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The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich [Paperback]

Callum Macdonald
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 2007
SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich rose through the ranks from relative obscurity in the 1920s to the pinnacle of power in the Third Reich by 1936. He was considered the most dangerous man in Nazi Germany after Hitler himself. He was Himmler's deputy, yet even Himmler feared him. He operated in secret, quietly devoting his time to organising the Holocaust. On 27 May 1942 a Czech agent, part of a team of parachutists trained by SOE, threw a bomb at a passing Mercedes Heydrich was travelling in. Eight days later he died in agony from his wounds. The assassination sent a shock wave through the Nazi leadership and provoked ferocious reprisals against Czechs and Jews, the most notorious of which was the total obliteration of Lidice and the massacre of its inhabitants. Based on original archive material and interviews with surviving members of SOE and Czech military intelligence, this story of danger and tragedy is as exciting and strange as a spy thriller.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 1st Edition edition (May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843410362
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843410362
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Before his death in 1996, Callum MacDonald was a historian at the University of Warwick. His publications include The Lost Battle: Crete, 1941, The United States, Britain and Appeasement and Korea: The War before Vietnam, as well as numerous articles on appeasement and the origins of the Second World War.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, and pretty comprehensive. 30 May 2008
There are a lot of ways you could approach the Heydrich assassination, and this book covers most of them. We start with an illuminating description of Heydrich, and how he came to be the man he was. We then get a description of how Czechoslovakia collapsed, and the different personal and political events that shaped the characters and actions of the Czech and German leaders. Then there is a good description of the different levels of political infighting among Czech and British politicians and intelligence officials which lead to the decision to send the assassins, despite the terrible danger of reprisals and the risks of failure.

We then get a very interesting account of the assassins and their background and training, for what everyone expected to be a suicide mission. After their drop into Czechosolovakia, the special troops and the local intelligence network suffer from betrayal and discovery, leading to furious debates by the special operatives over what to do. The ultimate finale is of course, far more violent and tragic than was expected.

Macdonald manages to write a gripping account with very real and living characters, and at the same time to explain the political machinations and context in which it all occurred.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical writing 26 July 2007
By Jeffrey Davis VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The late Callum MacDonald's account is the best available on the assassination of Heydrich, the Nazi "Butcher of Prague". It is meticulously researched, well balanced, perceptive and extremely well written. It traces the origin of the assassination plan to the exiled Czech leader Benes's desire to assert Czech defiance of the German occupation, in the face of the collaborationist tendencies of the government of Hacha and much of the population. The Czechs paid a terrible price for the assassination of Heydrich, including the murder of many innocent people and the wiping out (and thus immortalising) the village of Lidice as part of the predictable Nazi retaliation for Heydrich's death. MacDonald examines the role of SOE in London and traces the course of the assassination plot from the parachute drop near Prague to the nearly botched assassination attempt (the assassin's sten gun jammed but Heydrich fatally stopped his car to pursue the assassins, only to be fatally injured by a bomb thrown at his vehicle). We are then given a detailed and moving account of Nazi retribution and follow the lives of the Czech assassins, holed up in the Cathedral of St Cyril of St Methodius in Prague until their betrayal, gun battle with the Nazis and eventual suicide and martyrdom (do visit the church if you are in Prague, it is a very moving experience).

If you want to read one book on the Heydrich assassination, this is the one. How sad that the gifted author Callum MacDonald died so prematurely; a great loss to History.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Reinhard Eugen Tristan Heydrich, the butcher of Prague, was the secret power behind the throne in Nazi Germany. A disgraced former naval officer, he found a home in the SS security service, which he shaped into a terrifying weapon. He also chaired the Wansee conference which formalised the details of 'The Final Solution' of the Jewish Problem and from where the Holocaust REALLY began!
Feared by many Nazi leaders, Heydrich had 'the dirt' on all of them, so his assasination by Czech partisans/paratroopers flow in from England shook the Nazi hierachy. He was given a state funeral, but the village of Lidice was flattened in reprisal for his killing and many Czech patriots died because of his assasination. Without Heydrich at its' head, Nazi brutality had lost it's evil genius and driving force. No-one came as close as Heydrich to the title of 'The most thoroughly Evil man in the world.' The Czechs did a great thing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 19 Nov 2012
By frank
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have been to Prague a number of times and wanted a better understanding of its World War 2 history. This book did not disappoint and gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of Heydrichs psychology and subsequent demise
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 20 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written and informative, a glimpse into a terrifying time when assassination was the better of two evils.
The power this man held still continued long after he was gone , revered as a martyr by a madman and his followers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heydrich book 29 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great book a good read and it is very historically accurate.
I am reading it at the moment and I am really enjoying it.
I would like to point out I am not a Nazi just some one who likes history.
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