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Deux parachutistes tchécoslovaques envoyés par Londres sont chargés d’assassiner Reinhard Heydrich, chef de la Gestapo, chef des services secrets nazis, planificateur de la solution finale, protecteur de Bohème-Moravie, surnommé "le bourreau", "la bête blonde", "l’homme le plus dangereux du IIIe Reich". Après des mois de préparation, il est finalement abattu dans sa Mercedes. Il s’ensuit une folle traque qui se termine dans une église du centre de Prague. HHhH est un acronyme inventé par les SS qui signifie en allemand : "le cerveau d’Himmler s’appelle Heydrich" (Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich).

L’essentiel de l’histoire se situe entre 1938 et 1942. Le récit est structuré comme un entonnoir : des chapitres courts relatent différents épisodes en divers lieux et à diverses époques, qui tous convergent vers Prague où s’est déroulé l’attentat. Tous les personnages de ce livre ont réellement existé ou existent encore. L’auteur a rapporté les faits le plus fidèlement possible mais a dû résister à la tentation de romancer. Comment raconter l’Histoire ? Cette question conduit parfois l’auteur à se mettre en scène pour rendre compte de ses conditions d’écriture, de ses recherches, de ses hésitations. La vérité historique se révèle à la fois une obsession névrotique et une quête sans fin.

442 pages, Paperback

First published January 13, 2010

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About the author

Laurent Binet

19 books645 followers
Son of an historian, Binet was born in Paris, graduated from University of Paris in literature, and taught literature in Parisian suburb and eventually at University. He was awarded the 2010 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman for his first novel, HHhH.

Laurent Binet est né à Paris. Il a effectué son service militaire en Slovaquie et a partagé son temps entre Paris et Prague pendant plusieurs années. Agrégé de lettres, il est professeur de français en Seine-Saint-Denis depuis dix ans et chargé de cours à l'Université. HHhH est son premier roman.

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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
August 3, 2018
”This is what I think: inventing a character in order to understand historical facts is like fabricating evidence. Or rather, in the words of my brother-in-law, with whom I’ve discussed all this: It’s like planting false proof at a crime scene where the floor is already strewn with incriminating evidence.

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I don’t know how to describe him any other way except that he has a punchable face.

This is a book with a plot ensnared in the arduous process of conceiving a historical novel. Laurent Binet is writing about the assassination of the Nazi Reinhard Heydrich and the men who killed him in Prague. Binet shares with us the concerns he has with taking too many liberties with what is known truth and what are his reasonable speculations. Was Heydrich riding in a forest green car or was it black? Does it matter?

His girlfriend Natacha reads the chapters as he writes them. She is involved in the process to call him to task whenever he breaks one of his own rules about writing historical fiction. ”When she reaches the second sentence, she exclaims: ‘What do you mean, “the blood rises to his cheeks and he feels his brain swell inside his skull”? You’re making it up!’”

He sheepishly deletes the line, but then later in the day he puts it back in because every other line he tries to replace it with lacks... precision. Oscar Wilde has that famous quote regarding this exact predicament: “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

Of course, Binet doesn’t know exactly how Heydrich may have reacted to a piece of bad news, but he does know that, given what he has read about him, more than likely anger, dark consuming anger, is the only way that someone, especially as disturbed and self-absorbed as Heydrich, could react. He was picked on as a child. He was called ‘the goat’ due to his appearance and his awkward sounding voice. The anger against humanity could have begun there. The question is, did his childish tormentors create him or did they sense on some feral level that he was going to be the architect of something evil? No one could have guessed the magnitude of the holocaust that he was going to unleash. He acquired many more nicknames once he found his home in the Nazi party: ”the Hangman, the butcher, the Blond Beast, and---this one given by Adolf Hitler himself---the Man with the Iron heart.”

The Nazi party attracted the outcasts, the angry, the perverted, and the brilliantly demented. They were men who wanted to have power over people and dreamed up creative ways to hurt them, but even among them, Hitler had to look for a man cold and calloused enough to exterminate legions.

Reinhard Heydrich was the perfect man for the job.

I want to return for a moment to Binet’s struggles with speculating about Heydrich’s physical reaction to a particular piece of bad news. Nonfiction in many ways fails to tell the truth by the very process of stripping away all the elements that are not known. We know that things are discussed, but usually those dialogues are not recorded for posterity. A good writer will read everything he can find on a historical person he plans to use in a novel. She will read everything she can find about the period. He will read letters and diaries to glean bits and pieces of information that will lend more authenticity to his novel. She will know the type of pen that was in the hand of a letter writer or the shapes of stains on the walls of a prison cell or the color of frilly underwear a mistress wore for her German lover.

When a writer has done this much research, he knows instinctively (although still subjectively) how a historical figure will react to a situation. Reasonably accurate dialogue can be written, most assuredly better written than the original discussion. The point of historical fiction is to make people come alive more than what can be accomplished by staying strictly within the facts of what is known.

I do appreciate it when a fiction writer does not alter events known to be true. Though even that I can forgive if they notate those deviations in the forward.

 photo Heydrich20Car_zps55cm1onl.jpg
Was the car dark green or was it black?

Reinhard Heydrich is a man ripe for assassination. He is careless and frequently seen riding around Prague in a convertible car without bodyguards. The people who know him despise him, and the rest of the world would, too, if they knew what he was doing. ”Heydrich is well aware that everyone considers him the most dangerous man in the Reich, and it’s a source of vanity for him, but he also knows that if all the Nazi dignitaries court him so insistently, it is above all to try to weaken Himmler, his boss. Heydrich is an instrument for these men, not yet a rival. It’s true that in the devilish duo he forms with Himmler, he is thought to be the brains. (‘HHhH,’ they say in the SS: Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich---Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.’), but he is still only the right-hand man, the subordinate, the number two.”

He is dangerous because he is ambition twined with ruthlessness.

Binet will introduce us to the assassins. They are men from Czechoslovakia and Slovakia, who are willing to risk their lives parachuting back into enemy territory to kill a man responsible for so much misery. As he gets to know them, he becomes attached to them. He wants to save them. He wants to write their life after their acts of heroism. He could create a hidden door that will allow them to escape. He could change the circumstances and give them a chance to fight their way clear...but then that would be breaking the rules.

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Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, young men who proved too much for Heydrich.

I remember years ago H. W. Brands, who frequently shows up on the History Channel, was discussing the death of Lincoln. He must have been researching him for his Ulysses S. Grant biography, but one of the things that he talked about that really stuck with me was that he found himself tearing up as he wrote about the assassination of Lincoln. That event that he knew so well still inspired an emotional reaction in him that caught him by surprise. As writers, we would love to write a new ending, but of course, in the case of Lincoln, he couldn’t have died at a better time to insure his legacy.

This book was a constant struggle to write. Binet tries to adhere to his own self-imposed rules. He questions everything he has written. He wants to do it right. His perspective outside of the novel shifts. I can relate to that. I question my life all the time. Why do I do this? Why don’t I do that? Is what I write really worthwhile? Will someone see through the facade and ridicule me? Am I worthy of the subject?

”When I watch the news, when I read the paper, when I meet people, when I hang out with friends and acquaintances, when I see how each of us struggles, as best we can, through life’s absurd meanderings, I think that the world is ridiculous, moving, and cruel. The same is true of this book: the story is cruel, the protagonists are moving, and I am ridiculous. But I am in Prague.”

I am frequently ridiculous.

I want to close with one last quote from Binet about the responsibility that writers feel for those they leave in the shadows.

”Worn-out by my muddled efforts to salute these people, I tremble with guilt at the thought of all those hundreds, those thousands, whom I have allowed to die in anonymity. But I want to believe that people exist even if we don’t speak of them.”

Sometimes though, a writer can pluck a person, let’s say one who is buried in an unmarked grave with 33,771 other Jews in Kiev, and sheath him in flesh, pump blood into his veins, and free his tongue so he can tell a story left untold.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,377 reviews2,253 followers
December 6, 2017
May, 4th, 1942 - the Heydrich residence. After filling their bellies with Venison steaks, Heydrich, Himmler and Goebbels are sat around the table playing cards, Lina Heydrich brings in a tray on which sits a large bottle of brandy, three glasses and a box of cigars. 'Don't wait up for me Reinhard dear, I am off to the theatre, Have fun boys'. Heydrich switches on the gramophone, and Schubert is a feast on the ears, the evening is in full swing. Both Himmler and Goebbels are blind drunk within the hour and start to wind up Heydrich on his marital problems. 'So, Reinhard, word is your old lady has been seeing the Führer behind your back'. 'What is it, can't get it up!' (laughter). 'That's a damn lie I tell you! how dare you smear my name! HOW DARE YOU!!, Sometimes I struggle to perform in the bedroom, it's the stress of this bloody war!, but me and my wife couldn't be happier. 'OK calm down, we were only having a little fun'. 'Fun?, you call that fun, us Nazis were not put on this earth to have fun, get out!, get out the pair of you!. Lina returns in the early hours and enters the bedroom, and hears what sounds like a little girl sobbing, she turns on the light, 'my darling, what is the matter, why are you shaking?'. 'Lina, I had the most horrible nightmare!, a month from now I am going to die at the hands of assassins!', Lina moves closer, her eyes avert from the tearful Heydrich to the sheets, 'Oh Reinhard, you wussy, you have only gone and wet the bed!'

Historically accurate?, of course not, I just made it up, I couldn't resist the temptation after learning just how evil a man Heydrich actually was. That's the great thing about fiction, when dealing with the facts, in this case WW2, the little things can't be 100% certain unless you were there in person, how do you go about filling in the gaps?, easy, you just guess, but make it seem believable, that's the problem Binet faced in writing this genius book. It's based on a true story, real names, real facts, but still reads like a suspense thriller after he adds his own interpretations on the finer details of history.

Back to Heydrich on a more serious note, I forgot what he looked like (not that it's a face I want to remember) so googled him, to think what this man did!, and what he witnessed with those cold and calculated eyes. Hope he eternally burns in hell. Now on to the book...

