Dealing with Dictators

Dealing with Dictators

The United States, Hungary, and East Central Europe, 1942-1989
László Borhi, translated by Jason Vincz
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/27/2016
ISBN: 978-0-253-01947-9
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers

Buy from Amazon

Other formats available:


Dealing with Dictators explores America’s efforts to make the dictatorships of Eastern Europe less tyrannical and more responsive to the country’s international interests during the Cold War era. US policies included a mix of economic and psychological warfare, subversion, cultural and economic penetration, and coercive diplomacy. Through careful examination of American and Hungarian sources, László Borhi assesses why some policies toward Hungary achieved their goals while others did not. When George H. W. Bush exclaimed to Mikhail Gorbachev on the day the Soviet Union collapsed, "Together we liberated Eastern Europe and unified Germany," he was hardly doing justice to the complicated history of the era. The story of Hungary’s transition from Soviet satellite to independent state sheds light on the dynamics of systemic change in international politics at the end of the Cold War.

Author Bio

László Borhi is Peter A. Kadas Associate Chair and Professor of Central European History at Indiana University and Scientific Counsellor of the Institute of History Center for Humanities of the Hungarian Academy. He is the author of Hungary in the Cold War, 1945–1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union (2004) and coauthor and coeditor of Soviet Occupation of Romania, Hungary and Austria, 1944–1948. He is the recipient of the Gold Cross of Merit of the Hungarian Republic (2006), the Zoltán Bezerédj Prize of the Ministry of National Cultural Heritage of Hungary (2006), and the György Ránki Prize of the Hungarian Historical Association (1995).

Translator Jason Vincz, a specialist in Anglo-American and Eastern European literature, holds degrees from Harvard College, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University.


“In the voluminous secondary literature of the Cold War, Borhi has found important new ground. Borhi’s research in the American and Hungarian archives is thorough, [and] impressively, he has succeeded in placing Hungarian-American relations within the larger topic of Eastern Europe, correctly paying significant attention to economic issues.”
 — Peter Kenez, UC Santa Cruz

“[T]his invaluable reference work belongs on the library shelf of any Cold War scholar.”
 — Slavic Review

“There are rare books that define an era. Borhi’s Dealing with Dictators is second to none in helping us comprehend the difficult ups and downs of the U.S. – Hungarian bilateral relationship within the larger context of Cold War Central Europe. When it comes to the origins of the Cold War, Borhi is relentlessly anti-revisionist – it was the Soviets who built an empire in Eastern Europe to ruthlessly exploit the satellite economies. Dealing with Dictators concludes with an exhaustive chapter on Hungary’s crucial role in ending the Cold War. This is international history writing at its best.”
 — Gunter Bischof, Marshall Plan Professor of History, University of New Orleans

“"A tour de force of research and analysis, László Borhi’s Dealing With Dictators has revived and reoriented our understanding of the import of United States foreign policies toward Hungary and East Central Europe during the Cold War."”
 — Martin J. Sherwin,Professor of History at George Mason University, author (with Kai Bird) of the Pulitzer Prize biography, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy

“László Borhi's Dealing with Dictators makes a valuable contribution from both a theoretical and empirical point of view to the history of communist regimes leading up to the end of the Cold War. . . . It is meticulously documented, drawing from Hungarian archives, US State Department archives, and US presidential libraries. ”
 — H-Diplo

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

1. Peace Overtures, the Allies, and the Holocaust, 1942-1945
2. Cuius Regio, Eius Religio: The United States and the Soviet Seizure of Power
3. Rollback
4. 1956: Self-Liberation
5. Reprisals and Bridge-Building
6. The Dilemmas of External Transformation
7. "The Status Quo is Not So Bad": Détente
8. Nixon, Carter, and the Kádár Regime
9. "Love Towards Kádár": Reagan and the Myth of Liberation
10. 1989: "Together We Liberated Eastern Europe"