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Summary

If you only listen to one book about what it felt like to be present during the worst time in modern human history, a time when your life could be snuffed out for having the mere thought of opposition against the Nazi regime, this should be the book. It is told by survivors and by one of the greatest survivors of them all, Jan Wiener.

©2012 Zuzana Wiener (P)2016 Irie Books

Critic reviews

"Jan Wiener's fascinating, well-documented book tells of the heroic exploits of various Czech men and women, most of whom paid for their resistance with their lives. Above all it gives a detailed, documented account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the most gruesome of the Nazi murderers, by Czech resisters parachuted from London but aided in their task by the Czech underground." (William L. Shirer, author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich)

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  • Norma Miles
  • 29-11-16

"Red posters on the walls ..."

Any additional comments?

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

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  • Dave
  • 07-01-18

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.

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  • Steve
  • 21-05-17

Powerful story!

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!

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  • PC
  • 12-04-17

wow - worth a listen

this is definitely worth a listen - an amazing story that needs to be heard and remembered

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  • Mary Karowski
  • 05-12-16

The true story behind the movie

This is the 2nd book I've read on the subject and is by far the best. Truly captivating take of a dark chapter in history that up until recently has been quietly swept under the rug and ignored by society. I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

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  • Zach Galvin
  • 30-11-16

Great read for history or military buffs

Any additional comments?

The Assassination of Heydrich: Hitler's Hangman and the Czech Resistance by Jan Wiener is a comprehensive telling of the sufferings of Czech people during Nazi occupation as well as the Czech resistances valliant efforts to thwart the Nazis.
Jan Wiener tells his own story of WWII as well as that of his countrymen. The chapters alternate between the author’s tale of escaping Czechoslovakia, his family’s tragedies and his experiences as a POW in Italy and that of the united effort to rid Czechoslovakia of one of Hitler’s worst. I found the story layout confusing, and I would have preferred a straight telling of the Czechoslovakian Resistance.
In general I love military stories. I really enjoyed the story of the RAF’s assassination plot and how the town came together to protect the men involved. I was less interested in the author’s personal war story, and the recap at the end was redundant. I did appreciate how the author’s story eventually intersects the story of Heydrich’s assassination.
Mark Kamish admirably narrated the book. His intonations, pronunciation, and character voices helped to keep straight the vast number of people in the book. He compels listeners to feel more of the horrific atrocities endured by the townfolk than the mere words on the page convey.

The Assassination of Heydrich: Hitler's Hangman and the Czech Resistance is an interesting take on the bravery of the Resistance fighters and their supporters.

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  • Xkoqueen
  • 30-11-16

Fascinating Tale of the Czech Resistance in WWII

What made the experience of listening to The Assassination of Heydrich the most enjoyable?

The narration made the book considerably more interesting given the subject matter.

Any additional comments?

The Assassination of Heydrich: Hitler's Hangman and the Czech Resistance by Jan Wiener is a comprehensive telling of the sufferings of Czech people during Nazi occupation as well as the Czech resistances valliant efforts to thwart the Nazis.
Jan Wiener tells his own story of WWII as well as that of his countrymen. The chapters alternate between the author’s tale of escaping Czechoslovakia, his family’s tragedies and his experiences as a POW in Italy and that of the united effort to rid Czechoslovakia of one of Hitler’s worst. I appreciated how the story layout broke up the story into digestible parts. The author’s personal struggles through the war were indicative of so many others during that horrific period.
I have heard plenty about the French Resistance, but I had heard nothing of the Czech Resistance previously. Now that I’m out of school, I find history to be a more interesting subject, however, it can still be dry in its presentation. Between Wiener’s story layout and narrator Mark Kamish’s presentation of the story, the audiobook help my attention from start to finish. In fact, I listened to the book in its entirety on one long road trip. The narration really brought the story to life.
I don’t usually listen to credits and author notes, but I didn’t have a chance to turn off the audiobook since I was driving. I was so glad that I was “stuck” listening. The author’s notes and comments from friends and coworkers were helpful and meaningful.
The Assassination of Heydrich: Hitler's Hangman and the Czech Resistance is a worthy read whether or not you’re a history buff. In addition to expanding your knowledge of WWII it will heighten your empathy and make you thankful for all those who serve their country.

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  • Hawkeye
  • 26-11-16

Compelling story - Excellent narration

Part deep history lesson of the Czech Republic during WWII and part historical narrative, the actual assassination of Heydrich is foretold in the title and perhaps secondary to the story. The book is voiced from both a German/Nazi perspective and a Czech/British/Resistance point of view. The author does a very thorough job of bringing the listener up to speed on the geography, politics and temperament of Europe in the late 1930's and early 1940's while weaving in Hitler's implementation of the Final Solution. Be forewarned that multiple historically correct examples of Nazi soldiers zealously and fanatically carrying out their orders are described in detail. These depictions are necessary as they paint a desolate landscape for the Czech citizens, the Resistance and exiled Czech government.

Heydrich was a highly placed Nazi officer and reported directly to Hitler who referred to Heydrich in admiration as the "man with the iron heart". Heydrich chaired the committee that formalized the Final Solution (the deportation and genocide of all Jews and other non-Arians in Europe), organized and implemented Kristallnacht and was officially charged with eliminating resistance to the Nazi party. Both Hitler and Heydrich saw the Czech Republic as an impediment to the Nazi goal of global domination, hence, Heydrich lobbied for and was granted the position of Reich Protector over Bohemia and Moravia (the part of Czech Republic incorporated in 1939. The Resistance was composed of Czech nationals, British and other Allied friendly forces. Upon Heydrich's arrival what was a brutal and difficult occupation became a nightmare almost beyond description. So, In an act of both justice and desperation the Resistance decides to assassinate Heydrich. The Nazi retaliation is beyond anyone’s reckoning!

Many supporting characters are fleshed out in this story and the narrative moves at a reasonable pace. Wiener quotes his sources for much of the story and the listener doesn't have to guess as to what is fact and what is dramatization. This audio book is brutally frank and historically necessary. Weiner wrote a great piece; the audio equivalent of a page turner. The narration by Mark Kamish was exceptional. There is so much thought and preparation that goes into vocal characterization and Kamish was hitting on all cylinders in this offering.

I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator

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  • Cathy
  • 21-11-16

A compelling story of bravery during WWII

Would you listen to The Assassination of Heydrich again? Why?

Yes. This book admits the reader into the fascinating world of the Czech resistance. The author describes two parallel paths - his personal story of capture and imprisonment, and the larger story of the resistance movement within Czechoslovakia. These stories of heroism and defiance are compelling and draw the reader in to the drama of that era.

What other book might you compare The Assassination of Heydrich to and why?

Any aficionado of WWII stories will enjoy this book.

Have you listened to any of Mark Kamish’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have listened to several of Mr. Kamish's audiobooks, and found this one the most satisfying. His voice is well-suited for this book, and his incorporation of the German and Czech names and phrases throughout was excellent. He brought emotion and compassion to the characters, and it was a pleasure to listen to his performance.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I was so intrigued by the characters' stories I did not want to put the book down.

Any additional comments?

I was voluntarily provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

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  • Deal Seeker of New YOrker
  • 15-11-16

Plays like an excellent history channel special...

I really enjoyed the narrative in this telling of the Heydrich assassination story. WWII lore is so deep that its easy to over look this story. It played like a docudrama with cuts from different characters' perspectives as well as the omnipotent narrator when context was necessary. This element gave me the suspense of fiction with large chunks of educational background. I would recommend this in one or two long sittings as opposed to 10-15 min a day.
The narration was smooth with forgivable accents (better than most I've heard on audible).

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.