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HHhH (Anglais) Relié – 3 mai 2012


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Relié, 3 mai 2012
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Revue de presse

HHhH is a highly original piece of work, at once charming, moving, and gripping (Martin Amis)

HHhH blew me away. Binet’s style fuses it all together: a neutral, journalistic honesty sustained with a fiction writer’s zeal and story-telling instincts. It’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever come across (Brett Easton Ellis)

Extraordinary first novel… a literary triumph… The book’s final section, which recounts the assassination and subsequent manhunt in minute detail, is a masterpiece of tension, and its closing pages are extremely moving. Very few page-turners come as smart and original as this (The Times)

Mindblowing… obsessed with the past but gleaming with radical innovation, it’s urgent and new and terrifying and beautiful and pretty and much the best thing that’s happened in fiction for ages (Dazed and Confused)

Magnificent... unsurpassable... told with grace and elegance... exerts a hypnotic sway over the reader... something of a Greek tragedy and of the splendid thriller... All the details have such persuasive force that they remain indelibly recorded in the memory of the reader (Mario Vargas Llosa)

Présentation de l'éditeur

'HHhH blew me away. Binet’s style fuses it all together: a neutral, journalistic honesty sustained with a fiction writer’s zeal and story-telling instincts. It’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever come across.' Bret Easton Ellis

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?

HHhH is a panorama of the Third Reich told through the life of one outstandingly brutal man, a story of unbearable heroism and loyalty, revenge and betrayal. It is improbably entertaining and electrifyingly modern, a moving and shattering work of fiction.



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69 internautes sur 70 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Inventive approach to a distasteful subject 3 mai 2012
Par Caddis Nymph - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This novel deals with the subjugation of Czechoslovakia by the National Socialists during World War II and the beginning of the Final Solution. A grim subject presented in a rather unusual way: the author breaks through the fourth wall, you might say, by not only telling the story of the assassination of the Nazis' 'Protector' in Czechoslovakia, Reinhard Heydrich, a merciless and practical man who launched the Holocaust, but by 'turning to you' and making remarks about the history and characters being described.

Extremely well written, highly inventive, and gripping, this story of two men, a Czech and a Slav, who had early in Germany's rampage escaped northward to the Baltic and then by boat arrived in France, where they were assigned to the Foreign Legion's Czech battalions to fight Germany alongside the French. But given the fact that they were native speakers of the Czech language and capable fighters, the Czech government in exile in London scooped them up and assigned them to jump into Prague with the aim of assassinating Heydrich. How difficult that was, how they accomplished it, and how it turned out for them personally comprises this novel.

The author might be sitting opposite you, telling you the story, bringing it to life, but from time to time he leans in and gives you *his take on what's going on, how much he wishes he were with them, knowing them, taking the same risks, contemptuous of the German terror being visited on their land. Sometimes he shares his dreams that he's actually done or is doing exactly that, but then he shakes his head, pauses and goes back to telling the story in straight, unrelenting narrative.

Translated from the original French by a first-time translator; excellent work, very smooth, practically vernacular ... I noticed only a single error and that a minor quibble on my part. Both the author and translator deserve heartiest congratulations.
46 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HHhH is G- great 25 avril 2012
Par Robert Abidor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
HHhH by Laurent Binet is many things: a history of the Third Reich's eastwards expansion, a novel about the successful plot to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague, and a critique of the art of writing historical fiction. In a quirky but endearing style, Binet develops the story of Heydrich and the story of the plot to kill him. Authors of similar works are prey to Binet's commentary on their failures as writers and as historians. Yet, through it all, Binet in HHhH compels you forward with his narrative as you become a sideline cheerleader for the two Czechoslovakian assassins.

HHhH (which comes from the German meaning Himmler's brain is Heydrich) is not your average historical fiction. It does require the reader to accept Binet as his guide through the story and, with it, to take whatever diversions Binet wishes you to take. However, historical fiction, at its best, is a story and a story requires a strong voice to tell it. Binet, in this excellent translation, is a voice worth listening to and HHhH is a story that needs to be told. Sit back, strap yourself in, and be prepared for an excellent journey.
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The assassins' story (3.5 stars) 1 juin 2012
Par R. S. Wilkerson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is a novel about writing a novel, which is, at the same time, the narrator claims, a history. The narrator/writer intrudes often and becomes imaginatively a part of the story. He reminds the reader so often that the work is not fiction that the reader can never be sure which is which nor how reliable the narrator is. The story ostensibly is about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, May 27, 1942, but since there is little substantive information about his assassins or about the individual, a turncoat, who for a million marks, turns them into the Nazis, the narrator/writer can only speculate about them as personalities, which means that he is writing fiction despite all of his claims to the contrary. The paucity of information forces the book to be about Heydrich, although the writer/narrator claims it is about the assassins and makes an effort to keep the reader focused on them. He claims that he wants the reader to "know" them, so he mentions often the research that he's done, citing history and fiction, how he has tried to learn the story in intimate detail and put himself into the events so that the reader can experience it.

