100 Must-Read World War II Books

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In search of World War II books, by any chance? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

100 Must-Read World War II Books | bookriot.com

Below, I’ve compiled a list of fiction, YA, memoir, biography, and history for you to check out. This is by no means a comprehensive list. The number of World War II books available is vast. People love to read about one of the worst events in history. In a way, this makes no sense—the list below makes for some depressing reading. But in another way, the list contains reading that is compelling and essential: we need to know our history now, if ever.

So take a look at the list below and let me know in the comments if your favorite World War II book didn’t make the cut!

Descriptions come from publisher copy on Goodreads.

Fiction

All the Light We cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“[All the Light We Cannot See is] about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives.

Blackout by Connie Willis

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day.”

Das Boot by Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Translated by Denver Lindley

In autumn 1941, a German U-boat commander and his crew set out on yet another hazardous patrol in the Battle of the Atlantic. Over the coming weeks they brave the ocean’s stormy waters and seek out British supply ships to destroy. But their targets travel in well-guarded convoys. When contact finally occurs, the hunter quickly becomes the hunted.”

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk’s boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Set in the closing months of World War II in an American bomber squadron off the coast of Italy, Catch-22 is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never even met keep trying to kill him.

China Dolls Lisa See cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comChina Dolls by Lisa See

“[Grace, Helen, and Ruby] become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

The City of Thieves by David Benioff

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive.”

Code TAlker: A Novel About the navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac

Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war…yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje

With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje’s Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II.”

The Gallery by John Horne Burns

A daring and enduring novel—one of the first to look directly at gay life in the military—’The Gallery’ poignantly conveys the mixed feelings of the men and women who fought the war that made America a superpower.

Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy

In a stunning tour-de-force, Marge Piercy has woven a tapestry of World War II, of six women and four men, who fought and died, worked and worried, and moved through the dizzying days of the war.

The Great Fortune by Olivia Manning

Guy and Harriet Pringle, newly married, arrive in Bucharest in the autumn of 1939. The city they find is one of contrasts and rumours, on the edge with wavering loyalties and the tension of war, peopled with an international cast of characters, including the inimitable and eccentric Russian émigré Prince Yakimov.

Guernsey literary and potato peel pie societyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….”

The Guns of Navarone by Alistair MacLean

An entire navy had tried to silence the guns of Navarone and failed. Full-scale attacks had been driven back. Now they were sending in just five men, each one a specialist in dealing death.

Half Blood Blues by esi edugyan

The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.”

HHhH by Laurent Binet

HHhH: ‘Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydric,’, or ‘Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.’ The most dangerous man in Hitler’s cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich was known as the “Butcher of Prague.” Heydrich seemed indestructible—until two men, a Slovak and a Czech recruited by the British secret service, killed him in broad daylight on a bustling street in Prague, and thus changed the course of History.

The Investigation by J.M. Lee,Translated by Chi-Young Kim

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls, the war rages. Inside, a man is found brutally murdered. What follows is a searing portrait of Korea before their civil war, and a testimony to the redemptive power of poetry.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné.

Jackdaws by Ken Follett

D day is approaching. They don’t know where or when, but the Germans know it’ll be soon, and for Felicity ‘Flick’ Clairet, the stakes have never been higher.

The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell, Translated by Charlotte Mandell

A former Nazi officer, Dr. Maximilien Aue has reinvented himself, many years after the war, as a middle-class family man and factory owner in France…Through the eyes of this cultivated yet monstrous man we experience in disturbingly precise detail the horrors of the Second World War and the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

Life AFter Life by Kate Atkinson

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?…Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can—will she?

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

Life and Fate is an epic tale of a country told through the fate of a single family, the Shaposhnikovs. As the battle of Stalingrad looms, Grossman’s characters must work out their destinies in a world torn apart by ideological tyranny and war.”

A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka

Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.

A Midnight Clear by William Wharton

Set in the Ardennes Forest on Christmas Eve 1944, Sergeant Will Knott and five other GIs are ordered close to the German lines to establish an observation post in an abandoned chateau. Here they play at being soldiers in what seems to be complete isolation. That is, until the Germans begin revealing their whereabouts…”

The Narrow Road to the Deep north by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is about the impossibility of love. At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in August 1943. As the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked out streets, illicit liaisons, sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch is the work of a truly brilliant and compelling storyteller. This is the story of four Londoners—three women and a young man with a past, drawn with absolute truth and intimacy.

