Norman Stone has already written, with a brilliant blend of humour, understanding and scepticism, histories of the Eastern Front, Turkey, Europe between 1878 and 1919, both world wars and the Cold War. A history of Hungary is his latest book. He has one qualification increasingly rare in England. As polyglot as an educated archduke, he knows Hungarian in addition to German, French, Russian and Turkish. Moreover, he has been visiting Hungary for more than 50 years, since he first went as a student in the dark days of 1962. He has returned many times — his Hungarian improved in a communist prison and he reported the fall of the communist regime in Budapest in October 1989 — and now lives there part of the time.
As befits the history of a country situated where three empires (Austrian, Russian, Ottoman) met, there is never a dull page.