The Great Escape by Kati Marton
Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World

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In this ground-breaking book, acclaimed author Kati Marton brings to life an unknown chapter of World War II: the tale of nine men who grew up in Budapest's brief Golden Age, then, driven from Hungary by anti-Semitism, fled to the West, especially to the United States, and changed the world. These nine men, each celebrated for individual achievements, were actually part of a unique group who grew up in a time and place that will never come again. It is Marton's extraordinary achievement to trace what for a few dazzling years was common to all of them -- the magic air of Budapest -- and show how their separate lives and careers were, in fact, all shaped by Budapest's lively café life before the darkness closed in.

Marton follows the astonishing lives of four history-changing scientists, all just one step ahead of Hitler's terror state, who helped usher in the nuclear age and the computer (Edward Teller, John von Neumann, Leo Szilard, and Eugene Wigner); two major movie myth-makers (Michael Curtiz, who directed Casablanca, and Alexander Korda, who produced The Third Man); two immortal photographers (Robert Capa and Andre Kertesz); and one seminal writer (Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon).

Marton follows these brilliant products of Budapest's Golden Age as they flee fascism in the 1920s and 1930s en route to sanctuary -- and immortality. As the scientists labor in the secret city of Los Alamos in the race to build the atom bomb, Koestler, once a communist agent imprisoned by Franco, writes the most important anticommunist novel of the century. Capa, the first photographer to go ashore on D-Day, later romances Ingrid Bergman and is acknowledged as the world's greatest war photographer before his tragic death in Vietnam. Curtiz not only gives us Casablanca, consistently voted the greatest romantic movie ever made, but also discovers Doris Day and directs James Cagney in the quintessential patriotic film, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Ultimately, The Great Escape is an American story and an important, previously untold chapter of the tumultuous last century. Yet it is also a poignant story -- in the words of the great historian Fritz Stern, "an evocation of genius in exile . . . an instructive, moving delight." An epilogue relates the journey into exile of three members of the next generation of Budapest exiles: financier-philanthropist George Soros, Intel founder Andy Grove, and 2002 Nobel laureate in literature Imre Kertesz.

About Kati Marton

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Kati Marton is the author of seven books, most recently, Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and the subject of an upcoming motion picture. Her other books include The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World and the New York Times bestseller Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, as well as Wallenberg, The Polk Conspiracy, and A Death in Jerusalem. She is an award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent. She lives in New York City.
Published October 17, 2006 by Simon & Schuster. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Then came the likes of Admiral Horthy and a homegrown fascist regime, even before the time of Hitler and Eichmann, and that gifted generation scattered, with a disproportionate number going to the U.S. (Koestler pointedly went to England, Marton notes, because he felt that the U.S. was too far re...

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The New York Times

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Marton, a Budapest native, veteran reporter and author of numerous books, here considers the lives of nine Hungarian Jews who either had to flee their homeland — their Proustian paradise, their “Combray” — or weren’t permitted to return there once Hitler came to power, but despite this banishment...

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Large Print Reviews

In the dark days before the Nazi onslaught engulfed all of Europe, nine Jewish men fled Hungary.

Mar 05 2007 | Read Full Review of The Great Escape: Nine Jews W...


The daring 1944 rescue of 511 U.S. POWs from a notorious Japanese prison camp in the Philippines proved to be a golden opportunity to assuage the shame of the previous surrender.

Aug 03 2005 | Read Full Review of The Great Escape: Nine Jews W...

Curtis Brown

Extravagantly praised by critics and readers, this stunning story by bestselling author Kati Marton tells of the breathtaking journey of nine extraordinary men from Budapest to the New World, what they experienced along their dangerous route, and how they changed America and the world.

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