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Books

Be Faithful Unto Death (Zsigmond Móricz)


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Written by Hungary's greatest modern novelist, Be Faithful Unto Death (Légy jó mindhalálig) is the moving story of a bright and sensitive schoolboy growing up in an old, established boarding school in the city of Debrecen in Eastern Hungary. Misi, a dreamer and would-be writer, is falsely accused of stealing a winning lottery ticket. The torments brought on by this incident he is forced to undergo are superbly described as the novel unleashes the full power of Móricz's prose. First published in 1921, it is brimming with vivid details of the provincial life he knew so well and shot through with a sense of the tragic fate of a newly truncated Hungary. It is the quality of the experience captured here and the author's uncanny ability to paint precisely what it feels like to be that child which makes this portrait of the artist as a young boy not merely a Hungarian, but an international classic.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Dee Alexander Brown)


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First published in 1970, this extraordinary book changed the way Americans think about the original inhabitants of their country. Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860 and ending 30 years later with the massacre of Sioux men, women and children at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it tells how the American Indians lost their land and lives to a dynamically expanding white society. During these three decades America's population doubled from 31 million to 62 million. Again and again promises made to the Indians fell victim to the ruthlessness and greed of settlers pushing westward to make new lives. The Indians were herded off their ancestral lands into ever-shrinking reservations and were starved and killed, if they resisted. It is a truism that "history is written by the victors", yet for the first time this book described the opening of the West from the Indians' viewpoint! Accustomed to stereotypes of Indians as red savages, white Americans were shocked to read the reasoned eloquence of Indian leaders and learn of the bravery, with which they and their peoples endured suffering. With meticulous research and in measured language overlaying brutal narrative, Dee Brown focused attention on a national disgrace. With many of its premises now accepted, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has sold 5 million copies around the world and has been translated into 17 languages. Thirty years after it first broke onto the national conscience, it has lost none of its importance or emotional impact. This book is an eloquent, fully-documented account of the systematic destruction of American Indians during the second half of the 19th century. Using council records, autobiographies and other firsthand descriptions, Dee Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux and Cheyenne to tell us about the battles, massacres and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. Sadly, this is how the West was really won. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity. A fascinating, painful document, a strongly and ardently written first-rate account. One wonders, reading this appalling and heartbreaking book, who indeed were the savages. Dee Brown has written more, than 25 books on American history and the West. Those Indian voices of the past are not all lost. The author hopes that if this book has contributed even in the slightest way to changes in attitudes and action, then it has been worthwile.