Best-selling author Howard Linskey's 15-year fascination with the assassination attempt on Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the holocaust, has produced a meticulously researched, historically accurate thriller with a plot that echoes The Day of the Jackal and The Eagle has Landed.
2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on a man so evil even fellow SS officers referred to him as the 'Blond Beast'. In Prague he was known as the Hangman. Hitler, who called him 'The Man with the Iron Heart', considered Heydrich to be his heir, and entrusted him with the implementation of the 'Final Solution' to the Jewish question: the systematic murder of 11 million people.
In 1942 two men were trained by the British SOE to parachute back into their native Czech territory to kill the man ruling their homeland. Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik risked everything for their country. Their attempt on Reinhard Heydrich's life was one of the single most dramatic events of the Second World War, with horrific consequences for thousands of innocent people.
Hunting the Hangman is a tale of courage, resilience and betrayal with a devastating finale. Based on true events, the story sounds like a classic World War Two thriller and is the subject of two big-budget Hollywood films that coincide with the anniversary of Operation Anthropoid.
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By Simon on 28-05-17
We Don't Ask For Their Love; Only For Their Fear
This is a genuinely hard piece of fiction to read. The fact that it is based on true events researched in great depth makes it more difficult than any modern day thriller. The sheer inhumanity of the Nazi hierarchy and the desperately brave measures their victims were forced to go through under the jackboot are a screaming sore across our history. The quotes from the likes of Himmler and others that adorn this book are an absolute indictment of the sheer cruelty and lack of any kind of emotional empathy that these men displayed through thought and deed. To me one of the most chilling scenes among many very cold ones was one of Heydrich's family life where he is surveying figures of his team's performance in the act of genocide while playing with his baby daughter. The fact that these men were of the same species and had families that loved them is an amazing thought. They represented no-one and no country, just themselves.
So I'd recommend this book with hesitation, only if you're open to such an experience. As an audiobook though I feel the narration doesn't quite do it full justice. It's not that Damian Lynch is a bad narrator, far from it, but his lack of command of accents is exposed here and to me he lacked the authority and quality to bring these huge historical evils fully to life. His matter of fact delivery does not convey the gravity of the story.
So this is a grim tale, full of bravery and of the most inhuman cruelty and nothing could sum it up better than a quote from Himmler "The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear."
We can just be thankful for those, including the ones remembered in the this book, that were brave enough to stand against it.
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