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HHhH Audiobook, by Laurent Binet Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Laurent Binet Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2012 ISBN: 9781452679082
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,101 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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HHhH: "Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich," or "Himmler's brain is called Heydrich." The most dangerous man in Hitler's cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich was known as the "Butcher of Prague." He was feared by all and loathed by most. With his cold Aryan features and implacable cruelty, Heydrich seemed indestructible—until two men, a Slovak and a Czech recruited by the British secret service—killed him in broad daylight on a bustling street in Prague, and thus changed the course of History.

Who were these men, arguably two of the most discreet heroes of the twentieth century? In Laurent Binet's captivating debut novel, we follow Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubiš from their dramatic escape of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to England; from their recruitment to their harrowing parachute drop into a war zone, from their stealth attack on Heydrich's car to their own brutal death in the basement of a Prague church.

A seemingly effortlessly blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Laurent Binet's remarkable imagination, HHhH—an international bestseller and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman—is a work at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing, a fast-paced novel of the Second World War that is also a profound meditation on the nature of writing and the debt we owe to history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • This fluid translation by Taylor is a superb choice for lovers of historical literary works and even international thrillers. Most highly recommended. Library Journal Starred Review
  • “Captivating … [HHhH] has a vitality very different from that of most historical fiction.”

    New Yorker

  • “[Binet] knows how to wrangle powerful moments from history.”

    New York Times

  • “As much a meditation on fictionalizing history…as it is a story about an assassination …[Binet] has produced the only essential piece of World War II fiction in years.”

    Barnes &

  • “Narrator John Lee moves effortlessly from the conversational sections about writing and research to the almost clinical detail of the history and the heart-stopping action of the plot. He doesn’t adopt different voices, but he alters his tone and pacing for each. His German pronunciation is good, and he gives direct quotes just a touch of Teutonic brusqueness…Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice for 2015
  • A London Financial Times Books of the Year
  • Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 2/13/2014

    " Added depth to my understanding of the horrors of WWII. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marcia | 1/27/2014

    " One of the most absorbing, innovative novels I've read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim | 1/22/2014

    " I enjoyed the style of mixing history and the author's explanation as he wrote, although I wish it had more of the author's thoughts at times, but the main plot took too long to get to and felt rushed. I wish he got to the assassination plot sooner and was able to flesh it out a little more, but I guess that was the point -- he had much more info about the Nazis when compared to the "protagonists." I found it a difficult novel to get through, but found some interesting new facts about that era that I hadn't known. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alicia | 1/19/2014

    " confusing, fascinating, bewildering, entertaining, funny "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 JS | 1/17/2014

    " The past is not only a foreign country, but it is inaccessible. There is no way to know it. Sure, one can read a book and find out who is who and what happened, but one cannot get into the heads of those people and the feelings they experienced, not only in the best, most quotidian days, but right before the gas chamber, or right after the assassination of a monster, a butcher, an architect of the Holocaust, goes south and not as planned. For history is not a book: one can't plan it. One can't have the characters you want come in at the right time and say the right things and make everything better and happily ever after. There are contingencies and exigencies. There are auspicious meetings and bad turns of luck. But if you are in WWII and your mission is to kill a Nazi, a most important Nazi, you have to plan it as if it weren't messy life anyway. What else can you do? You know you might die. You know you might fail. But history is merciless. Time is merciless. If you don't do what you're supposed to, history and time will make sure that thousands if not millions die. This is a novel about the writing of a historical novel. The narrator is a present day French teacher obsessed with Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the SD and the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, number two in the SS behind Himmler. Specifically, our teacher is obsessed with his assassination, carried out by British trained Resistance fighters,one Slovakian and one Czech. He sets out to honor them, these two heroes, but as this is his first time writing a historical novel, he gets bogged down by the history. One rule he does not want to follow, a convention of the genre is to imagine his characters. Everything will be real and accurate. Well, as he writes, he encounters problems with that rule--first, not everything is known. Not only what happened but how people felt about it and what they said. How can these things be known? The past is foreign country and one that is inaccessible. And the past is sometime boring. It's not the grandeur he wants, so sometimes he makes up better dialogue. Or he tries for an art that is made up but gets at a core truth. He finds out about the paradox of art: lying in order to reveal a larger truth. And he tells us all of this, tells us what he's thinking, how he's writing, his problems, his solutions, while he tells us this incredible moving tale. The result is both an exciting true story of heroism and a meta, inside-baseball account of the telling of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hanna | 1/11/2014

    " Really clever and fascinating read which is as much about the history as to how to write a fictional reconstruction of it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Douglas | 1/8/2014

    " The original story is full of suspense, courage and horror; however the author's self-conscious interventions and the dramatizations of historical events do not make it a novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeannie | 1/6/2014

    " Himmler, the Butcher of Prague is the subject. The problem is the author repeatedly injects himself, and his struggle creating dialogue that might have gone on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Godowd | 12/22/2013

    " The only thing that spoils this books is the annoying habit the author has of correcting himself or telling us he made bits up a couple of chapters after it has sunk in. The subject is excellent and the climax has you routing for the guys even if you know the outcome. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Claire | 12/21/2013

    " Fascinating resistance story, very well written, and interesting narration idea. I highly recommend this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marleen | 12/4/2013

    " Een bijzonder boek, interessant, maar geloof dat ik toch liever een roman heb. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meghan | 12/4/2013

    " I don't know whether I'd call this book a novel, a memoir, or non-fiction. But I do know I'd call it a pretty amazing book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisandra | 10/31/2013

    " A story that needed to be told. I had not heard the story of the Czech and Slovak parachutists who assassinated Heydrich before now. But I found the author constantly interrupting the story to ruminate on the problems with writing historical novels to be really really annoying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dawn | 10/17/2013

    " Definitely a 3.5. Maybe a 4. I need to give this one a little time to rattle around my brain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 10/1/2013

    " A super engaging and innovative read, and a really nice blend of prose and history - rare! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary | 9/5/2013

    " A meta fictional historical novel (infranovel) and an exciting war story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chrissie | 2/14/2013

    " It took me a while to start this book because I didn't know what it was about and just saw the Czech and Slovak names on the first pages. Wow, what a book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tina | 2/11/2013

    " Not what I expected. Less fiction, more non fiction. "

About the Author

Laurent Binet was born in Paris in 1972. He is the author the debut novel HHhH, which won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman and was named one of the fifty best books of 2015 by the New York Times. His memoir, La Vie professionnelle de Laurent B., tells of his experience teaching in secondary schools in Paris. He is a professor at the University of Paris III, where he lectures on French literature.

About the Narrator

John Lee is the winner of numerous Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration. His has twice won acclaim as AudioFile‘s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and co-produced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.