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HHhH by Laurent Binet
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HHhH

by Laurent Binet

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,020798,327 (3.9)91
  1. 81
    The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell (yokai)
  2. 10
    Resistance by Gerald Brennan (atbradley)
  3. 10
    Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich by Robert Gerwarth (meggyweg)
  4. 21
    Mendelssohn is on the roof by Jiří Weil (gust)
  5. 10
    Jan Karski by Yannick Haenel (yokai)
  6. 00
    Fatherland by Robert Harris (karatelpek)
    karatelpek: Alternative History-HHhH is a key supporting character in Harris' dystopian future.
  7. 00
    Walhalla-Code: Kriminalroman by Uwe Klausner (passion4reading)
    passion4reading: A work of historical crime fiction, this nevertheless has Heydrich's assassination at its heart and deals with some of the fallout, both factual and fictitious.
  8. 11
    The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (gust)
    gust: Ook hier verzetsleden die een dictator doden.
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» See also 91 mentions

English (51)  Dutch (15)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Danish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is one of the great heroic tales of our time. Two Czech freedom-fighters took on what they understood to be a suicide mission to take down the "Butcher of Prague," one of the prime authors of the Final Solution.

I've known the story for years. In picking up Laurent Binet's "HHhH," the question I had was, "Can it really be retold in a different, invigorating way?" The answer is yes.

Binet's approach is unique. On the cover, the book is called "A Novel." It reads more to me like a book-length personal essay (Binet himself calls it an "infranovel.") What Binet does is write a book about his writing a book about Heydrich and his demise. If that sounds off-putting, I felt a little that way myself as I began reading it. But in the course of things, the power of the story itself takes hold, and the Binet's story and the Heydrich story merge in compelling ways.

When it comes to the assassination itself--as well as its immediate aftermath--even though I know the details, I was riveted by Binet's retelling. At this point I couldn't put the book down, and was profoundly moved. By the last word of the last page, I felt myself merged into the story myself and knew I had been through an experience.

(I think the book will be enjoyed much more by those like me who already know the Heydrich story, as opposed to those who don't.) ( )
1 vote kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
a post modernist take on Reinhard Heydrich, the blond beast, master of the secret service, author of the holocaust and ruler of Czechoslovakia. The French narrator is writing a book about this, burdened by knowledge and a self defeating quest for accuracy and the truth. It's a tale of heroism, as a Czech and a Slovak mount an assassination attempt, supported by the cast of heroic 'little' people who shelter and aid them. And a tale of atrocity, as we follow Heydrich. I found the post modern detachment slightly irritating, but perhaps that's a matter of personal taste...
  otterley | Mar 26, 2015 |
10. HHhH by Laurent Binet (2009, 327 page trade paperback, read Jan 9 - Feb 2)
translated from French by Sam Taylor

I get intimidated by books, actually I find the intimidation an odd form of attraction. But there was nothing to worry about here. For such a dour subject, this was a really fun book.

Binet gives a history of the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich during WWII. Heydrich was a key Nazi leader. He was also very young and considered a possible successor the Hitler at some point in the future. He was assassinated in Prague on May 27, 1942 by a two men flown in from England. One was a Slovak, Jozef Gabčík, and the other was a Czech, Jan Kubiš. When the Nazi's couldn't find the assassins they randomly wiped out the Czech town of Lidice, killing all the men, almost all the children and imprisoning all the women in Ravensbrück concentration camp. And then they advertised the massacre, resulting a something like a PR blow with a major popular backlash. Lidice became a rally point for all allied countries. There is a lot of death in this book, as goes with the subject of WWII.

That is all interesting, but it's Binet's style that makes the book work and keeps it entertaining. It's written as if the narrator is telling the reader about his process of research, as if the book itself were a journal of an obsessed researcher. He talks about struggling to capture the experience of history when capturing it is impossible. And he can't even know himself what the experiences really were like.

I would argue the book is highly stylized and does not feel not like a real journal. The writing is too clean and neat and too simple with no slang and few casual mannerism of expression. This is a bit ironic because he contrasts himself with the wordy introductions of Victor Hugo and then tells us, "So I've decided not to overstylize my story." Yet, that is exactly what he has done. But, it works, it's enjoyable, sad and thought provoking on several levels. Recommended. ( )
2 vote dchaikin | Mar 16, 2015 |
A tale of World War II Prague, I figured it was my kind of thing. Even with jacket blurbs by Easton Ellis, Amis, McCann, Lodge and Shteyngart (among others) I found it to be just OK. I enjoyed it more as it progressed but, in the end, wasn't blown away by it - as it were. ( )
  heggiep | Oct 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laurent Binetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Botto, MargheritaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corral, RodrigoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elewa, AdlyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kagan, AbbyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nes, Liesbeth vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, SamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Once again, the writer stains the tree of History with his thoughts, but it is not for us to find the trick that would enable us to put the animal back in its carrying cage.

—Osip Mandelstam, "The End of the Novel"
Dedication
First words
Gabčík—that's his name—really did exist.
Quotations
What would be the point of 'inventing' Nazism?
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Book description
Two men have been enlisted to kill the head of the Gestapo. This is Operation Anthropoid, Prague, 1942: two Czechoslovakian parachutists sent on a daring mission by London to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Nazi secret services, 'the hangman of Prague'. 'the blond beast', 'the most dangerous man in the Third Reich'.

His boss is Heinrich Himmler but everyone in the SS says 'Himmler's brain is called Heydrich', which in German spells HHhH.

All the characters in HHhH are real. All the events depicted are true. But alongside the nerve-shredding preparations for the attack runs another story: when you are a novelist writing about real people, how do you resist the temptation to make things up?

HHhH is a panorama of the Third Reich told through the life on one outstandingly brutal man, a story of unbearable heroism and loyalty, revenge and betrayal. It is improbably entertaining and electrifying modern, a moving and shattering work of fiction.
Haiku summary
A Slovak and a
Czech carefully plan Heydrich's
Assassination.
(passion4reading)
Jozef Gabĉík and
Jan Kubiŝ - remember their
Names and bravery.
(passion4reading)

No descriptions found.

(see all 3 descriptions)

Imagines the story of two Czechoslovakian partisans responsible for assassinating the "Butcher of Prague" Reinhard Heydrich, traces their escape from the Nazis and recruitment by the British secret service.

» see all 5 descriptions

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