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The Island of Extraordinary Captives


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About the Author

Simon Parkin is an award-winning British writer and journalist. He is a contributing writer for the New Yorker and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society (RHS), and is the author of A Game of Birds and Wolves and The Island of Extraordinary Captives, which was a New Yorker Book of the Year and won the Wingate Literary Prize. He lives in West Sussex.


Extraordinary yet previously untold true story . . . meticulously researched . . . it's also taut, compelling, and impossible to put down
*Daily Express*

By shining a light upon the government's decision to intern the innocent, Simon Parkin's eye-opening, insightful and brilliantly written book serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of populism
*Daily Mirror*

Compelling . . . In this "university of captives", Parkin has unearthed a small and riveting chunk of wartime history, easily overlooked
*The Telegraph*

Vivid and moving . . . Spotlights a sorry aspect of Britain's war which deserves to be better known
*Sunday Times*

The wealth of primary sources through which Parkin has trawled fill its pages with life; his enthusiasm for his subject fills it with affection. The reader is left with a powerful sense of Weissenborn's verdict on Hutchinson: to turn a prison camp into a university "was a miracle of the human will to live and to work".
*The Times*

Meticulously researched
*Literary Review*

Parkin [has an] inimitable capacity to find the human pulse in the underbelly of Britain's war...The Island of Extraordinary Captives is multi-layered...definitely worth the deep dive into Britain's inglorious war, when desperate men and women were disregarded, abused and left to fester in a humiliating no man's land. It's a reminder that conflict has always been a convenient mask behind which thuggery and xenophobia thrive. Yet, despite the stark injustice it describes, it is a curiously exhilarating read: an example of how individuals can find joy and meaning in the absurd and mundane.
*The Spectator*

A brisk, vivid narrative...Parkin's success in bringing this shabby corner of Britain's wartime history to life is of more than historical interest.
*Times Literary Supplement*

Parkin's account, with its well-chosen central figures and attention to the trauma that some of the imprisoned carried for decades, is testimony to human fortitude despite callous, hypocritical injustice
*New Yorker*

Riveting . . . a truly shocking story of what officials are wont to term 'national misjudgment' is electrifyingly told by the journalist and historian Simon Parkin, whose breadth and depth of original research has produced an account of cinematic vividness
*New York Times Book Review*

Parkin's rich and vivid account makes clear just how much the displaced artists did suffer, and the remarkable resilience and creativity with which they responded

Excellent . . . Parkin has told his story with energy and flair . . . A powerful tribute to the wartime internees, and a timely reminder of how much Britain gained from their presence

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