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Ballad of the whiskey robber : a true story of bank heists, ice hockey, Transylv
Julian Rubinstein
Adult Nonfiction HV6653.A47 R8 2004

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This story of a bank robber who captured a nation's sympathy in post-Communist Hungary is a rollicking tale told with glee and flair. Attila Ambrus sneaked over the border from Romania into Hungary in the waning days of Communist rule. After talking his way onto a Hungarian hockey team, he turned to robbery to make some cash in the Wild West atmosphere of the early 1990s in Eastern Europe. As journalist Rubinstein shows, Ambrus was quite good at it. Taking advantage of poor police work, he took in millions in Hungarian currency and became a headline-grabber. He managed to stay at large for several years while continuing in his role as a back-up goalie on the ice. Rubinstein has a knack for telling a good story, and he captures well both Ambrus's appeal and the atmosphere of the first few years of capitalism in Hungary. Along the way, he introduces readers to memorable characters in addition to the appealing, alcoholic protagonist: the women Ambrus attracts and a Budapest detective driven out of office by the crime spree. While Rubinstein (whose work has been collected in Best American Crime Writing) overwrites at times, he has a rootin'-tootin' style that's a perfect fit for this Jesse James-like tale, which has the chance to be a sleeper that transcends nonfiction categories. (Sept. 16) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This terrific first effort by journalist Rubinstein (Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone) details the life and crimes of Attila Ambrus. After a rough childhood in Ceausescu's Romania, Ambrus made a perilous escape into post-Communist Hungary, seeking a better life. He struggled to make his way as a hockey goalie, office-supply salesman, and janitor, but his ambition, proud nature, and fondness for whiskey ultimately led him to become a bank robber. His successful run as the "Whiskey Robber" had more to do with the political climate than any innate skill. The police force was underfunded and untrained, and financial institutions had inadequate security. Ambrus became a folk hero by stealing from banks (never customers), wearing clownlike disguises, and being as polite as a bank robber can be. Rubinstein ably provides the historical and political backdrop to this saga. Ambrus comes across as a fascinating character, and readers will find themselves trying to figure out who should play him on the big screen. Recommended. Karen Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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