Eugene Fodor

The Spy Who Loved Travel

Eugene Fodor

Born in Hungary in 1905, raised in Czechoslovakia, and educated in England and France, Eugene Fodor began his travel publishing career by creating the world's first modern guidebook, 1936–On the Continent. Two years later, the title hit the New York Times Best-Sellers List.

Multilingual and with extensive travel intelligence, Fodor joined the U.S. Army's psychological-warfare branch and the OSS in World War II. He emerged from the war a decorated hero thanks to his leadership in the liberation of Prague and Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. During the Cold War, Fodor operated as a CIA agent stationed in Vienna and Budapest and many of Fodor's guidebook writers were undercover spies.

Fodor revolutionized the travel publishing industry with his annual updates and inclusion of logistical, transportation, accommodation, and dining information. With a passion for interacting with the local peoples and traditions of a destination—Fodor writes that, after all, "Rome contains not only magnificent monuments. . . but also Italians"—he was the first to focus on the modern culture of a locale.

Eugene Fodor is the only publisher to have ever been inducted in the Travel Hall of Fame. He writes, "Travel makes you grow. Today's travelers observe how others live. They start accepting then appreciating, then liking, and finally understanding the ways of others. They learn to be more tolerant of alien ways—that is the most important contribution of travel."

An American, a Hungarian, a world citizen, a CIA agent, a war hero, a best-selling author, and an entrepreneur—Eugene Fodor was the spy who loved travel.