Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber
by Julian Rubinstein

Attila Ambrus is king. True, he may not do so well with relationships. And his hockey goalie skills may leave much to be desired (though not his dedication), and he may have something of a compulsive personality when it comes to drinking and gambling.

But when it comes to robbery, he is the indisputable king.

(In Hungary in the 1990s, anyway.)

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber1 is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read. Ever. Hands down. In fact, it’s one of the best non-fiction books I will ever read—it’s that good. By some outrageous fluke, Ballad marries truly excellent writing (that of Julian Rubinstein) to an outstanding true story (that of Whiskey Robber Attila Ambrus), a phenomenon that happens all too rarely.

Trying to find his way in the world and piece together a living, Attila Ambrus stumbles upon the fact that his quick mind is suited perfectly to robbing banks and post offices.

The story—by which I mean the true life story, i.e., the story on which the book is based—is itself nearly impossible to believe. When I say “nearly,” just think: impossible. At numerous points throught the book, I honestly turned back to the front cover to double check the whole “TRUE STORY” part, because I couldn’t believe it.

Everything fits together perfectly.


Julian Rubinstein is an excellent storyteller, and Attila Ambrus is a perfect story-maker.

This is a book that you must read.


1 full title: “Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A true story of bank heists, ice hockey, Transylvanian pelt smuggling, moonlighting detectives, and broken hearts”