This book revisits the trajectory of one section of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s famous pedestrian excursion from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. This S.O.E. officer walked into Hungary as a youth of 19 at Easter of 1934 and left Transylvania in August. “A cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene” as the New York Times obituary put it in 2011, this intrepid traveller published his experiences half a century later. Between the Woods and the Water covers the part of the epic journey on foot from the middle Danube to the Iron Gates. It has been a bestseller since it was first published in 1986.
O’Sullivan reveals the identity of the interesting characters in the travelogue, interviewing several of their descendants and meticulously recreating Leigh Fermor’s time spent among the Hungarian nobility. Leigh Fermor’s recollections of his 1934 contacts are at once a proof of a lifelong attraction for the aristocracy, and a confirmation of his passionate love of history and understanding of the region. Rich with photos and other rare documents on places and persons both from the 1930s and today, the book offers a compelling social and political history of the period and the area. Described by Professor Norman Stone as “a major work of Hungarian social archaeology,” this book provides a portrait of Hungary and Transylvania on the brink of momentous change.