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Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson
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Last Hope Island (2016)

by Lynne Olson

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A fantastically written history of WWII that focuses on six European nations whose governments were forced into exile in Britain. Olson makes a chunky and complex history compulsively readable and highlights figures both well-known and less so and makes them fascinating. While I have a good general handle on the broad strokes of WWII, this highlighted groups like the Polish 303 squadron who were some of the most successful fighters in the Battle of Britain and highlighted just how brutal the repercussions were for the people of the Netherlands after the Battle of Arnhem. Highly recommended. ( )
  MickyFine | Aug 27, 2018 |
A poor, shallow history of how during World War II governments and fighters from conquered European countries fled to Britain and fought from there against Germany. I don't know why I finished it, it is the worst history I have read in a long time.

Olson has a strong agenda of playing up the importance of this resistance. This agenda is so transparent that it makes it hard to believe much of what she says. She frequently quotes as evidence completely non-credible or even obviously false statements, because they play into her agenda. Who knows what she doesn't quote, because she makes no pretense of putting her claims in context.

Beyond this, the focus and pacing is frequently bizarre, jumping between a 10,000-foot overview narrative and detailed descriptions of the flowers in someone's garden. This is a pretty good sign of a history book written by throwing together index card notes, rather than a carefully considered (and hopefully edited) work. ( )
  breic | Apr 1, 2018 |
I guess I read a different book from other people. Being in the US means that I typically read (and initially learned) about WWII through the role of the United States and what it did during that time. I have some understanding of the roles of other countries but this sounded like an interesting read so it was exciting to see this at the library.
 
It sounded like an interesting premise: to see the role the United Kingdom played and how it became a gathering place for exiled governments to continue the war planning. Perhaps my lack of knowledge played a role because this was a tough, tough slog. As another reviewer notes on Goodreads, the author mentioned she put the book down for years before taking it up again, which perhaps accounts for why it seems like it doesn't quite fit together as one cohesive narrative that flows.
 
There's a lot of information here that maybe would be more interesting to a WWII and/or history buff but this definitely wasn't for me at all. It's a pity because there's a movie about King Haakon and his escape from the incoming Nazi invaders which looked really interesting from the trailers. I thought that story would be a good read from this book but I wasn't drawn into it at all.
 
Library if you're really interested. 
  ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Most books on WWII, at least in the United States, deal with the larger powers in the conflict. Last Hope Island offers a unique perspective by telling the story of 6 countries, mostly smaller European nations, that were captured by Nazi Germany. It overturns many commonly held but inaccurate beliefs, often actively promoted by the Britain, about the roles these countries played in the defeat of the Nazis. This title is highly recommended for providing a more complete picture of WWII. ( )
  mariannedawnl | Jan 20, 2018 |
Even though I've read many non-fiction accounts of WW II and, thus, knew many of the events which were recounted here, this book presents a fresh view and brought me new information. For instance, I knew that most of the European royalty had removed to England during the war to keep from becoming puppets of the Nazis, but I didn't know the individual stories of how they had escaped and how hair raising some of them were.

This book gave me so much information about De Gaulle's battle to be accepted and who and why he had to fight those battles. It also gave me information about how the BBC was changed as a result of the war so that it became the beacon for the other European countries and a voice for the royalty to encourage their subjects at home.

I had so many moments when I wanted to turn to someone and say "Did you know that . . . " because I learned so many little things I hadn't known or had forgotten and was reminded of by the book. Highly recommended. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Oct 26, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lynne Olsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bachman, Barbara M.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rembert, DanielCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Stan and Carly,
as always
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For much of its long and fabled history, Britain has done its best to stay clear of Europe and its entanglements. (Introduction)
On a chilly April night in 1940, leading officials of the Norwegian government were invited to the German legation in Oslo for the screening of a new film.
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Book description
Contents:
Introduction
PART ONE: FIGHTING ON
1. "Majesty, We Are At War!" Hitler Invades Norway
2. "A Bold And Noble Woman" Holland Falls But Its Queen Escapes
3. "A Complete And Utter Shambles" The Collapse Of Belgium And France -
4. "We Shall Conquer Together - Or We Shall Die Together" The European Exodus To Britain
5. "Something Called Heavy Water"The Rescue Mission That Changed The Course Of The War
6. "They Are Better Than Any Of Us" The Triumph Of Polish Pilots In The Battle Of Britain
7. "My God, This Is A Lovely Place To Be!" The Exhilaration Of Wartime London
8. This Is London Calling" The BBC Brings Hope To Occupied Europe
9. "An Avalanche Of V's" The First Spark Of European Resistance
10. Spying On The Nazis Cracking Enigma And Other European Intelligence Coups
11. "A Mad Hatter's Tea Party" SOE And Its Struggle To Set Europe Ablaze
12. Factions, Feuds And Infighting The Shock Of Exile --