A brilliant novel!, with a great story that also happens to be true, by a gifted French writer amusingly anguished over the question of how to tell it. There's nothing not to like about Laurent Binet's acclaimed debut, and HHhH is certainly a thoroughly captivating performance, the last 50 or so pages...wow! Whether you find it something more than that will depend on how you feel about the application of a book about the Nazi security chief Reinhard Heydrich, who must be one of the most unfunny, truly evil, and hated figures in recorded history. But I like to think of this book more for it's hero's than for it's Nazi villains, two brave souls who knew there was a great chance of not returning alive from their daring mission to take the bastard Heydrich out. It's about his assassination, specifically, and the undersung Czech resistance heroes who carried it out; an angle that licenses a certain jauntiness in the tone. Heydrich's icily demonic character dominates the book, until the Czech heroes are slowly woken in to the story. Heydrich and his pivotal roles in the key atrocities of the era, from Kristallnacht to 'the final solution' itself, take up a substantial part of the narrative. And it's chilling stuff. The narrative is enlightened by Binet's playful anxieties about his girlfriend, mulling over his dreams, or even by his more obviously pertinent struggles over whether to invent the dialogue, or imagine the inner thoughts of his characters. And there are outbursts of opinion which really bother him, when trying to tie up lose ends. Was Heydrich's Mercedes black or green? Where about's did the parachutists land?, Which side of the train did the head of Czechoslovak secret services sit on during his clandestine trip through Germany? Etc...

Included there are nods to films and books that inspired Binet along the way, this work wouldn't have been the same without them, adding a freshness to a WW2 novel, as it's one of the most written about subjects ever. A subject that can sometimes be boring, not this. The book builds up to it's climactic Operation Anthropoid scenes involving our heroes Gabčík and Kubiš, that the best thriller writers would have been proud of. It's a plan that doesn't go according to plan, but still ends up getting results. There are crucial logistical points to be reckoned with, such as the topography of Prague streets or the disconcerting jamming tendency of the British-built Sten gun, which got stuck at the vital moment. Binet manages it all with stunning lucidity, and by the time I reached the devastating finale, the deepest of feelings had set in, I felt like lighting a candle for the incredibly brave men that risked all to take down such a huge figure in the Third Reich.

As for the 'Butcher of Prague' or the 'Blonde Beast' as he liked to be known, I hope he died in a lot of pain. He thoroughly deserved it.
Profile Image for Veeral.
360 reviews133 followers
July 21, 2016
Let me tell you a story. A true story. A story that you might know, but only in passing.

This story took place in World War – II. To be exact, it was a mission. No, not a mission. Destiny, rather, of our heroes. Amongst numerous missions that were carried out in the War, this one should rank within the top 10 most important ones, in my opinion (And I have read about all the major ones).

So, let me tell you about this book.

Laurent Binet, the author, has named it HHhH.

What does "HHhH" mean?

It means this.

You definitely know the chicken farmer.

This is him.

Meet his brain.

Reinhard Heydrich. Founder of SD.

Know about SD?

SD: Sicherheitsdienst, the security service within the SS. The least-known and the most sinister of all Nazi organizations. Including the Gestapo.

He also “invented” the badge that had to be worn by Jews, at all times.

“Even if the Jews are eliminated from economic life, the main problem remains. We must kick the Jews out of Germany. In the meantime,” he suggests, “we should make them wear some kind of sign so they can be easily recognized.” “A uniform!” shouts Göring, always fond of anything to do with clothing. “I was thinking of a badge, actually,” Heydrich replies.

Heydrich aka the most dangerous man in the Third Reich, the Hangman of Prague, the Butcher, the Blond Beast, the Man with the Iron Heart.

And oh… the last name was given to Heydrich by him –

And this was Heydrich’s assistant.

The man that “freed” the Reich from around 6 million people of a particular race and many more.

So, now do you realize how dangerous Heydrich was?


Read some more.

So, after the Chicken Farmer fainted on one occasion while attending one of the mass executions in which guns were used, Heydrich designed a more covert way to carry out the “cleansing”. Gas Chambers. (Of course they were preceded by CO (carbon monoxide) gassing from truck exhausts in enclosed interiors.)

Now if you still have any doubt about Heydrich’s shrewdness and cruelty, Binet would convince you otherwise. According to Laurent Binet, Heydrich, at the height of Reich’s power, stated to one of his minions that the war was lost. So peace talks should be carried out with the Allies.

You don’t think that is significant enough?

Read along.

Assume this scenario: Third Reich is at its peak and seems invincible. Most of the Europe has fallen. USSR is falling. UK is stranded. USA is far away and busy dealing with the Japanese. And if at this time, Reich talks about peace, what are you going to do as an Allied power? Think about it. 8 out of 10 times you are going to accept their terms. And BOOM! Heydrich saves the Third Reich. Yes, Hitler would have never dreamed about talking peace at the height of his power. But just for the simple reason that he was a colossal idiot (To our good fortune). But had Heydrich lived long enough, experts suggest that he might have tried to topple Hitler and become the Fuhrer himself. Then, peace talks and then 1000 years of rule of the Reich. A world full of the purest of the pure human beings!

But you say that is just speculation, eh?

Okay, fair enough. But let me tell you some facts about the Blonde Beast.

The Wannsee Conference, where, on January 20, 1942, in only a few hours, Heydrich and his assistant Eichmann set down the methods of enforcing the Final Solution.

It is in Poland that Heydrich unveils his most devilish creation. The Einsatzgruppen are special SS troops, made up of SD and Gestapo members, whose job is to clean up the zones occupied by the Wehrmacht. Each unit is given a little booklet containing the necessary information: in tiny characters, on extrathin paper, is a list of all those who must be liquidated as the country is occupied. Not only Communists but also teachers, writers, journalists, priests, industrialists, bankers, civil servants, merchants, wealthy farmers … everyone of any note. Thousands of names are listed, with their addresses and telephone numbers, plus a list of known acquaintances—in case these subversive elements attempt to take refuge with parents or friends. Each name is accompanied by a physical description and sometimes even a photo. Heydrich’s information services have already achieved an impressive level of efficiency.

This was his information provider.. a particular ahem.. “solutions provider” company.

Enough about the devil.

Now, let me introduce you to our heroes.

Gabčík was a Slovak, and Kubiš was a Czech.

And their destiny would take them to Prague.

Their mission?

Operation Anthropoid.

Operation Anthropoid = Kill Heydrich.

Now before we get any further, let me tell you how badass our heroes were.

Meet another Nazi killer.



But, in our case,

And I am being conservative about this.

I compared these two with a fictional character on purpose. Two reasons. First: It would be inappropriate to compare them with any real war heroes like them. And Second: It would be mighty difficult to find someone to compare them with.

Anyway, let’s move on. Shall we?

So, while their country was under the Nazi Jackboot, Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš flew from the UK and parachuted into Czechoslovakia to assassinate Heydrich. Time was short. Apparently, Charlie Ch.. umm Adolf Hitler had already made future plans for Heydrich to take over the “cleansing” of the French resistance.

Now, heroes that they were, they had to create some excitement for posterity and hence decided to kill the Blonde Beast on the last day that he was to leave for Berlin and then eventually for France.

Did they succeed in their mission? That is not a spoiler, really. Google could tell you that in 0.05 seconds. But the real story is much bigger than that. Did they survive? How? If yes, for how long? Was there a real life traitor amongst their ranks? What did the Nazis do? How many Nazis did they eventually kill? And what were the repercussions of their mission?

Read "HHhH" for that.

Laurent Binet has used an unique style to tell this story. You almost feel that Binet is sitting right across you and telling you about the events that took place. Or more precisely, he takes you to that particular place and then describes that event while it is in motion. In short, the book is so meta! A non-fiction book, in case you might forget about that.

And he frequently denies something he might have said in the previous chapter in the next one. So, an unreliable narrator in a history book!

There are 257 chapters in the whole book.

In a total of 400 odd pages.

Why, you ask?

Because this is how some of his chapters look like.

Chapter 147
So, to cut a long story short, they jumped.

Fin du chapitre.

True, some might not like the style in which this book is written. But this is much more than just a book.

This is an homage to the heroes who are almost unknown outside their own countries.

Read about them.

Profile Image for Agnieszka.
258 reviews924 followers
September 1, 2017

No, it’s not invented ! What would be the point of inventing “ Nazism “ ?

Laurent Binet’s novel HHhH is actually two stories in one. Firstly, it's an exciting thriller and suspenseful novel about the assassination of Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Himmler’s right hand or brain according to the title of the novel, Reinhard Heydrich. Novel is packed with well-known names from Nazi high echelons, in brief retrospectives Binet recaps events which led to Hitler’s accession to power, growth of anti-Semitism, birth of the idea of Final Solution and bringing it to existence to assassination on Heydrich and it devastatingly disastrous aftermath. While I knew most of these facts, oddly, the names of assassins were alien to me. Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík, Czech and Slovak, what I find not only touching and symbolic but also important as a sign of solidarity and attempt to overcome longtime animosity between these two nations.

Secondly, HHhH is a novel about writing a novel, about the tribulations of the writer chasing his youthful dream when he first heard about the attack on the Butcher of Prague . It's about collecting materials, visiting sites, picking up memorabilia, anecdotes, digging in archives and libraries, about people he met in the course of that search. This is a thing about the torments of creation and writing process, of filling the gaps there where reliable sources don’t exist, of frustrating and confusing facts ( there were three different people called Moravec but one, what a relief, Moravek ), of obsessive delving into details ( was Heydrich’s Mercedes dark green or was it black ? ). This kind of narrative, that jumping from Nazi Germany to the present day to describe the personal struggles with still expanding material some readers found as it biggest weakness, the kind of crack, the author's attempt to establish himself as an equal protagonist of described events. But I do not think so.

I thought it was brilliant. Thanks to it the novel gained more personal, intimate character. And a new perspective. Binet did not write a history textbook, right ?, and therefore could afford for a lot of personal, emotional sallies towards politicians. When he describes appeasement policy and The Munich Agreement , cowardice of the French minister Daladier or lack of moral backbone and blindness of Chamberlain, when he calls them vile we do feel his anger and contempt. It is hard to blame him for that, right ? Was turning a blind eye to subsequent requests of Hitler, sacrificing another countries ( the Anschluss of Austria, Sudetenland, the establishment of the province of Slovakia with puppet government ), leaving the Czech and then Polish to themselves supposed to save the world from the next conflict ? Satisfy Hitler’s appetite ? Binet is not the subtle one in his accusations, when he senses shit he doesn’t pretend it smells like perfume. Let the history prove who was right and who was wrong, judge the guilty but he, the author, has the last word. He is neither historian nor diplomat and while trying to remain faithful to historic events he allows himself to be snarky. And unsure. And in awe.