A Pledge of Silence by Flora J. Solomon

When Margie Bauer joins the Army Nurse Corps in 1941, she is delighted to be assigned to Manila—the Pearl of the Orient. Though rumors of war circulate, she feels safe—the island is fortified, the airbases are ample, and the Filipino troops are well-trained.

Postmistress Sarah Blake cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake

What would happen if someone did the unthinkable—and didn’t deliver a letter? Filled with stunning parallels to today, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally

This is the extraordinary story of Oskar Schindler, who risked his life to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland and who was transformed by the war into a man with a mission, a compassionate angel of mercy.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence.

The Seventh Cross by Anna SEghers

Written in 1939, first published in 1942…The Seventh Cross presented a still doubtful, naive America a first-hand account of life in Hitler’s Germany and of the horrors of the concentration camps.

The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick

Depicting both the horrors of the Holocaust and the lifetime of emptiness that pursues a survivor, ‘The Shawl’ and ‘Rosa’ recall the psychological and emotional scars of those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore…we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class.

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

Three stories are told: a young Southerner wants to become a writer; a turbulent love-hate affair between a brilliant Jew and a beautiful Polish woman; and of an awful wound in that woman’s past—one that impels both Sophie and Nathan toward destruction.

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi

Trudi Montag is a Zwerg—a dwarf—short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share—from her mother who flees into madness, to her friend Georg whose parents pretend he’s a girl, to the Jews Trudy harbors in her cellar.

Suite française by Irène Némirovsky

Beginning in Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation in 1940, Suite Française tells the remarkable story of men and women thrown together in circumstances beyond their control.

The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh

“[The trilogy’s] central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war too much for him.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.

A Thread of Grace Mary Doria Russell cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comA Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

It is September 8, 1943, and fourteen-year-old Claudette Blum is learning Italian with a suitcase in her hand. She and her father are among the thousands of Jewish refugees scrambling over the Alps toward Italy, where they hope to be safe at last, now that the Italians have broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies.

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life; from the long nightmare of the Nazi era to his anarchic adventures in post-war Germany.

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

From the acclaimed writer Peter Ho Davies comes an engrossing wartime love story set in the stunning landscape of North Wales during the final, harrowing months of World War II.”

When the Emperor was divine by Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination ‘both physical and emotional’ of a generation of Japanese Americans.

Children’s/Young Adult

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known.”

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist—books.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Berlin 1942. When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

“[The Chosen is the] story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

Dust of Eden by Mariko Nagai

“‘We lived under a sky so blue in Idaho right near the towns of Hunt and Eden but we were not welcomed there.’ In December 1941, thirteen year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese-American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. What do you do when your home country treats you like an enemy?”

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

“Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman and being black are two strikes against her.

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian

When the Second World War breaks out, young Willie Beech is evacuated to the countryside. A sad, deprived child, he slowly begins to flourish under the care of kind old Tom Oakley. But then his cruel mother summons him back to war-torn London…

Journey to Topaz cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comJourney to Topaz: A Story of the Japanese-American Evacuation by Yoshiko Uchida

Like any 11-year-old, Yuki Sakane is looking forward to Christmas when her peaceful world is suddenly shattered by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Uprooted from her home and shipped with thousands of West Coast Japanese Americans to a desert concentration camp called Topaz, Yuki and her family face new hardships daily.

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

“…somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town.

Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

In 1942, eleven-year-old Milada is taken from her home in Lidice, Czechoslovakia, along with other blond, blue-eyed children to a Lebensborn center in Poland. There she is trained to be a ‘proper German’ for adoption by a German family, and all the while she struggles to remember her true identity.

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jeffery Boston Weatherford

“From training days in Alabama to combat on the front lines in Europe, this is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the groundbreaking African-American pilots of World War II. In vibrant second-person poems, Carole Boston Weatherford teams up for the first time with her son, artist Jeffery Weatherford.

