The introduction describes the genesis of the book, establishes the historical questions it addresses, points to the answers to come, and situates this work in the historiography of Central and Eastern Europe. Most importantly, it makes the case for collective biography, which is the most innovative feature of this book. The introduction also defines the main features of northeastern Hungary and stresses what is gained by viewing nineteenth-century history from the vantage point of this poor, remote region. Drawing on Benedict Anderson and Edward Said, it closes with reflections on the "imagined geography" as an analytical framework that captures the mixture of acute observations and bold visions of change offered by the eight men and women examined here.
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