To me strength and innovation of that novel lies just in its structure and the duality of the narrative. Two complementary and interrelated, parallel threads: record of historical facts mixed with author's reflections on writing historical book. And it perfectly worked here. Not only brought to life people and places but also allowed Binet to show his admiration, feel the compassion, yell out his wrath. And save all these brave people from oblivion.


Here ends my proper review but I wanted yet to share this anecdote with you. Mariusz Szczygieł, Polish journalist and avid admirer of Czech people, their country and culture, author of collections of great reportages about our south neighbors ( Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia, Make Yourself a Paradise ) had once conversation about heroism with Czech taxi driver. It went more or less like that:
TD – You, Poles, probably despise us a bit ?
MSz - I for sure do not, sir, The Czech Resistance killed Hitler's favourite, Heydrich. It is certainly the heroism !
TD - But what is the claim to fame? Heydrich traveled in an unarmoured, open-top vehicle so it was easier to hit him.
Msz - But you got him !
TD - That's an overstatement. He drove without any escort and the route was not guarded by any patrols.
MSz - But he did not survive !
TD - Just because he himself eased that task. As the first assassin tried to shoot him, Heydrich instead of running gave the order to stop the car.
MSz - But still you killed him.
TD - But it is not so certain, the gun of the first assassin misfired and the second one had to throw grenade toward the car.
MSz - Well, and thanks to it you slew the right hand of Hitler.
TD – There’s no need to exaggeration. Heydrich did not even defend himself. He jumped out of the car and wanted to shoot but it turned out that in his gun was not the magazine.
MSz - But you managed to kill him !!!
TD - Why, no ! He died a week later in hospital. From sepsis.

And on that Szczygieł could only state that it is not an easy thing to make a heroic act in the Czech Republic. I love that anecdote because it speaks something not only about our neighbors but also about Polish. When we are whole pathos and ethos Czechs love absurd and dark humour. And nation which can laugh at themselves will never lose.

Profile Image for Fionnuala.
778 reviews
June 15, 2021
One night while he was researching this book, Laurent Binet dreamt he was writing the key chapter. In the dream, he begins with a description of a black Mercedes sliding through the streets of Prague like a racer snake, slipping behind a building here, emerging from a tunnel there, but moving all the while towards the sharp bend between Vyšehradska street and Trojička street where two armed men await its arrival.

That same black Mercedes has a star role in the final version of the book too. It shows up on one page, disappears on another, re-emerges further on - but note this: it changes colour along the way from black to dark green. Binet is very concerned with getting the facts right; the colour of the car that Himmler’s second in command, Reinhard Heydrich, was travelling in on the 27th of May 1942, matters. It must not be described as black if there's any chance that it was really green.

The story of the black/green Mercedes summarises the dilemma that makes reading this book so interesting. On the one hand, Binet enjoys making the car slither through the streets of Prague like a viper. He'd like to add lots of details to his scenario: what Heydrich had for breakfast that morning, what he was thinking about as he left his home, what he said to his chauffeur as the car wound its way through the streets of the old city. On the other hand, Binet wants to deal only in facts, the colour of the car and the exact time it reached the corner of Vyšehradska and Trojička. He wants to leave his imaginings where they belong - in the realm of fiction. After all, he points out, who could make up the Nazis? Who could make up the 'final solution'?

Nevertheless, Binet reluctantly recognises that fictionalised history succeeds better with readers than fact-based history writing. He offers us entertaining commentary on the many novels about WWII he has read, and the ones that focus on the Prague assasination attempt in particular. He's both fascinated and horrified by the way authors have dramatized this episode in history. His fascination encourages him to insert fictionalised passages into his own account, passages that draw the reader right in so that we immediately forget everything he's already said about preferring to stick to the facts. Then, when we’re comfortably wallowing in the warm water of his imaginings, he pulls the plug, leaving us shivering and confused. No, it couldn't have been like that he says, because since I wrote that, I discovered this and this, and anyway, no one can truly say how it was, any attempt to guess just becomes artificial.

So why doesn't he delete such passages, you might ask? If he feels it sounds artificial or if he's found new information, surely he should rewrite the scene? But that’s exactly where this book differs from most other books. Binet’s account is a process as much as a finished product and every part of the process is included. He skillfully drives his narrative towards a satisfactory conclusion, but he insists on taking us on a huge detour along the way, a detour that includes the history of everything related to his journey, and the many cul-de-sacs he encountered along the way. And the marvellous thing is that all the detours, all the accumulated journey notes, only serve to frame more perfectly the horrific background to the attempt on the life of Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, and originator of the 'final solution', by two intrepid Czech Resistence fighters, Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík.
I wouldn’t want Binet to delete a single word.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,465 followers
August 20, 2018

This is a hell of a story, told very engagingly. The last 50 pages are agonizing and heroic and you won’t forget them. Recommended.


If I waddled around in an elaborate penguin costume loudly proclaiming that I was a penguin while swallowing fish whole, it wouldn’t make me a penguin. Even if I got all my friends to violently nod their heads and point at me and say yes, he’s a great old penguin, that one, sure he is. Even if I took a plane to Antarctica and joined one of the vast throngs of penguins there, and you filmed me David Attenborough-style, creeping up on me real close while I was looking after my egg which I got a friend to make for me before I came, looks pretty realistic, I still wouldn’t be a penguin.

Whatever everybody – the author, all the critics, and every last review says, this is not a novel. But Mr Binet persuaded the entire universe to go along with his penguin impersonation. And before him, other books have done this too :

Bartleby & Co – a long biographical essay about writers – not a novel
Problems, The Wallcreeper, Love Me Back, What is the What and a zillion others – memoirs, not novels
The Pale King - a random collection of experimental writings, not a novel

None of HHhH is fictitious, it’s either the precise historical information about the events leading to the assassination of one of the all time hall of fame Nazi bastards Reinhard Heydrich – presented in a refreshing casual conversational style (“anyway, let’s talk about something else” he says at one point) but still accurate (getting the details right is one of the main things LB agonises over) or it’s LB’s personal commentary about how he got this book written and the research he did and the problems he found, including such hilarious stuff as telling us that he should have bought a particular book online from Amazon since it was Heydrich’s widow’s memoir (pretty relevant) but he didn’t because it was too pricey and in the wrong language. Several pages later he tells us he finally did get it.

This whole kind of jokey (but really, about such a grisly no-joke subject) self-dramatising angst-ridden approach is exactly the same as a brilliant book by Geoff Dyer called Out of Sheer Rage , an account of how he didn’t write a book about DH Lawrence. Geoff could have called his book a novel, but for some reason he didn’t. Oh wait, that would be because it wasn’t a novel.
What about historical novels like Schindler’s Ark, I Claudius, Wolf Hall, etc? Well in those you can see all the novelistic art, the dialogues, the plotting, the inhabiting of the famous person’s brain and so forth so yes, they are novels.


Unbelievable – I’ve just found another book about the assassination! It’s called Like a Man and it’s by a certain David Chacko. The book is extremely well researched. I get the impression the author has utilized everything currently known about Heydrich and the attack … [LB discusses this novel for a page, pointing out some stuff Chacko made up completely e.g. some sexual scenes]…He’s a skillful cheat. A trickster. Well…a novelist, basically.

[as opposed to LB himself!]

If this were a novel I would have absolutely no need for Valcik. He is more of an encumbrance than anything else

[so, it’s not a novel]

I don’t even know how they reacted when they heard about Heydrich’s death, although that ought to make one of the best bits of my book.

My story has as many holes in it as a novel. But in an ordinary novel, it is the novelist who decides where these holes should occur. Because I am a slave to my scruples, I’m incapable of making that decision.

[so, it’s not….]


Around two thirds the way through I was getting a little tired of Mr Binet’s posturings (“look at me having problems writing my book, let me tell you all about them”) and frankly this is way too horrible a subject to be parading like a loud peacock with a tail of woe – just shut up and get on with it – but the last third gets a mighty grip as the assassination plan springs into life and all of what followed makes this – almost – a must read, & swerved the rating from a huffy 2.5 stars to a confident 4 stars.
Profile Image for Cindy Knoke.
110 reviews66 followers
August 12, 2012
I am addicted to reading about the history of WWII and I really wanted to like this book.
Binet's book however frustrated me. The constant insertion of the author into the text and his continuous use of the word "I" was incredibly distracting. Who was this book about precisely, the author or Heydrich? The purported topic, Heydrich was interesting, the author's pathos? Not so much.
His short chapter format consisting of 257 chapters, some of which were only a few sentences long, resulted in a choppy, stilted flow.
His constant debunking of historical novels, and their fictionalized aspects, gets a bit tired, but I found his statement that, "I am struck all the same by the fact that, in every case, fiction wins out over history," provocative. But I also was then, confused by his many discussions of Hollywood movies about the era and his continuous insertion of fictionalized vignettes that he explained were to serve as examples of how he wasn't fictionalizing. One senses he is really fascinated with historical fictionalized accounts but thinks he is doing something far superior. I think he may not have achieved this goal.
He is an interesting, intelligent man, and this should have been a better book.
If you want a recommendation for a riveting read on the era, try, "Endgame, 1945: The Missing Final Chapter of World War II," by David Stafford.
Profile Image for Panagiotis.
297 reviews111 followers
December 31, 2019
To HHhH, το οποίο χάνοντας την αυθεντική του ευγλωττία στα ελληνικά μεταφράζεται Ο Χαίντριχ είναι ο Εγκέφαλος του Χίμλερ, είναι ένα βιβλίο γύρω από την απόπειρα δολοφονίας ενός σημαντικού προσώπου του Γ΄Ράιχ - του ξανθού κτήνους, του Χασάπη της Πράγας, του Ράινχαρντ Χάιντριχ, αρχηγού των μυστικών υπηρεσιών των Ναζί. Του Χάιντριχ από τον φερώνυμο τίτλο φυσικά. Ο υποψιασμένος αναγνώστης θα ξέρει λογικά πως δεν είναι ένα μυθιστόρημα. Είναι δηλαδή ιστορικό βιβλίο; Τα πράματα μάλλον δεν είναι τόσο απλά.