Straight-Up History

Americans In Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation 1940-1944 by Charles Glass

When the German army marched into Paris on June 14, 1940, approximately 5,000 Americans remained in Paris. They had refused or been unable to leave for many different reasons; their actions during the course of the German occupation would prove to be just as varied.

Brothers in Arms cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comBrothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton

A powerful wartime saga in the bestselling tradition of Flags of Our Fathers, Brothers in Arms recounts the extraordinary story of the 761st Tank Battalion, the first all-black armored unit to see combat in World War II.

Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II by Madhusree Mukerjee

As journalist Madhusree Mukerjee reveals, at the same time that Churchill brilliantly opposed the barbarism of the Nazis, he governed India with a fierce resolve to crush its freedom movement and a profound contempt for native lives.

Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You about the Greatest, Most Terrible War in History by James F. Dunnigan and Albert A. Nofi

Dirty Little Secrets of World War II exposes the dark, irreverent, misunderstood, and often tragicomic aspects of military operations during World War II, many of them virtually unknown even to military buffs.”

Fighting for America: Black Soldiers—the Unsung Heroes of World War II by Christopher Moore

The African-American contribution to winning World War II has never been celebrated as profoundly as in Fighting for America. In this inspirational and uniquely personal tribute, the essential part played by black servicemen and -women in that cataclysmic conflict is brought home.”

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides

On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March.”

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan traces the astonishing story of these unsung WWII workers through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents…this is history and science made fresh and vibrant.”

Harlem at War: The Black Experience in World War II by Nathan Brandt

In Harlem at War, Nat Brandt vividly recreates the desolation of black communities during World War II and examines the nation-wide conditions that led up to the Harlem riot of 1943.

Hiroshima John Hersey cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comHiroshima by John Hersey

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey’s journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel

Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.

Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard

A powerful and unflinching account of the enduring impact of nuclear war, told through the stories of those who survived.

The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang

“In December 1937, the Japanese army invaded the ancient city of Nanking, systematically raping, torturing, and murdering more than 300,000 Chinese civilians. This book tells the story from three perspectives: of the Japanese soldiers who performed it, of the Chinese civilians who endured it, and of a group of Europeans and Americans who refused to abandon the city and were able to create a safety zone that saved many.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer

The famed foreign correspondent and historian William L. Shirer, who had watched and reported on the Nazis since 1925, spent five and a half years sifting through this massive documentation. The result is a monumental study that has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of one of the most frightening chapters in the history of mankind.

The Rising Sun: The Decline & Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45 by John Willard Toland

This Pulitzer Prize–winning history of World War II chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of the Japanese empire, from the invasion of Manchuria and China to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

The SEcond World War by John Keegan

In this comprehensive history, John Keegan explores both the technical and the human impact of the greatest war of all time. He focuses on five crucial battles and offers new insights into the distinctive methods and motivations of modern warfare.

The Second World War by Winston S. Churchill

Winston Churchill was not only the war’s greatest leader, he was the free world’s singularly eloquent voice of defiance in the face of Nazi tyranny, and it’s that voice that animates this six-volume history.

To Serve My Country Brenda Moore cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comTo Serve My Country, to Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African-American WACs Stationed Overseas During World War II by Brenda L. Moore

Despite the social, political, and economic restrictions imposed upon these African-American women in their own country, they were eager to serve, not only out of patriotism but out of a desire to uplift their race and dispel bigoted preconceptions about their abilities … Filled with compelling personal testimony based on extensive interviews, To Serve My Country is the first book to document the lives of these courageous pioneers.”

Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945 by Max hastings

A vivid and incisive portrait of Winston Churchill during wartime from acclaimed historian Max Hastings, Winston’s War captures the full range of Churchill’s endlessly fascinating character.

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages.

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

All But My Life: A Memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein

All But My Life is the unforgettable story of Gerda Weissmann Klein’s six-year ordeal as a victim of Nazi cruelty.

Boy 30529: A Memoir by Felix WEinberg

In 1939 twelve-year-old Felix Weinberg fell into the hands of the Nazis. Imprisoned for most of his teenage life, Felix survived five concentration camps, including Terezin, Auschwitz, and Birkenau, barely surviving the Death March from Blechhammer in 1945.

