The best books that will challenge how your think about WWII in Europe

Jeffrey H. Jackson Author Of Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis
By Jeffrey H. Jackson

Who am I?

Jeffrey H. Jackson is a prolific author and award-winning Professor of History at Rhodes College. He has written several books about the history of Europe including Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis, Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910, and Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, CNN.com, TheHill.com, HistoryNewsNetwork.com, and in numerous other publications.


I wrote...

Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

By Jeffrey H. Jackson,

Book cover of Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

What is my book about?

Paper Bullets is the first book to tell the history of an audacious anti-Nazi campaign undertaken by an unlikely pair: two French women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who drew on their skills as Parisian avant-garde artists to write and distribute "paper bullets"--wicked insults against Hitler, calls to rebel, and subversive fictional dialogues designed to demoralize Nazi troops occupying their adopted home on the British Channel Island of Jersey. Devising their own PSYOPS campaign, they slipped their notes into soldier's pockets or tucked them inside newsstand magazines.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Choices Under Fire: Moral Dimensions of World War II

By Michael Bess,

Book cover of 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.


Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France

By Caroline Moorehead,

Book cover of 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.


The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

By Richard Plant,

Book cover of 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.”


My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

By Peter Gay,

Book cover of 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.


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

By Emily Yellin,

Book cover of 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, Germany, and concentration camps?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, Germany, and concentration camps.

World War 2 Explore 975 books about World War 2
Germany Explore 297 books about Germany
Concentration Camps Explore 31 books about concentration camps

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Destination Unknown, The Beantown Girls, and We're in this War, Too if you like this list.