Ο Μπινέτ ξεκινώντας λέει πως θέλει να αποφύγει μυθιστορηματικά σκευάσματα, ακόμα και για τα μικρότερα πράματα. Είναι η τάση της ιστορικής λογοτεχνίας -με την οποία το βιβλίο δεν θέλει να έχει σχέση- να φυτεύει λεπτομέρειες χάρην διηγηματικής ομαλότητας και πλούτου - όπως φερ ειπείν αντιδράσεις μικρές, ρουχισμοί, απόλυτες ώρες που έλαβαν χώρα συμβάντα. Πράματα για τα οποία συνήθως οι συγγραφείς δεν έχουν ιδέα και συμπληρώνουν τα κενά τους όσο πιο κοντά ελπίζούν στην πραγματικότητα, χάρην αφηγηματικής χάρης. Ο Μπινέτ όμως δεν παίρνει ελαφρά το θέμα της ιστορίας. Και φροντίζει συχνά-πυκνά μέσα στο βιβλίο να μας το θυμίζει. Και με εφαλτήριο αυτήν την επιδίωξη διαμορφώνεται μια αρκετά ιδιαίτερη γραφή. Ο συγγραφέας παρεμβαίνει συχνά στο κείμενο, από την εμμονική του προσήλωση στον ρεαλισμό και την ατόφια πραγματικότητα. Έτσι είτε στην κυρίως αφήγηση είτε σε ενδιάμεσα κεφάλαια θα αναφερθεί σε μικρές αποφάσεις του, τον πιάνει πανικός όταν δεν ξέρει, διαβάζει άλλα παρεμφερή βιβλία και φθονεί την έρευνα των συναδέλφων του - καμιά φορά θυσιάζει λίγο τις αρχές του, βάζει σάλτσα στο κείμενο διστακτικά, μεταφέροντας στον ίδιο τον αναγνώστη τις ενοχές του. Μα είναι τόσο διασκεδαστικό! Είναι αυτή ακριβώς η πτυχή του βιβλίου που δίνει μια αναγνωστική απόλαυση: Προβληματίζεται, αναφέρεται στην καθημερινότητά του, στις πρώην του. Ουσιαστικά είμαστε μαζί του όταν γράφει το βιβλίο, και στον καθημερινότητά του όποτε γειτνιάζει με την συγγραφή αυτού του βιβλίου - αναφέραται σε παλιές πρώην του λοξοδρομώντας καθώς μιλάει για τις απαρχές αυτού του έργου. Η τωρινή κοπέλα του του κάνει παρατηρήσεις για το γραπτό του και του θυμίζει τις συγγραφικές του αρχές κλπ.

Η γλώσα του ειναι απόλαυση. Ρέει ομαλά, με κάτι το προφορικό δίχως να χάνει ποτέ σε λογοτεχνική συνέπεια. Σα να ακούς έναν ταλαντούχο φίλο να σου διηγείται τις ιστορικές του αναζητήσεις. Και νομίζω κρύβεται μια ειρωνεία στο βιβλίο, δείγμα του λεπτού χιούμορ του συγγραφέα: υπομονομεύει την ίδια του την υπόσχεση όταν λέει πως θα αποφύγει τα μυθοπλαστικά τερτείπια. Γιατί; Είναι μπροστά μας! Ο ίδιο ο αφηγητής αυτών των προσπαθειών, την ταυτότητα του οποίου δεν μπορούμε να επαληθεύσουμε ως αυτή του Μπινέτ, είναι μια απολαυστική, πλήρως μυθοστορηματική φιγούρα.

Για την ίδια την ιστορία δεν είπα τίποτα, μα δεν νομίζω πως χρειάζεται. Έχει τετελεστεί, η μοίρα δεν αλλάζει, όπως λέει και Μπινέτ. Αξίζει, όμως, να διαβαστεί. Είναι ένα εξαιρετικά καλογραμμένο βιβλίο, που προτείνει έναν διαφορετικό, διασκεδαστικό τρόπο ιστορικής αποτίμησης. Και η ίδια ιστορία της απόπειρας είναι αρκούντως κινηματογραφική και δραματική για να κρατήσει αμείωτο το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη. Και βέβαια, περιττό να αναφερθώ στα οφέλη που θα αποκομίσει κανείς βλέποντας αυτήν την πτυχή του δράματος του Β' Παγκοσμίου που διαδραματίστηκε στην Κ. Ευρώπη.

Ωραίο βιβλίο!
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,023 reviews4,064 followers
July 19, 2016
Binet has written the world’s first (and please God the last) metafictional Nazi thriller. As one who baulks at the WW2 novel (how passé is “the war??”—been there, done that, babe), Binet’s self-commenting novel-about-a-novel is a refreshing addition to the legions of prize-winning tomes about lesser-known Nazis and atrocities. Heydrich is the topic—a high-ranking Nazi who could have been up there with Himmler and Goebbels on the mass-murdering-psychopaths-whose-names-are-forever-etched-into-history-as-avatars-of-ideological-evil stakes, but was assassinated by two Czech heroes (Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík) during Operation Anthropoid. Binet’s novel is a compelling historical narrative, but what is refreshing in HHhH is his unashamed anger—how many historians are tempted to insert “bloody motherfucking murdering” before the word Nazis as they hold their quaking pens? Binet mingles his own anxieties about composing his novel and the impossible task of being authentic to history, although the simple derring-do of the Czechs ends up providing the narrative momentum. Binet has perhaps opened up a new kind of historical book—one where the author’s conflicts and opinions and neuroses about history are intertwined with the events themselves—for history as emotive as this, these perspectives and internal conflicts are a fascinating rush of human insight.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book862 followers
September 17, 2020
Reinhard Heydrich n’est peut-être pas un criminel nazi aussi notoire que ses deux supérieurs hiérarchiques, Heinrich Himmler et Adolf Hitler ; ce roman permet néanmoins de rétablir l’infâme célébrité de ce Saint-Just du Troisième Reich. Il rend également et surtout un vibrant hommage aux deux parachutistes, Gabčík et Kubiš, aujourd’hui presque oubliés en dehors de la République Tchèque, qui, au cours d’un attentat dans les rues de Prague en juin 1942, firent voler en éclat la voiture de Heydrich et mirent tout à la fois le responsable de la Gestapo, des Einsatzgruppen et l’orchestrateur de la « Solution Finale » hors d’état de nuire. Enfin, ce livre porte également sur son narrateur, appelons-le, pour faire court, Laurent Binet, professeur de français en région parisienne, 70 ans après les événements de l’Opération Anthropoïde, dont il nous rapporte les faits.

HHhH est un roman qui fait le récit de l’attentat contre Heydrich et de l’ensemble de ses ramifications. Un roman historique donc, mais entièrement écrit sur le mode conditionnel, voire interrogatif, chose assez surprenante pour un best-seller dont on attendrait une narration à la fois entrainante et transparente. Pourtant, le roman de Laurent Binet est étonnamment lisible et haletant. Binet prend un soin maniaque à poser le décors (la ville de Prague que, semble-t-il, il adore) et les personnages de son histoire. Si bien que les trois quarts du récit sont une accumulation d’éléments, culminant dans l’épisode de l’attentat contre la voiture de Heydrich, paroxysme hitchcockien du roman et tour de force narratif, qui n’intervient que vers la fin (au chapitre 222). Ce passage magistral est suivi, à la toute fin, par un autre moment d’anthologie : le siège d’une église par les troupes SS et la mort des résistants (chapitre 250). Notons aussi que l’évocation des massacres de Kiev et de Lidice est particulièrement effroyable.

Reste cependant, et de manière très évidente, qu’il s’agit d’un texte complexe et stratifié, où se mêlent le journal intime, l’exhibition du processus de recherche et d’écriture, la critique d’autre romans ou films, l’anecdote savoureuse, la biographie, la caricature sociale (qui évoque parfois, à mon sens, le souvenir des peintures de Otto Dix), le récit historique et le soupçon, un tantinet tatillon et maniéré, envers le récit historique, bref, la mise au jour de la facticité même du roman qui nous est donné à lire. Autant dire, pour aller vite, que HHhH est un roman post-moderne, un casse-tête palpitant et fascinant.

Il existe une adaptation cinématographique du livre de Laurent Binet, sortie en 2017 sous le titre anglais de The Man with the Iron Heart. Je n’ai vu que la bande-annonce, qui laisse entrevoir un film d’action assez classique.
October 10, 2019
Είναι κάτι πολύ παραπάνω από ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα. Ζωντανεύει την διαδικασία της ιστορικής έρευνας και συνάμα αναδεικνύει όλες εκείνες τις σκοτεινές λεπτομέρειες που κρύβονται πίσω από τα σπουδαιότερα ιστορικά γεγονότα. Βαθιά φιλοσοφημένο, χωρίς ωστόσο να κουράζει. Περιμένω πολλά αυτόν τον συγγραφέα στο μέλλον.
Profile Image for Tony.
906 reviews1,514 followers
October 24, 2017
So, what is this exactly? It has won awards for fiction and the author calls it a novel, except when he says, “If this were a novel . . .”

The author intrudes, is a character: he is an author researching and writing about the May 27, 1942 assassination attempt by two Czechoslovakian parachutists against Reinhard Heydrich aka The Blond Beast, the Acting Reich Protectorate, the Hangman of Prague, the most dangerous man in the Third Reich. The title comes from another descriptor: Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich. Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.

But first, as a shrill-voiced child, he was nicknamed ‘the Goat’. At this point in his life, it is still possible to mock him without risking death. But it is during this delicate period of childhood that one learns resentment.

The author, as character, is obsessed, inter alia, with the accuracy of the smallest detail. And so it reads as history. Yet, the historian here does not hide his rooting interest. Each character, not just Heydrich, is checked off: good guy, bad guy, good guy, bad guy . . .

There is less said about the two would-be assassins, certainly not because the author likes them less than Heydrich; rather because there is just less written or known about them. And the author means to be precise. If this were a novel, he says, he could imagine scenes and conversations. But sometimes one certain anecdote serves well as a counterpoise to the much more copious depravity. The two parachutists are about to board the plane that will take them back to their homeland and their murderous appointment when one of them, the Slovak Gabčík, stops and wants a word in private with the Colonel. Well, that’s it, the Colonel thinks, the young man is having second thoughts and will want to withdraw, aborting the mission. Gabčík begins “Colonel, I’m very embarrassed to ask this . . .” Oh, no. But then this young man, on an almost certain suicide mission, says, “I’ve left an unpaid bill for ten pounds at our restaurant. Could you possibly pay it for me?” Enough to know, isn’t it? Good guys.

