> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 3 May 2012
  • ISBN: 9781448130788
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336


An astonishing, unforgettable novel: a thrilling Second World War assassination plot told with rare literary brilliance.


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.

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 a moving and shattering work of fiction.
Laurent Binet's highly anticipated new novel, The Seventh Function of Language, is available for pre-order now...

  • Pub date: 3 May 2012
  • ISBN: 9781448130788
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the Author

Laurent Binet

Laurent Binet lives and works in France. His first novel, HHhH, was an international bestseller which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt du premier roman, among other prizes.

Also by Laurent Binet

See all

Praise for HHhH

“Vividly recreates the assassination of Heydrich and its consequences”

John Le Carré, Telegraph

“Laurent Binet’s HHhH is hard to categorise. All is can say is that it has the same gravity-defying balance of weight and light as early Milan Kundera”

Janice Turner, The Times

“Utterly amazing ... likely to make you gasp, laugh and cry often within a few pages”

Savidge Reads

“HHhH is a highly original piece of work, at once charming, moving, and gripping”

Martin Amis

“A novel of great verve and originality… a heart-quickening climax and the undeserved satisfaction of feeling privy to what really happened”

Strong Words

“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

“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

“By the time I got to the last page of Binet's masterpiece, I had to close my eyes and rethink history. I'm rethinking it still”

Gary Shteyngart

“Laurent Binet has given a new dimension to the non-fiction novel by weaving his writerly anxieties about the genre into the narrative, but his story is no less compelling for that, and the climax is unforgettable”

David Lodge

“A wonderful, ambitious book, and a triumph of translation”

Colum McCann

“A suspenseful work of absolute originality”

Claude Lanzmann, director of SHOAH

“A genuine tour de force”


“A great success ... a terrifying story ... a breathless thriller”

La Provence

“More than just a book [...] Laurent Binet not only tells a story, he shows the story itself being written. HHhH is a major novel, a feat of prowess, and a literary accomplishment”

La Vie Littéraire

“A master stroke”

Le Figaro Magazine

“HHhH is an astonishing book—absorbing, moving, for the agony and acuity with which its author engages the problem of making literary art from unbearable historical fact.”

Wells Tower

“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”

Chris Power, The Times

“Mindblowing...obsessed with the past but gleaming with radical innovation, it's urgent and new and terrifying and beautiful and pretty much the best thing that's happened in fiction for ages”

Stuart Hammond, Dazed and Confused

“Binet has created something fresh and original and at times funny (no easy task given the subject matter) making a historical tale which captures the imagination and is also an important read”

Francesca Brown, Stylist

“Utterly compelling and ruthlessly fascinating”

Laurence Mackin, Irish Times

“A thrilling story that also happens to be true, by a gifted young author... Binet manages it all with beautiful lucidity and...discreet storytelling mastery”

James Lasdun, Guardian

“Fresh, honest and exciting”

Anthony Cummins, Spectator

“Historial fiction for grown-ups”

Robert McCrum, Observer

“A gripping thriller and a moving testament to the heroes of the Czechoslovakian resistance. Their mission resets the path of history. Binet’s resets the path of the historical novel. He has a bright, bright future.”

David Annand, Sunday Telegraph


Sunday Times, Style


Killian Fox, Observer

“An engrossing literary experiment that still contains enough hard facts to function as a terrific yarn.”

Andrzej Lukowski, Metro

“An awe-inspiring debut, from a writer of enormous talent and immense potential. ”


“Thrilling and engaging...Binet brilliantly builds the tension in the lead up to the assassination attempt, likewise the nerve-shredding aftermath of the incident.... Being so experimental yet so compelling as a writer is a real high-wire act, one only precious few authors have managed. Binet does it dazzlingly here, and I'm excited about what he's going to write next”

Doug Johnstone, Big Issue

“Mesmeric stuff; history brought to chilling, potent life”

Leyla Sanai, Independent on Sunday

“A literary tour de force”

Alan Riding, Scotland on Sunday

“Binet’s debut is a masterpiece of historical fiction… gripping read”

Daily Telegraph

“A nail-biting novel, a thorough work of history and, most successfully of all, an exercise in form: a story about the writing of a true story”

Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times


Barry Egan, The Sunday Independent

“Binet's approach may be new, but his story-telling instincts are nicely old fashioned. Translator Sam Wood does justice to the lucid prose”


“Is it a novel about the Nazis? Or is it a memoir about a historian trying to write about the Nazis? Somehow, it’s both – and it’s brilliant”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“A triumph”

Patrick Freyne, Irish Times

“A must-read for people who have a real interest in the Third Reich … improbably entertaining and electrifyingly modern, a moving work”

Royston Crow

“With its slightly skewed perspective and the relative freshness of its approach, HHhH compels us once again to consider that this, surely, was humanity's lowest point: a war waged, not against those who thwarted Germany's territorial ambitions, but against all that was good and decent in the human soul. In so doing, it confounds those who would decry post-modernism as wilfully obscure, relativistic and lacking in conviction”

Alastair Mabbott, Herald

“French newcomer Laurent Binet hits the ground running in the engrossing novel within a novel”

Sunday Telegraph

“A breezily charming novel, with a thrilling story that also happens to be true, by a gifted young author amusingly anguished over the question of how to tell it … In principle there's nothing not to like about Laurent Binet's acclaimed debut, and HHhH is certainly a thoroughly captivating performance”

James Lasdun, Guardian

“It's an intriguing meditation on truth and fiction; Binet reflects on his research and the story he's formulating as he constructs it. It's also a nail-biter, even if you know the ending”

Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday

“This book fully justifies the lavish praise adorning its author”

Absolutely Chelsea

“Dazzling... It's stunningly brilliant”

Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday


Donal Oâ??Donoghue, RTE Guide

“Binet provides both context and impressive detail on the eventual assassination of Heydrich”

Mark Perryman, Philosophy Footbal

Related titles