Literature, world war ii

The four dozen novels cited here may not be the very best novels written about World War II. But they are the best ones I’ve sầu read and reviewed here since January 2010. I’ve sầu given every one of them a rating of ★★★★☆ or ★★★★★, eliminating a substantial number I gave lower ratings (or never finished reading at all). For the most part, I’ve left out novels mix in the pre- và post-war periods, including only a couple that seem important in understanding how the war came about và how it affected the people who survived it.

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This post was updated on August 5, 2021.

You’ll notice several titles each by three authors who have written series of thrillers that are set at least in part during World War II: Alan Furst và Alex Gerlis, who write about espionage, & the late Philip Kerr, whose protagonist was an anti-Nazi detective sầu in Hitler’s Germany. The action in many of the novels by Furst & Kerr takes place either before or after the war và bởi not appear on this các mục.

Below you’ll find two lists, with the 10 best novels about World War II listed first. A second các mục that includes all four dozen novels follows; that danh sách is broken up inkhổng lồ three sub-lists. Within the top danh mục và each sub-danh mục the titles are listed in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names. Each includes a liên kết lớn my Reviews.

The 10 best novels about World War II


The Winds of War (World War II #1 of 2) by Herman Wouk (1971) 898 pages ★★★★★

Imagine trying lớn tell the story of World War II through the lives of a single family. After all, the war engaged more than 100 million people from 30 countries in a conflict that raged for years on three continents. Yet half a century ago a remarkable author named Herman Wouk mix out to vày exactly that for American readers. In two volumes totaling 2,300 pages, Wouk follows US Navy Captain Victor Henry, his wife, his two sons, the women they marry, his young daughter, and a handful of other characters as they are tossed about by “the winds of war.” The 900-page story by that name encompasses the years 1939 through 1941. And it’s followed by another 1,400 pages in a companion volume spanning the remaining years of the war. These classic World War II novels remain a compelling read fifty years after their publication. Read the Reviews.


All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr (2014) 545 pages ★★★★★—This superb Pulitzer Prize-winner deserves the award it won

Two teenagers are caught up in the frenzy & the mortal dangers of World War II: a German boy who is extraordinarily clever with all things electronic, and a blind French girl who reads Jules Verne. Author Anthony Doerr explores the trajectory of their livesin parallel, moving them inexorably toward a fateful intersection in the book’s surprisingclimax. Read the reviews.


The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett (1978) 364 pages ★★★★★—The 40th anniversary edition of Ken Follett’s classic WWII spy novel

Two of the most fascinating inventions of World War II figure prominently in Eye of the Needle. One is the XX Committee, or Twenty Committee, otherwise sometimes know as the Double-Cross Committee, which was entirely real. The other was not real at all: the fictional First United States Army Group under General George S. Patton, or FUSAG. Together, these two elements constituted what may well have sầu been the most elaborate deception ever deployed in war. Read the Đánh Giá.


Spies of the Balkans(Night Soldiers #11) by Alan Furst (2010) 288 pages ★★★★★—Alan Furst’s superb novel, “Spies of the Balkans”

Spies of the Balkans delves inkhổng lồ the world of Costa Zannis, a senior police official in Salonika in 1940-41 as Hitler’s war machine lurches south toward Greece. Zannis, heir apparent lớn the police commissioner, becomes caught up in the characteristically Byzantine political affairs of the Balkans while juggling overlapping love sầu affairs with two extraordinary women. An anti-German military coup in Yugoslavia, an “underground railway” for Jews escaping Nazi Germany, & the British Secret Service all figure prominently in the story. It’s a gripping tale. Read the đánh giá.


The Best of Our Spies(Spies #1) by Alex Gerlis (2012) 620 pages ★★★★★—An extraordinary World War II spy story grounded in historical fact

An historical sự kiện so rich in detail và possibilities as the Allies’ successful deception that made the Normandy Landing possible has given rise to many spy novels as well as a passel of nonfiction books. The most satisfying of the novels I’ve sầu read is The Best of Our Spies, by Alex Gerlis. Working on the foundation of historical fact, including some real-life characters as well as the locations where the action really took place, Gerlis has woven a deeply engrossing and suspenseful tale that does as good a job as any nonfiction book in conveying what Operation Fortitude was really like. Read the Reviews.

