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Ballad Of The Whiskey Robber

Author: Julian Robertson
Year: 2005
Pages: 257. Once you get into the story you will be hooked.
Rating: 94/100. Amazing story, well worth the read.
Amazon: The Ballad Of The Whiskey Robber

The Ballad of The Whiskey Robber warps you into the backwards world of post-communist Budapest (a city made of up two distinct towns separated by the Danube River - Buda and Pest). The tale is the true story of Attila Ambrus -- a Romanian immigrant who moonlights as a pelt smuggler, second-rate hockey goaltender, pen salesman, Zamboni driver, gravedigger, church painter, building superintendent, and who finds enough time between gambling and drinking to become the most prolific bank robber in Eastern Europe.

Rubinstein allows you to love The Whiskey Robber, for both his greatness and his all too humane shortcomings. The story also introduces colorful characters including a police detective always one step to slow and a crime show host whose trashy programming captures the fancy of the audience of a deregulated media.

Overall, the story captures the zaniness of an enigmatic city in the midst of social growing pains. Through the chaos, Rubenstein allows the reader to relate to the characters and understand their seemingly inexplicable actions.

Litty's Take

I fell in love with this book the first time I read it and now have read it again only eight months later. The plot is so interesting and unpredictable that I assumed it was a fictional story as I read it for the first time. Only after I finished the book and was going through the appendix did I realize the story was true.

A good book hijacks your imagination and lets your conscious get lost in the story. This is one of those books. I knew the characters, understand the city, and was excited for each twist and turn in the plot.

I recently recommended the book to a friend who works at a movie studio and told him this book needs to be made into a movie. In fact, in the story Attila's publicity-seeking lawyer desperately tries to sell the movie rights to his story. The Hungarian Cochran realized he was part of this fascinating tale that Rubenstein so deftly tells. So click this link, pick up the book and enjoy. If I ever do start my real life book club this might be first on the list.


Picked this up over the break, and I have to agree that this is a great read. The story is fun and adventurous. Attila is truly a fascinating character: his logic is unpredictable and despite knowing that his dreams will never come to fruition, you can't help but root for his success. Also, your instincts about the story's film potential were right on, as Warners Bros. controls the rights and is developing a script for Johnny Depp to star.


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