First Sentence: Gabčík – that’s his name – really did exist.
Back of the book: Two men have been enlisted to kill the head of the Gestapo. This is Operation Anthropoid, Prague, 1942: two Czechoslovakian parachutists sent on a daring mission by London to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Nazi secret services, ‘the hangman of Prague’, ‘the blond beast’, ‘the most dangerous man in the Third Reich’.
His boss is Heinrich Himmler but everyone in the SS says ‘Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich’, which in German spells HHhH.
All the characters in HHhH are real. All the events depicted are true. But alongside the nerve-shredding preparations for the attack runs another story: when you are a novelist writing about real people, how do you resist the temptation to make things up?
Quotes from the book:
I just hope that, however bright and blinding the veneer of fiction that covers this fabulous story, you will still be able to see through it to the historical reality that lies behind.
“And just so there’s no confusion, all the dialogues I invent (there won’t be many) will be written like scenes from a play. A stylistic drop in an ocean of reality.”
Through all the years that I carried this story around with me in my head, I never thought of giving it any other title than Operation Anthropoid (and if that’s not the title you see on the cover, you will know that I gave in to the demands of my publisher, who didn’t like it: too SF, too Robert Ludlum, apparently).
“Spring is late and the stubborn snow whispers under his boots.”
The Kindly Ones is simply “Houellebecq does Nazism.”
* * * *
Last Sentence: I am also there, perhaps.
This is a very fine book indeed and is highly recommended.