Orbán: Hungary's Strongman


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.6 X 1.3 inches | 1.1 pounds

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About the Author

Paul Lendvai is a Hungarian-born Austrian journalist who worked as a correspondent for the Financial Times for more than two decades. He is the author of Hungary: Between Democracy and Authoritarianism; Inside Austria: New Challenges, Old Demons; and Blacklisted: A Journalist's Life in Central Europe.


"In this well-informed and up-to-date biography of Orb�n. . . Lendvai offers a detailed account of when and how [he] changed his spots over the years. . . . Lendvai's fair-minded book is a reminder that the lobbyists' claims about Orb�n's democratic credentials and his goodwill toward the United States are fake news . . . As Lendvai makes it clear, he should be taken seriously." --Washington Post

"[Either] Mr. Orb�n has always been a right-wing nationalist and merely adopted the guise of a Central European dissident to curry favor with Western liberal elites [or] the other, less charitable explanation is that Mr. Orb�n is a power-hungry opportunist. The truth, according to Paul Lendvai in his new book, 'Orb�n, ' is that he is both-and all the more dangerous for that. . . In a country as inscrutable as Hungary, Mr. Lendvai makes a valuable guide." --Wall Street Journal

" [A] Thoughtful, entertaining biography...The value of Lendvai's book lies in his penetrating explanation of why Hungary's post-1989 institutions have proved so vulnerable to Mr Orban's assault" -- The Financial Times

"Viktor Orb�n, Hungary's prime minister, has become infamous for his ruthless crackdown on refugees and embrace of an unabashed nationalism. This first English-language biography of Orban captures how he turned himself into one of the most successful populist autocrats of our times."--The New York Review of Books

"Paul Lendvai, a veteran eastern Europe watcher, tracks the career of a man who started out as an anti-communist rebel and gradually turned into an autocrat...[Lendvai] has become the doyen of central European analysis."-- The Times

"Lendvai's excellent book is a lively account of how one very smart politician has changed the weather in his own country. It is also an invaluable guide to what has happened over the past years elsewhere in the erstwhile Eastern bloc, while the rest of Europe has barely been noticing.' -- The Sunday Times

"This book explains Viktor Orb�n's evolution from a liberal, pro-Western opponent of communism in the twentieth century to a radical, right-wing and nativist authoritarian in the twenty-first century. It sheds light on how Orb�n can rightfully claim to be both Vladimir Putin's and Donald J. Trump's ideological soulmate." -- Charles Gati, Senior Research Professor, School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University

"What Lendvai says in his new biography of Orb�n should be taken seriously."--The Times Literary Supplement

'Only very few people know Hungary and the personalities active there so well as does Paul Lendvai. Anyone seeking to gain a clear picture of developments in Central and Eastern Europe cannot ignore this book.' -- Dr Heinz Fischer, Federal President of Austria, 2006-2016

"A superb political observer, researcher and writer, Paul Lendvai tells the story of Viktor Orb�n, Hungary's world-famous leader, and his rise from rags to riches, and from a young revolutionary democrat to a chauvinist demagogue and a savvy, conservative statesman. As Lendvai explains so well, Orb�n won the loyalty of the majority of Hungarians by securing them a safe existence, free from parliamentary turmoil and from the alleged danger represented by 'swarthy' refugees. In his relentless pursuit of money and power, Orb�n -- and his team of fellow former country boys -- gravely weakened the system of checks and balances, and extended his authority over much of the media, education, and the economy. Lendvai does not deny Orb�n's charm and outstanding intellect but warns of the damage his cold narcissism is causing to European unity, mutual trust, and humane behavior." -- Istv�n De�k, Seth Low Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University

"Lendvai's book is both a profile of the man and a potted history of Hungarian politics since 1989. Unlike most journalists who pass hasty judgment on the country, Lendvai is well-informed." -- The Spectator

"Brilliantly researched, knowledgeable and richly detailed . . . [Lendvai] explains why Orb�n's Hungary . . . is in peril." -- S�ddeutsche Zeitung

"In Europe, Viktor Orb�n is the pioneer of populism in power. Paul Lendvai's excellent book is an indispensable guide to understanding the man himself as well as the increasingly authoritarian system Orb�n has been constructing in Hungary." -- Jan-Werner M�ller, Princeton University, author of What is Populism?

"[Q]uietly devastating . . . highly recommended."--Prospect Magazine

"Paul Lendvai covers an impressive sweep of Hungarian history, starting with the gloomy events in the midst of the twentieth century to the encouraging liberal interim period and ends with Viktor Orb�n's destructive vision of an 'illiberal democracy.' Lendvai's remarkable book should be a warning -- beyond Hungary -- for the whole of Europe." -- Franz Vranitzky, Federal Chancellor of Austria, 1986-1997

"Paul Lendvai presents the story of Viktor Orb�n, the populist-nationalistic-authoritarian prime minister of Hungary in a balanced and masterful way. His excellent portrait exposes the personal characteristics and political methods of a talented, power-seeking and authoritarian politician. This book is a must read that helps to understand the phenomenon of populist demagogues." -- Ivan T. Berend, Senior Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

"Paul Lendvai's book is sobering reading and its telling of the widespread corruption in Fidesz and the Orb�n family is carefully researched. After laying down his brief to be truthful and dispassionate, he succeeds admirably."--Budapest Times

"An astonishing story, told here in remarkable detail . . . an alarming, worrying and illuminating tale." -- The Journal of Liberal History

"There is no doubt that in order to understand contemporary Hungary, one must truly understand Viktor Orb�n. Lendvai's latest book is a must-read for those attempting to undertake this quest."-- New Eastern Europe

"Orb�n: Europe's New Strongman is one of the most interesting and necessary critical biographies published in some time ... a timely and well-written analysis of an important subject, which has resonance beyond the borders of Hungary or even Central Europe." -- Merion West