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I Was a Stranger (Plain Foxed Edition)
Slightly Foxed: Plain Foxed Editions - Anthony Rhodes, Sword of Bone, John Hackett, I Was a Stranger
  • ISBN: 9781910898055
  • Pages: 320
  • Dimensions: 110 x 170mm
  • Publication date: 1 September 2017
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Binding: Cloth hardback
  • Trimmings: Silk ribbon, head- & tailband; gold blocking to spine
  • NB: Unlimited Plain Foxed Edition
  • Preface: Anthony Gardner
Made in Britain

I Was a Stranger (Plain Foxed Edition)

John Hackett

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In September 1944 John Hackett, commander of the 4th Parachute Brigade, was severely wounded and taken prisoner during the Battle of Arnhem. I Was a Stranger is his moving account of what happened to him afterwards. It is less a war memoir than a story of friendship – a celebration of the quiet heroism of three Dutch women.

Taken to a hospital in enemy hands and given emergency surgery, John, who was 33, was desperate to escape. Fortunately the Germans dropped their guard, and the Dutch Resistance spirited him away and hid him in a house a stone’s throw from the German Military Police post in the town of Ede.

Number 5 Torenstraat was the home of three middle-aged unmarried sisters – Ann, Cor and Mien de Nooij. There John Hackett spent the following months under the noses of the Germans, while the de Nooij family nursed him back to health. Finally, after a hair-raising journey through the waterways of occupied Holland, he made it back to the British lines. It’s a cliffhanging story, yet I Was a Stranger has something of the stillness and reflective quality of a Dutch painting. This was a household that survived by paying attention to the smallest details of daily life, and John gradually became part of it, sitting with the sisters during the long evenings, sharing their religious faith and love of English literature. But always there was the knowledge that his presence could be their death sentence, and the need for him to recover his strength became ever more pressing.

The book’s title is taken from St Matthew’s Gospel: ‘I was a stranger and ye took me in’. It is a tribute by a very unusual soldier to a group of outstandingly brave, unassuming and resourceful people, which stays in the heart long after the book is closed.

‘Sir John Hackett’s escape from Holland was first rate, full of memorable moments and a tribute to the bravery of the beleaguered Dutch. Thank you for publishing it.’ D. Jennings

The Strength of the Gentle

Among Britain’s defeats in the Second World War, the Battle of Arnhem comes second only to Dunkirk in the popular imagination. The parachute troops’ hopeless bid for control of the Rhine crossing...

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I Was a Stranger

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‘In a year where we almost certainly going to be inundated with books about World War One, it seems a little perverse to be publishing a reprinted memoir about World War Two, but Slightly Foxed (as...

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Wall Street Journal’s Five Best: Lynne Olson on Britain’s European Allies

We’re absolutely delighted to see that John Hackett’s memoir I Was a Stranger has been selected by author Lynne Olson for her The Wall Street Journal ‘Five Best’ books feature on Britain's...

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