The best books that weave fascinating stories about real people and events from WWII history

The Books I Picked & Why

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

By Erik Larson

Book cover of In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

Why this book?

I love this book because it reads at times like a page-turning suspense thriller, or a horror story when you know what is coming next in history. The book focuses on the first American Ambassador to Nazi Germany in 1933 and his family, as it weaves a terrifying tale of their experiences and the outcome these events will have for the German citizens and the rest of the world. I recommend this one for people who love learning more about this period in history, since I am also an avid fan of WWII stories, I learned so much more than I already knew.


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

The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

By Gregory A. Freeman

Book cover of The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

Why this book?

I love this book. One of my favorite movies is The Great Escape (yes, I know it was also a book) and reading this book feels like watching this movie. The story is a simliar one that is an OSS rescue mission to save 500 downed airmen stuck in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia, while they secretly build an entire airstrip large enough for C-47s (if you’re not familiar, they are very large airplanes). Avoiding the Germans in the cover of darkness, the airmen and villagers risked their lives to build this strip in attempt of rescue. Oh, and there’s also a revolution happening at the same time in Yugoslavia. This horribly dangerous mission makes for an incredible reading experience.


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

The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

By Katherine Sharp Landdeck

Book cover of The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

Why this book?

The Women with Silver Wings is a story about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, who were the first women to fly for the U.S. military during WWII. I’ve always loved these women and their amazing spirit as they flew in the face of convention (pun intended) in the 1940s, when women were not accepted to do much more than housewife duties. I like this book in particular, because I know a lot about the WASP history, but this book has lots of new stuff that I didn’t know. So, whether you are new to the subject or an old hand at this history, I guarantee you will love this story. 


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

Unbroken

By Laura Hillenbrand

Book cover of Unbroken

Why this book?

Being a best seller, most people know about or have already read this one. But it will always remain one of my favorites. Louis Zamparini has such an inspiring and interesting story that started with his trip to the Olympics in 1930’s Berlin, with Jesse Owens as his roommate, and ends with his post-war life (my favorite stories to read) at home after his harrowing time in the Pacific during WWII. Louis was a B-24 pilot that spent a record 47 days floating in the Pacific after his plane crashes into the ocean, and instead of being rescued, they were captured by the Japanese. As a Japanese POW, he was tortured by a horrible prison guard. With its page-turning writing style, this book kept me up at night wanting to read more.


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

D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

By Sarah Rose

Book cover of D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

Why this book?

This book is a story of several different women who participated in the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied France. I love the women that were chosen to be highlighted, including stories of romance, espionage, and torture. A little something for everyone, I suppose. Written like a narrative, this book has wonderful twists and turns (There was even a moment that I genuinely gasped at the reveal of a double agent). If you like tales about strong women from history, this is a must-read.


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

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists