The Best Books That Will Challenge How Your Think About WWII In Europe

By Jeffrey H. Jackson

The Books I Picked & Why

Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II

By Michael Bess

Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II

Why this book?

Leaders, soldiers, and civilians around the world faced a dizzying array of ethical dilemmas during the course of the conflict. From the decision to drop the atomic bomb and making alliances with dictators to the role of kamikaze pilots and war crimes trials, Bess considers the ethics of warfare from multiple viewpoints. He shakes up our conventional wisdom about wartime decision making and shows how the legacies of those choices remain with us today.


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Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

By Caroline Moorehead

Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

Why this book?

The story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon has become famous for its amazing story of harboring French Jews and others the Nazis deemed enemies as they tried to escape the German occupation. Moorehead re-examines a longstanding culture of resistance, community identity, and local leadership that made the town’s actions legendary. But her discussion of the complexities of memory and myth-making in the years that followed force us to rethink the boundaries and limits of both resistance and collaboration.


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The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

By Richard Plant

The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

Why this book?

Hitler had ambivalent feelings about gay men, but Heinrich Himmler did not. The SS leader spearheaded the Nazi persecution of homosexuality in an effort to root out a perceived corruption that he believed was incompatible with the hyper-masculine doctrine of Nazism. A direct response to a flourishing gay culture in the 1920s and the medical study of “sexology,” gay men were rounded up and forced to wear the pink triangle as a sign of what the Nazis called their “degeneracy.”


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My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

By Peter Gay

My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

Why this book?

One of the foremost historians of his generation who taught for many years at Yale, Peter Gay writes with both the immediacy of a memoirist and the critical distance of a scholar looking back on his boyhood before his family escaped the Third Reich. The book is a slow burn, showing how even those not directly caught up in Nazi violence still experienced the constant lurking specter of anti-Semitism and exclusion. Gay and his family escaped (barely), but he refused to call himself a “survivor,” instead working through his own painful memories of his early years that haunted him for the rest of his life.


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Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II

By Emily Yellin

Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II

Why this book?

For the first time during World War II, American women served in the US military, but their crucial wartime work reached into every corner of life and across Europe. Yellin explores the wide range of roles that American women undertook on behalf of the cause, from factory workers and journalists to spies and doctors. Told with dramatic stories and memorable details, Yellin reshapes how we understand the “total war” that World War II became.


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