The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah (2015) 594 pages ★★★★★—A deeply affecting novel of the French Resistance

When I searched “French Resistance,” turned up 11,485 titles—& that may understate the number of books that have sầu been written about a subject that is one of the most heavily researched topics in 20th Century history. Anyone who has read more than a smattering of what has been published about World War II is sure to have encountered something about the French Resistance. It takes courage for a contemporary writer to lớn undertake yet another book on such well-traveled terrain—& surpassing skill to lớn succeed in crafting a fresh and moving treatment of the topic. Kristin Hannah has successfully done just that in her novel, The Nightingale. Read the review.

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The Eagle Has Landedby Jack Higgins (1975) 372 pages ★★★★★—A classic espionage thriller that’s well worth rereading

Any list of the best espionage novels of all times must include Jaông xã Higgins’ World War II caper story, The Eagle Has Landed. Published in 1975, this classic of the genre has sold more than 50 million copies. The novel introduces Liam Devlin, a fast-talking agent for the Irish Republican Army, who is featured in three of Higgins’ subsequent thrillers. Though nominally about espionage, as the story revolves around an imaginary plot by the Nazi military intelligence agency, the Abwehr, in 1943, the novel is more properly a thriller, action-filled virtually from the beginning to lớn the kết thúc. Read the Review.

A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther #9)by Philip Kerr (2013) 477 pages ★★★★★—Mass murder in the Katyn Forest

In the spring of 1940, Josef Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, systematically murdered some 22,000 Poles. Ahy vọng the victims were half the members of the Polish officer corps, police officers, government representatives, royalty, & leading members of Poland’s civilian population. More than 4,000 of them were buried in the Katyn Forest, a wooded area near the city of Smolensk, located near the Belarus border west of Moscow. Philip Kerr’s illuminating novel is based on the international investigation first carried out there in 1943. Read the reviews.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (2018) 249 pages ★★★★★—Holocaust memories: A deeply moving love sầu story set at Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz,mix largely in the death camp itself, offers a fictional picture of life there from 1942 until the end of World War II. The book is a novel. Yet it is squarely based on the real-life experiences of “Lale” Eisenberg, a young Slovak Jew who was transported lớn Auschwitz in April 1942. Lale survived the camp when millions didn’t, largely because he was pressed inkhổng lồ service to tattoo the notorious numbers on the arms of incoming prisoners. Read the reviews.

The Book of Aronby Jlặng Shephard (2015) 274 pages ★★★★★—A brilliant novel of the Warsaw Ghetto

This is not one of those predictable tales of the heroic but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The action takes place in the months leading up khổng lồ the uprising. The story revolves around the life of a boy namedAron, the son of a poor Jewish couple from aPolish shtetlnear the Lithuanian border. Aron is eight years old when the tale begins in 1936, but the book focuses on the tragic months in 1942 when he is thirteen. As the Nazis progressively shrink the borders of the Ghetto lớn and starve sầu its residents, Aron và his gang of twelve- and thirteen-year-olds turn khổng lồ petty crime in an effort to lớn survive. Read the đánh giá.

All four dozen best novels about World War II

Spy stories

The Traitor by V. S. Alexander—Dramatizing anti-Nazi resistance in Germany during World War II

Transcription by Kate Atkinson—Kate Atkinson’s lachạy thử is a beautifully written spy story

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin—Resistance, and collaboration, among mỏi the rich & famous of Paris

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black—A suspenseful World War II espionage thriller set in Paris

A Single Spyby William Christie—A Soviet spy in Nazi Germany

1945 by Robert Conroy—What if Japan hadn’t surrendered?

The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett—The 40th anniversary edition of Ken Follett’s classic WWII spy novel

The Key to Rebeccaby Ken Follett—One of the best World War II spy stories

Red Gold(Night Soldiers #5) by Alan Furst—A brilliant novel of the French Resistance

Blood of Victory (Night Soldiers #7) by Alan Furst—Spies at work in WWII Istanbul & Rumania

Spies of the Balkans(Night Soldiers #11) by Alan Furst—Alan Furst’s superb novel, “Spies of the Balkans”

A Hero of France (Night Soldiers #14) by Alan Furst—Vive la Resistance!

