37 Best World War 2 Books
It is hard to imagine that in six years, World War II changed history. The countries involved in this war fought for control and survival. This article will discuss some of the best world war 2 books written during or shortly after these events took place.
List of Top 37 Best World War 2 Books
First on the list of the best world war two books is the Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank. The book is an autobiographical account of her life in hiding during World War II. It was published on June 25, 1947, and became one of the world’s most widely read world war ii history books, with over 30 million copies sold or translated into 70 languages.
Another great book is All Quiet on the Western Front. This one was written by Erich Maria Remarque and published in 1929. Hence, it’s an older novel but still a fantastic read if you want to learn more about what life was like during World War II from another perspective other than your countrymen. In this story, we meet Paul Baumer, who signed up for military college when he turned 18 years old to fight in Germany’s war effort.
Another great book that has to be on the list is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This book was published in 1945 and won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996, and was included by Time Magazine on their list of 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.
This book tells the story of farm animals who rebel against humans during WWII, only to end up creating a totalitarian state that mirrors what they were trying to escape from. It can be seen as an allegory for Communism or Soviet Russia.
This book by Kurt Vonnegut uses a non-linear narrative to tell Billy Pilgrim, an American soldier during World War II. The book follows him through his capture and imprisonment by German soldiers and time spent in Dresden when it was firebombed.
Another great read by this author is The Children’s Crusade. In this novel, a sister and brother embark on a dangerous journey to find their estranged father after the Nazis invade France in World War II. Conditions are harsh as they make their way through bombed-out towns, but for these children, nothing can stop them from finding their dad.
6. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
This is a book that is great for anyone who wants to be introspective. The story follows a young African American man as he deals with racism and his place in the world, which are two things many people have dealt with at one point or another. This novel won both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, so it has been recognized as an essential piece of literature throughout history because of its powerful message about life during this period.
7. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman
This is also on the list of top world war two books because it shows how WWI started and then escalated into a massive conflict. The author has done a fantastic job at giving her readers information on why things happened in history. She avoids bias and weaves historical facts with personal stories to make everything believable. This book helps remind us that history is written by the victors but also shows us the past doesn’t have to dictate our future if we learn from mistakes.
8. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
This book by Leo Tolstoy is considered by many to be a masterpiece. In War and Peace, he writes about the French invasion of Russia in 1812, which resulted in Napoleon’s defeat. The book follows three families throughout this period while also exploring philosophy and history.
9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This excellent novel was published in 1961 and won numerous awards, such as the National Book Award that year. The novel is another one of Heller’s books during World War II, while this period plays a significant role in his book Catch-22.
Catch 22 tells military history and follows Yossarian, who has been deployed to an airbase on Pianosa Island off Italy, where he meets many different characters such as Major Major and Milo Minderbinder, among others. These characters play crucial roles throughout the story, but most importantly, they ultimately contribute to getting our title for the novel ‘Catch-22’. This number refers to a clause within every man’s contract with the army that states, “anyone who wants to leave can go home.” However, what makes it a catch is that the only men allowed to leave have been deemed insane. This clause makes it impossible for anyone to be discharged from their duty because for them to go home, they must first be declared crazy, but to get this label, one would need proof of sanity which can’t happen unless you’re already gone (hence Catch-22).
10. Night by Elie Wiesel
This remarkable book by Elie Wiesel recounts the time he was deported to Auschwitz with his father. It is a haunting look into an individual’s struggle during the Holocaust, how people acted under duress, and what humanity can be reduced to. This book won Wiesel the Nobel Peace Prize for its insights on man’s inhumanity towards other men and the war in general.
11. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
This excellent book by Ernest Hemingway is set in the Spanish Civil War and follows a young American named Robert Jordan fighting alongside loyalist soldiers. The book was first published in 1940, just as World War II spread across Europe and Asia.
For Whom the Bell Tolls made it onto Time magazine’s 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 through 2005. It also won two notable awards: An Academy Award for Best Story at the 1943 Oscar Awards and winner of National Book Award Fiction Prize at 1941 U.S. National Book Awards.
12. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
This is one of the best books in American literature and significantly influenced Steinbeck to win the Nobel Prize in 1962. It tells of one Oklahoma family’s migration to California during The Great Depression when they faced poverty, discrimination, and death along their journey.
13. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Another World War II book that is a fantastic read, Doctor Zhivago, takes place in Russia during the Russian Revolution.
The book was written by Boris Pasternak in 1957 and won a Nobel Prize for literature that same year.
This book follows Yuri, a holocaust survivor throughout his life as he has to deal with many challenges, including two world wars, civil war within Russia after World War I, and more. This makes you think about how lucky we are today, given our technology compared to what these people had back then when they were fighting multiple wars at once!
14. A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan
This Ryan’s book is about the battle in Arnhem, part of Operation Market Garden. The book is based on the personal story of many men who were involved in this operation and their commanders. It is one of the best books about war I have ever read.
This book covers a lot of countries, commanders, and battles, but there are several that were especially interesting for me: German Commander Heinz Guderian, who was present at the Battle of Moscow as well; Field Marshal Montgomery’s eccentric personality, which led him to create Market Garden despite opposition from his peers; The Allied bombing campaign in support Operation Overlord – it showed how vital air superiority was during WWII.
15. Patton, A Genius for War by Carlo D’Este
This next book is the definitive account of General George S. Patton, Jr., one of America’s most important yet controversial military leaders.
This book is all about the life and career of arguably one of history’s great battlefield commanders in the army: Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885). It gives a detailed account of how he rose from obscurity to command over 500 000 men in several significant battles, including Vicksburg and Chattanooga, during 1863/64 before becoming general-in-chief for all Union armies at war with the Confederacy. This led directly to his decisive victory at Appomattox Court House that effectively ended the Civil War in 1865.
16. Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear, The Battle of Khalkhin Gol (1939) by David Stone
If you love reading, this is another excellent book to learn about the Japanese-Soviet war of 1939. The author, David Stone, is a retired U.S Army Intelligence Officer and military historian who has written multiple books on World War II.
From the beginning, this book covers Japan’s battle with Russia in Mongolia that was fought before World War II between May 11th, 1940, until September 16th, 1939, which ended with a decisive victory for the Soviets over the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan). It explains why this engagement proved so crucial as it would sway both sides into preparing for war even before Hitler launched his invasion of Poland, yet without an official declaration by either side officially acknowledging they were at war—although Soviet propaganda did present Nomonhan as part of their campaign against fascism.
17. Memoirs (Century 20th Century) by Winston Churchill
Another great World War II book that I would recommend is Memoirs from the Second World War by Winston Churchill. It covers a lot of wars and events that happened during his time as Prime Minister, but it also talks about his overall experiences with war which are interesting to read. Although this book was written years after the end of world war II, you can tell throughout because he has some outstanding personal accounts of what went on behind closed doors in times like these. This man’s life story is filled with many triumphs alongside many losses; one thing for sure, though, is that he kept persevering through every obstacle put before him, which makes for an excellent example setter!
This book tells us how much people were affected back then, not only physically but emotionally too. The author was a huge part of world war II, and he tells us about his struggles and those around him, which I thought made this book even more interesting to read.
18. The Second World War (Modern Library Chronicles) by John Keegan
This is another one of those compelling books that you must have if you are a history buff. Mr. Keegan looks at the second world war in great detail and covers almost every aspect of it. It is a highly factual book with only small amounts of interpretation, which helps to keep the focus on what matters- the facts. The Second World War (Modern Library Chronicles) should be part of any serious military historian’s library collection since not many books can match its thoroughness!
19. Blood, Tears, and Folly by Alan Bullock
This remarkable book written by Alan Bullock is a classic book that has been around for many years. It details the war from its prelude to aftermath and everything in between. The author goes into great detail about all of the major players on both sides, including their personalities and how they affected history. This makes it an exciting read since you feel like you’re getting inside information not found anywhere else!
20. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L Shirer
This William’s book is the kind of book that will leave you breathless and with chills running down your spine. William L Shirer not only gives us a fantastic insight into what happened, but it is also written in an incredibly fluid manner which makes for such quick reading. He manages to capture the attention from chapter one through to its surprising conclusion.
This book was first published in 1954 and since then has been reprinted over thirty times and has sold millions of copies worldwide, making it second only to Anne Frank’s diary as far as bestsellers go. It covers history by looking at how Hitler came about power, his life before becoming Chancellor, Nazi policies, and foreign policy leading up till 1944 when Allied troops invaded Normandy (D-Day).
21. A World at Arms by Gerhard Weinberg
Another book by Gerhard Weinberg, A World at Arms, is considered by most historians to be the best world war two book of all time. This comprehensive look into WWII covers military events and discusses political and social consequences that followed in its aftermath.
22. No Greater Love edited by David R Smith
This is another book that I found very inspiring. The book’s editors did a great job in including stories from veterans who served during WWII and beyond, both men and women. No Greater Love is filled with over 70 true accounts of bravery under fire – some well known, others not so famous but equally influential. (Some names have been changed to protect privacy.)
This book doesn’t just focus on the action during wartime; it also tells about what happens when soldiers return home, which can be tricky sometimes. This story follows one veteran’s journey back into civilian life after losing his friend in combat. At the same time, another soldier returns home severely injured yet manages to move forward successfully by finding new love again many years later after previously being single for decades following his service.
