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The ​Will to Survive describes how a small country, for much of its existence squeezed between two empires, surrounded by hostile neighbours and subjected to invasion and occupation, survived the frequent tragedies of its eventful history to become a sovereign democratic republic within the European Union. The Mongol, Ottoman, Habsburg, Nazi and Soviet empires have all since vanished; but Hungary, a victim of all five and despite suffering the consequences of being on the losing side in every war she has fought, still occupies the territory the Magyar tribes claimed for themselves in the ninth century.

The author, whose interest in Hungary stems from his service there as British Ambassador during the declining years of Kádár’s Communist regime, traces Hungary’s story from the arrival of the Magyars in Europe to the accession of Hungary to membership of NATO and the European Union. The eleven hundred years covered by this stirring account embrace medieval greatness, Turkish occupation, Habsburg domination, unsuccessful struggles for independence, massive deprivation of territory and population after the First World War, a disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany motivated by the hope of redress, and forty years of Soviet-imposed Communism interrupted by a gallant but brutally suppressed revolution in 1956. The Will to Survive is published on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of that revolution, an event that will stimulate curiosity concerning the history of Europe’s great survivor.

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