Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson - Book Review

Published: 2021-07-08 08:02:14
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University of Richmond
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Critical thinking
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In the book, Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, And The Brotherhood That Helped Turn The Tide Of War, Lynne Olson outlines the crucial role that Britain played during the World War II. The author does this by revealing how Britain hosted leaders as well as members of the armed forces from six key European nations that were under occupation by Adolf Hitlers Nazi Germany. The nations were Norway, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and Poland. In doing so, the author finely reveals the sort of European unity that existed at the time, noting that Britain could not have defeated Germany on its own. By playing host to other countries, the Allies were able to concentrate their forces against the aggressive Nazi Germany. The author intertwines a convincing narrative that indeed defeating Germany was a European affair. However, she hints that this would not have been possible if London had not been the center of operation for the occupied countries. Leaders and military officials from Poland and Czechoslovakia were the first to arrive. Olson deliberately points out that such outsiders were not particularly welcome. As a matter of fact, the British army doubted their capability and preparedness.

As the battle intensified, Britain needed all the help it could get, and the armies of the six nations were poised to provide this support. Surprisingly, Olson paints the picture of a Hitler who was not disturbed by this looming coalition. Whether because of hubris or the remarkable capability of his army, Hitler focused on more conquests rather that the Allies effort to hinder his quest for the Nazi expansion. To support the thesis, Olson does an excellent job by relying heavily on face to face interviews to tell her story. She interviews those affected as well as their immediate families and relatives. The author also digs into secondary data in the form of published accounts of World War II. She optimally uses primary and secondary data sources while demonstrating that her exploration relied mostly on interviews. Her interviews were highly detailed and insightful. For example, she dwells on the life and contribution of Frances General Charles De Gaulle, so detailed to the point of sharing his familys revelations that he fell on an icebox when he was a child. On Hollands queen, Olson documents that her London radio broadcast in condemnation of the Nazis was so categorical and provoking that her granddaughters were discouraged from listening to them.

Overall, Olson writes to inform as well as to persuade. Her interviews provide fresh perspectives while the primary data adds to the credibility of the text. Olson's book is a recommended one to anyone wishing to know more about the role played by Britain in offering protection to other occupied states. By providing refuge to such nations, Britain made an alliance that played a crucial role in defeating the Nazi Germany. Like Olson documents, Britain was far from being a perfect nation. Citizens from the six European republics were treated with suspicion and did not feel at home. Still, such suspicious treatment did not jeopardize the important alliance. The book is, therefore a reminder of the essence of European unity. The reminder is important today, especially so at a time when Britain is in the process of exiting the European Union. World War II is long gone; however, Britain still needs to remain the island of hope, for Europe and the world, like it was in the early 1940s.

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