23. Why We Fight for Freedom edited by George Sullivan Jr
This book by George Sullivan Jr is a compilation of essays written by US military veterans depicting their experiences during the Second World War. It presents different aspects of why they fought for freedom against the Nazi war machine and how it still affects them. If you are interested in learning about what motivated these great men to fight until death despite knowing that most of them were not even 20 years old at the time, then this book is meant for you! I also recommend reading “Death Was Our Companion,” another excellent read which gives an account of one of the fiercest battles ever held in Bastogne during Christmas 1944.
24. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Another great read worth reading is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This book tells a young lady’s life in the civil war and what happens to her after she falls in love. The protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara, has excellent character development throughout this story during all of the tragic events. If you enjoy reading about strong female protagonists, then you will fall head over heels for Scarlet!
25. D-Day by Stephen E. Ambrose
As its title suggests, Stephen Ambrose’s book is about the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
For some readers, this may be their first chance to read D-Day through the eyes of those who fought in World War II.
The book starts with a short history about how France fell into Germany’s hands after its surrender and then focuses on the preparations made for Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day. The author describes each unit’s role during the landing process, including foot soldiers, airborne troops, navy personnel, and air force pilots. Each chapter also contains an epilogue talking about what happened to these soldiers after they helped win victory at Normandy beachhead, thus ending Nazi occupation of Europe.
26. Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
This is the bestselling book on the Band of Brothers. Written by Stephen E. Ambrose, this is an excellent history of Easy Company, from basic training to D-day and beyond.
The author goes into great detail about several key battles they faced during World War II, including Operation Overlord (D-Day) and Hitler’s last stand in the Battle of the Bulge from late 1944 through 1945.
This is one of those books where you may need to set aside a few days because once you start reading it, it will be very difficult to put it down until you finish it!
27. A Gathering of Ghosts, by Jennifer Robson
This Jenniffer’s book is a historical fiction novel that takes place in London during the period of World War II. This is about three different women who come together to help each other out through their time of grief and struggle by working on an airfield near the city center. A lot of this book focuses on what it was like for English citizens dealing with war efforts and how they coped with issues happening overseas.
This book provides readers insight into the struggles people dealt with living in England during WWII and allows them to see events from perspectives they may have never thought possible before reading this storyline. It’s one I would recommend highly!
28. A Gentleman In Moscow, by Amor Towles
One thing you can say about Amor Towles, he certainly knows how to write a book! A Gentleman In Moscow was one of the best books I have read in 2016 and is still among my top favorites. It’s about an aristocrat who gets put under house arrest at his hotel right after the Russian revolution breaks out.
This storyline provides readers with so much detail on what it must have been like for people living in Russia during this period because you get a feel for their lifestyle through Amor Towles’s writing style. The way that life changes from being wealthy enough to stay in all locations around Europe to barely being able to survive just going up and down stairs inside your own home are heartbreaking but well worth reading about if you want a truly unique perspective into WWII.
29. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
It’s a story about a girl growing up in Nazi Germany and dealing with the struggles of life during this time. This is not your typical WWII book, though, because it’s told from Death’s perspective as he follows Liesel Meminger around throughout her journey through surviving such terrible conditions. I liked it most because you got to know how people were feeling inside without explaining themselves too much, which made for an exciting read!
This is one of those books where there isn’t any action or fighting scenes but more so things like death notices and hiding Jews in cellars – something we don’t often get exposed to unless we do some research ourselves regularly.
30. The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Another excellent read for fans of historical fiction, The War That Saved My Life, takes place in London during World War II. The book follows the story of Ada and her younger brother Jamie as they are forced to leave their abusive mother when their apartment building is bombed. Their journey will take them far outside city limits, where they meet various people who help guide them along the way.
This book initially came into being after author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley was asked to write a “war book” by her publisher. She started writing the story of Ada and Jamie, who are based on characters from history books she had read about children during WWII. The War That Saved My Life is an excellent example of how war can be used as a backdrop without making it seem all-consuming for the lives of the characters at hand.
This novel does not have any magic or fantasy elements but has received plenty of acclaim despite this fact. It won both the 2015 Newbery Medal Award for excellence in American literature aimed towards youth and received multiple starred reviews along its journey through publication.
31. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This fantastic book is written in letter form, where each chapter corresponds to a person writing about their life experiences with the war. It begins on December 28th, 1946, and follows Juliet Ashton through her adventures of learning about Guernsey’s culture while also developing herself as an author.
