HanÃ¡k surveys the urban development of the two cities and reviews the effects of modernization on various aspects of their cultures. He examines the process of physical change, as rapid population growth, industrialization, and the rising middle class ushered in a new age of tenements, suburbs, and town planning. He investigates how death and its rituals--once the domain of church, family, and local community--were transformed by the commercialization of burials and the growing bureaucratic control of graveyards. He explores the mentality of common soldiers and their families--mostly of peasant origin--during World War I, detecting in letters to and from the front a shift toward a revolutionary mood among Hungarians in particular. He presents snapshots of such subjects as the mentality of the nobility, operettas and musical life, and attitudes toward Germans and Jews, and also reveals the striking relationship between social marginality and cultural creativity.
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