Kati Marton to come to DC on Oct. 22 to talk about her new book, "Enemies of the People: My family’s journey to America"
Award-winning journalist Kati Marton inspires readers in her new book about her family’s plight to expose the cruel mechanics of the 1950s Communist Terror State in Hungary
Review by Hope Katz Gibbs
For the Democratic Women of Clifton newsletter
October 1, 2009
“You are opening a Pandora’s box,” author Kati Marton was warned when she began the research for her new book, Enemies of the People: My Family’s Journey to America.
The Hungarian-born writer paid little attention and dove headfirst into the files of the Hungarian Secret Police (known as the AVO). There, she found the fascinating and sometimes excruciating details of the controversial careers of her parents — Endre and Illona Marton — two journalists who during the 1950s wrote hundreds of articles for the U.S.-based Associated Press and United Press about what was going on behind the Iron Curtain.
Now an accomplished journalist herself, Marton felt compelled to understand the intricacies and courage of her parents who were enmeshed in a nail-biting game of cat and mouse with the AVO. In fact, close friends-turned-informers relayed the Martons’ every move to the Secret Police who were determined to arrest them. The Marton’s only made it worse by spurring easy friendships within the American legation, which afforded them an affluent lifestyle and consequently allied them with the “enemy” in the minds of the AVO.
This eventually led to their imprisonment for six years for charges of espionage.
“All my life, my parents’ defiance of the Communists, their stubborn courage as the last independent journalists until their arrest, trial and conviction as CIA spies, has been at the core of our family identity,” Marton writes in the introduction of her book. “On Feb. 25, 1955, at two in the morning, following a game of bridge at the home of the U.S. military attaché, my father was abducted by six agents of the AVO (the Hungarian Secret Police). His arrest was front-page news in The New York Times. Four months later, they came for my mother.”
Before moving to America, Marton and her sister Juli were sent to live with a Hungarian family named Hellei. “Everything about them made me long for my parents and our old life,” Marton shares.
Indeed, this poignant memoire is at once a history lesson of the Cold War, and a love letter to the people who shaped her life.
“No one played a bigger role in my life than my father, who was so sparing with praise,” Marton writes toward the end of the book. “I think I even chose my life partners with him in mind. In 1977, when I was hired as an ABC News foreign correspondent, Papa told me to observe and learn from Peter Jennings. ‘Now there is a man who has all the important qualities: intelligence, a sense of the world, great good looks — a man, Kati, who has it all.’
“So, I recall thinking at the time that this is the sort of man he would like as his son-in-law. Until the end of his life, though we had divorced, he considered Peter, the father of his grandchildren, as a son-in-law. And vice versa. After I married [Ambassador] Richard Holbrooke, then an assistant secretary of state, Richard and Papa would sit for hours reminiscing.”
In the epilogue, Marton admits she would not have written this book if her parents were still alive. “Most deaths bring both grief and relief. With my parents’ deaths the taboo of the past was lifted.”
MEET KATI MARTON IN PERSON: Oct. 22, 6:30pm in DC
Kati Marton is coming to DC on Oct. 22, from 6:30-8pm, for a special evening to talk about her new book and network with local women. Hosted by Robin Strongin, publisher of the popular blog Disruptive Women in Health Care (www.disruptivewomen.net), Kati will be taking questions and sharing her insights. Tickets are only $28, and include a copy of the book, cocktails and food. Buy your tickets today at www.meetkatimarton.eventbrite.com.
SAVE THE DATE:
When: Thursday, October 22 Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
Where: The offices of Disruptive Women in Health Care — 919 18th St., NW, 10th floor, Washington DC 20006 (on 18th Street between I & K St., NW).
Parking: Several lots are open until 9 and the orange and red line Metro stops are about one block away.
Questions: Contact Hope Gibbs, 703 346-6975 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT KATI MARTON
An award-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent, Kati Marton is the author of several nonfiction books including Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History, a New York Times bestseller, Wallenberg, The Polk Conspiracy, A Death in Jerusalem, and a novel entitled An American Woman. Married to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Kati lives in New York City with her daughter Elizabeth and her son Christopher.
ABOUT DISRUPTIVE WOMEN IN HEALTHECARE
The mission of www.disruptivewomen.net is to serve as a platform for provocative ideas, thoughts, and solutions in the health sphere. We recognize that to accomplish this, we need to call on experts outside of the health industry.
The founding Disruptive Women have audacious hopes for our blog. We’re not managing change, we’re not thriving on chaos — we’re not waiting for cures. We’re driving change, we’re creating chaos, and we’re finding cures. In a nutshell: We’re disrupting the status quo in the health machine.
Our goal is to become the “go to” health care blog — one that is recognized as a Petri dish for fresh ideas and bold solutions. Won’t you join us?