The men in black spread out like spiders. Except that they don’t climb the walls – only the echo of their footsteps does that, ringing out and ricocheting off the high stone surfaces. Bad guys.

So, after all, does it matter if this is history or fiction or some hybrid historical fiction? The style is unique, but there are close cousins: Flaubert’s Parrot by Barnes; Haussmann, or the Distinction by La Farge. Maybe even Tennozan by George Feifer. And, really, maybe it’s the reading that makes a writing a novel: a restaurant menu, a fantasy football lineup, even this review.

I’m about to end this, typing in a hotel bar: good service, nice wood. Two stools down, she leans towards the bartender and says: Gin. Three letters, and she still manages an accent.

No, that’s not what happened. What happened is that I read something brilliant, no matter the genre. It’s a moment in time. And in this book we learn how men and women got there and how we’ve wandered since. We learn above all that Truth matters.

There are no page numbers in my edition of this book. But the chapters are numbered. I think you should read all of chapter 147:

So, to make a long story short, they jumped.
Profile Image for Hodove.
157 reviews166 followers
January 18, 2021

«وحشتناکْ خوب و خوبِ وحشتناک»

انقدر هیجان‌زده شدم از خوندن این کتاب که نمی‌دونم چی بنویسم ازش؟ چطور بنویسم؟ هیجانی براومده از قلبی مچاله، احساساتی جریحه‌دار شده، و البته لذت خوندن ادبیات. «لوران بینه» نویسنده‌ی جوون فرانسوی تصمیم می‌گیره «عملیات آنتروپوید» که هدفش کشتن «راینهارد هایدریش» (ملقب به قصاب پراگ) رو در قالب اولین کتابش! بازسای کنه. خود ماجرا که مربوط به سال ۱۹۴۲ و در زمان اشغال چک توسط آلمان نازیه، به طرز حیرت‌آوری خوندنی و هیجان‌انگیزه. اما «بینه» به جای اینکه فقط ماجرا رو بنویسه، توضیح می‌ده که چه فرایندی رو برای نوشتن این کتاب طی کرده.
وسواسی که «بینه» درگیرش می‌شه تا خواننده رو با معتمدترین نسخه‌ی ماجرای آنتروپوید مواجه کنه دائما خواننده رو با صحت وقایع تاریخی که تا الان شنیده در گیر می‌کنه.
اما فرم روایی خاصی که بینه انتخاب ‌کرده، حضور دائمی نویسنده ( همزمان در نقش پژوهشگر) خواننده رو به شدت با قصه همراه نگه می‌داره و تعلیق داستان رو تا پایان حفظ می‌کنه. مثلا «بینه» در قسمت‌های پایانی کتاب، چند ساعت محاصره‌ی‌ عاملان عملیات آنتروپوید رو با زمان روزهایی که صرف نگارش اون بخش‌ها کرده میاره تا به نوعی نشون بده چه زمان طولانی‌ای بر قهرمانان داستان گذشته و البته نویسنده چه فرآیند جان‌فرسایی رو برای نوشتن طی کرده. همین‌ها رمان رو از یه داستان تاریخی عبرت‌آموز به یه رمان‌نوی فراموش نشدنی تبدیل می‌کنه.
حرف خیلی زیاد هست راجع به این رمان. اما نمیشه این نظر رو پایان برد و از مترجم کتاب نگفت، احمد پرهی��ی با ترجمه‌ی یک‌دست و پانویس‌های فراوان و راهگشا، داستان رو برای همه با هر سطح معلوماتی از وقایع جنگ جهانی دوم قابل استفاده

«آیا پنج ستاره کم نیست؟»
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,097 followers
July 28, 2020

Jan Book Club Read. 4.5 Stars

HHhH by Laurent Binet is a novel filled with historically correct facts and traces the planning, execution and aftermath of Operation Anthropoid, the resistance’s successful plot to assassinate Heydrich in Prague. The two heroes of the novel are Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, two amazingly brave assassins, but the main character of this novel is the “Butcher of Prague “ Reinhard Heydrich”.
“All the characters in this book are real and all events depicted are true which makes this novel such a compelling read.

I love historical fiction but now and again I like to read a book like this which is so thorough in its historical facts that I am not actually having to check did that actually happen, is it fact or fiction. So for me that was a great book. I had never heard of the horrifying happenings in the town called Lidice and while I had read a lot of books on the Holocaust I had never read about this and it really made me so sad that a town was wiped out so brutally in the name of a Butcher.

While reading this book you become aware of the authors obsession with the story. Binet is desperately aware of the recurring thought that he won’t do justice to the heroism of Gabcik and Kubis, just two men in a vast resistance that stood up to the horrors of Nazism. What must it have took for two men to put themselves in this position and to know what would face them. I think Binet captures this time and events in history very well.
The book is marketed as a novel and much of it has a novelistic style, even though it is dealing with historic figures and events,

The author is obsessively concerned with the challenges of fictionalising a real life narrative and constantly writes about his anguish over whether he should or should not invent situations or dialogue to enhance the story. Throughout the first half of the novel I really wanted him to stop this distracting practice of analyzing his thoughts but I soon got used to his style of writing and his thoughts and while I found that it a little distracting in the first half of the novel it did slightly lighten what could have been a very heavy novel. I also think that the author felt that his personal telling of this anguish with writing the story would appeal to people who might not perhaps read the book otherwise.(Just a thought).It certainly does not take away from the story as the end of this book really will stay with you for a very long time.

This is a book which I would recommend to readers who have an interest in history and World War Two, and want to learn more about Operation Anthropoid and Reinhard Heydrich.

Profile Image for Elaine.
784 reviews364 followers
April 12, 2018
First, I wrestled with a considerable amount of guilt for reading this in English. I could have read this in French, but it would have been much longer and harder. I know enough about translation to be uncertain of how closely what I read resembled the original. But in the end, it was better to have read this than to have missed this because of my own stupid pride about works in translation. (This sort of personal interjection is actually rather influenced by the style of the book).

Second, the interplay between first person narrative about writing this book (and Binet's commenting about what he has written) with the historical story takes some getting used to. I found the beginning disjointed and perhaps overly intellectualized.

In the end, though, I found the commentary intensely thought provoking (especially the explicit dialogue with books I have read,e.g., Europe Central, or think I should read, e.g., Les Bienveillantes/The Kindly Ones (by my college friend Jonathan, which I have not read partly from laziness and more from envy, but which I think Binet has convinced me I need to read)). And the story is unmeasurably compelling, once you (and Binet and the book) give in to the flow of history and narrative and heroism. I have read countless books about the Holocaust and WWII, but Binet's succint prose -- whose disarming directness is all the better at conveying tragedy -- brings some of the horrors freshly home.

The main episode he recounts -- the amazingly heroic assasination of Reinhard Heydrich and the aftermath, both good and bad -- was relatively new to me. And there is something healing and redemptive about reading about such human bravery and goodness in the face of utter evil. Especially, as Binet is at pains to recount, the heroism of the countless people who helped the Czech Resistance at ultimate cost to themselves. In the final chapters, Binet lets go of his post-modern self-consciousness and gives in to the force of the story he's telling and the characters (in spite of himself) that he's created, and the result is a moving and worthy tribute to the men and women he says he's trying to thank with this book. For me, ordinary people like Aunt Moravec, real people, who chose to do the right thing day in and day out at immesurable personal cost and who died with honor fighting against evil, are what allow us to go on believing in humanity. Binet, with his post-modern hang ups and reservations, gives us a particularly honest and relatable entree into that world.

Compelling and worth reading.
Profile Image for Justo Martiañez.
375 reviews117 followers
March 31, 2021
3.5/5 Estrellas

No es una novela histórica, no es tampoco un ensayo, ya que no se limita a describirnos unos hechos históricos a la luz de las evidencias conocidas, si no que también imagina escenas, situaciones, diálogos e intenta reconstruirnos una serie de hechos y escenarios históricos, un poco de forma similar a cómo hace su compatriota Eric Vouillard, y con una temática semejante: las Guerras Mundiales.

En el presente libro se nos narran los hechos, los personajes y la situación histórica que desembocaron en el intento de asesinato y posterior muerte por las heridas recibidas, de Reinhard Heydrich, uno de los personajes más infames del III Reich, segundo de Himmler, de ahí lo de HHhH (acrónimo de «Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich", "El cerebro de Himmler se llama Heydrich"). Esta bestia, era el segundo de la SS, el jefe de la policía secreta, el protector de Bohemia y Moravia y sobre todo el conocido como padre de la Solución Final, que decidió acabar definitivamente con todos los judíos de Europa, mediante su asesinato. Menuda joyita ¿No?
De entre sus muchos apodos, se le aplicaban los de "Bestia rubia" o "El carnicero de Praga", debido a su especial desempeño como "Protector" de Bohemia y Moravia, la actual Chequia, que había sido segregada de Eslovaquia e incorporada al Reich. Nos podemos imaginar el maravilloso trabajo que hizo allí para ganarse su apodo, encaminado sobre todo a erradicar todo tipo de resistencia armada a la ocupación Nazi. Él se pensaba que era el puto amo de todo, embuído de esa arrogancia y prepotencia nazi, y se movía por Praga en un descapotable y sin escolta. La resistencia checa estaba tocada, pero todavía subsistía, y conjuntamente con Londres, donde estaba el gobierno checo en el exilio, se gestó la operación "Antropoide", cuyo objetivo era acabar con la bestia.
La novela puede considerarse como un homenaje a muchas de esas personas anónimas que lucharon contra el horror nazi y que, en su mayor parte, murieron en esa lucha, y también a quienes no hicieron nada y también murieron, por su raza, religión o simplemente por estar en el lugar incorrecto en el peor momento, (como la matanza perpetrada en el pueblo de Lídice, por ejemplo).
El contenido no me ha parecido demasiado original, son todos hechos conocidos, la forma de narrarlos si puede considerarse novedosa y da agilidad a la narración de unos hechos que en su mayor parte dan ganas de vomitar, aunque ello no debe impedir dejar constancia de ellos y deban ser transmitidos a las generaciones futuras, otra cosa es que estas quieran recibir el mensaje.....
Si os gusta la temática de la II Guerra Mundial o simplemente os interese acercaros a uno de los acontecimientos importantes de este periodo, puede resultar un libro interesante.
Profile Image for Toby.
831 reviews328 followers
July 28, 2013
“This scene is not really useful, and on top of that I practically made it up. I don't think I'm going to keep it.”

