Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize

2007 Citation Recipient

Charles Gati

The Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize, established in 1987 and sponsored by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe published in the previous calendar year. The prize is dedicated to the encouragement of high-quality studies of the international behavior of the countries of the former Communist Bloc.

Winner: Charles Gati
Title: Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press in the Cold War International History Project Series)

Failed Illusions is a fascinating and multifaceted study of the Hungarian revolt of 1956 in its international and domestic context. Charles Gati has investigated Hungarian, Russian, and US archival sources and memoir accounts and interviewed dozens of people with direct experience of the events, from secret police officials to dissidents. His excavation of political decisions taken in Washington and Moscow provides an important geopolitical complement to his thorough recounting of the tragic developments within Hungary itself. Particularly valuable is his exploration of the role played by Western radio broadcasts during the crisis. The author’s interviews and research into the archives of the Central Intelligence Agency and Radio Free Europe shed considerable light on this long-controversial subject. Professor Gati conveys the hopes, expectations, and disappointments of the participants in the Hungarian revolt, based in part on his own experiences, and contrasts them to subsequent analyses, including ones occasioned by the equally dramatic events of 1989. He deftly combines attention to historical detail with broader political observations and a subtle treatment of the role of memory. The tone of this engagingly written study is modest and judicious throughout, combining the engagement of someone who has lived through the events he describes with the detachment of a mature scholar who knows how to put them into perspective.