Slavic Review

"The protagonist of Thomas Sakmyster’s study was a thoroughly reprehensible character. József Pogány was a scoundrel. Even his loving wife described him as arrogant, supercilious, excessively ambitious, and unpleasant. He had more pseudonyms and played more roles than most actors. He utterly lacked principle and loyalty. When it suited his ambitions, Pogány was a Hungarian nationalist, then he was a socialist and later a communist. Without exception he betrayed everyone who was close to him: his wife, his children, his parents, his friends, and, most relevant to the historian, all of his political allies. Pogány was Jewish and Hungarian by birth, but neither seemed important for the identity that he had created for himself. Evidently he was a smart man, who learned languages easily, wrote well, and also must have had a certain charisma to be able to get away with his betrayals as long as he did. Judging from his pictures, he was physically unimpressive; nevertheless women were attracted to him. The question emerges: was Pogány the product of the extremely unhealthy environment of the interwar communist world? The impression one gets is that his character had been formed before he became a communist. It is, true, however, that people like him could fl ourish in that particular environment"
Reviewed book: 
Thomas Sakmyster
$75.00 / €65.00 / £60.00
Kindle edition is available through Amazon