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

Simon Parkin

9 Reviews

Rated 0

Military history

A gripping untold war story: using exclusive new archive material, letters and diaries, this is the story of the prisoners of war in internment camps during the Second World War.

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Painstakingly researched from dozens of unpublished first-hand accounts and previously classified documents, The Island of Extraordinary Captives tells, for the first time, the story of history's most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

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Praise for The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A True Story of an Artist, a Spy and a Wartime Scandal

  • Compelling - Sunday Times

  • Vivid, engaging - New Yorker

  • Splendid . . . Simon Parkin's book rips along at full sail and is full of personality and personalities - Sunday Express

  • PRAISE FOR A GAME OF BIRDS AND WOLVES:

  • A triumph - Daily Mirror

  • Engaging and skilful . . . [Parkin] writes with real flair and the human side of this story is brought out with fine vignettes and character sketches . . . If the place of women in Britain's naval war has been played down, Parkin's vivid story recovers it handsomely . . . Inside his narrative is a desire to show how ordinary people did extraordinary things in wartime . . . this is a good read on a corner of the war and the men and women who peopled it - one very much worthy of our attention. - Richard Overy, Guardian - Guardian

  • Gripping

  • History writing at its best - Booklist

  • Sheds compelling new light on the ferocious struggle being played out in the mid-Atlantic ... has all the elements of a film - Sunday Times

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