IIE trustees, friends and family gathered on June 23rd, 2009 to celebrate the publication of Ambassador Donald and Vera Blinken’s book, Vera and the Ambassador; Escape and Return. Among the attendees were the former U.S. Ambassador from Hungary Andras Simonyi and U.S. Ambassador to Hungary April H. Foley, NYU President Emeritus John Brademas and Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, the Honorable Joseph H. Melrose, Jr., and Ms. Maura Moynihan. Attendees were treated to readings from the book by Vera Blinken, as well as remarks from both Ambassador and Mrs. Blinken about their experiences – separate and together – in Hungary. Following their remarks, complimentary copies of the book were available, which Ambassador and Mrs. Blinken signed for the guests.
About Vera and the Ambassador; Escape and Return
Vera Blinken escaped Hungary as a child with her mother after WWII as the Iron Curtain descended in Central Europe. Donald Blinken, a former investment banker, was appointed Ambassador at the dawn of Hungary’s nascent democracy and entry into the global economy. He helped facilitate Hungary’s entry into NATO and negotiated the opening of the American military base in Hungary that contributed to the end of the Bosnian conflict. Mrs. Blinken initiated the first mobile mammography program in Central/Eastern Europe. Theirs is a candid, behind-the-scenes look at the challenges of diplomatic life, including the inevitable security concerns, anxious trips in former Soviet helicopters, and the struggle to reshape old Cold War attitudes. The energetic narration moves seamlessly from historical to contemporary political themes, as well as recounting the more personal and particular highlight of the book – accompanying Vera Blinken as she rediscovers what remains of the Budapest of her childhood.