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HHhH Hardcover – 3 May 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker; Fifth Printing edition (3 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846554799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846554797
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3.1 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 230,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

HHhH is a highly original piece of work, at once charming, moving, and gripping (Martin Amis)

HHhH blew me away. Binet's style fuses it all together: a neutral, journalistic honesty sustained with a fiction writer's zeal and story-telling instincts. It's one of the best historical novels I've ever come across (Brett Easton Ellis)

Extraordinary first novel. a literary triumph. The book's final section, which recounts the assassination and subsequent manhunt in minute detail, is a masterpiece of tension, and its closing pages are extremely moving. Very few page-turners come as smart and original as this (The Times)

Mindblowing. obsessed with the past but gleaming with radical innovation, it's urgent and new and terrifying and beautiful and pretty and much the best thing that's happened in fiction for ages (Dazed and Confused)

Magnificent... unsurpassable... told with grace and elegance... exerts a hypnotic sway over the reader... something of a Greek tragedy and of the splendid thriller... All the details have such persuasive force that they remain indelibly recorded in the memory of the reader (Mario Vargas Llosa)

Book Description

An astonishing, unforgettable novel: a thrilling Second World War assassination plot told with rare literary brilliance.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By GP23 on 15 July 2013
Format: Paperback
What annoyed me the most before reading this was that no one could tell me what type of book it was (novel/historical account etc). Having read it I can see why, and (like many other reviews here) can't pin down the genre, because there is nothing else like it.

The important thing is that no matter what the genre it is an amazing book. Original, gripping, meticulous in its historical accuracy (not one thing is made up apart from dialogues the author imagines where there are no accounts), it covers a fascinating topic that enhances and changes one's perspective of the Nazi regime. Binet's stream of consciousness is interesting and easy to read by its ability to drift into directionless meandering thoughts then suddenly being pulled back to the heart of the action in the 1930s and 40s Reich.

This book feels more like an interesting and memorable discussion that Binet is having with himself than a rigidly structured historical account of the Nazi's rise to power and Heydrich's role in that; more notepad than novel, you feel not only as if you've read the book but that you've written it with him.
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132 of 144 people found the following review helpful By C. Bones VINE VOICE on 25 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must admit this book sent me scurrying to see what the definition of a novel is. It is described on the cover as a novel and inside the author speaks of it as a novel and yet this is the true story of the wartime assassination attempt made on the life of Reinhard Heyrick, "the hangman of Prague", by two Czech resistance fighters sent from London. Its actually much more than that telling as it does of the whole rise of Hitler's Germany but it has a focus on Prague where Heydrich reigned supreme. And it is all true. The events described did happen and all of the characters did exist. There are no made up events, no invented characters, no fictional subplots. The author does make up dialogue to fit scenes for which there are no historical record, but he always makes it clear that in these instances he is writing history as it might have happened, as he would like to think that it happened.

So what makes it a novel ? Laurent Binet adopts the post-modern technique of placing himself inside his story to tell us how it developed, the people he met, the mistakes he made, the books he read and gives us his thoughts and feelings as he "lives" the story. At times he tells events with himself placed in the "now" and sometimes he places himself in Prague at the time events were unfolding. Also the structure does not flow in the linear fashion that a purely historical account might. It moves back and forth from events sometimes major sometimes minor, sometimes just a random quote from a wartime diary, sometimes a few paragraphs to tell how the author came across a related book and what he thought of it. The author is trying to make us experience what it was like to be there and he doesn't have any qualms as to how he goes about it.

And then there is the writing.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Withnail67 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 May 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I spent my Honeymoon in Prague one crisp and clear December, and among the happy memories, I recall coming across the Saints Cyril and Methodius` Cathedral in the middle of the city. What caught my eye wasn't the architecture, but the figure of a World War II `British' paratrooper, depicted by a statue outside the cathedral, surrounded like a saint's statue by lights, candles and flowers, next to a window pulverised by ancient bullet holes.

Like the author of this utterly compelling and innovative novel, I began to read about Operation Anthropoid, the story behind this book. In a popular media haunted by glamorous and glamorised accounts of special operations, the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich still speaks of the creeping terror of resistance operations, and the un-faded horror of the revenge killings executed by an utterly ruthless regime.

The malign genius of the story remains Heydrich, the quintessential Nazi, like yet unlike so many of his superiors and peers. He was not merely a sickeningly twisted inadequate, but had an icy glamour, being a compelling, intelligent figure as well as an amoral force. The story of his assassination and its motivation is dominated by the fear that such an able and lucid man would seize control of Germany's armed forces if anything happened to Hitler. Allied governments feared the power of the Third Reich would be dominated by someone who actually knew what they were doing. A supreme commander who might listen to his generals was too horrific to contemplate. This, combined with the pressures, compromises and anxieties of the Czech government in exile in London, led to the parachute drop of two soldiers, one Czech, one Slovak, on a lonely mission to rid Czechoslovakia and Europe of a tyrant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 12 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"How many forgotten heroes sleep in history's great cemetery?... Memory is of no use to the remembered, only to those who remember. We build ourselves with memory"

This is a brilliant, devastating book, almost unbearable in parts, that tells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, and the courage of the Czech Resistance. What makes it, however, stand out from so many other stories of valour and defiance against Nazi totalitarianism is Binet's self-conscious struggle with how to tell this story while maintaining a respect for history and the real people contained within it, without reducing them to fictional characters in a novel. His solution, partial as it may be as he himself admits, is to make this into a novel about an author wrestling to write the story we are reading. It's not so much that this is metafiction (his story, after all, is true) but a form of metahistory that succeeds in challenging how we think about historical narrative.

The book, then, probes the way we can only ever access `history' through stories: not just previous books, but oral testaments, eye witness accounts, even primary documents none of which are ever neutral or without an agenda, even an unconscious one. Binet - or, rather, his unnamed narrator - draws playful attention to the way in which all narratives are forced to make choices of what to put in, what to leave out, so that they are always contingent and, necessarily, incomplete. At the same time, he evinces an unease about how far a writer can imagine what `really' happened, before that imagining becomes an untruth, a betrayal of the real people whose lives become subsumed in, and subsidiary to, the novel.
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