No other quote from this wonderful piece of post-modern literature could quite as effectively capture the tone and style of the content. HHhH is two narratives in one, a piece of creative non-fiction telling the story of Operation Anthropoid - the plot to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich - alongside which runs the journal of the Czech professor obsessed with commemorating the brave men involved in as accurate way as possible and his journey of self-realisation.

By running these two stories parallel to each other Binet dissects the tools of literature, comments on the nature of non-fiction and removes any sense of sensationalism that other authors might inadvertently resort to. This is not your typical wartime espionage novel and yet it keeps you on edge with just as much skill as your Le Carre's and Deighton's; thanks to the professors commentary you are never sure whether the wool is being pulled over your eyes from one scene to the next, you constantly question the nature of the narrative and why it is being presented in such a way, as I mentioned (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) to a friend whilst reading it you partially suspect that before the denouement you will discover that WWII didn't even happen, that Hitler was a fiction and our good narrator has been deceiving us all along. That takes a very special skill indeed.

And yet for all the literary pleasure this book provided and all the enjoyment at the audacity of the author and all the fascinating facts (that I have since verified were facts) discovered regarding that most evil period of modern history and the praise from such favourite authors of mine as Martin Amis and Bret Easton Ellis I struggled to finish the novel, I found it hard going at times for no discernible reason apart from it being the desired effect. And there are no page numbers. I can't even begin to make sense of why the lack of page numbers was so disconcerting to me as a reader. Just another way in which Binet highlights the tools of fiction I must assume.

It takes a certain type of reader to revel more in the struggle of a writer than in the real life daring deeds of heroic men but if you are one of those readers you are in for a real treat with this gripping and intense historical novel.
Profile Image for سـارا.
240 reviews240 followers
October 2, 2021
خیلی خیلی خوب :) این کتاب عالی به شرح عملیات آنتروپوید در‌ جنگ جهانی دوم می‌پردازه که در اون چتربازان چکسلواکی در سال ۱۹۴۲ در زمان اشغال چک توسط آلمان، «راینهارد هایدریش» یکی از مهم‌ترین رهبران نازی رو ترور میکنن.
فرم روایت خیلی خاصه، لوران بینه نویسنده فرانسوی که کتابش در سال ۲۰۱۰ چاپ شده در کنار شرح دقیق اتفاقات سوقصد، تجربیات خودش و تلاشی که در مسیر نوشتن کتاب داشته و از همه مهم‌تر احساساتش رو بیان کرده. اینکه چرا تصمیم به نوشتن این کتاب گرفته و چرا جذب شخصیت هایدریش شده. و در کنارش روند شکل‌گیری شخصیت راینهارد هایدریش که بخاطر خباثت و پلیدی غیرقابل توصیفش لقب «قصاب‌ پراگ» رو بهش داده بودن رو از زمان تولد تا ترور روایت میکنه.
صفحات انتهایی که به محاصره چتربازا توسط سران رایش می‌پردازه بی‌نظیره و چنان خواننده رو همراه میکنه که انگار کاملا تو صحنه حضور داره. (دقیقا چیزی که لوران بینه با تمام وجود احساسش کرده)
کتاب هم روایت جذابی داره هم خیلی خوب از پس بیان تاریخ (باتوجه به تحقیقات گسترده نویسنده) براومده. لحظه به لحظه از خوندنش لذت بردم و بیشتر از قبل دلم برای دیدن پراگ زیبا پر کشید..
Profile Image for Margaret.
278 reviews169 followers
August 11, 2020
HHhH, what kind of title is that for a book? Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, the publishers of the 2012 fine English translation (by Sam Taylor) of Laurent Binet’s prize-winning French novel must have known they had a problem on their hands, so the book flap begins by explaining that HHhH is an acronym for a saying, which translated from German means “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.” Reinhard Heydrich, aka “The Butcher of Prague” was targeted for assassination by Czechoslovakia’s government in exile in England, probably for mundane reasons of proving it was somehow important. Two men, Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, underground parachutists (no pun intended), were recruited and trained in England after which they were dropped into occupied Czechoslovakia. Five months later they attacked and injured Heydrich, who died of those injuries eight days later.

This novel tells Heydrich’s story and the story of his assassins, all of which is both reasonably well-known and quite compelling, but that is far from all this novel does. The novel’s narrator (not officially Binet but like Binet) tells the story of the assassination and along with it, the story of the creation of a story of assassination. He ends up concluding about three-quarters through the novel that he is doing something other than just recounting history in a novelistic form: “I think I’m beginning to understand. What I’m writing is an infranovel” (241), a term Binet apparently made up. He does not define it; instead, the whole novel demonstrates what that is. What follows below are only a very few examples of what must amount to hundreds of examples. I can imagine this book inspiring dissertations on truth in novels. Not that I would want to write such a dissertation (life is too short) or actually read one, but the materials are clearly here.

In the beginning of this story we hear much more about the narrator than about the story he purports to tell. We hear how he first learned of this story from his father; how he took a job as a French teacher in Bratislava; how while there he fell in love with a Slovakian woman named Aurélia, who helped him learn more of the story during their five years together. While the narrative always aims towards the story of the assassination, these early sections of the novel are heavy on details about the narrator’s own life. As he learns more and more about his subject, the story he means to tell takes stronger hold of him and takes up more space on the page. Yet the narrator never disappears. He repeatedly interrupts his narrative to express his emotions about the information he has found.

In his discussion of the Munich Agreement and how it came about, he tries to explain Prime Minster of France’s Daladier’s silence in 1938 about the abandonment of Czechoslovakia in the Munich Agreement. He conjectures that perhaps shame had silenced Daladier, adding in parentheses: “If only it had choked him—him and all the others” (75). After this remark, he returns to his story. There are other similar outbursts showing strong hatred for his Nazi subjects and, later on, of love and admiration for the brave assassins.

After explaining how Jozef Gabcik decided to accept his mission to assassinate Heydrich, the narrator says, “That scene, like the one before it, is perfectly believable and totally made up. How impudent of me to turn a man into a puppet—a man who’s been dead for a long time, who cannot defend himself. To make him drink tea, when it might turn out that he liked only coffee. To make him put on two coats, when perhaps he had only one. To make him take the bus, when he could have taken the train. To decide that he left in the evening, rather than the morning. I am ashamed of myself” (104). He frequently addresses the problems that come about when he tries to tell a story and does not have all the details. And he adds that no matter how well he fills in his story, holes in the narrative will always remain.

In addition, he brings up other novels (e.g., Alan Burgess’s 1960 novel Seven Men at Daybreak and David Chako’s 2007 novel Like a Man) about the same topic. Since the narrator can’t find any mistakes in Chako’s novel “even with the very specific details that I had imagine, in a fit of slightly delirious pride, were perhaps known only to me—I am bound to trust what he writes. Suddenly I start questioning myself” (185). And the issue about which the narrator questions himself? It’s whether the Mercedes in which Heydrich is riding when the assassins attack is black or a very dark green! He concludes it’s black adding, “Anyway, I’m probably attaching too much importance to what is, at the end of the day, just a background detail. I know that. In fact it’s a classic symptom of neurosis. I must be anal-retentive. Let’s move on . . . “ (186). No fault of the narrator is too small to point out and criticize.

This book is replete with such discussion. I cannot do justice to the brilliance of this novel, of the many different ways Binet shows the truth about the horror by reminding us how it all took place while also telling us how a writer of such stories deals with all the problems of telling that story. There are many, many such passages where the narrator insists he needs to get the facts exactly right. He frequently disparages himself and his book when as he confesses that he made this or that up. And the sub- (or not actually so sub-) text here is that readers demand history become narrative, even though too often facts must be sifted (and shifted), bent, and completely imagined in order to create effective narrative. Our desire to hear our history as story is overwhelming. At the same time, the tone of his disparagement is often as playful as it is in the passages I quoted above. That playfulness keeps Binet’s real problems with how to tell a true story from getting too deep or too philosophical and overwhelming his novel. Instead, it brings them (and him) to a living breathing life. Yet all of this life and energy is in the midst of a most compelling recounting of coming to power, the career, and the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most heinous Nazis, the man who invented the “Final Solution.” While I can imagine that some readers might wish that the author just get to the story and stop all these shenanigans, I can also imagine that others cannot keep both Binet’s playfulness and the horrendous historical story he tells in their minds at the same time. It is demanding much that we do that. Yet I felt that his juxtaposition of the two to be the ultimate statement about our humanity; we are all this at once: potentially cruel and barbarous, serious about our craft, always seeking truth, wanting a great story, anxious about ourselves as we take on life’s burdens, and silly no matter who we are or what we do. I ended up loving this book.
Profile Image for Hugh.
1,256 reviews49 followers
January 20, 2020
I am struggling to think of anything new to say about this much discussed book, so perhaps I should just recommend reading it, as it speaks for itself.

The book is a mixture of historical novel and self-analysis. The core story is the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. There are three strands, the most interesting being the one in which Binet describes his own mistrust of historical fiction and his dislike of authorial invention - at times he interrupts his own account with questions that arise from it and discussions of the decisions he took while writing it. The largest part (perhaps because it is the best documented by reliable historical accounts) is the story of the rise of Heydrich and his pivotal role in many Nazi atrocities, and the third tells the story of the resistance agents who carried out the assassination and their final stand in a Prague church.
Profile Image for Nasia.
359 reviews83 followers
August 24, 2018
Άργησα να μπω στο πνεύμα του βιβλίου αλλά πραγματικά αξίζει. Στο πρώτο μισό του ο συγγραφέας ήταν μάλλον υπερπρόθυμος να μοιραστεί πληροφορίες με αποτέλεσμα να είναι κάπως φλύαρο, αλλά όσο προχωράει κανείς προς το τέλος, τόσο πιο μεστή γίνεται η γραφή. Ένα πολύ σημαντικό γεγονός του Β' Παγκοσμίου βρίσκει αναλυτική περιγραφή στο σημαντικό αυτό βιβλίο.
Profile Image for P.E..
761 reviews524 followers
September 16, 2019
HHhH, c'est pour 'Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich', 'Heydrich est le cerveau de Himmler'.

