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Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,619 ratings  ·  550 reviews

An engrossing 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.

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 — Belgium, Holla

Kindle Edition, 577 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Random House
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Miss M I'm about two-thirds through, but I think this would exactly fit what you're looking for. She includes a lot of human detail - vivid descriptions of w…moreI'm about two-thirds through, but I think this would exactly fit what you're looking for. She includes a lot of human detail - vivid descriptions of what physically happened to the monarchs of the invaded countries as they escaped the Nazi invaders, and then many stories of actual figures from the 'lesser' allies and how they contributed to the war effort through espionage, sabotage, etc. Then she steps back and places those contributions within the broader context of how the war progressed...but the stories really predominate. I got my copy from the library - hope you can give it a try!(less)
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I liked this book very much, and so I give it four stars.

We’ve all read umpteen books on the Second World War, fiction as well as non-fiction. This book still gave me information I hadn´t been aware of before. It focuses on the nations of Western Europe which were occupied by Germany. By 1940, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland were occupied. Welcomed by Churchill, the leaders of these countries found a home in Britain; Britain became the seat of the
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been a big fan of Lynne Olson’s books for a long time and was delighted to receive a review copy of her latest. Subtitled, “Britain’s Brotherhood with Occupied Europe and the Unsung Heroes who Turned the Tide of War,” this is a very relevant read at the moment when the idea of a United Europe after WWII seems to be suffering various cracks and fissures. Indeed, as Olson points out, Britain has spent much of its history trying to stay apart from Europe. However, in June 1940, London – to i ...more
joyce g
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intense and powerful book containing A plethora of detail. I have always thought I knew a bit about WW2 history, this read added so much to the, I didn't know that category. A must read for those who want more and then more facts. Thank you author Lynn Olson and Random House for providing me with this special opportunity to read this wonderful book.
Jill Hutchinson
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwi-wwii
I could go into paroxysms of praise over this book but will contain myself to a short review. I have become a huge Lynne Olson fan after reading two of her other books and this one lived up to my expectations.

Britain was standing alone against Hitler's armies and I expected that this book would be specific to the courage and grit of the British people. But Olson took another tack and instead told the story of the leaders and people of the countries being overrun by the Nazis (France, Poland, Nor
Lewis Weinstein
This is an absolutely marvelous but troubling view of WWII from the perspective of the smaller occupied countries who contributed to the war effort and whose interests were generally ignored by Churchill and even more so by FDR.

The worst of these cases was Poland, which made enormous contributions (solving Enigma, pilots staving off Hitler's attack on London, intelligence vital to D-Day, and delaying the V1/V2 rockets) and was then given to Stalin. I have always revered Churchill, but Olson put
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
April, 1940: Hitler has launched his invasion of Norway and its king, Haakon VII, has woken up with a price on his head. Spirited out of Oslo as Luftwaffe bombers streaked across the skies, he tries to remain in-country but there is, as it turns out, no place to hide. Aware of his value as a symbol, he determines he would rather represent resistance than submission to this vile aggressor and that will require evading capture at all cost. He is soon on a ship to London.

May, 1940: Hitler has launc
Gail Baugniet
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lynne Olson gives an excellent narrative of ongoing battles, writing more in the style of of a historical thriller and offering an intriguing look at the timeline of WWII. The book contains details never before presented about one of my ancestral homelands, Belgium. It gives praise long overdue for the Polish contributions throughout the war that guaranteed a successful outcome for Europe. Sadly, to the detriment of its own country and people.

The publication date for Last Hope Island is slated f
Cold War Conversations Podcast
Easy to read and entertaining account of Britain's assistance to the occupied European nations of World War 2

This is my first Lynne Olson book and I was very impressed how the disparate stories of the various nations were covered in some detail without becoming tedious to read.

There's a number of amusing anecdotes along the way and some great insight into the tensions and viewpoints of the complex personalities involved.

Well worth a read.

