The best books to vividly capture espionage and resistance in Hitler's Third Reich

Patrick W. O'Bryon Author Of Corridor of Darkness: A Novel of Nazi Germany
By Patrick W. O'Bryon

Who am I?

While a graduate student and then an army interpreter in Germany, I listened to reminiscences from both Third Reich military veterans and former French resistance fighters. Their tales picked up where my father's stories of pre-war European life always ended, and my fascination with this history knew no bounds. On occasion I would conceal my American identity and mentally play the spy as I traversed Europe solo. A dozen years later upon the death of my father, I learned from my mother his great secret: he had concealed his wartime life as an American spy inside the Reich. His private journals telling of bravery and intrigue inspire each of my novels.


I wrote...

Corridor of Darkness: A Novel of Nazi Germany

By Patrick W. O'Bryon,

Book cover of Corridor of Darkness: A Novel of Nazi Germany

What is my book about?

1930's Berlin is unrestrained, decadent, and torn by political and social strife. Novice foreign correspondent Ryan Lemmon is making the most of every moment exploring the city's dark underbelly, when a gut-wrenching murder brings him face-to-face with the growing fascist menaceAs Hitler’s stranglehold on the German nation grows, Lemmon is drawn into the theft of a Nazi protocol threatening citizens across Europe. Only Ryan and his former lover can get that intel to Washington, but a Gestapo mastermind stands in their way. 

Kirkus Reviews writes: "The novel is rife with historical intrigue and captures the flavor of mid-century Europe...a keen eye for detail...An intriguing early WWII spy yarn set in a well researched, authentic Germany.

The books I picked & why

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Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

By Joseph E. Persico,

Book cover of Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

Why this book?

If you love reading the history of World War II espionage, Persico brings to life behind-the-scenes maneuvers that took America from an unwieldy group of intelligence-gathering organizations to the formidable Office of Strategic Services under Wild Bill Donovan. While examining all theaters of World War II rather than just the Third Reich, the author provides excellent insights into the specific challenges encountered in Hitler's realm. I particularly enjoyed learning how Roosevelt balanced the information coming from many sources and integrated that knowledge into an intelligent plan of action.

Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage

By Joseph E. Persico,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roosevelt's Secret War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Berlin at War

By Roger Moorhouse,

Book cover of Berlin at War

Why this book?

This author offers a well-crafted history of daily life inside the Reich, a fascinating exploration of the German capital as the Nazi movement brought its citizens to their knees. Extensively researched and documented, Moorhouse vividly portrays the daily oppression and challenges faced on all societal fronts. This well-crafted study enmeshes the reader in life under totalitarian rule.

Berlin at War

By Roger Moorhouse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Berlin at War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Berlin at War , acclaimed historian Roger Moorhouse provides a magnificent and detailed portrait of everyday life at the epicentre of the Third Reich. Berlin was the stage upon which the rise and fall of the Third Reich was most visibly played out. It was the backdrop for the most lavish Nazi ceremonies, the site of Albert Speer's grandiose plans for a new world metropolis," and the scene of the final climactic battle to defeat Nazism. Berlin was the place where Hitler's empire ultimately meet its end, but it suffered mightily through the war as well not only was…

Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada,

Book cover of Alone in Berlin

Why this book?

Often overlooked by today's readers, this fine novel of 1940 Berlin by an author who never left Nazi Germany offers a realistic and touching portrayal of ordinary working citizens. A married couple whose life is upended by the loss of a soldier son encounters persistent Nazi propaganda discrediting their sacrifice. Inspired by actual historical figures, the protagonists courageously turn to modest acts of resistance, drawing the unrelenting focus of a Gestapo inspector determined to solve the case to further his career. Fallada's masterful storytelling and unforgettable characters will put you inside a righteous struggle to resist the oppressive state. This is a classic from an author who lived the place and time, and it shouldn't be missed

Alone in Berlin

By Hans Fallada,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Alone in Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping portrait of life in wartime Berlin and a vividly theatrical study of how paranoia can warp a society gripped by the fear of the night-time knock on the door.

Based on true events, Hans Fallada's Alone In Berlin follows a quietly courageous couple, Otto and Anna Quangel who, in dealing with their own heartbreak, stand up to the brutal reality of the Nazi regime. With the smallest of acts, they defy Hitler's rule with extraordinary bravery, facing the gravest of consequences.

Translated and Adapted by Alistair Beaton (Feelgood, The Trial Of Tony Blair), this timely story of the…

The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis

By Matthew Cobb,

Book cover of The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis

Why this book?

My personal library holds dozens of histories and first-person accounts dealing with the French Resistance. Some are scholarly, others more popular in treatment, but many so boring that I barely reached the final page. Cobb’s work however is a great exception, depicting in smooth prose and outstanding research the dramatic development of the Résistance. You'll meet heroes and heroines, and see the extraordinary lengths taken by simple French citizens to undermine fascist tyranny and aid Allied efforts. Here is the insight needed to truly appreciate accurate fictional portrayals of this time.

The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis

By Matthew Cobb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II was a struggle in which ordinary people fought for their liberty, despite terrible odds and horrifying repression. Hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen and women carried out an armed struggle against the Nazis, producing underground anti-fascist publications and supplying the Allies with vital intelligence.

The Resistancetouches on some of the strongest themes in life - courage, self-sacrifice, betrayal and struggle. It shatters the illusion of a unified Resistance created by General de Gaulle, and brings to vivid life a true story of heroes and conflicts forgotten over the next half-century as…

Dark Star

By Alan Furst,

Book cover of Dark Star

Why this book?

As the first in his series of novels on the 1930s in Europe, Alan Furst's Night Soldier tends to earn the most critical praise, but Dark Star remains my personal favoriteFurst masters the noir ambiance and moral ambiguity of Europe as war approaches, where everyday people are drawn into the world of espionage and intrigue. His settings often lie outside the main urban centers of Paris and Berlin in the remote reaches of Eastern Europe. Furst's novels are impeccably researched for accurate detail-one of my must-haves in historical fiction-and each book will draw you to read the next in his series.

Dark Star

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dark Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Andre Szara, survivor of the Polish pogroms and the Russian civil wars, is a journalist working for Pravda in 1937. War in Europe is already underway and Szara is co-opted to join the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence agency. He does his best to survive the tango of pre-war politics by calmly obeying orders and keeping his nose clean. But when he is sent to retrieve a battered briefcase the plot thickens and is drawn into even more complex intrigues.

Szara becomes a full-time spymaster and as deputy director of a Paris network, he finds his own star rising when…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, Nazi Germany, and France?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, Nazi Germany, and France.

World War 2 Explore 1051 books about World War 2
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Berlin Alexanderplatz, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and The Book Thief if you like this list.