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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  23,730 ratings  ·  2,576 reviews
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 Merced ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by Harvill Secker (first published January 13th 2010)
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Manuel It is the book itself. The author constantly speaks to the reader. At the start that goes on for some chapters. I don't remember it being too long but…moreIt is the book itself. The author constantly speaks to the reader. At the start that goes on for some chapters. I don't remember it being too long but I've never listened to an audiobook so I don't have parameters of how much time it should take.(less)
Andrew My UK English 2012 edition has no page numbers; but as there are 257 ‘chapters’, some with more than 1 on a page, there seems little need for them!

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
”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.

 photo Heydrich_zpseszxhgwu.jpg
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
Steven Godin
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 th ...more
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

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 a
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 sh
Paul Bryant

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 to
Cindy Knoke
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 cho
MJ Nicholls
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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-his ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 heiß
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 whic
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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 i
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, translation
“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
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 e ...more
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 acc

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 Hey
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In part this is a bit like the literary equivalent of one of those documentaries about the making of a famous film. On the one hand, the author tells the story of the assassination of Himmler’s right-hand man, Reinhard Heydrich and tells it compellingly well. It’s a fascinating story of an assassination that was botched but nevertheless eventually successful. We learn much about Heydrich and also about his two Czech assassins who were trained in the UK specifically to carry out the assassination ...more
Diane S ☔
This was a very differently written type of historical fiction; a stream of consciousness novel where a narrator who happens to be writing a book about the assassination of Heydrich lets the reader in on all his thought processes, feelings, and personal life. In the beginning I found this fascinating as the narrator imparts many little known facts (at least by me) of Heydrich's early life and marriage, the forming of the Nazi party, Hitler, the Night of Long Knives and the forming of his securit ...more
Eliza Rapsodia

This story came to me because of a blogger friend that I really trust. I was able to approach one of the great stories -one of the thousands- that happened in the Second World War.

«The blond beast» «The butcher of Prague» «The man with the iron heart» -the latter given by Hitler himself- are some of the nicknames he had. Very different from the boy with a high-pitched voice that was called "The goat". The title of the novel is the initials of the German expression Himmlers Hi
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have had my fill of books about Nazis, but this clever little title was irresistible. And thank heaven it was since this story about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is absolutely brilliant. It was sort of a travelogue-type history in the manner of Tony Horowitz, although most of the travel in this book is through the author’s mind as he ruminates on the nature of historical biographies in general, wrestles with self-doubt as to whether he is up to the task of writing something original ...more
The fact that HHhH isn't quite the book I was expecting to read is entirely the fault of the back cover. The last paragraph of the blurb reads:
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?

If you have the Postmodern Klaxon going off in your head, you're not alone -
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PRIX GONCOURT DU PREMIER ROMAN // As a novelist, how do you do justice to the men who had to die after they managed to kill Nazi-leader Reinhard Heydrich? This is the main topic of Binet's brilliant metafictional book about an author who writes a novel about the assassination of the so-called "butcher of Prague". One of the most powerful and brutal Nazis (even Hitler named him "the man with the iron heart"), Heydrich simultaneously held the positions of SS Senior Group Leader, Chief of Police, C ...more
Sam Quixote
HHhH = Himmlers Hirn heist Heydrich, which in English means: Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.

This is the true story of one of the most evil men who ever lived, Reinhard Heydrich, and Operation Anthropoid (also the original title of the book), the successful plot to assassinate him by the heroic pair, Jan Kubis and Jozek Gabcik.

Heydrich was Head of the Gestapo and one of the most feared men in Hitler’s Third Reich. He was central to the Final Solution (the formal planning behind the Holocaust)
As already indicated by so many other readers, this is not just the historical account of the attack on Reinhard Heydrich, one of the cruelest Nazi top men, in 1942 in Prague. That account is certainly there, and is quite excitingly written and shuddering by the horrible facts that are involved. But Binet presents a much more complex book. The author formally shows how he wrote this book and how he wrestled with various aspects of the historical métier (are my sources reliable, have I presented ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“Memory is of no use to the remembered, only to those who remember. We build ourselves with memory and console ourselves with memory.”
― Laurent Binet, HHhH


An interesting narrative about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. The title comes from the SS phrase: "Himlers Hirn heisst Heydrich" ("Himmler's brain is called Heydrich"). Instead of telling the story as a straight historical narrative, Laurent Binet weaves himself throughout the main narrative. It becomes in parts a contrived post-mod
Charlie Miller
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
A ballsy, albeit somewhat messy novelisation of the extended story behind the assassination of the Blonde Beast.
Binet hopes to captivate the reader with endless proofs of his obsession with the subject. Speaking from the first person, he does in part succeed- it's certainly a stunning debut novel, and there is some fantastic use of language in the English version. The true story itself however, brought out from Binet's hard work, is what really carries this book at chest height the whole way.
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is not without its flaws, towards the end it goes a little haywire with the dates and so on but for all that, it retains a certain humility, charm and (hopefully) it's own corner as a WW2 meta-fiction thriler. As a novel, it's Marmite - you're either going to love it or hate it. ...more
Elena Sala
HHhH (2010): The title stands for: "Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich", or in English, "Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich". A wacky title for this gripping novel which blends history with metafiction. It is the story of the very real and terrifying Operation Anthropoid, the plan to murder Heydrich.

Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler’s right-hand man, was also known as "The Blond Beast", "The Hangman of Prague" and other affectionate names. In 1942 he became the Nazi Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. Protect
I meant to write something really witty here, something with a lot of sarcasm, and use it to explain why I didn’t like the book, despite all the strengths it undoubtedly has. But then I remembered that this is exactly the reason why Binet’s text didn’t work for me. Call me old-fashioned, but irony and flippant remarks in connection with Heydrich and the Holocaust just don’t harmonize.
(Chapter 250 is great though)

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Sep 28, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Flat flat flat. No pretense of style. Prose stripped of the usual novelistic devices. The book is about the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich—a Nazi SS officer overseeing occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and master planner of The Holocaust—by British organized members of the Czechoslovak resistance in 1942. It worked. Heydrich was slain. But in reprisal the Nazis wiped out the town of Lidice, killing more than 350 civilians. The novel’s done à la Julia Blackburn; that is, mixed with bits of trave ...more
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Play Book Tag: HHhH by Laurent Binet - 4.5 stars 1 14 Oct 16, 2022 10:23AM  
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Goodreads Librari...: ebook to hardcover 5 31 Jul 19, 2013 10:22AM  

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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. Ag

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“How many forgotten heroes sleep in history's great cemetery?” 22 likes
“The dead are dead, and it makes no difference to them whether I pay homage to their deeds. But for us, the living, it does mean something. Memory is of no use to the remembered, only to those who remember. We build ourselves with memory and console ourselves with memory.” 19 likes
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