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 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Painstakingly researched from dozens of unpublished first-hand accounts and previously classified documents, Simon Parkin’s new book, The Island of Extraordinary Captives tells, for the first time, the full story of history’s most astonishing internment camp and of how a group of world-renowned artists, musicians and academics imprisoned there came to be seen as ‘enemy aliens’. It is the story of a battle between fear and compassion at a time of national crisis and 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.
Simon Parkin is a contributing writer for the New Yorker and regularly writes for the Guardian and the Observer newspapers. His previous nonfiction book, A Game of Birds and Wolves, about the Wrens who worked at the Western Approaches Tactical Unit, was shortlisted for the Mountbatten Prize. A finalist in the Foreign Press Association Media Awards and recipient of two awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Simon Parkin lives in West Sussex.
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