November 10, 2017
9.21 Inches (US)
6.26 Inches (US)
1.54 Pounds (US)
$111.00 USD, £85.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

The Invisible Shining

The Cult of Mátyás Rákosi in Stalinist Hungary, 19451956

This book offers a detailed analysis of the construction, reception, and eventual decline of the cult of the Hungarian Communist Party Secretary, Mátyás Rákosi, one of the most striking examples of orchestrated adulation in the Soviet bloc. While his cult never approached the magnitude of that of Stalin, Rákosi's ambition to outshine the other "best disciples" and become the best of the best was manifest in his diligence in promoting a Soviet-type ritual system in Hungary. The main argument of The Invisible Shining is that the cult of personality is not just a curious aspect of communist dictatorship, it is an essential element of it.

The monograph is primarily concerned with techniques and methods of cult construction, as well as the role various institutions played in the creation of mythical representations of political figures. While engaging with a wider international literature on Stalinist cults, the author uses the case of Rákosi to explore how personality cults are created, how such cults are perceived, and how they are eventually unmade. The book addresses the success—generally questionable—of such projects, as well as their uncomfortable legacies.

About the Author

Balázs Apor is lecturer in European Studies at the Trinity College Dublin.


"Apor is most helpful and pertinent regarding the cult's idiosyncratic elements. He is keen to redress the tendency to assume that 'the constructed personae of mini-Stalins in the Soviet bloc were merely clones of Stalin's mythical image'. The spread of leader cults across communist Europe was not just the production of facsimiles. Rather, Apor's analysis of the specifically Hungarian elements of Rákosi's cult, in connection with the overall communist project of recasting national history, is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of what made this regime distinctive. What Apor has concretely given us in The Invisible Shining is an invaluable investigation and analysis, assiduously compiled, of how Rákosi's leader cult was constructed and imposed in Hungary. This was a grandiose utopian project served by most mundane and fallible means. Apor's study will be a sturdy platform for anyone subsequently taking up the study of this brief but fateful cult and regime."—Hungarian Cultural Studies

"Balázs Apor's book is a very welcome addition to the growing field of research on leader cults in communist countries. The author does not limit himself to analyzing the Rákosi cult in Stalinist Hungary, but also opens up a heuristic dialog with scholarship on the Stalin cult, the Sovietization of Central and Eastern Europe, and nationalism. The result is a well-written, clearly structured, and original monograph that sheds light on the way the periphery of the postwar Soviet sphere of influence functioned and how a crucial feature of Stalinist political culture – the party leader cult, which emerged across the communist world – expanded beyond the Soviet Union."
Link to review:
https://www.recensio.net/rezensionen/zeitschriften/jahrbucher-fur-geschichte-osteuropas/jgo-e-reviews-2020/3/issue.pdf—Alexey Tikhomirov, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas


"Of all the national leader cults of the Stalin era, that of the Hungarian Mátyás Rákosi was one of the most grandiose, wide-ranging, and bizarre. In at last doing justice to the multi-faceted character of the cult phenomenon, Balázs Apor has called on the skills of the social and cultural as well as political historian, and his study combines meticulous first-hand research with a formidable knowledge of the wider literature and historical context. It is a tremendous work of scholarship and one of the best and fullest accounts we have of the Stalinist leader cult in any European country."—Kevin Morgan

"Aside from Marxism, perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of modern communist ideology and mobilizational propaganda is the personality cult. Such cults also play a central role elsewhere on the political spectrum, within populist, nationalist, and fascist movements. For that reason, this meticulous case study of the production, projection, and reception of the Hungarian Rákosi cult has much to offer to the broader study of political movements worldwide. Highly recommended"—David Brandenberger

"With impressive insight and breadth of vision, Balázs Apor analyses the strategies used to build the cult of Mátyás Rákosi in late-1940s Hungary and explores its reception among the population. It is an outstanding study, deeply researched, trenchantly argued, and enriched by sustained comparison of the Rákosi cult with leadership cults in other authoritarian regimes."—Stephen Smith

9789633861929 : the-invisible-shining-apor
416 Pages
$111.00 USD

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