Books

60 books about World War II

Books about WWII

Anthony Doer's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the Light We Cannot See proved that literature about World War II continues to fascinate readers. There is a huge array of books focusing on the conflict, the struggles of the military and ordinary people, the key moments, and many more subjects. We've selected 10 YA books, 20 novels and 30 examples of non-fiction with the ability to inspire, educate and display humanity's remarkable ability to self-destruct.

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Recommended World War II books

By John Boyne
While exploring his new environment, a young boy meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
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.
By Robert Westall
Every boy in Garmouth has a collection of shrapnel and other war souvenirs. While police search frantically for a missing gun, Chas and his friends build a secret fortress to fight the Germans themselves.
By Ian Serraillier
The silver sword became the symbol of hope and courage which kept four deserted and starving children alive through the years of occupation, and afterwards on the search to find their parents.
By Markus Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
By Leon Leyson
A memoir by one of the youngest Holocaust survivors describes his family's forced relocation to the Krakow Ghetto, his endurance of torturous conditions imposed by Amon Goeth and his survival through the intervention of Oskar Schindler.
By Anne Frank
Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse. Anne vividly describes not only the daily frustrations of living in such close quarters, but also her thoughts, feelings and longings as she grows up.
By Hilda van Stockum
Dutch-Irish-American storyteller Hilda von Stockum has placed this adventure of resistance among the windmills of Holland during the Nazi occupation of World War II.
By Lois Lowry
Annemarie Johansen's best friend, Ellen, moves in with the Johansens. When Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission, she must find the courage to save her friend's life.
By Ruta Sepetys
A group of people trek across East Prussia, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories.
By Michael Ondaatje
A mesmerizing novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.
By Anthony Doerr
The beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller 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.
By Mark Sullivan
The triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.
By Tatiana de Rosnay
Sarah, a 10-year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
By Joseph Heller
At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war.
By David Benioff
A gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.
By Charles Belfoure
An extraordinary novel about a gifted architect who reluctantly begins a secret life devising ingenious hiding places for Jews in World War II Paris.
By Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje's best seller lyrically portrays the convergence of four damaged lives in a bomb-riddled Italian villa in the last days of the war.
By Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France.
By Kurt Vonnegut
Billy Pilgrim is the son of an American barber. He serves as a chaplain's assistant in World War II, is captured by the Germans, and he survives the largest massacre in European history.
By Richard Flanagan
A magisterial novel of love and war that traces the life of one man from World War II to the present.
By William Styron
In this extraordinary novel, Stingo, an inexperienced 22-year-old Southerner, takes us back to the summer of 1947 and a boarding house in a leafy Brooklyn suburb. There he meets Nathan, a fiery Jewish intellectual; and Sophie, a beautiful and fragile Polish Catholic.
By J.G. Ballard
Ballard's enduring novel of war and deprivation, internment camps and death marches, and starvation and survival is an honest coming-of-age tale set in a world thrown utterly out of joint.
By Bernhard Schlink
Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.
By Louis de Bernières
Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, Corelli's Mandolin is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving.
By Sarah Waters
The story of four Londoners - three women and a young man with a past whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event.
By Pam Jenoff
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan's Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival.
By Chris Cleave
A spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever changing landscape of WWII London.
By Kate Quinn
Two women - a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947 are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
By Ellen Marie Wiseman
A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring love, The Plum Tree follows a young German woman through the chaos of World War II and its aftermath.
By Elie 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.
By Laura Hillenbrand
Telling an unforgettable story of a man's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
By Antony Beevor
The classic international bestseller recounting the epic turning point of the second world war In October 1942.
By Tilar J. Mazzeo
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.
By Liza Mundy
A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.
By Wladyslaw Szpilman
The powerful and bestselling memoir of a young Jewish pianist who survived the war in Warsaw against all odds.
By Wendy Holden
Priska, Rachel, and Anka each passed through the infamous Auschwitz gates with a secret. Strangers to each other, they were newly pregnant, and facing an uncertain fate without their husbands.
By Spike Milligan
In this, the first of Spike Milligan's uproarious recollections of life in the army, our hero takes us from the outbreak of war in 1939 to the landing at Algiers in 1943.
By James Bradley
In this unforgettable chronicle of perhaps the most famous moment in American military history, James Bradley has captured the glory, the triumph, the heartbreak, and the legacy of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima.
By Robert M. Edsel
Focusing on the 11-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.
By Stephen E. Ambrose
From their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to D-Day and victory, Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company, which kept getting the tough assignments.
By Diane Ackerman
Jan and Antonina Zabinski were Polish Christian zookeepers horrified by Nazi racism, who managed to save over three hundred people.
By Andrew Hodges
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades.
By Christopher Moore
In this inspirational and uniquely personal tribute, the essential part played by black servicemen and -women in that cataclysmic conflict is brought home.
By John Hersey
When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a new era in human history opened. Written only a year after the disaster, John Hersey brought the event vividly alive.
By James Bradley
This acclaimed bestseller brilliantly illuminates a hidden piece of World War II history as it tells the harrowing true story of nine American airmen shot down in the Pacific.
By Art Spiegelman
Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author's father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.
By Primo Levi
Survival In Auschwitz written by legendary author Primo Levi is widely considered to be one of the top 100 greatest books of all time.
By Linda Hervieux
A vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.
By Edith Hahn Beer
Despite the risk it posed to her life Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document and set of papers issued to her as well as photographs she managed to take inside labor camps.
By John Keegan
This book approaches the war from a thematic and periodic standpoint. The course of the war is divided into six passages and attached to each is an analytical narrative of a battle.
By Alan Bullock
The biography of Hitler that remains, years after its publication, one of the most authoritative and readable accounts of his crimes.
By E.B. Sledge
Presents a stirring, personal account of the vitality and bravery of the Marines in the battles at Peleliu and Okinawa.
By Frances Donaldson
What makes a 1930s society girl become a farmer? Answer: the Second World War. This is the story of my mother, Frances Donaldson, a privileged young woman giving her all in wartime.
By Studs Terkel
The dean of oral history evokes the innocent idealism, as well as the terror and horror, of ordinary Americans at home and abroad during World War II.
By Robert Leckie
In Helmet for My Pillow, we follow Leckie's odyssey, from basic training on Parris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the raging battles in the Pacific, where some of the war's fiercest fighting took place.
By Hampton Sides
Ghost Soldiers provides historical background to the events leading to the raid at Cabanatuan, detailed accounts of camp conditions, the prisoners' heroic will to survive, and the planning and successful execution of the rescue.
By Rick Atkinson
The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of miscalculation and incomparable courage, of calamity and enduring triumph.
By Christopher R. Browning
The shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews.
By Wil S. Hylton
From a mesmerizing storyteller, the gripping search for a missing World War II crew, their bomber plane, and their legacy.

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