HHhH is the debut novel of French author Laurent Binet, published in 2010 by Grasset & Fasquelle. Binet’s subject is the plot to assassinate “the most dangerous man in the Third Reich” Reinhard Heydrich, aka the Butcher of Prague. The novel was awarded the 2010 Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman.
In 1942, two parachutists – the Czech Jan Kubiš and the Slovak Jozef Gabcík – are enlisted to carry out a secret mission: to assassinate one of the most important Nazi officials during WWII. That man is Reinhard Heydrich, head of Gestapo, the Acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia also known as “the hangman of Prague”, “the Blond Beast” and “the most dangerous man in the Third Reich”. He was also to be the main architect of the Holocaust, and the mind behind the Final Solution.
Binet was adamant that he was not going to fictionalize real events to fill in any gaps in his knowledge. Indeed, his determination not to fall back upon his imagination becomes a recurring theme, his interjections obstructing the flow of a mesmerizing true story. The novel’s 257 short chapters allow for these two strands to advance and entwine in gripping and revealing ways.
The success did not stop there as the book, adapted for the theatre by Laurent Hatat, was brought to the big screen in 2017 in an eponymous film, The Man with an Iron Heart, directed by Cédric Jimenez, which featured an international cast.
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