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The Island of Extraordinary Captives

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529347203

Price: £20

ON SALE: 3rd February 2022

Genre: Humanities / History / Military History

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‘Extraordinary yet previously untold true story…meticulously researched…it’s also taut, compelling, and impossible to put down’ Daily Express

The police came for Peter Fleischmann in the early hours. It reminded the teenager of the Gestapo’s moonlit roundups he had narrowly avoided at home in Berlin. Now, having endured a perilous journey to reach England – hiding from the rampaging Nazi thugs at his orphanage, boarding a Kindertransport to safety – here the aspiring artist was, on a ship bound for the Isle of Man, suspected of being a Nazi spy. What had gone wrong?

In May 1940, faced with a country gripped by paranoia, Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the internment of all German and Austrian citizens living in Britain. Most, like Peter, were refugees who had come to the country to escape Nazi oppression. They were now imprisoned by the very country in which they had staked their trust.

Painstakingly researched from dozens of unpublished first-hand accounts and previously classified documents, The Island of Extraordinary Captives tells, for the first time, the story of history’s most astonishing internment camp and of how a group of world-renown artists, musicians and academics came to be seen as ‘enemy aliens’.

The Island of Extraordinary Captives is the story of a battle between fear and compassion at a time of national crisis. It reveals how Britain’s treatment of refugees during the Second World War led to one of the nation’s most shameful missteps, and how hope and creativity can flourish in even the most challenging circumstances.

Reviews

Extraordinary yet previously untold true story...meticulously researched...it's also taut, compelling, and impossible to put down
Daily Express
By shining a light upon the government's decision to intern the innocent, Simon Parkin's eye-opening, insightful and brilliantly written book serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of populism
Daily Mirror
Compelling...In this "university of captives", Parkin has unearthed a small and riveting chunk of wartime history, easily overlooked.
Anne de Courcy, The Telegraph
Vivid and moving...Spotlights a sorry aspect of Britain's war which deserves to be better known
Max Hastings, Sunday Times
Compelling...In this "university of captives", Parkin has unearthed a small and riveting chunk of wartime history, easily overlooked.
Daily Telegraph
The wealth of primary sources through which Parkin has trawled fill its pages with life; his enthusiasm for his subject fills it with affection. The reader is left with a powerful sense of Weissenborn's verdict on Hutchinson: to turn a prison camp into a university "was a miracle of the human will to live and to work".
The Times
Meticulously researched
Literary Review
Parkin [has an] inimitable capacity to find the human pulse in the underbelly of Britain's war...The Island of Extraordinary Captives is multi-layered...definitely worth the deep dive into Britain's inglorious war, when desperate men and women were disregarded, abused and left to fester in a humiliating no man's land. It's a reminder that conflict has always been a convenient mask behind which thuggery and xenophobia thrive. Yet, despite the stark injustice it describes, it is a curiously exhilarating read: an example of how individuals can find joy and meaning in the absurd and mundane.
The Spectator
A brisk, vivid narrative...Parkin's success in bringing this shabby corner of Britain's wartime history to life is of more than historical interest.
Times Literary Supplement