and did not refer to the Kirov murder innhis memoirs. Since then Roy Medvedevnhas declared Stalin’s guilt “almostnproved” and Fyodor Burlatsky, writingnin a collective volume entitled Proryvn(1988), declared outright that Kirovnwas removed by Stalin. (The Englishntranslation, Breakthrough, published innNew York by Walker, has merely thatnKirov and others “were executed”nwithout saying by whom.)nReviewing Ulam’s novel in ThenNew Republic (July 18, 1988), WalternLaqueur writes that the search for anmotive for the killing by Stalin is “notnlikely to lead to any conclusive truth,”nsince Stalin later killed many of hisnallies and supporters. I do not find thisnlogic compelling. Stalin thought henfaced a possibly imminent danger ofnbeing replaced by Kirov and wantednhim out of the way — on that there cannbe no doubt. That he thereuponnsought to arrange the murder of hisnpossible rival and succeeded in sondoing seems almost as certain. Perhapsnthe Soviets will offer us certainty in thenmonths and years to come. In thenmeantime. Conquest has given us allnof the story at present available, and henhas done so objectively, fairly, andncarefully.nDonald Treadgold is a professor ofnRussian history at the Universitynof Washington.nWild AboutnBudapestnby Paul T. HornaknBudapest 1900nby John LukacsnNew York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson;n225 pp., $20.95nCome down the Danube through an”painters’ paradise” of low hills,npast a “bosky island,” around a bendnwhere suddenly the spires and parapetsnand bustling quays spread before youn”in a pearly, blue-gray light.” Glimpsenthe Royal Castle, its cupola “studdednwith stony warts, a suggestion of an oldnMagyar warrior’s semibarbaric helmet.”nDebark at the promenade, check yournbags at the Hungaria, and take thensubway (“an inimitable smell of varnishednwood and of the ozone of directcurrentnelectricity”) out Andrassy Avenue—nan East European Champs-nElysees — to the park and the zoo. Ornmb elbows with artistes at the Japanncoffeehouse. In the Inner City breathenthe “fresh cool paper-smell and warmnburnt coffee-smell, occasionally enrichednby a whiff of lilac water.” Ornswim at St. Luke’s Baths, “the saltynsmells of steam and cabin-wood mixingnwith the pleasantly bitter odor ofnfreshly tapped beer.” If it is winter, trynthe Skating Club, where the clubhousenis “warm as an oven . . . reeking ofnoiled leather, coal-smoke and . . .nmelted ice.” Chances are it’s winter,nfor “winters came earlier than theyncome now. They were colder andnsnowier.” But then, you are in “a citynof distinct anticipation and of distinctnseasons, more distinct than now.” Thisnis turn-of-the-century Budapest, andnyour guide is John Lukacs.nIt was R.G. Collingwood who speculatednthat a historian could reexperiencenCaesar’s thoughts by carefulnscholarly concentration; is Lukacs, bynconcentrated description, replaying thenpleasures of a vanished time? “Budapestn1900 was not inspired by nostalgia,”nhe curtly states. And later: “Wenmust watch for the symptoms of annuncritical and, therefore, unhistoricalnnostalgia.”nThen the book is, perhaps, aboutnthe city’s phenomenal transformationnafter the 1867 compromise with Vienna.nIn the empire revived under thenname Austria-Hungary, Hungary gotnthe long leash it fought for in Kossuth’snrevolution of 1848, and Budapest wentnfrom sleepy cow town to thriving metropolisnin 30 years. By 1900, 733,000npeople lived in the place, the verynname of which impressed a contemporaryncorrespondent as “big with thenfuture.” Uprooted by land reform,npeasants poured in from the countryside,nwhile their former feudal lordsnstruggled to pay taxes for the first timenin the country’s history. Businessnboomed. The middle classes burgeoned,nand with them came democracy.nHungary’s Parliament building wasnthe world’s largest.nBut it was populated by loudmouths,nscoundrels, and plain ignoramuses:nby 1901 the Catholic People’snParty proposed a stiff tax on stocknnntransactions. A respected literatus proclaimed:n”Free competition is a fraud.”nAnti-Semitic and pro-“Christian” sentimentsnsprang up in tandem with anredneck nationalism; intellectualsnlooked not to laid-back Vienna of thendoddering Habsburgs, but to Germany.nYet “this is not a political history ofnBudapest, let alone of Hungary,”nwarns our author.nJust what is it? Well, a sometimesnpleasing, sometimes exasperating crossnbetween a coffee-table book and anchamber of commerce commemorative.nOnly don’t expect Lukacs to saynso. “The theme of this book is not thenhistory of a city but its historical portraitnat a certain time, a portrait of itsnatmosphere, of its peoples, of theirnachievements and troubles.” But a cityncannot sit still for the historian as itncould for Monet. One cannot capturen”achievements and troubles” with oilsnand brushes. History is drama—likelynas not, tragedy — enacted in time. Thenfocus of a particular year, 1900, immediatelynbecomes blurred as Lukacs,ndespite self-imposed limitations, plungesninto the “history of a city” with ancapsule history of Hungary and ofnEurope. He does a passable job; certainlynnobody without his grasp ofnHungarian is going to call him on finenpoints. One might, however, questionnwhether such a thing exists as “Magyarnpessimism,” and whether anyonenought to brag that “the Hungariannmind is very observant and sensitive tonevery psychic nuance.”nHistory, Lukacs says, should be toldnhierarchically. First come sense impressions,nthen people, politics (yes,ndespite his own disclaimer), intellectualnand artistic enthusiasms, and finallyn”less tangible but nonetheless evidentnmental and spiritual inclinations.” Surenenough, the chapters fall out this way,nand as soon as we begin to drift towardnnostalgia or cause and effect we arentold that that’s not the point of thenbook. History isn’t science, but thenretelling of events imprinted on thencollective mind of a nation. It isn’tnnostalgia, but a detached means ofnremembering. That is Lukacs’ argumentnin Historical Consciousness,nwhere it made a great deal of sense.nBut in Budapest 1900 this philosophynamounts to litde more than an organizationalnframework that relegates manynilluminating particulars to eye-wrench-nSEPTEMBER 1989/35n