Everyone in the book-writing trade has a horror story about miscreant publishers: botched editing, poor promotion, missed deadlines. The plight of one such victim truly pains me. John P C. Matthews was a writer for Radio Free Europe during the anti-communist uprising in the fall of 1956. Mr. Matthews carefully kept notes on what he saw and read, and he spent years writing Explosion: The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (Hippocrene Books, $34.95, 691 pages). He hoped for publication to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the uprising.
Alas, such as not to be. For whatever reason, Hippocrene tarried, so Mr. Matthews’ book did not reach reviewers until long after a veritable torrent of other works. The pity is that, in my view, Mr. Matthews’ book is the best of the large crop, with heartbreaking interviews with Hungarians who suffered during the Soviet crackdown, and excerpts from what Radio Free Europe broadcast during the period.
So, belated kudos for work well done. And no, I do not know Mr. Matthews other than through his work. The fellow deserved better.
Joseph C. Goulden is writing a book on Cold War intelligence. His e-mail is JosephG894@aol.com.