Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Rapid Reviews : HHhH by Laurent Binet

HHhH by Laurent Binet is a cracking read. I picked it up on an impulse at the library lasdt week, having recently (re)watched Operation Daybreak. Like that film, Binest's book is about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague, 1942 by two British trained Czech paratroopers, Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš. The title derives from the nickname, translated from German, the SS gave Heydrich; Himmler's brain. 

But this is no ordinary run of the mill factual account; in fact, it's half factual book, half novel and half a writer's journal about the perils and pitfalls of trying to write a story. It's pretty indescribable really, and certainly not like anything I've ever read before - for instance, on a couple of occasions, Binet writes something and then, in the next chapter, says 'of course, that never happened', before berating himself for his use of dramatic licence and revealing what actually happened. Speaking of dramatic licence it puts to rights the deliberate errors any previous film depictions of the mission made; cornered, Gabčík and Kubiš did not kill one another, because Kubiš had already been killed by the SS troops in the first wave of their attack against their church bolthole. And Karel Curda the notorious traitor who gave the SS and the Gestapo his comrades names, did so not for fear that his family would be slaughtered, but simply for the money, having no allegiance to the Allies whatsoever. Of course the story is utterly fascinating, I've always thought so.

Also weirdly, no page numbers!

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