Pour mémoire, Reinhard Heydrich dirige depuis 1939 le RSHA (qui chapeaute la Gestapo), mais aussi les redoutés Eisatzgruppen. Protecteur (entendre Gouverneur) de Bohème-Moravie et SS-Obergruppenführer (équivalent de général de division) depuis septembre 1941, il donne le coup de départ à la solution finale lors de la conférence de Wannsee, en janvier 1942.

HHhH, c'est la reconstitution de l'opération Anthropoid : deux résistants, Jan Kubiš et Jozef Gabčík, vont tenter d'assassiner Heydrich, le 27 mai 1942.

Le livre pose des questions assez délicates sur la vérité ou la véracité historique, comme on a pu en discuter avec mon ami Rémy. Dans ce sens, il va jusqu'à mettre en lumière des sources, confronter des interprétations, et exposer des débats historiques (entre fonctionnalistes et intentionnalistes par exemple).

Mais HHhH, c'est tout autre chose.


Tout du long, Laurent Binet donne ses ficelles et montre la grosseur de ses cordes, il expose ses parti-pris, confronte les témoignages et les sources, souligne les accrocs dans la couture du roman, et les clichés qui menacent de venir sous la plume, rectifie.

Conséquence : la trois fois sainte suspension de l'incrédulité... est rompue en permanence.


On l'a compris, Laurent Binet digresse en tous sens. À ce point, est-ce encore de la digression ?
Auteur homodiégétique, l'écrivain montre son récit en construction, et met en scène son écriture.
Il place le lecteur dans une position privilégiée qui en fait un personnage de l'histoire et de l'enquête. Il fusionne l'Histoire, l'histoire et l'histoire de l'auteur de l'histoire.

Alors, est-ce toujours de la fiction ? Qu'est-ce que HHhH ? Essai historique ? Biographie fictive ? Roman ?

Un élément permet de trancher si on se fie à la définition que Milan Kundera donne du roman. L'intégration d'articles, de citations, d'extraits d'autres œuvres, et plus encore la digression sont partie prenante du roman comme genre littéraire et comme forme, et sont ce qui font le caractère particulier de cette forme.

Maintenant, la vraie particularité du roman de Laurent Binet ?
C'est peut-être de porter autant sur Anthropoïde que sur la recherche et l'écriture. C'est presque une généalogie de l'envie d'écrire, aussi. Au fond je crois que la vraie question qu'il pose c'est : 'Qu'est-ce que la littérature ?'


Le Maître du Haut Château (recherche documentaire et uchronie)
La Guerre et la Paix I et La Guerre et la Paix II
Les Bienveillantes

Les textes de Milan Kundera
On a des similarités dans la forme, dans l'emploi d'un narrateur-auteur-personnage, mais aussi une grande différence dans le rôle que se donnent ces auteurs dans leurs textes : chez Binet, l'auteur n'est pas seulement intervenant dans l'histoire mais aussi mis en scène comme un personnage, jusqu'à rencontrer ses propres protagonistes.

Pour retrouver l'âme de Prague, je conseille le film Kafka (1991) de Soderberg
Pour une reconstitution de l'opération Anthropoid, le film Anthropoid (2016) de Sean Ellis.

Je tiens à remercier mon ami Rémy pour m'avoir fait découvrir cet auteur que, décidément, j'aime beaucoup.
Profile Image for Solistas.
147 reviews99 followers
December 4, 2017
Αν χωρίζετε την βιβλιοθήκη σας σε λογοτεχνία κ μη, καλή τύχη με την ταξινόμηση αυτού του καθηλωτικού βιβλίου που έγραψε ο Binet για μια απ'τις πιο σημαντικές πράξεις αντίστασης ενάντια στο Γ'Ράιχ. Ο νεαρός Γάλλος έχει γράψει ένα πολύ πρωτότυπο βιβλίο ιστορίας που φλερτάρει με το ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα με ένα ιδιαίτερο τρόπο. Το HHhH είναι κάτι σαν προσωπικό ημερολόγιο συγγραφής του Binet καθώς παθιάζεται με το θέμα του κ προχωράει την πραγματολογική του μελέτη.

Ο Binet έχει το πλεονέκτημα ότι δεν αντιμετωπίζει το θέμα ακαδημαϊκά, το κάνει όμως εξίσου διεξοδικά. Αυτό έχει σαν αποτέλεσμα να οδηγεί την έρευνα του σε έξυπνα "common sense"μέρη γι'αυτό κ το βιβλίο μοιάζει σαν ένα κείμενο που αφορά τους πάντες. Όσ@ θέλουν να μάθουν κάτι αλλά κι όσ@ θέλουν να διαβάσουν ένα ωραίο κείμενο. Ταυτόχρονα όμως, είναι στιγμές που η αμεσότητα κι η ορμή της γραφής του τον οδηγεί σε εύκολα σχόλια καφενείου που όμως δεν στερούν ιδιαίτερα αφού φαίνεται πως πηγάζουν απ'το φανατισμό του ενάντια στο φασισμό και το μίσος του απέναντι στο Χάιντριχ. Όλα καλά δηλαδή.

Το HHhH είναι ένα απολαυστικό βιβλίο που ευτυχώς γνώρισε την επιτυχία που του άξιζε.

Profile Image for Zaphirenia.
278 reviews189 followers
May 26, 2020

Ένα οπωσδήποτε ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο, ειδικά δεδομένου ότι ειναι το πρώτο του Binet.

Θετικά: Μαθαίνεις πολλά για την ιστορία της δολοφονίας του Χαιντριχ αλλά και γενικότερα της εποχής του Β' Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου στην Πραγα μεσω μιας καλής και απλής γραφής, χωρίς να κουράζει και να φορτώνει τον αναγνώστη με πολλές λεπτομέρειες τις οποίες δεν πρόκειται να συγκρατήσει. Επομένως είναι καλό για μη "επαΐοντες" της ιστορίας και της περιόδου αυτής, όπως η αφεντιά μου.

Ένα ακόμη θετικό στοιχείο ήταν η πρωτοτυπία της παράλληλης αφήγησης της ιστορίας και της αγωνίας του συγγραφέα να την αποδώσει λογοτεχνικά χωρίς να γίνεται ιστορικά ανακριβής. Χωρίς να είμαι συγγραφέας, πιστεύω ότι το ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα είναι όντως από τα πιο δύσκολα είδη στη λογοτεχνία. Έχει μεγάλο ενδιαφέρον λοιπόν να δούμε τα διλήμματα και τις δυσκολίες που αντιμετωπίζει ένας συγγραφέας ιστορικών μυθιστορημάτων στην απόδοση των σκηνών, στη διαμόρφωση των διαλόγων, στην περιγραφή των σκέψεων και συναισθημάτων των χαρακτήρων, στην ανάπτυξη χαρακτήρων που δεν υπήρξαν και την αλληλεπίδρασή τους με τα ιστορικά πρόσωπα, στην ισορρόπηση μεταξύ ιστορικής αλήθειας και λογοτεχνίας.

Και φυσικά, φαίνεται ότι ο Binet έχει κάνει μεγάλη έρευνα για να γράψει αυτό το βιβλίο και αναμφισβήτητα έχει καλή πένα. Ίσως όχι εντυπωσιακή, αλλά οπωσδήποτε πολύ καλή.

Αρνητικά: Φλυαρία σε πολλά σημεία, που, ειδικά στη μέση του βιβλίου, γίνεται αρκετά κουραστική. Άπαξ εμπέδωσα το πρόβλημα του Binet στη δημιουργία του έργου του, η συνεχής υπενθύμιση ότι αγωνιά για τη σωστή και αληθή απόδοση των ιστορικών γεγονότων με ταλαιπώρησε και, νομίζω, χωρίς λόγο.

Παράδειγμα το ακόλουθο απόσπασμα:
"Από το ημερολόγιο του Γκαιμπελς, 6 Φεβρουαριου 1942: 'Ο Γκρεγκορι μου υπέβαλε μία αναφορά για την κατάσταση που επικρατεί στο Προτεκτοράτο. Το κλίμα είναι εξαιρετικό. Ο Χαιντριχ έχει κάνει καταπληκτική δουλειά. επέδειξε πολιτική ευστροφία και προνοητικότητα, με αποτέλεσμα η κρίση να αποτελεί παρελθόν. Εξάλλου, ο Χαιντριχ θα προτιμούσε να αντικατασταθεί ο Γκρεγκορι από έναν υψηλόβαθμο αξιωματικό των SS. Δεν συμφωνω. Ο Γκρεγκορι γνωρίζει άριστα το Προτεκτοράτο και τον τσεχικο λαό, ενώ η πολιτική που ακολουθεί ο Χαιντριχ σε ζητήματα προσωπικού δεν είναι πάντα εύστοχη ούτε δίνει συγκεκριμένες κατευθύνσεις. Γι' αυτό τον λόγο επιμενω στο πρόσωπο του Χαιντριχ'. Δεν έχω ιδέα ποιος είναι αυτός ο Γκρεγκορι, σας το ορκίζομαι. Και μην ξεγελιεστε από το δήθεν άνετο ύφος μου ότι δεν το εψαξα..." Αυτό το αποσπασμα αποτελεί μία ανεξάρτητη ενότητα που μας λέει τι; Ουσιαστικά τίποτα. Οτι ο Γκαιμπελς δεν είχε εμπιστοσύνη στις επιλογές προσωπικού του Χαιντριχ και οτι ο Binet δεν ξέρει ποιος είναι ο Γκρεγκορι - αν και το έψαξε.

Το μεγαλύτερο όμως μειονέκτημα αυτού του βιβλίου για εμένα είναι ότι ο συγγραφέας του δεν μπορεί να αποφασίσει τι βιβλίο θέλει να γράψει. Δεν το θέλει ιστορικό βιβλίο (και δεν είναι) αλλά αρνείται και να ακολουθήσει τους κανόνες της μυθιστορηματικής γραφής με αποτέλεσμα να βαρύνει τον αναγνώστη με το "υπαρξιακό πρόβλημα" του έργου του περισσότερο από όσο θα τον ενδιέφερε κι από όσο χρειάζεται. Ωραία ιδέα δηλαδή, αλλά λίγο υπερβολική η εκτέλεσή της, δεδομένου ότι με αυτό το θέμα ο Binet μας απασχολεί από την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος του βιβλίου.

