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Alex von Tunzelmann
This book details the concurrent crises in Hungary and Suez in 1956. The author, Alex von Tunzelmann, has written a book that brings these two events together and demonstrates the impact on the countries involved.

I didn’t know much about the Suez Crisis and the Soviet suppression in Hungary but I had the impression that the British got it wrong (with the help of the French) and the Americans didn’t like it. At the same time, the Soviets were pretty harsh in their actions in dealing with the Hungarians. It appears that I was very roughly right and von Tunzelmann has given a clear and detailed explanation from the grand strategic to the micro-tactical; this ranges from the negotiations between the British, French and the Israelis (which the British were desperate to keep secret and the French were pretty casual abut) to Soviet tanks firing directly into crowds of Hungarian civilians. Sometimes, this book is not an easy read.

The author gives a precise and concise summary of the situation then moves into a chronological, blow-by-blow account. Although this is a simplistic approach, it ensures that the reader can keep up the large number of personalities who come and go and also get a good feel for the pressures that they were under. Additionally, it lets the reader see the reasons as to why certain decisions were taken within the context of the period.

This book is simply excellent ranging from the Prime Minister demanding that the Egyptian President be murdered (the rather surprising opening passage to the book), the impact that the two crises had on each other and the wider-ranging effects that are still being felt today. The cynic in me feels that our political masters should have studied this period before making most of the decisions involving military power in the last fifteen years.

This is the author’s second book and, to be blunt, if the first one, Indian Summer, is as good as this one, it’s going on my letter to Santa. Von Tunzelmann has made what is a complex and multifaceted subject clear and (as far as is possible) simple to follow. The book is eminently readable, tells a cracking story at a good pace and captures the drama of the times. I recommend it to anyone interested in the era or who wants to more about the Cold War or the relationship between the UK and the USA. It covers a wide spectrum and does it very well.

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