The Woodrow Wilson Center Press

What People are Saying

Failed Illusions casts incisively a new perspective on three key dimensions of the historic drama that was the Hungarian Revolution: the unsavory background and the heroic epiphany of Imre Nagy, the revolution’s tragic leader; the confused, disruptive, and ultimately devious Soviet efforts to manipulate the Hungarian communists; and the impotent futility of US posturing which masqueraded as ‘the policy of liberation.’ Riveting as a story, significant as a history.”—Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor, author of The Soviet Bloc: Unity and Conflict

“This important work deepens our knowledge of events through scores of new documentary findings, filling in fascinating details about events, decisions, and key players’ personal philosophies and points of view. It’s the only book of its kind.”—Malcolm Byrne, Deputy Director and Director of Research, National Security Archive

“Gati draws on reams of new research and documentary evidence from Hungary, while ferreting out scores of fascinating documents from the U.S. archives. Specialists on this subject will benefit immensely from this work, but the book is written in such an engaging manner that it will also appeal to a more general audience.”—Mark Kramer, Director of Cold War Studies, Harvard University

“Charles Gati’s Failed Illusions is a searching, scholarly account of the political calculations of the Kremlin, the White House, and the Hungarian Communist leadership.”—The New York Times

Failed Illusions sheds new light on American policy, especially the controversial role of Radio Free Europe … Mr. Gati’s excellent footnotes, several quite personal and poignant, give added depth to the story.”—The Economist

“Charles Gati’s Failed Illusions is an outstanding work.”—London Review of Books

“The product of more than 15 years of extraordinary research and interviewing, much of it in Hungarian, his book highlights just how much we have to learn about key Cold War events and, more important, how we should go about learning it.”—Foreign Affairs

“Gati’s Failed Illusions towers high above the rest as by far the best book published on 1956.”—Slavic Review

Failed Illusions is a meticulously documented historical analysis (a magnifying glass will help with the hundreds of fascinating footnotes).”—The Wall Street Journal

Chapter List


1. Introduction to the Argument

2. The Inadvertent Revolutionary

3. Washington and Budapest before the Explosion

4. Moscow and Budapest before the Explosion

5. The Revolt that Failed

6. The Revolt that Did Not Have to Fail

7. Epilogue: Memories Repressed and Recovered

About Woodrow Wilson Center Press

Woodrow Wilson Center Press publishes books by fellows, other resident scholars, and staff written in substantial part at the Wilson Center.