The Best Books About Conquering Adversity

The Books I Picked & Why

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

By Anonymous, Philip Boehm

A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

Why this book?

When the Russians seized bombed-out Berlin near the end of WWII, it was a landscape of rubble where the surviving Germans lacked the most basic necessities: food, water, and heat. Women fared much worse than men because of a terror campaign of rape directed at them by the conquering Russian soldiers. This memoir, describing eight weeks living under siege, was written by a courageous journalist who watched her neighbors with a keen Berliner's eye, and who did whatever was necessary in order to survive while still trying to keep her dignity intact. Heroism in the face of adversity takes many forms, and in this book, sheer survival itself was one of those forms.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

By James M. McPherson

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

Why this book?

Abraham Lincoln is the subject of hundreds of books, but no historian has ever before explored his role specifically as Commander-in-Chief and how he not only grew into that role but triumphed at it. Well-read in military strategy and possessing a sophisticated grasp of strategy itself, Lincoln was all too often way ahead of his dithering generals who failed to take advantage of their successes with an eye toward bringing the war to an earlier conclusion. With a very hands-on approach, Abraham Lincoln persisted in pushing the army always to do more, to be more, while learning from battlefield mistakes in ways many of his generals seemed incapable of. Despite tragic losses and many missed opportunities, Lincoln never gave up or gave in, and never lost his compassion, either, for the soldiers in the field.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink

By Anthony McCarten

Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink

Why this book?

A nation at war, facing seemingly insurmountable odds, with much of Europe already conquered and Germany winning every battle, triumphant over all—leaving Britain isolated, its very survival now imperiled. Yet a solitary voice defies the inevitable. “We shall never surrender,” cries Winston Churchill.  Single-handedly, Churchill turns back the voices of defeatism, standing firm against all those both in and out of his government who wanted to sue for peace with Adolf Hitler. He was defiant to the end. This is a book about England’s darkest hour, when she stood alone on the brink of catastrophe, and about one man, Winston Churchill, whose courage, enormous strength of will, and clarity of purpose, saved Britain from disaster and arguably saved Western Civilization along with it.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Under a Dark Sky

By Lori Rader-Day

Under a Dark Sky

Why this book?

Eden Wallace’s husband is dead and she’s deeply phobic about the dark, but she’s going to take the northern Michigan vacation he planned for them anyway — at a "sky park" where there’s no light pollution at night to keep you from seeing the spectacular starry skies. The dream turns into a nightmare when she becomes the prime suspect in a grotesque murder and subsequently suffers unexpected torments.  Rader-Day delivers a fiendishly clever plot and there are truly superb twists along the way. This is finely wrought crime fiction with great psychological depth. The dialogue is natural all the way through, the characters are beautifully individualized, and the author deftly builds tension while taking us deep into the heart of Eden’s grief. All of that makes her eventual triumph over both circumstances and her crippling fear truly unforgettable.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Blanche on the Lam: A Blanche White Mystery

By Barbara Neely

Blanche on the Lam: A Blanche White Mystery

Why this book?

Blanche White is one of the most unusual amateur sleuths you'll ever meet: she's a fiercely independent, heavy-set Black maid who makes no apologies for who she is or what she does. Working in a wealthy Southern home where secrets and arrogance collide, she sees her employees and the privileged world they inhabit with keen eyes and a wicked tongue. Wise, compassionate, and indefatigable, while at the same time keeping a low profile, Blanche solves a murder and offers up commentary about money, power, and race relations that blends beautifully with the mystery at the heart of this novel.  Given who Blanche is and her role in the household, suspicion inevitably falls on her, but she never flags or fails in her search for justice. Truth triumphs in the end. Though short, this novel is nevertheless rich with cultural insight and packed with wonderful satire.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists

Random Book Lists