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What Are Buzz Residents Reading?: Q&A with Kathleen Holt

Cindy Burnett
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Kathleen Holt

Kathleen Holt's recommendation for a compelling read is Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson.

This week I interviewed Buzz resident Kathleen Holt about what she has read recently and loved. She selected the nonfiction title Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson, an 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, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway, Czechoslovakia, and Poland – 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’.

Author Jon Meacham raves, “In a series of compelling books in recent years, Lynne Olson has established herself as an authoritative and entertaining chronicler of perhaps the largest single event in human history – the Second World War. Now comes Last Hope Island, 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.”

Here is what Kathleen has to say about it:

What is the best book you have read recently? 
The best book I have read recently is Last Hope Island by Lynne Olson.

What did you like about it? What made it stand out to you? 
I was a history major in college and spent a semester in London studying British history and consequently have always been fascinated by the British. I also love authors that make history come alive and Lynne Olson has done just that with this book, which focuses on the hotbed of intrigue that London became during the War as an island of safety for many European governments in exile who were forced out of their countries as Nazi Germany steamrolled through Europe.

How did you learn about the book? 
Lynne Olson has become a well-recognized expert on World War II-era Britain. I read her earlier book Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour, really enjoyed it, and was excited to finally read Last Hope Island, which was published in 2017.

What are you reading now? 
I am currently reading The Magician by Colm Toibin. This novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. It is a complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived – the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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