Είναι δύσκολο να γράψεις ένα ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα, προφανώς ειναι πολύ δύσκολο να γράψεις ένα επιστημονικό ιστορικό βιβλίο, αλλά το να μεμψιμοιρεις διαρκώς γιατί δεν θέλεις (ή δεν μπορείς) να γράψεις τιποτα από τα δύο είναι προβληματικό. Ειδικά όταν μέσα στο βιβλίο σου κατηγορεις τον Φλωμπέρ για "έλλειψη φαντασίας" και για "πληκτικό ρεαλισμό" (πώς είπατε;).

Εν ολίγοις, είναι ένα πολύ καλό και ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο και προς το τέλος κέρδισε και πάλι το ενδιαφέρον μου που είχε αρχίσει να γίνεται λίγο πιο χλιαρό κάπου στη μέση (κάνει μια κοιλιά εκεί, νομίζω λόγω των επαναλήψεων). Αξίζει να διαβαστεί αλλά δεν νομίζω ότι του αναλογούν οι διθυραμβικές κριτικές που έχω διαβάσει εδώ και αλλού - ή ίσως εγώ περίμενα πολύ περισσότερα επειδή τις είχα διαβάσει.

ΥΓ: Κύριε Binet, λίγα τα λόγια για τον μεγάλο (σίγουρα μεγαλύτερο από εσένα) Flaubert. Μόλις έχασες ένα αστεράκι για το παραπάνω σχόλιο.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,989 reviews14 followers
July 25, 2015

Description: We are in Prague, in 1942. Two men have been enlisted to kill the head of the Gestapo. This is Operation Anthropoid: two Czechoslovakian parachutists sent by London plan to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich—head of the Nazi secret services, 'the hangman of Prague', 'the blond beast', 'the most dangerous man in the Third Reich'.

Heydrich works for Hitler's most powerful henchman, Heinrich Himmler, but in the SS they say 'HHhH': 'Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich'—Himmler's brain is called Heydrich.

All the characters in HHhH existed then or still exist now. All the events depicted are true. But alongside the nerve-shredding story of the preparations for the attack runs another story: when you are 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 of one outstandingly brutal man, a story of unbearable heroism and loyalty, revenge and betrayal. It is improbably entertaining and electrifyingly modern. It is a moving, tense, and shattering work of fiction.

Opening: Gabčík - that's his name - really did exist. Lying alone on a little iron bed, did he hear, from outside, beyond the shutters of a darkened apartment, the unmistakable creaking of the Prague tramways?

This is the Kepler 452b of historical fiction - same yet significantly, wildly different in style to anything I have come across before. That, right there, will make HHhH a marmite book and I love this particular metafictional spread.
Fully recommended.

Sergeant Jozef Gabčík - Slovak

Jan Kubiš - Czech

Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich the Hangman, the Butcher of Prague, the Blonde Beast, the Man with the Iron Heart.

Lina and Reinhard Heydrich and their son Klaus in 1934

The rodent Himmler

Gobineau - father of modern racial demography. Since the late 20th century, his works are considered early examples of scientific racism.

Erbst Röhm represented the militant wing of the Nazi Party

To seek out:
'Conspiracy' - Branagh
HHHH 2016
'Hangmen Also Die!' - Fritz Lang
'Great Dictator' - Charlie Chaplin
Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy to star in WWII thriller Anthropoid 2016: The actors will play Czech soldiers charged with the task of killing SS general Reinhard Heydric

Profile Image for Edward.
419 reviews398 followers
January 13, 2019
This unusual novel is part autobiography, part history lesson, part adventure story, and part meditation on the absurdities of its own genre. And it manages to be engaging on each of these levels, each element reinforcing the significance of the action of the main plot, which is gripping and emotionally charged.

I learned a lot about the character of the people who made up the upper echelon of the Nazi party. It's hard to believe that these were real human beings who existed, and who were allowed to wield such brutal power.
Profile Image for Nikos Tsentemeidis.
405 reviews205 followers
January 24, 2016
Συγκλονιστικό. Καταφέρνει πολύ απλά και ζωντανεύει την ιστορία. Διαβάζεται χωρίς ανάσα. Θα μπορούσε άνετα να διδάσκεται στα σχολεία.

"Η Ιστορία είναι η μόνη μοίρα που υπάρχει: μπορείς να την ξαναδιαβάσεις και να την ερμηνεύσεις όπως θες, μα δεν μπορείς να την ξαναγράψεις."
Profile Image for Fatemeh.
110 reviews7 followers
March 30, 2023
واقعا چه شاهکاری بود این کتاب
متن کتاب اینقدر نرم‌ و روانه که حتی یک ثانیه موقع خوندن کتاب حوصلم‌ سر نرفت ،دلم‌ میخواست تک‌تک جمله های کتاب رو به جای اینکه بخونم ببلعم 😅

جاهایی که نویسنده افکارش رو حین نوشتن کتاب باهات درمیان میذاره،خیلی باعث‌ نزدیکیت به نویسنده میشه انگار که میتونی تصورش کنی که پشت میزش نشسته و سرشو کلافه بین دستاش گرفته و داره فکر میکنه از بین این همه فکت تاریخی کدومش باعث جذابیت داستانش میشه و کدومش صرفا حوصله خواننده رو سر میبره.

ترور هایدریش(که موضوع کتابه) رو خیلی تمیز‌ درآورده و به جای اینکه صرفا همین موضوع رو روایت کنه میاد از زمینه های تاریخی میگه که طی قرن ها و سال های مختلف باعث ایجاد حس کینه آلمانی ها نسبت به چک ها و اسلواک ها میشه.و این به نظرم خیلی منحصر به فرده که علاوه بر خود ماجرا ،ریشه داستان رو هم‌ روایت کنی .

تنها چیزی که در اواخر کتاب باعث شد که به نظرم اضافی بیاد تعریف و‌ تمجید اغراق آمیز از قهرمان های داستان(کسانی که هایدریش رو ترور کردن)بود .درسته که با اینکار جونشون کاملا در معرض خطر بود اما ترور کسی که تو یه ماشین روباز و بدون محافظ نشسته کار خیلی عجیب غریبی نیست و تازه اینکه ترور هم‌ به شکل مضحکی ناکارآمده.
البته از حق نگذریم جایی که آلمانی ها بالاخره پیداشون میکنن به شدت جذابه و دل آدم رو خنک‌ میکنه .

در آخر ترور هایدریش به جز اینکه جون کلی آدم دیگر رو بگیره و‌فقط کمی روحیه مقاومت رو زنده کنه به نظرم فایده ای نداشته .
Profile Image for Rodrigo.
1,053 reviews407 followers
January 12, 2022
Este libro me ha dejado sensaciones encontradas por un lado toda la parte de la historia del atentado me ha parecido muy interesante, pero por otro lado la parte donde el autor intercala sus fuentes y las criticas a otras obras relacionadas con el mismo tema no me ha gustado mucho.
El libro por este motivo se queda a medias entre un ensayo y una novela histórica.
Sinopsis: HHhH gira en torno a uno de los más bellos y emocionantes episodios de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y, muy posiblemente, de la historia de la humanidad; dos miembros de la Resistencia aterrizan en paracaídas en Praga con la misión de asesinar a Reinhard Heydrich, jefe de la Gestapo y cerebro de la solución final. Delatados por un traidor y acorralados por setecientos hombres de la SS, se suicidan.
# 43. Un libro con un palíndromo como título. Reto popsugar 2022.
# 1. Un libro que tengas empezado. Reto lecturas pendientes 2022
Profile Image for Mohammad.
349 reviews297 followers
December 5, 2020
بهترین شیوه برای حل کردن یک پازل این است که ابتدا قطعات حاشیۀ پازل را چید و به تدریج به سمت مرکز پازل حرکت کرد. لوران بینه کم و بیش از همین الگو پیروی کرده. قطعات کناری این پازل از وقایع بی‌شماری تشکیل شده از جمله تاریخ شکل‌گیری و عوامل ظهور رایش سوم و ��فراد دخیل جنگ دوم جهانی و پیش‌زمینه‌ای از زندگی قهرمانان داستان که مردمانی عادی‌اند و قرار است در مرکز پازل نقش بسیار مهمی ایفا کنند

در مرکز پازل عملیات آنتروپوید قرار دارد؛ جایی که قرار است مردی ترور شود که خطرناک‌ترین مرد رایش سوم، قصاب پراگ، مرد شماره دو اس‌اس، رییس اس‌د و معمار اصلی راه حل نهایی مسئلۀ یهود خود اوست؛ هایدریش، راینهارد هایدریش

اما منظرۀ مرکز یک پازل هر چقدر هم که دیدنی باشد، یک پازل وقتی کامل می‌شود که تمام قطعات سر جای خود قرار گرفته باشند. و آن لحظه در پایان کتاب و پس از کامل شدن پازل فرا می‌رسد؛ جایی که تصویری کاملا واضح به دست می‌آید و سیل سؤالاتی که ذهن را راحت نمی‌گذارند جاری می‌شود: چگونه فردی پلید همچون هایدریش شکل می‌گیرد؟ چگونه باید در مقابل این افراد و تفکری که نماینده‌اش هستند تاب آورد؟ شکست با عزت بهتر است یا پیروزی با ذلت؟ آیا ترور هدفمند با توجه به تبعات احتمالی راه حلی مناسب است؟ و چندین سؤال دیگر

یک بار به طرح هوشمندانۀ روی جلد نگاه کنید. در جلو هیملر دیده می‌شود که بی‌رنگ و کوچک است. در عوض، هایدریش بزرگ، استوار و رنگی در مرکز تصویر دیده می‌شود. یعنی هایدریش نه تنها هوش و حواس هیملر است بلکه قلب تپندۀ رایش سوم و نماد یک ژرمن تمام عیار است. اوست فردی که هر آلمانی باید شبیهش باشد

کوتاه سخن این‌که بعد مدت‌ها اثری مجبورم کرد شب تا صبح نخوابم تا زودتر تمام شود. فکر می‌کنم چند سال دیگر دوباره بخوانمش

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