Aided by previously unpublished files of the British Foreign Office, English author MacDonald provides the most complete account yet of the assassination of Heydrich, head of the Nazi security police and Hitler's presumed successor. Heydrich's assassination was unique, the only murder of a prominent Nazi carried out by agents trained in Britain. While previous theories (e.g., Paine, The Abwehr: German Military Intelligence in World War Two, 1984) credit the British Secret Service with the killing, MacDonald demonstrates conclusively that the operation was steeped in the political expediencies of the Czech exile government, and was planned by Czech military intelligence with the aid of the British Special Operations Executive. The author is also convincing as he shows how Heydrich's ego was, ironically, an accomplice to his own demise. With childhood insecurities that led him to the heights of promiscuity to prove his manhood—and to the depths of violence to assert his power—Heydrich was flagrant in seeking the adulation of his subjects and, thus, careless (to Hitler's dismay) about simple security precautions (e.g., bullet shields in his official vehicle). Consequently, after two Czech agents, Gabcik and Kubis, had staked out Heydrich's daily routine and set his appointment with his fate, Heydrich was killed—not by Gabcik's intended bullet, which failed to be fired, but by Kubis' erratic bomb toss that threw shrapnel up from underneath Heydrich's vehicle, resulting in his death eight days later. Had Heydrich attended to proper security, his death could have been averted—as would have the reprisal massacre of 5,000 innocent citizens of the Czech town of Lidice. MacDonald narrates his tale with almost hour-by-hour attention to detail; and although others—including Frantisek Moravec and Miroslav Ivanov (Target: Heydrich, 1974)—have told the story before, none have told it with MacDonald's thoroughness.
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