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A truly remarkable book.
There is everything here - a story far more suspenseful than most fictional thrillers, political intrigue, courage of a type almost unknowable not just by a few but a whole city, compassion and kindness, raw emotion told from the outside and spoken from the heart, and cruelty, evil and so many deaths. I have known the story of Heydrich's death and the terrible aftermath for a long time now despite the reticence of the history books to focus on this cruelly oppressed and neglected area. The dreadful retributions following the assassination had been carefully documented in my previous readings and yes, the story affected me deeply. But, dare I say it? - it was only numbers and happening at a time of so much other violence and death. By his thorough descriptions of the people themselves, the author brings them powerfully alive again so the stories are told of people we have grown to know, making their deaths personal and so, so much more dreadful. Sometimes told through the archived writings of participants, these true recollections as well as official documents, also bring all that happens into an immediacy rarely felt in an history book.
The personal intimacy of the Czech story is further enhanced by the interweaving of Jan Wiener's own experiences as the Heydrich story evolves. The courage of his mother, the desperation of his father and his own attempt to leave the country.. His fear echoing the fear that must have been present throughout Prague. And the feeling of isolation, also, both individually and as a nation. And yet, and yet ...
And all narrated in a style which follows the text of the book, perfectly paced and beautifully read with just a touch of emotion entering into an occasional recollection where such feelings were obviously appropriate. Mark Kamish was a pleasure to hear and, although I cannot comment on his pronunciations, seemed fully capable in tackling the often challenging names of both people and places, thus making them feel familiar.
World War II is a long time ago now and soon there will be no one remaining who remembers it first hand. Other wars and tragedies take precedence in our minds then. But some stories should live on, ones which give insight into the baseness of what can happen and the simple courage to resist evil at any cost. This is one of those stories and so well told that it touches our humanity. with it's excellent telling. Throw away the dry history books in the classroom and play our children this book instead so they can experience how it was at (almost) first hand
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A sad, beautiful, extraordinary, well written account of the assassination of one of the worst people on human history, Reinhard Heydrich. There is so much in this book that can be talked about but it truly was a fantastic lesson of the triumph of will of the Czech people against the Nazis. Mark Kamish's narration was perfect. Great delivery with a subtlety and nuance that brought out the emotion. Highly recommended!