Under Occupation (Night Soldiers #15) by Alan Furst—Alan Furst on the French Resistance

The Best of Our Spies(Spies #1) by Alex Gerlis—An extraordinary World War II spy story grounded in historical fact

The Swiss Spy(Spies #2)by Alex Gerlis—World War II spies in Switzerland

Vienmãng cầu Spies(Spies #3)by Alex Gerlis—A stirring tale of spies in wartime Vienna

The Berlin Spies (Spies #4) by Alex Gerlis—The best spy novecác mục you’ve sầu never read

Prince of Spies (Richard Prince #1) by Alex Gerlis—British spies & the Nazi V-2 rocket

Munich by Robert Harris—Robert Harris explains why Neville Chamberlain went lớn Munich

The Eagle Has Landedby Jachồng Higgins—A classic espionage thriller that’s well worth rereading

Luciano’s Luông chồng by Jaông chồng Higgins—Fact & fiction about the Mafia và the WWII Allied invasion of Sicily

Tightropeby Simon Mawer—A well-written novel about World War II British espionage

The Consequences of Fear (Maisie Dobbs #16) by Jacqueline Winspear—Maisie Dobbs investigates a murder involving British intelligence

The war at home

Everyone Brave sầu Is Forgivenby Chris Cleave—The human cost of World War II

All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr—This superb Pulitzer Prize-winner deserves the award it won

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan—This bestselling historical novel is a winner

The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah—A deeply affecting novel of the French Resistance

The Holocaust

The German Girlby Armanvì Lucas Correa—A deeply affecting novel of the Holocaust

The Listby Martin Fletcher—A suspenseful tale of Holocaust survivors in post-war London

The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon—Hunting Nazis in Argentina

The Glass Roomby Simon Mawer—A brilliant novel explores life in Nazi Europe

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris—Holocaust memories: A deeply moving love story phối at Auschwitz

The Book of Aronby Jyên ổn Shephard—A brilliant novel of the Warsaw Ghetto

War & Remembrance(World War II #2 of 2) by Herman Wouk—Two World War II novels brilliantly convey the scope of the conflict

Mystery and suspense

The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford—An alternate history of the Manhatchảy Project

The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black—Booker Award winner Benjamin Blaông chồng returns lớn historical fiction

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen—A touching tale of love sầu và betrayal in World War II Italy

Fata Morgana by Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney—Clever plot twists in a time travel tale

1945 by Robert Conroy—What if nhật bản hadn’t surrendered?

Red Inferno: 1945 by Robert Conroy—What if the Cold War had turned hot in 1945?

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean—A novel about memory evokes the siege of Leningrad

SS-GBby Len Deighton—In an alternate history, the Nazis occupy England

The Historians by Cecilia Ekbäck—A spellbinding WWII thriller set in neutral Sweden

The Reckoning by John Grisham—John Grismê man digs deeply inlớn history with this excellent WWII novel

V2 by Robert Harris—A WWII thriller about Nazi “vengeance weapons”

The Good German by Joseph Kanon—The cost of total war was clear in Berlin after World War II

Field Gray (Bernie Gunther #7)by Philip Kerr—Bernie Gunther’s life in flashbacks

Prague Fatale (Bernie Gunther #8)by Philip Kerr—A hard-boiled detective in Nazi Germany

A Man Without Breath (Bernie Gunther #9)by Philip Kerr—Mass murder in the Katyn Forest

The Lady from Zagreb (Bernie Gunther #10)by Philip Kerr—Cynicism & romanticism in Nazi Germany

World Gone By(Coughlin #3) by Dennis Lehane—Suspenseful historical fiction that’s hard to lớn put down

December 6 by Martin Cruz Smith—A standalone novel from the author of the Arkady Renko stories

The American Agent (Maisie Dobbs #15) by Jacqueline Winspear—Maisie Dobbs pursues a killer in Britain during the Blitz

In a class by itself

The Winds of War (World War II #1 of 2) by Herman Wouk—Is this classic World War II novel the best ever?

For more reading

I’ve sầu written a long article, “7 comtháng misconceptions about World War II,” which is posted on this site along with other articles about the war.

You might also be interested in my post, 5 top nonfiction books about World War II (plus many runners-up) and đôi mươi most enlightening historical novels (plus dozens of runners-up).

Cheông xã out The 10 most consequential events of World War II & 15 good books about the Holocaust, including both fiction & nonfiction.

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And you can always find all the lademo books I’ve sầu read và reviewed, as well as my most popular posts, on the trang chủ Page.

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