. The title is accurate regarding them fleeing from Hitler - when the gun is pointed at others we can avoid the reality but when it points at us - even if the shot hasn't been fired we know it's time to get going. I am not Jewish but a knew a Jewish lady from Berlin whose husband came home one day in 1933 and told her that even if they couldn't take anything, it was time to leave. He was right. Hitler's nightmare was initiated long before the 2nd WW.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't take this one on holiday, 8 April 2013
By 
Ruffi (Dorset, England) - See all my reviews
Heard the old joke about the wily Hungarian? He follows behind you in to a revolving door but comes out ahead. Perhaps unkind, but many Magyars have a stroke of genius. Kati Marton has chosen nine brilliant stars from a veritable Hunagarian firmament.

As her title indictes, her choice of nine Hungarian Jews is driven largely by two common factors. The first is anti-semitism; the second is that our lives have been brightened, or enlightened as a result of their ideas. But in the case Edward Teller and von Neumann and their attitude to the development of the Atom bomb, some would say our lives have been blighted.

This book is not simply about scientific genius. Marton has chosen subjects from the world of both the arts and sciences. Michael Curtiz directed Casablanca. Alexander Korda produced The Third man. Robert Capa co-founded (with Henri Cartier-Bresson) Magnum Photos, which virtually invented modern photo journalism in which the photo-essayist André Kertesz played a father-figure. Arthur Koestler, one of the twentieth century's greatest political writers, was among the first to expose Stalinist brutality. Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, Eugene Wigner and John von Neumann pushed the frontiers of physics and maths.

As the twentieth century unfolds, Marton unfurls the lives of her escapees to reveal some of the ingrained characteristics of their native Hungary, and Hungarian culture. Her book is not a story of tragedy, but of the enormous success and influence on our modern-day lives.

The story is made real, and endearing by the many anecdotes Marton has been able to tease out from the many interviews she held with contempories of these great escapees. Korda lived in the grandest hotels, when he could least afford them. Capa bought an elegant Burberry raincoat for the Normandy invasion he photographed.

This book is about nine men, all of whom were big thinkers with big dreams. Many of their ideas surround our daily lives. For example, game-theory originally developed by von Neumann underpins the strategic thinking of many of the world's largest corporations.

Many of their dreams, and some of their nighmares, have become our reality. Szilard's mind was his laboratory. In 1933, Szilard was walking the streets of Bloomsbury, when he suddenly realised that if one neutron is shot in to an atom, and more than one neutron is produced, then a chain reaction releasing vast amounts of energy could be the result. In a flash, he realised that a nuclear chain reaction could also mean an explosion.

Marton's "Great escapees..." helps us all to understand the background to many aspects of our lives today, by bringing these nine great escapees to life. But don't do what I did by taking the book on holiday. Hardly able to put the book down, I feel I missed about half the holiday but caught up on some very important lives.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars tedious, 30 Sep 2009
By 
Dr John N Sutherland (Skelmorlie, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
There is just so much which can be said about a group of Hungarian Jews in the 1930's, no matter how famous some of them were in their own field. AFter 60 pages or so the reading becomes like a long essay with names glued together to create some kind of story. But there isn't any story, except the story of lost European Jewry. I'm not even convinced that the book title is correct as it seems so many of these Jews fled pre-Hitlerian anti-semitism. I wonder if a similar book could be written about the diasporas of Ireland, Scotland or any other suppressed minority nation in Europe? Of course, what happened to European Jewry is horrific, but so was the elimination of 4 million Irish or the ethnic cleansing of millions of Scots.

This is a weakness of the book. It creates a tale of minorities under pressure, rather than the utter horror of 20th century anti-semitism. Perhaps it was the secular nature of the Jewry concerned. Perhaps it is lack of a feeling of story in the tale. Either way, the books does not, IMHO, succeed.
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The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World
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