The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A True Story of an Artist, a Spy and a Wartime Scandal (Paperback)
  • The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A True Story of an Artist, a Spy and a Wartime Scandal (Paperback)
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The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A True Story of an Artist, a Spy and a Wartime Scandal (Paperback)

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£12.99
Paperback 448 Pages
Published: 08/06/2023
  • 10+ in stock

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Waterstones Says

From the author of A Game of Birds and Wolves comes the enthralling true story of the wartime internment camp on the Isle of Man and the remarkable collection of German and Austrian artists, musicians and academics who were imprisoned there by the country they had fled to from the Nazi menace.

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Painstakingly researched from dozens of unpublished first-hand accounts and previously classified documents, The Island of Extraordinary Captives tells, for the first time, the story of history's most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.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 9781529347234
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 340 g
Dimensions: 192 x 128 x 32 mm


MEDIA 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

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

Parkin's account, with its well-chosen central figures and attention to the trauma that some of the imprisoned carried for decades, is testimony to human fortitude despite callous, hypocritical injustice - Best Books of 2022, New Yorker

Riveting . . . a truly shocking story of what officials are wont to term 'national misjudgment' is electrifyingly told by the journalist and historian Simon Parkin, whose breadth and depth of original research has produced an account of cinematic vividness - Juliet Nicolson, New York Times Book Review

Parkin's rich and vivid account makes clear just how much the displaced artists did suffer, and the remarkable resilience and creativity with which they responded - Matthew Reisz, Observer

Excellent . . . Parkin has told his story with energy and flair . . . A powerful tribute to the wartime internees, and a timely reminder of how much Britain gained from their presence - Charlie English, Guardian

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