It was exciting reading this book because I had never read one like it before – told entirely by letters! I would recommend this book if you are looking for something light-hearted but still makes you think quite hard too. This novel has made its way up into my top ten books list due to how unique it is
32. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne
This heart-wrenching story during World War II focuses on the lives of two young boys, Bruno and Shmuel. The story starts in Berlin, with a family who has to move into a new house because their other home is renovated.
They then discover that other people live right outside their boundaries – not just any ordinary people, though! They learn that these people are prisoners inside concentration camps.
This book had me on the edge of my seat for most of it. It makes you appreciate all of your freedoms even more than before, seeing what some children have to go through. I would recommend this book if you want something short but powerful.
33. The Guns at Last Light by Rick Atkinson
This book is the third in a series, but you don’t need to read the first two to understand it. It covers both land and sea campaigns of World War II, including fighting on d day up through Operation Overlord. Atkinson is a great storyteller, and the action seems to jump off of every page. This truly deserves its place among classics like “Band of Brothers” or “Inferno.”
34. A Higher Call
It tells the story of a German and an American pilot who became friends after the war, despite being on different sides. The author, Adam Makos, interviewed both pilots and used their letters to tell this story. It highlights humanity on both sides of the war.
A Higher Call is a testament that there can be friendship between enemies even in times of great conflict. An incredible true story about two unlikely friends who fight for different countries but are united through an act of compassion during World War II. This book provides insight into what happened before WWII and how it affected other people outside Germany or America, including those fighting against them at home and soldiers abroad. The author has done extensive research yet managed to keep each chapter engaging with many human touches, which have been written so beautifully while keeping all facts intact along with some wonderful pictures displayed throughout the text.
35. Enemy at the Gates
This movie was based on that book with Jude Law in one of his first significant roles as Vasily Zaytsev, Soviet sniper. The novel follows three snipers from opposing armies through their experiences in Stalingrad during 1942-43 until they meet each other face to face in deadly combat near the end of the conflict. The author Joseph E. Kellam was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War and went on to become an award-winning writer for his work in westerns, science fiction, horror novels, and historical adventure stories like this book which is regarded as one of the classics about snipers in war (he also wrote ” The Pride of Palomar, “another great read).
36. City of Thieves by David Benioff
In the book, David Benioff describes a historical event: the Battle of Moscow. He tells about two young men, Zhevelov and Koyla, who are ordered to find food for their Leningrad unit that German troops have surrounded. This book will be interesting both for teenagers and adults because it is informative on the one hand and exciting on another.
The author presents each character so detailed that you feel like knowing them personally even after reading this story. You sympathize with Lev Beniov from the very beginning when he tries his best not to join the Red Army but fails as all Jews do – they have no choice but to fight against Nazis!
37. Night Watch (Watch #1), by Terry Pratchett
Last on the list is this book, Night Watch by Terry Pratchett. This book is part of the Discworld series and is a fantasy novel in London during modern times. It follows Sam Vines, who works as an officer for the city watch but has been put out on disability due to his mother throwing him through a window when he was young. He discovers someone from history coming back to life and tries to stop them before they cause too much damage or death. If you enjoy books with magic, time travel, or want something different from your typical war story, I would recommend this read!
In conclusion, a lot of good books were written about the Second World War. There are so many great stories and perspectives, it’s hard to choose just one favorite book! Luckily for you, this blog post will help you discover some of the best books on this topic. After reading this article, you will have a better idea of what World War II is about and which book would interest your most. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, an autobiography or memoir–you can find something nice to read! It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the war genre (and want a good starter) or know a lot already- there are plenty of great reads for everyone!
How many books have been written about WWII?
There are countless books about WWII. All that is needed of you is to choose the best.
What is your definition of a must-read book?
A must-read book according to me would be one where it’s not only interesting because of its content but also written well enough that it can keep someone interested even if they aren’t a history fan.
What is your favorite book about WWII?
My all-time favorite book on World War II would have to be ‘A Higher Call’ by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander. It’s a nonfiction account that recounts the story of an American bomber pilot in Germany and a German fighter pilot, highlighting how they overcame their differences during wartime to become friends once again.
What are some of the best books?
Many would say The Diary of Anne Frank, SlaughterHouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller to name a few.
Are World War 2 books worth anything?
Yes, some of the books written about World War Two may be worth a lot, especially if they’re hardcover and particularly rare.
Is there any other information you can think of that readers might want to know?
If you are looking for something interesting other than fictional stories or factual accounts, you might want to check out the graphic novel series Maus by Art Spiegelman. It’s a retelling of his father’s story about surviving through Auschwitz during World War Two, with each character representing different groups that were targeted throughout WWII.
What are some other interesting facts?
There have been many books written on WWII, so it is up to you which ones will interest you most! Some others include The Diary of Anne Frank and All Quiet on the Western Front.