The biography of Ferenc Mádl is an important undertaking for several reasons. On the one hand, it is about a member of the first Hungarian government after the regime change of 1989, who, as a conservative politician, was involved in shaping Hungarian politics for two decades. On the other hand, the portrait of the second President of the Republic of Hungary – the first presidential monograph to be written from a historical perspective – gives the reader an insight into the everyday life of Central European politics, as József Antall’s former minister – building on the Prime Minister’s intellectual legacy – presents a possible interpretation of the cultural and economic cooperation that linked the peoples of the Central European region across borders.
Thirdly, we can see in detail the portrait of the law professor who, four decades before the enlargement of the European Union and living in the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, was already dreaming and thinking about deepening and developing the Western integration. As a scholar, Mádl was one of the most important ‘apostles’ of the Central European countries’ access. He was one of the Eastern European “founding fathers” of the EU, this is why his legacy can be revered by the peoples of the continent. The book also explores the family roots of this personal interest, from the ethnic German community of his birthplace among the gently sloping hills of Transdanubia, a small village from where many of his relatives migrated to the ‘promised land’, the United States of America in the 20th century, and from where – from the plowside – Ferenc Mádl eventually worked his way up to the pinnacle of scientific life, membership of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.