The Last Boat by John Hanley

The Last Boat by John Hanley Purchase:

    The writing is superb, its plot is compelling, and its dramatic elements captivating.

    The Last Boat begins with a close-up account of the greatest maritime disaster in British history when the British Expeditionary Force lost more troops in ten minutes than it had in the previous nine months.

    The news was so shocking that Churchill suppressed it and the report on the event is sealed until the year 2040.

    But this is not an investigation into this tragic event but the beginning of a journey for a group of young people who have gone to help but find themselves trapped and fleeing the Nazi blitzkrieg as it rampages through France.

    At the same time that the Luftwaffe is strafing the survivors of their bombing another shipment, so important that it could have changed the outcome of the war, is trying to escape from France.

    The tragedy was the sinking of HMT Lancastria

    The shipment was world’s entire supply of D2O or ‘heavy water’ without which research into splitting the atom would have been impossible.

    Prising apart the floorboards of history, The Last Boat links these two events as Jack Renouf and his friends try to escape the Germans and help this cargo to safety.

    But safety is an illusion and the story culminates in the bombing of Jersey on 28th June and leaves Jack in desperate need of another Last Boat to escape.

    The narrative voice is Jack Renouf’s, whom readers might have met in Against The Tide. He is a year older but only a little wiser.

    Through the immediacy of his first person perspective you are compelled to witness events which cannot leave you unmoved.  Muscular authenticity  was the verdict of one reviewer while others have described Jack’s account as  intense, exciting, absorbing and frightening.

    Review by Thomas Baker:

    John Hanley
    John Hanley

    The Last Boat by John F. Hanley is the first book I have read by this author. Against the Tide is the first book, so I’m reading out of sequence. It was helpful for me to look at the author’s notes at the end of The Last Boat, where Hanley provided some background and a timeline for the events mentioned in both novels.

    This book is set in an unforgettable place and time in the annals of military history, the evacuation of Dunkirk and Allied troops from Northern France. The amount of research done for this book is expertly employed to give this book an authoritative, realistic perspective that is appreciated greatly. I was fortunate to receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

    The writing is superb, its plot is compelling, and its dramatic elements captivating. All this makes for an unputdownable read, as was the case for me. I found the book to be particularly interesting given my military background, but this is not a one dimensional book that only a military crowd will enjoy. Not at all.

    War itself involves both the military and the civilian sector, in numerous collateral ways. This interconnection of everyone having a stake in war and its aftermath comes through quite convincingly. In sum, this is an authoritative account, highly informative, realistic, of a riveting moment in history. Highly recommended for those who like to learn about history through stories.

    Review by diebus: The Last Boat by John F. Hanley is the eagerly awaited sequel to Against the Tide, which ended with the outbreak of WWII.

    The second book takes us to the evacuation of Dunkirk and Allied troops from Northern France. I was amazed at the amount of detail the book was able to supply. So much happened in such a short time span at the beginning of the war that few of us can imagine the multitude of factors that came into play for the people of the Channel Islands and Northern France: Where to escape to, how to escape and how far exactly the Germans had progressed, to name a few. The book gives a rich and realistic impression of the invasion and its progress.

    Most of the cast from the previous book return and so several personal dramas and issues between the main characters are still to be resolved and these add splendidly to the illustration of the uncertainty of the time.

    Written in excellent prose and rich in plot the book was hard to put aside, with new turns, dramas and events in nearly every chapter. Civilian and military considerations, espionage, some precious cargo and personal tragedies mingle with some historical events, such as the eventual sizing of the Channel Islands and the famous sinking of battle ships.

    The book is an amazing compilation of data and facts and with its great characters and plot historical fiction at its best. It gets to show how much there was to events that in most history books only get a sentence or two, and how much there is to say and feel about them.
    This is a gripping and compelling read as much as it is informative.

    Highly recommended.