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HHhH : roman by Laurent Binet

HHhH : roman (edition 2009)

by Laurent Binet

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1,001778,543 (3.89)88
Title:HHhH : roman
Authors:Laurent Binet
Info:Paris : Bernard Grasset, c2009.
Collections:Your library

Work details

HHhH by Laurent Binet

  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 88 mentions

English (49)  Dutch (15)  Spanish (6)  French (4)  Danish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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 |
An interesting, but sometimes frustrating personal view on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague.

Like the author I have been fascinated by this story particularly after visiting Prague in the early 80s when it still had that 1940's feel about it. I should also point out that one of favourite films is "Operation Daybreak" based on the Anthony Burgess book "Seven Men at Daybreak". The film surprisingly doesn't get a mention.

Whilst the story of Operation Anthropoid has been told many times, Binet trys to put a personal view from his discovery of the story through to his imaginings of the participants.

Whilst this technique works up to a point I did find frustrating the times he states what sounds like fact in one chapter, to then say something along the lines of "oh no that isn't quite correct, it's now this...".

This book is a bit like marmite, some will hate it, and for a very good solid account I'd recommend [b:The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich|19279623|The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich|Callum MacDonald|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386478283s/19279623.jpg|27327367] by Callum Macdonald.

( )
  mancmilhist | Aug 28, 2014 |
To get away with constant metafictional intrusions and backtracks and historigraphical excursions and surprisethatdidntreallyhappens and thatdetailringsfalselemmejustgetthatforyas like Binet does, you have to be not only smart (of course), but either really really funny or really really sincere. And since this is a book about Nazis, that pretty much leaves only the latter. Binet manages both--tells the parallel stories of Gabčik and Kubiš and of Heydrich, aka the Blond Beast, aka to his little fucking German classmates "Süss the Jew" because there's no loathing like self-loathing (he was not, in fact, Jewish, but well, clearly Heydrich is gonna have a head full of burn-the-world-down about it, you know?) with appropriate hero worship (but thoughtful) and appalled (but still thoughtful) execration, respectively--the healthy horror of the healthy mind in a healthy body who hits the gym and has a couple glasses of wine a night and has regrets about his lost Slovak love but not like cut-your-wrists regrets. you know? Binet is very clever and very well adjusted and just seems like a nice guy, and that's the only reason we tolerate all the dicking around he does of us. I mean, I do; I see others quibble. I like nice guys.

Anyway, there is an obsessive but not so much that it's aesthetically displeasing, let us say "painterly," level of detail about the target and the leadup and most of it seems actually actual, and really if this is the kind of book you're reading to learn about Heydrich you don't care if you get a few salient details wrong, or I guess I mean if a few of the wrong details strike you as salient. You know? I'm not gonna read Group Captain Archibald Baldarchison's The Guns They Carried. I thought interesting thoughts about how weird-quixotic it is that we try to "get inside" history, but what a piece of shit history would be if we couldn't, and the moments leading up to the assassination and the aftermath (Lidice is slighted, in a way, but it's a story that almost asks to be slighted. Everyone died. No, no reason. To spend too long learning about all their lives and loves so you can feel maudlin and not just sick about it almost lets their SS murderers off the hook). The time-stands-still stuff, the how-did-i-get-here-this-is-not-my-beautiful-wife only it really isn't it's actually you just tried to kill Heydrich and your piece of shit Sten gun jammed and now you're looking at him and he's looking at you and a bird is shitting on his towncar and the kid on the other side of the tram just let go of his balloon and this is your life--that stuff was deeply skilled, a flight of literary artistry that Binet spent the whole book working himself up for. He's not a genius but I bet if you met him you'd think wow this guy is good at everything and he's totally going home with the really pretty tall girl, isn't he.

Gabčik and Kubiš have a bit of that to them too, maybe why Binet likes them. They shook the thrones of the mighty. Their last stand was brave. Doing a little 200-page writeup to remind people of that and also what slavering monsters actually took over a whole huge European country seems like a reasonable thing to do. ( )
3 vote MeditationesMartini | Aug 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 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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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"
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Gabčík—that's his name—really did exist.
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
Jozef Gabĉík and
Jan Kubiŝ - remember their
Names and bravery.

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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