After nearly three decades of dutiful service to the Communist Party, Imre Nagy led the popular uprising against the Soviet authorities during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Two years later he was disgraced and executed. How did the formerly loyal Party servant become one of its most ardent critics? How did he reconcile his own beliefs with the demands of the Party for so long - and what finally drove him to take a stand? And how should we understand his legacy for the modern democracy of Hungary?This definitive biography of the Communist leader traces his life from his conventional, petty bourgeois childhood in south-west Hungary, through his tremendous political achievements and ultimate dramatic failure. In this first complete portrait of this complex and contradictory figure,. Jnos Rainer examines the decisions that shaped Nagy's life and determined the evolution of his unique political philosophy, focussing on the key episodes that defined his life: his decision to join the Communist Party while he was a prisoner during the First World War; his return to Hungary from Moscow as a minister in 1944; and his promotion to Prime Minister following Stalin's death, in 1953. Despite his political successes Nagy was never an uncritical or passive Communist and throughout his life he wrestled with the fundamental problem of how to reconcile Marxism-Leninism, as interpreted by the Soviet Union and supported by their huge resources, with a sense of national identity and his own reforming instincts. Imre Nagy is vividly brought to life as an enigmatic figure whose actions shaped Hungary's destiny in 1956 and ever since.