Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Vera and the Ambassador

Vera and her husband Donald Blinken, Ambassador to Hungary under Bill Clinton (1994-1998), will publish a dual memoir that will offer "a behind-the-scenes look at diplomacy and international relations in post-Communist Eastern Europe." It will also tell the story of Vera Blinken's return to Budapest fifty years after her escape in 1944.

In addition meeting everyone from Madonna to The Pope, the Blinkens played an important role in Budapest politics and society of the mid-1990s. Donald, for instance, negotiated Hungary's entry into NATO, and helped establish the NATO base at Taszár, the first in a former Warsaw Pact country and a strategic location for the Balkan wars and the airlift, while Vera created mobile breast cancer screening units that saved many lives. Hopefully there will be more on the Hungarian Refugee interviews following the 1956 revolution, which were digitalized here with their support and on their work lobbying the Hungarian government on behalf of Holocaust survivors.

By the way, their son Antony, a prominent foreign policy writer under Clinton, has just been named national security advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden.

Biden will blurb the book “President Clinton made a wise choice in sending Donald and Vera Blinken to Hungary. This book serves as a reminder of the critical role that ambassadors can play in advancing the interests of our country at the pivot points of history. Their teamwork was good for Hungary, good for our country, and it also makes for a great story.”

Vera and the Ambassador: Escape and Return will be published by SUNY Press in early February 2009.