This fascinating book tells the story of modern Hungarian society through the interconnected lives of several families in a small town on the Great Hungarian Plain. It opens in 1989 - on the eve of communism's collapse - with the suicide of the town's dynamic and popular mayor. The author quickly sketches in the details of the small scandal that precipitated the mayor's shocking act. Amazingly enough, this small scandal in a small town became a sensation in the Hungarian national press during the months leading up to the fall of the regime. It was seen to typify the corruption of national life under the communist system. Following this prologue, each of the three parts of the book tells the story of one of the families over the course of the last century - and, through that family history, the story of one of the social groups making up the community. The ups and downs of each family are tied not only to the strengths and weaknesses of its individual members, but also to the twists and turns of East European history and the vagaries of politics under changing political regimes and economic systems. At the end of the book, the author revisits the town (in 1998) and the surviving characters, and tells of their fate in the new Hungary.
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This title sxplores the love-hate relationship between the USA and China through the experience of Chinese students caught between the two countries. The book sheds light on China's ambivelance towards the Western influence, and the use of educational and cultural exhanges as a political device.