Many thanks to netgalley for the review copy.
Excellent. Made me think about about WWII Britain in an entirely new way.
Steven Z.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
England has had a long and tortured history as she related to the European continent – always asking the question: should we become involved or not? We can see it after World War II and the developing Common Market, and of course with the recent Brexit vote. The dark days during the spring of 1940 when the Nazis rolled over France and the Low countries presented the problem anew, but this time after sitting back in the late 1930s allowing Hitler carte blanche it decided to support a “community o ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting history of the refuge that Great Britain offered the occupied countries of Europe during World War II. At least, those countries which were able to get their government in exile over to England. France, for instance, was occupied but Charles de Gaulle managed to make it across the Channel and set himself up as leader of the Free French. Eventually, he became the leader of France itself. Most of Eastern Europe ended up in Nazi hands but Poland and Czechoslovakia had governments ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to read this book even though I started it soon after receiving the book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. It is sad and disturbing because of the realities of war. Author Lynne Olson concentrates on the countries defeated by Germany such as Poland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Norway. She makes it clear that France, Poland, and the Netherlands played important parts in the wartime efforts to effect a resistance to their conquerors, an effort which event ...more
Jim Cooper
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-history, wwii
Lynne Olson is a master at shining a spotlight on the areas of World War II that aren't usually covered in books. In Last Hope Island, the WWII story is told through the eyes of occupied Europe - the citizens living under the thumb of the Nazis, and their governments exiled in London.

And those stories are riveting. The Earl of Suffolk risking his life to keep the nuclear bomb out of Hitler's hands; the BBC foreign service keeping hope alive all over the continent with their nightly broadcasts; S
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read more about WWII than almost any other event in history, and this books takes a perspective and gives details that I've never come across or paused to consider. It's the perfect blend of history, narrative, and anecdote. To see WWII unfold from the perspective of the exiled government heads of state was profoundly insightful, and a welcome break from the battle fields. Highly recommended.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, history
This was extremely interesting because it focused on those who escaped Europe as country after country fell to the armies of the Third Reich and found exile in London where they could continue the war against their nations enemies. London became the place where the governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway and France fled, often disregarded, often snubbed and rarely appreciated they did their best to adjust and organize those military and intelligence officers w ...more
Regina Lindsey
Of all the work currently available on WWII most of it focuses on the major players of the Allies (U.S., UK, Russia, and France) and the Axis (Germany, Japan, and Italy). There's so much work on these partnerships that it is refreshing to find a work whose major focus was the exiled governments that found refuge in England as well as the resistance movements left behind in their occupied countries. While there were seven occupied countries that found refuge in London, the book focuses on the Net ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
A bad book about World War II-era Britain is a black swan. This book is a white swan. No matter how many white swans are seen, the non-existence of black swans are not proven. It would take a really impressive amount of ill humor and dedication to pettyfoggery to produce a bad book about World War II-era Britain, although probably one exists somewhere.

Still, this book has slightly odd shifts in tone. It's a little like two different books mashed together. The author, in her afterword, says this
Kristen Richeal
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this as a Goodreads giveaway. I very much enjoyed this account WW2 pre America being involved. It seems like as an American we are taught in school that we saved everyone. Please read this book.
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
Like every other American growing up post-Vietnam and during the Cold War, I got the propaganda-version of WW II taught to me during school (and pretty much all of American history, really). We only got the briefest of overviews about WWII and the Holocaust, and our part in the war and a little about England's and that's about it.

This book doesn't go into super deep details - it's only 478 pages of text - but it does given a good description of the roles that the other Allied forces played in t
Sue Rice
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book starts at the beginning of the European part of WWII and discusses the migration of 6 continental European monarchies/governments to London , the war years, as well as the post war years. The author discusses the prejudices of the British towards the foreign exiles and the evolution of their attitudes as well as the effects these had in their decision making. I found that the author was very even handed in her accolades as well as her criticisms of each country.
George Siehl
There are so many good things deserving to be said about this book that it makes preparing a review a challenge. Olson's deeply researched knowledge of her material and characters is gifted to the reader by an engaging, well organized prose. Five stars are not enough for "Last Hope Island."

The core of the book is the role of Britain as a haven for the outcasts of Europe during Hitler's conquest of the continent. Those outcasts ranged from royalty to fishermen, from fighting men of conquered coun
I received this book from Goodreads.

Last Hope Island is a big, thick, meticulously researched WW2 goldmine!
I have read obsessively and extensively about WW2 throughout my life and can honestly say that it is a rarity when I come across a book that has more information that I don't know, than information that I do.
Almost everything in this book was new to me and described with such delicious, satisfying detail that I just - Gah! I loved it!
I learned about the politics, military power, and the col
Mary Alice
Lynne Olson has taken on some unusual World War II themes in this book.

