37 Following


Currently reading

A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin
Japan at War: An Oral History
Haruko Taya Cook, Theodore F. Cook
Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin
Leon Uris
Falling Free (Vorkosigan Saga, #4)
Lois McMaster Bujold
Century Rain
Alastair Reynolds
The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
Caroline Alexander
Rite of Passage
Alexei Panshin
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
Laurence Bergreen
The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad
Harrison E. Salisbury
The Forsaken: From The Great Depression To The Gulags: Hope And Betrayal In Stalin's Russia
Tim Tzouliadis
HHhH - Laurent Binet Let me tell you a story. A true story. A story that you might know, but only in the 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.

[a:Laurent Binet|3465954|Laurent Binet|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1342709342p2/3465954.jpg], the author, has named it [b:HHhH|7992363|HHhH |Laurent Binet|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1356103456s/7992363.jpg|12476227].

What does "HHhH" mean?

It means this.

You definitely know the chicken farmer.

This is him.


Meet his brain.


Reinhard Heydrich. Founder of SD.

Know about SD?

SD: Sicherheitsdienst, the security service within the SS. The least-known and the most sinister of all Nazi organizations. Including the Gestapo.

He also “invented” the badge that had to be worn by Jews, at all times.

“Even if the Jews are eliminated from economic life, the main problem remains. We must kick the Jews out of Germany. In the meantime,” he suggests, “we should make them wear some kind of sign so they can be easily recognized.” “A uniform!” shouts Göring, always fond of anything to do with clothing. “I was thinking of a badge, actually,” Heydrich replies.

Heydrich aka the most dangerous man in the Third Reich, the Hangman of Prague, the Butcher, the Blond Beast, the Man with the Iron Heart.

And oh… the last name was given to Heydrich by him –


And this was Heydrich’s assistant.


The man that “freed” the Reich from around 6 million people of a particular race and many more.

So, now do you realize how dangerous Heydrich was?


Read some more.

So, after the Chicken Farmer fainted on one occasion while attending one of the mass executions in which guns were used, Heydrich designed a more covert way to carry out the “cleansing”. Gas Chambers. (Of course they were preceded by CO (carbon monoxide) gassing from truck exhausts in enclosed interiors.)

Now if you still have any doubt about Heydrich’s shrewdness and cruelty, Binet would convince you otherwise. According to Laurent Binet, Heydrich, at the height of Reich’s power, stated to one of his minions that the war was lost. So peace talks should be carried out with the Allies.

You don’t think that is significant enough?

Read along.

Assume this scenario: Third Reich is at its power and seems invincible. Most of the Europe has fallen. USSR is falling. UK is stranded. USA is far away and busy dealing with the Japanese. And if at this time, Reich talks about peace, what are you going to do as an Allied power? Think about it. 8 out of 10 times you are going to accept their terms. And BOOM! Heydrich saves the Third Reich. Yes, Hitler would have never dreamed about talking peace at the height of his power. But just for the simple reason that he was a colossal idiot (To our good fortune). But had Heydrich lived long enough, experts suggest that he might have tried to topple Hitler and become the Fuhrer himself. Then, peace talks and then 1000 years of rule of the Reich. A world full of the purest of the pure human beings!

But you say that is just speculation, eh?

Okay, fair enough. But let me tell you some facts about the Blonde Beast.

The Wannsee Conference, where, on January 20, 1942, in only a few hours, Heydrich and his assistant Eichmann set down the methods of enforcing the Final Solution.

It is in Poland that Heydrich unveils his most devilish creation. The Einsatzgruppen are special SS troops, made up of SD and Gestapo members, whose job is to clean up the zones occupied by the Wehrmacht. Each unit is given a little booklet containing the necessary information: in tiny characters, on extrathin paper, is a list of all those who must be liquidated as the country is occupied. Not only Communists but also teachers, writers, journalists, priests, industrialists, bankers, civil servants, merchants, wealthy farmers … everyone of any note. Thousands of names are listed, with their addresses and telephone numbers, plus a list of known acquaintances—in case these subversive elements attempt to take refuge with parents or friends. Each name is accompanied by a physical description and sometimes even a photo. Heydrich’s information services have already achieved an impressive level of efficiency.

This was his information provider.. a particular ahem.. “solutions provider” company.

Enough about the devil.

Now, let me introduce you to our heroes.


Gabčík was a Slovak, and Kubiš was a Czech.

And their destiny would take them to Prague.

Their mission?

Operation Anthropoid.

Operation Anthropoid = Kill Heydrich.

Now before we get any further, let me tell you how badass our heroes were.

Meet another Nazi killer.




But, in our case,


And I am being conservative about this.

I compared these two with a fictional character on purpose. Two reasons. First: It would be inappropriate to compare them with any real war heroes like them. And Second: It would be mighty difficult to find someone to compare them with.

Anyway, let’s move on. Shall we?

So, while their country was under the Nazi Jackboot, Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš flew from the UK and parachuted into Czechoslovakia to assassinate Heydrich. Time was short. Apparently, Charlie Ch.. umm Adolf Hitler had already made future plans for Heydrich to take over the “cleansing” of the French resistance.

Now, heroes that they were, they had to create some excitement for posterity and hence decided to kill the Blonde Beast on the last day that he was to leave for Berlin and then eventually for France.

Did they succeed in their mission? That is not a spoiler, really. Google could tell you that in 0.05 seconds. But the real story is much bigger than that. Did they survive? How? If yes, for how long? Was there a real life traitor amongst their ranks? What did the Nazis do? How many Nazis did they eventually kill? And what were the repercussions of their mission?

Read "HHhH" for that.

Laurent Binet has used an unique style to tell this story. You almost feel that Binet is sitting right across you and telling you about the events that took place. Or more precisely, he takes you to that particular place and then describes that event while it is in motion.

And he frequently denies something he might have said in the previous chapter in the next one.

There are 257 chapters in the whole book.

In a total of 400 odd pages.

Why, you ask?

Because this is how some of his chapters look like.

Chapter 147
So, to cut a long story short, they jumped.

Fin du chapitre.

True, some might not like the style in which this book is written. But this is much more than just a book.

This is an homage to the heroes who are almost unknown outside their own countries.

Read about them.