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By Norma Miles on 11-29-16
"Red posters on the walls ..."
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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
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By Dave on 01-07-18
A Very Personal History of a Very Important Event
This is the incredible true story of Operation Anthropoid, the Czech underground's mission to assassinate Rheinhart Heydrich, the 3rd most powerful man in the Nazi Reich and the primary architect of the "Final Solution." I was familiar with the broad historical strokes already, and this remarkable story has been told in other books and movies, but never in such a personal, firsthand manner. The story and characters unfold in the form of individual accounts from people who were actually there, which gives it a depth and meaning that a typical historical non-fiction account rarely provides.
While the planning, execution and repercussions of the assassination attempt is the heart of the story, it was all the lesser-known details and personal vantage points that make this such a compelling book. In fact, the titular assassination attempt is roughly in the middle of the narrative, and yet the most memorable parts of the story are on either side of the main event: the individual accounts of the participants, the Czech resisters' harrowing infiltration into Prague, the planning and adjustments to the assassination plot as circumstances changed, the horrific, murderous retribution inflicted on the Czechs by the Nazis afterward, and the final confrontation between the Nazi's and the Czech resistance fighters. Those are the details that stuck with me, in part because they were new to me, and in part because they were so intimately portrayed by actual survivors (including the author himself).
The narration is excellent, . It took me a moment or two to get acclimated to his cadence, but I quickly found myself completely immersed in his style of storytelling (and consistently impressed with his pronunciation of names and places). By the end of the audiobook I couldn't imagine anyone telling this story better, and I have since searched out other books narrated by Mr. Kamish.
There is a lot going on in this book -- including a number of people and places with Czech names that were unfamiliar to American ears -- and as such it rewards attention. I could tell early in the narrative that this was not a book I wanted to drift in and out of. But I never found myself lost, and there were so many interesting people and events going on throughout the entire story that I never found myself drifting. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and voluntarily left this review, and I'm glad I did because I might not have stumbled onto this great book otherwise. Now that you have, give it a try. It's an amazing story, very well told.