Hadrian's Reviews > HHhH

HHhH by Laurent Binet
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, french, historical-fiction

What is HHhH? Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich, or Himmler's brain is called Heydrich.

This acronym, as chilling as it was, was not the author's first choice - he would have preferred Operation Arthropoid, the name of the covert action which occupies the majority of the book. But it was rejected as sounding like a Robert Ludlum, when this is a more meditative and sardonic bit of historical fiction.

Of course history is not always so neat and clean as it is in thrillers. There are still missing pieces. The author, in one of his intermissions, describes the process as "banging his head against the wall of history". But Heydrich still looms as a 'perfect Nazi', ruthlessly efficient, mastermind of the Polish invasions, founder of the Sicherheitsdeinst, one of the most successful and unknown of the totalitarian intelligence agencies.

We see the betrayal and occupation of the Czech lands, the foolishness of Munich. Benes, fleeing to London, hatches one last plan of resistance. There is historical and political background-setting, but this builds up to a climactic set of 100 or so pages which lead from assassination to vengeance. Gabčík and Kubiš, our protagonists, are faithfully recreated from British personality dossiers, from training with Stens to the last stand in the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius.

This is in the newer class of historical fiction, and a book which seized me. Recommended.
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Reading Progress

May 9, 2012 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 10, 2012 – Shelved as: fiction
July 10, 2012 – Shelved as: french
July 10, 2012 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
July 10, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Jeffrey Keeten This sounds really cool Adrian. Added!

Hadrian It is a very interesting book. I hope you like it!

Jonfaith I just bought this, giddy at the moment.

Pierre Verwey just stared... Interesting info abt the title. tks

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