Britain starts to extri­cate itself from Europe’s embrace, it is time­ly to exam­ine the intri­ca­cies of this love-hate rela­tion­ship at anoth­er point of cri­sis. Last Hope Island describes the many con­ti­nen­tal Euro­peans who, escap­ing Nazi occu­pa­tion, found refuge in Britain dur­ing the sec­ond world war. Their sto­ries are excit­ing, mov­ing and hor­ri­fy­ing, with for­eign mon­archs, spies, sci­en­tists and sol­diers attempt­ing to con­tin­ue their bat­tles from a vul­ner­a­ble island that did appear well placed to resist the prob­a­ble Ger­man inva­sion. Lynne Olson, an Amer­i­can his­to­ri­an, has writ­ten many books about the war, and her clear-eyed prose pop­u­lar about Britain’s “finest hour”. She explores the remark­able brav­ery and inge­nu­ity of these exiled Euro­pean allies, but there are enough British fail­ures and betray­als to make for hard, even upset­ting read­ing. Although it is a brick of a book with a daunt­ing num­ber of sub­jects, it skips along, focus­ing the vibrant per­son­al­i­ties and their extra­or­di­nary sto­ries. King Haakon VII of Nor­way was known to his peo­ple as “Mr King” for his egal­i­tar­i­an . Hitler was infu­ri­at­ed by the ini­tial defi­ance of “this ridicu­lous­ly small coun­try and its pet­ty king!” After dra­mat­ic car chas­es, and being strafed by Ger­man […]