Part Two: Rule Of The Titans
13. "Rich And Poor Relations" The European Allies' Fading Importance
14. "The Ugly Reality" The Soviet Threat To Poland And Czechoslovakia
15. "The England Game" SOE's Dutch Disaster
16. "BE More Careful Next Time" SOE's Debacle In France
17. "Heroism Beyond Anything I Can Tell You" Rescuing Allied Airmen
18. A Giant Jigsaw Puzzle, European Spies Prepare For D-Day
19. "A Formidable Secret Army" The Resurrection Of SOE
20. "The Poor Little English Donkey" Stalin And Roosevelt Flex Their Muscles
21. Settling The Score, Europe's Liberation Begins
22. "A Tale Of Two Cities" Warsaw And Paris Rise Up
23. "I Was A Stranger And You Took Me In" Defeat At Arnhem
24. The Hunger Winter Holland's Looming Destruction
25. "There Was Never A Happier Day" Coming Home -
26. "Why Are You Crying, Young Man?" The West Turns Its Back On Poland And Czechoslovakia
27. "A Collective Fault" The Shadow Of Collaboration
28. "The World Could Not Possibly Be The Same" Planning For The Future
29. "My Counsel To Europe - Unite!" Postwar Europe Bands Together.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812997352, Hardcover)

A groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days
 
When the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled over continental Europe in the early days of World War II, the city of London became a refuge for the governments and armed forces of six occupied nations who escaped there to continue the fight. So, too, did General Charles de Gaulle, the self-appointed representative of free France.    
 
As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as “Last Hope Island.” Getting there, one young emigré declared, was “like getting to heaven.”
 
In this epic, character-driven narrative, acclaimed historian Lynne Olson takes us back to those perilous days when the British and their European guests joined forces to combat the mightiest military force in history. Here we meet the courageous King Haakon of Norway, whose distinctive “H7” monogram became a symbol of his country’s resistance to Nazi rule, and his fiery Dutch counterpart, Queen Wilhelmina, whose antifascist radio broadcasts rallied the spirits of her defeated people. Here, too, is the Earl of Suffolk, a swashbuckling British aristocrat whose rescue of two nuclear physicists from France helped make the Manhattan Project possible.
 
Last Hope Island also recounts some of the Europeans’ heretofore unsung exploits that helped tilt the balance against the Axis: the crucial efforts of Polish pilots during the Battle of Britain; the vital role played by French and Polish code breakers in cracking the Germans’ reputedly indecipherable Enigma code; and the flood of top-secret intelligence about German operations—gathered by spies throughout occupied Europe—that helped insure the success of the 1944 Allied invasion.  
 
A fascinating companion to Citizens of London, Olson’s bestselling chronicle of the Anglo-American alliance, Last Hope Island recalls with vivid humanity that brief moment in time when the peoples of Europe stood together in their effort to roll back the tide of conquest and restore order to a broken continent.

Advance praise for Last Hope Island
 
“Lynne Olson is a master storyteller, and she brings her great gifts to this riveting narrative of the resistance to Hitler’s war machine. . . . Last Hope Island is a smashing good tale.”—Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Being Nixon
 
“A powerful and surprising account of how figures from Nazi-occupied Europe found Great Britain an essential shield and sword in the struggle against Hitler. This is a wonderful work of history, told in Olson’s trademark style.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion
 
“You wouldn’t think that there would still be untold tales about World War II, but Lynne Olson, a master of that period of history, has found some. Not only does she narrate them with her usual verve, but her book reminds us how much we unthinkingly assume that it was the United States and Britain alone who defeated the Nazis in Western Europe. Last Hope Island is a valuable, and immensely readable, corrective.”—Adam Hochschild, New York Times bestselling author of King Leopold’s Ghost

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 11 Sep 2016 22:40:40 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"When the Nazi Blitzkrieg subjugated Europe in World War II, London became the safe haven for the leaders of seven occupied countries--France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Czechoslovakia and Poland--who fled there to avoid imprisonment and set up governments in exile to commandeer their resistance efforts. The lone hold-out against Hitler's offensive, Britain became a beacon of hope to the rest of Europe, as prominent European leaders like French general Charles De Gaulle, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, and King Haakon of Norway competed for Winston Churchill's attention while trying to rule their embattled countries from the precarious safety of 'Last Hope Island'"--Provided by publsher.… (more)

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