The narrator/writer claims "The people who took part in this story are not characters. And if they became characters because of me, I don't wish to treat them like that (p. 320)." But he has made them characters; there is in this type of work, no way to avoid it; they are more real as characters in a novel than as stories in a history book. That, of course, is the conscious irony of the work: as characters they have substance. As historical figures "Worn-out by my muddled efforts to salute these people, I tremble with guilt at the thought of all those hundreds, those thousands, whom I have allowed to die in anonymity" (p. 323), they are shadows. I'm not sure that he has achieved the memorial he sought. The history is good; the fiction is good. The narrator/writer protests too much; he's correct in calling his efforts "muddled. Despite the muddling, it's worth reading as fictive history.
25 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Glad I read it...but 4 mai 2012
Par Jill Meyer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
There are many ways to write history and possibly the most tricky is when an author includes himself in the narration. I'm not talking about a memoir, where an author has a place in the history he's writing, but rather when the author makes himself part of the story. It's a technique used by Laurent Binet in his new novel, "HHhH". Written in French, the book is well-translated by Sam Taylor. "HHhH" is the story of the assassination plot of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague, in May, 1942.

Most readers of this review are probably familiar with SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, born in Halle, Germany, of a musical family, who joined the Nazi party in 1931. A fast-riser within the SS, he served under Heinrich Himmler, and was complicit in almost every event within the party in the 1930's. From the "Night of the Long Knives", to helping to set up "Kristalnacht", to convening the Wannsee Conference in January, 1942, Heydrich found fame - and death - as the "temporary" Reich-protector of Bohemia and Moravia. Sent to Prague to rule as Hitler's minister, he was assassinated after serving there for a year or so. But, he was on the fast-track upwards and history has him as moving on to rule German-occupied France when he was done in Prague.

Binet's "novel" begins with an author (himself?) writing a book on the assassination. He writes about his own background, and about his writing processes. At the same time, he's recounting the story of Heydrich and of the "parachutists" sent into Prague in 1941 to kill Heydrich. "Operation Anthropoid" the plot was called. Begun in London under the auspices of the Czech government-in-exile and British Intelligence. Nine refugees - Czech, Moravian, and Slovakian - were trained in England and then parachuted into the Protectorate to carry out clandestine missions, one of which was to assassinate Heydrich.

The result of author Binet writing a "novel" about Heydrich, the plotters, and a writer who happens to be writing a "novel" about Heydrich, the plotters, etc is a somewhat disingenuous work of writing. I found myself getting impatient with Binet inserting himself (or someone like him) into the story he was writing. I wanted to know more about the plotters, the victim, the times, etc. I suppose I was reading more for history than character development. But Binet's book is actually quite good and I enjoyed reading it. I just couldn't TOTALLY reconcile myself with the self-involvement of the author. I'll be interested to read what other reviewers write about "HHhH". I can recommend it if the reader knows he's getting history with a bit of the author on the side.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Too tricky for its own good. 7 juin 2012
Par dmontag - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
HHhH is billed as an account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, "The Blond Beast" and brutal leader of the Nazi murder of millions of Jews during WWII. The novel won the Goncourt Prize, a French award for a writer's first novel, in 2010.

Heydrich was assassinated by Josef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, Czech and a Slovak resistance fighters parachuted near Prague by the Allies for that purpose. Their story is a heroic one, full of daring and suspense, and that story is generally well-told in the novel, sometimes vividly. But the story of Heydrich's assassination and the eventual killing of the Gabcik and Kubris by the Nazis has been the focus of previous accounts, some of which are better-written and more convincingly accurate than that of Binet's novel.

But, in HHhH the assassination story is really a scaffolding on which to hang something else, the tale told by the Narrator of the novel. The Narrator is a somewhat confused and clearly amateurish author who speaks to us while he writes the novel we are reading (HHhH). He presents himself in the first person, includes events in his own life, linking them to the Heydrich killing and preparations for it. He even inserts him as a contemporaneous observer actually present during the attack on Heydrich's automobile, not to mention later events, well. In the process, throughout the book, the Narrator tells us of his deep disapproval of the genre of the historical novel and admits having been arbitrary about including or excluding certain events from what we are reading. He also admits to even creating events of whole cloth. In doing so, he repeatedly and intentionally undermines the historical credibility of the novel he is "writing".

So, HHhH really has two authors, the Narrator of the text we read, and Laurent Binet, the author of HHhH. The Narrator and, I think, Binet, both tell us we had better not take at face value the details of the story they tell about Heydrich, Gabcik and Kubis and others in the book. And both authors make it clear that they disapprove in many ways with the genre of historical fiction but can't resist joining in with it.
There is a good bit of cheap pulp-class writing, perhaps to set up the Narrator as a character, but it too-frequently falls flat. Similarly, the organization of the novel into 250 chapters (yes, 250!!) is only gimmicky and adds nothing.

In the last analysis, the historical part of this novel is undistinguished and its historicity itself comes into question by its own admission. After all, both the Narrator and Binet told us they made stuff up and massaged the facts around, didn't they? The use of the Narrator to examine the legitimacy of the genre of the historical novel was clever, and the reader seems reminded frequently of just how clever it is. But in doing so, maybe Binet has made such a good a case against the historical novel that his own HHhH can't stand up to it.

HHhH may be too tricky for its own good.
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