Thursday 18 July 2013


Finished July 17
HHhH by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor, read by John Lee

This is one of the most interesting novels I've ever read. Let's start with the title, which is an acronym for Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich, which translated to English is Himmler's brain is called Heydrich. The Heydrich of this book is Reinhard Heydrich, an high-ranking Nazi officer, one of the organizers of Kristallnacht, responsible for coming up with the final solution for the Jews, who was in charge of the Nazi-occupied Czech Republic at the time of his assassination where he worked to suppress Czech culture, and was an extremely cruel man. He had many nicknames: The Butcher of Prague, The Blond Beast, The man with the iron heart, . He was also president of Interpol at the time
Two men, a Slovak and a Czech were recruited by the Czech government in exile and the British to carry out the assassination. Their names are Jozef Gabčik and Jan Kubiš, and they were parachuted into the occupied nation by the British in an attempt to keep any blame falling on the local people. Their task was codenamed Operation Anthropoid. During the assassination attempt, the British gun they were using jammed, and a bomb was thrown at the car instead, injuring Heydrich. At first the men thought that the assassination attempt was unsuccessful as Heydrich was taken to the hospital and operated on by a German doctor, but he ended up dying of an infection a few days later.
This book goes into the the history of all three men, the situation in the Czech Republic and the growing unhappiness of the people there. It also talks about the repercussions of the assassination where two villages were razed to the ground and almost all the inhabitants killed, many others were tortured, and the men were betrayed by one of the own comrades.
Besides all of that extremely interesting story, the author is himself a character of a sort in the book, as he describes his research, his passion for the subject, the troubles of writing about real historical figures and events, what is created and what is fact. Binet writes something, correct it, wonders aloud, and looks for more and more information until he realizes he must focus.
A fascinating style, and totally engrossing story based on real and horrible events.


  1. This has been on my shopping list for quite a while for the next time I am going to Belgium so I can buy it in French.

    I'm glad it sounds as promising as it looks like.

    Thank you.
    Marianne from Let's Read

  2. Definitely worth the read Marianne. Wish I had the language skill to read it in the original French, but sadly not.

  3. This sounds fascinating! I'd wondered what all the Hs in the title stood for.

  4. It was fascinating Anna. One of those few books you want to reread .