Hungary is a most intriguing country. Among the many mysteries that surround Magyarország, the Magyar language is one of the most fascinating. Hungarian history, albeit occasionally tragic, is also quite interesting. In particular, how was it possible for Hungary to spawn so many brilliant intellectuals and artists during the (relatively) short life of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy (1867-1918)?
In The Social Construction of Hungarian Genius , Tibor Frank attempts to answer this question by providing “a broader background — historical, social, intellectual, and cultural — to understanding the admirable creativity in early 20th century Hungary, with the mathematician and scientist John von Neumann (1903-1957) in center focus”. Frank argues that the social and cultural transformations that Hungary went through after the Compromise of 1867, among which:
- the decline of feudalism and the emergence of a middle-class.
- the assimilation of Jews and ethnic Germans in Hungarian society (a process he calls “Magyarization”).
- the influence of German culture in Hungarian mathematics, science, music, and education system.
created the conditions for a new intellectual elite to emerge. The leadership of József Eötvös and his son Loránd Eötvös, the excellence of high-school teachers such as László Rátz and Sándor Mikola, the foundation of the Középiskolai Matematikai Lapok by Dániel Arany, and the establishment of the Eötvös Competition led to the discovery, nurturing, and training of exceptional students such as von Neumann, von Kármán, Wigner, Szilárd, Teller, among many others.
In 1918, with the end of World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Hungary underwent a period of political turmoil that forced some of its intellectual elite to exile, first in Germany, and later in the United States. Frank’s book  focuses on such migrations.
 Tibor Frank, The Social Construction of Hungarian Genius (1867-1930), background paper for the panel Discussion “Budapest: The Golden Years” in “The von Neumann Memorial Lectures”, Princeton, 2007.
 Tibor Frank, Double Exile: migrations of Jewish-Hungarian professionals through Germany to the United States, 1919-1945, Peter Lang, 2009.