Code Talker Chester Nez cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comCode Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII by Chester Nez and Judith Schiess Avila

Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function…Of the original twenty-nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Translated by Susan Massotty

The Diary of a Young Girl…continues to bring to life this young woman, who for a time survived the worst horrors the modern world had seen—and who remained triumphantly and heartbreakingly human throughout her ordeal.

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family’s attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention—and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, and Elizabeth Sherrill

Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.

Hiroshima Diary: The Journal of a Japanese Physician, August 6–September 30, 1945 by Michihiko Hachiya, Translated by Warner Wells

The late Dr. Michihiko Hachiya was director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital when the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Though his responsibilities in the appalling chaos of a devastated city were awesome, he found time to record the story daily, with compassion and tenderness.

Honoring Sergeant Carter: A FAmily’s Journey to Uncover the Truth About an American hero by Allene G. Carter and Robert L. Allen

President Clinton awarded the Medal of Honor to several black soldiers who served in World War II. Sergeant Edward A. Carter Jr. was among the recipients. Shocked to learn the extent of Carter’s service, Allene was determined to uncover both the truth about her father-in-law’s wartime record and why his official recognition was so long in coming.

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke and Jennifer Armstrong

“‘You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One’s first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence.’ An amazing, courageous, uplifting autobiography about a brave teenager who was not afraid to get involved.

Irena's Children Tilar Mazzeo cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comIrena’s Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar J. Mazzeo

From the…author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler—the ‘female Oskar Schindler’—who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm

Once rumored to have been the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s Miss Moneypenny, Vera Atkins climbed her way to the top in the Special Operations Executive, or SOE: Britain’s secret service created to help build up, organize, and arm the resistance in the Nazi-occupied countries.

Night by Elie Wiesel, Translated by Marion Wiesel

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity.”

Nisei Daughter by MOnica Itoi Sone

With charm, humor, and deep understanding, a Japanese American woman tells how it was to grow up on Seattle’s waterfront in the 1930s and to be subjected to ‘relocation’ during World War II.

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

“The Periodic Table is largely a memoir of the years before and after Primo Levi’s transportation from his native Italy to Auschwitz as an anti-Facist partisan and a Jew.”

Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman and POW by Alexander Jefferson and Lewis Carlson

One of the few memoirs of combat in World War II by a distinguished African-American flier, [this book] is also perhaps the only account of the African-American experience in a German prison camp. Alexander Jefferson was one of 32 Tuskegee Airmen from the 332nd Fighter Group to be shot down defending a country that considered them to be second-class citizens.

Spy Princess Shrabani Basu cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comSpy Princess: The life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu

This is the remarkable biography of Noor Inayat Khan, code named ‘Madeleine.’ The first woman wireless transmitter in occupied France during WWII, she was trained by Britain’s SOE and assumed the most dangerous resistance post in underground Paris.”

Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee: Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder by Charlene E. McGee Smith

Colonel Charles E. McGee fought in World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam. He holds the record for the highest three-war total of fighter com-bat missions of any pilot in US Air Force history. His military service began as one of the Tuskegee Airmen in the 332nd, famed pioneers who fought racial prejudices to fly and fight for their country in WWII.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.

The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy by Judith L. Pearson

Virginia Hall left comfortable Baltimore roots of privilege in 1931 to follow her dream of becoming a Foreign Service Officer. She watched as Hitler rolled into Poland, then France, and she decided to work for the British Special Operations Executive.”

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by ANonymous, Translated by Philip Boehm

For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. The anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians.

Graphic Novels/Memoirs

Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father’s story and history itself.

Onward Towards our Noble Deaths cover in 100 Must Read Books About World War II | bookriot.comOnward Towards our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki, Translated by Jocelyne Allen

Shigeru Mizuki is the preeminent figure of Gekiga manga and one of the most famous working cartoonists in Japan today…Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is his first book to be translated into English and is a semi-autobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of WorldWar II.

Truth: Red, White, and Black by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker

“Writer Morales pursues [the idea of Captain America] and also draws inspiration from U.S. government experiments in the 1930s that left unwitting African-Americans infected with syphilis, leading to many deaths. Beginning his story in 1940, Morales incisively depicts the racism his various African-American characters confront both in civilian life and in the military.”

If this list isn’t enough, we have even more posts on World War II books available for you!

 

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