Brilliance in Exile

The Diaspora of Hungarian Scientists from John von Neumann to Katalin Karikó
$105.00 / €100.00/ £85.00
$32.00 / €30.95/ £25.95
Foreword by Ivan T. Berend
Publication date: 
March, 342 pages, ca. 140 photos

By addressing the enigma of the exceptional success of Hungarian emigrant scientists and telling their life stories, Brilliance in Exile combines scholarly analysis with fascinating portrayals of uncommon personalities. István and Balazs Hargittai discuss the conditions that led to five different waves of emigration of scientists from the early twentieth century to the present. Although these exodes were driven by a broad variety of personal motivations, the attraction of an open society with inclusiveness, tolerance, and – needless to say – better circumstances for working and living, was the chief force drawing them abroad.

While emigration from East to West is a general phenomenon, this book explains why and how the emigration of Hungarian scientists is distinctive. The high number of Nobel Prizes among this group is only one indicator. Multicultural tolerance, a quickly emerging, considerably Jewish, urban middle class, and a very effective secondary school system were positive legacies of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Multiple generations, shaped by these conditions, suffered from the increasingly exclusionist, intolerant, antisemitic, and economically stagnating environment, and chose to go elsewhere. “I would rather have roots than wings, but if I cannot have roots, I shall use wings," explained Leo Szilard, one of the fathers of the Atom Bomb.

Foreword by Ivan T. Berend 
Joseph A. Galamb 
Philipp Lenard 
Part 1 Early 1920s 
Introduction: Fleeing 
Ervin Bauer 
Stephen Brunauer 
Ladislaus Farkas 
Dennis Gabor 
George de Hevesy 
Theodore von Kármán 
Arthur Koestler 
Stephen W. Kuffler 
Nicholas Kurti 
Cornelius Lanczos 
John von Neumann 
Egon Orowan 
Michael Polanyi 
George Pólya 
Elizabeth Rona 
Leo Szilard 
Maria Telkes 
Edward Teller 
Eugene P. Wigner 
“Control”— Imre Bródy 
Part 2 Late 1930s–early 1940s 
Introduction: Before It Is Too Late 
Michael and Alice Balint 
Ladislao José Biro 
Paul Erdos 
John G. Kemeny 
Olga Kennard
Peter D. Lax 
George J. Popjak 
Valentine L. Telegdi 
Laszlo Tisza 

Part 3 Immediate Post-World War II 
Introduction: Post-War and Pre-Soviet Trauma 
Endre A. Balazs 
Zoltan Bay 
Georg von Békésy 
Lars Ernster 
John C. Harsanyi 
Avram Hershko 
Georg Klein and Eva Klein 
Albert Szent-Györgyi 
Part 4 1956 
Introduction: In the Wake of Suppressed Revolution 
Laszlo Z. Bito 
Andy Grove 
Peter Lengyel 
Joseph Nagyvary 
George A. Olah 
Gabor A. Somorjai 
Part 5 1957–1989 
Introduction: Escape from “Paradise” 
Gyorgy Buzsaki 
Gabor Fodor 
Katalin Karikó 
Charles Simonyi 
Agnes Ullmann 
“Control”—Árpád Furka 
Thirty Years Later, and Continuing 

Select Bibliography 
The Authors 
Also by the Authors 
Index of Names

“Reading like a collection of fifty one-act plays, the brilliance of its characters leaves one at a loss for words at the unknown talent that was extinguished, and the danger of repeating the mistake.”
“The contributions of Hungarians to world science and mathematics almost defy belief.”
[The authors] “have documented a history of Hungary’s intellectual legacy that is both fascinating and tragic – and, it must sadly be said, one that remains poignantly relevant today.”