She introduces us to the heads of European states who fled Hitler to establish their countries' governments in London. We see how and why these leaders escaped from the Nazis instead of staying home and suffering with their countrymen, and how, despite their refugee status, they became heroes. Interestingly, on the other hand, Leopold of Belgium, decided not to flee to London, but to stay in Belgium to fight the Nazis. He is
Sean O
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Lynne Olson’s world war 2 books. They take a human and political approach to an era that is usually reserved for big biographies. This makes her books a little anecdotal as the story moves from Norway to Netherlands to London to France.

The takeaway? Everybody kowtowed to Stalin in order to defeat Hitler and they sacrificed Poland and Czechoslovakia to do it.

King Hakkon and Queen Wilhelmina are revealed as real heroes. But there are dozens of Poles, French, British, and Dutch hero
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started my working life as an Army Officer, and I read many, many books about World War II, both for pleasure and for professional development. I have also read a good deal about the Resistance and the S.O.E. in recent years, and yet I learned something new on almost every page of this book. I have enjoyed Lynne Olson's writing for some time, especially Those Angry Days, but this is her best book, in my opinion. Her recounting of the bravery of the French, Polish, and other resistance groups i ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book about when The German blitzkrieg ran across continental Europe during World War II, The city of London became a refuge for the government and armed forces of seven nations that were under German occupation. It was there when these nations took the fight to the Germans under guerrilla-like operations and many sacrificed their lives to be liberated from Nazi occupation.
Pam Walter
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in WWII history
Lynn Olson's WWII History is a most compelling narrative which looks at the European Theater through a different lens than the thousands of true history books on WWII, or even just the ETO. I have read a lot of WWII history, but never one that details so well it's impact on the low countries, Netherlands, Holland, Norway, Belgium and Luxembourg.

From the outset refugees from all nations flocked to Great Britain. As early as 1940, well over 100,000 continental exiles had taken up residence in Lon
Richard Levine
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This is a very readable history that focuses on an aspect of WWII history that is not usually highlighted -- the contributions to the Allies that were made by leaders and citizens of the German-occupied European nations. It's an interesting premise, and it allows Lynne Olson to tell many different stories about parts of the Allied war effort that were largely unknown to me. Olson starts by telling about the royal heads of state and civilian government leaders who fled to London to establish gove ...more
This was a book group choice. A very readable and interesting history of WWII. Lynne Olson talks about the heads of state of western European countries who settled in London as their countries were overtaken by the Germans, Norway, the Netherlands, France. Things did not turn out well for Leopold of Belgium, who stayed behind. From there she writes about the war itself, but always mentioning the personalities involved, often including their mistakes and shortsightedness. Much good information fr ...more
Lynne Olson is an amazing storyteller who makes reading history feel like the easiest, most effortless act of leisure. In her latest, she covers the experience of allied governments and intelligence services in exile in London as they worked - often at cross purposes - to fight back against the Nazis. Despite the lofty title, Olson does not shy away from the bad and the ugly of the wartime alliance, with all the sacrifices (Poland, the Netherlands) and moral dilemmas it entailed.

Olson just has
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Play Book Tag: Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson - 4.5 stars rounded to 4 1 11 Jun 09, 2017 03:13PM  

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Lynne Olson is a New York Times bestselling author of eight books of history, most of which deal in some way with World War II and Britain's crucial role in that conflict. Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called her "our era's foremost chronicler of World War II politics and diplomacy."
Lynne's latest book, Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's

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“Not until the twenty-first century did the British government finally acknowledge officially that the Poles had indeed played a role in breaking Enigma. On July 12, 2001, a monument commemorating their contribution was installed on the grounds of Bletchley Park, Even so, it hardly did justice to the seminal nature of their work.” 1 likes
“Soon after he came on board, Clark, a cigarette dangling from his lips, signaled a seismic shift in the BBC’s news policy when he announced to his staff, “Well, brothers, now that war’s come, your job is to tell the truth. And if you aren’t sure it is the truth, don’t use it.” In an internal memo, he wrote, “It seems to me that the only way to strengthen the morale of the people whose morale is worth strengthening, is to tell them the truth, and nothing but the truth, even if the truth is horrible.” 0 likes
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