The best books about Norway during WWII

Who am I?

I am a trained historian and past educator at a historical museum. I fell into my passion for Norway during WWII after I dreamed about a man in the snow surrounded by German soldiers. I was encouraged to write the scene down. That scene became the prologue to The Jøssing Affair, but not before going to libraries and reading countless secondary and primary resources, interviewing numbers of Norwegian-Americans who settled in my area in the 1950s, and eating a lot of lefse. This passion of over 28 years has taken me to Norway to walk Trondheim where my novels take place and forge friendships with local historians and experts.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Jossing Affair

What is my book about?

British-trained Norwegian intelligence agent Tore Haugland has enough worries when he is sent to a tiny fishing hamlet on the west coast of Norway to set up a line to receive arms and agents from England via the “Shetland Bus.” Posing as a deaf fisherman, his mission is complicated when he falls in love with Anna Fromme, the German widow of an old family friend. Accused of betraying her husband, she has a small daughter and secrets of her own. When Haugland is betrayed and left for dead, he will not only have to find the one who betrayed him and destroyed his network, but also prove that the one he loved was not the informer.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway's Gold Bullion from the Nazis, April 1940

J.L. Oakley Why did I love this book?

The German invasion of Norway was sudden and thorough, capturing major ports from Oslo to Bergen and Trondheim on a single day in April. Their only failure was not capturing King Haakon, the cabinet, and Norway’s gold bullion. Robert Pearson’s Gold Run is a thrilling account of the efforts of “a visionary bank chief,” loyal Norwegians, and ships and men of the British Royal Navy. While under bombardment, immense courage was displayed as 50 tons of gold were moved by road, rail, and fishing boats. Pearson provides documents, photos, and personal accounts as well as a great narrative. If you don’t know anything about Norway during WWII, this book is a great way to understand the history of the invasion, how it unfolded and what was at stake. 

By Robert Pearson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gold Run is the true story of arguably one of the greatest gold snatches in history. It is a tale of immense bravery, endurance and great leadership of loyal Norwegians, plus a little good fortune and help from the British against intrigue and overwhelming odds.
The German invasion of Norway on the night of April 8th/9th, 1940 almost took Norway completely unawares; had it not been for the defiance of one small coastal battery, the Norwegian royal family, government, and nearly 50 tons of gold bullion would have had no chance of escape. In desperate haste the royal family fled…


Book cover of The Shetland Bus: A WWII Epic Of Courage, Endurance, and Survival

J.L. Oakley Why did I love this book?

The Shetland Bus was a great operation fighting against the German occupation of Norway and David Howarth, second in command of the organization, brings a personal and knowledgeable telling of its history in The Shetland Bus. This book inspired me to write my novel. It is an amazing story of courage and skill. Fishermen on the west coast of Norway began to run fishing boats to England at the beginning of the war. Known as the North Sea Traffic, it eventually became formalized under British command. The Bus only worked during the dark of winter, when sea and weather conditions were dangerous, bringing over arms and agents, taking back refugees. Later, submarine chasers, the Hessa, Hitra, and Vigra, served from 1943 to the end of the war. 

By David Howarth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of We Die Alone, The Shetland Bus recounts the hundreds of crossings of small boats from the Shetland Islands to German-occupied Norway to supply arms to the Resistors and to rescue refugees-all under constant threat by German U-boats and winter storms.


Book cover of The 12th Man: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance

J.L. Oakley Why did I love this book?

The Twelfth Man by Norwegian-American writer Astrid Karlsen Scott is the dramatic story of Norwegian agent Jan Baalsrud’s survival after a SOE mission gone wrong. A first account of his ordeal was published in 1955, but this is a more accurate telling. I like her in-depth approach to uncovering the true facts. On one of her research trips to Norway, she teamed up with Dr. Tore Haug who was also investigating Baalsrud’s story of survival. They were able to meet and interview all the survivors who helped the agent or who were indirectly involved and had knowledge of his story. You not only see what is at stake for the hero of the story, but for the people who are helping him escape the Nazis’ search for him. 

By Astrid Karlsen Scott, Tore Haug,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 12th Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning story of heroism and survival during World War II. The book that inspired the international film of the same name. "A must-read .... Intrigue, suspense, and adventure."-The Norwegian American

"I remember reading We Die Alone in 1970 and I could never forget it. Then when we went to Norway to do a docudrama, people told us again and again that certain parts were pure fiction. Since I was a Norwegian that was not good enough; I had to find the truth. I sincerely believe we did," writes author Astrid Karlsen Scott.

The 12th Man is the true story…


Book cover of Skis Against the Atom: The Exciting, First Hand Account of Heroism and Daring Sabotage During the Nazi Occupation of Norway

J.L. Oakley Why did I love this book?

Skis Against the Atom is a classic action story from WWII and about one of the most famous commando raids. It is the first-hand account of the heavy water raid by one of the men who was part of it, Knut Haukelid. First published in 1954, this book just pulled me into the dangerous and heroic actions of a group of young men who undertook the destruction of the heavily-guarded plant at Rjukan in Telemark. It gave me ideas for my own book concerning not only the planning and execution of missions, but the camaraderie of the men doing it. One of my favorite stories in the book happened after the plant was blown up. It’s almost as thrilling as the actual raid. It’s a great read and constantly in print.

By Knut Haukelid,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skis Against the Atom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The exciting, first-hand account of heroism and daring sabotage during the Nazi occupation of Norway. The outcome of World War II could very possibly have been much different if Knut Haukelid and his small, but courageous band of Norwegian soldiers had not been successful in sabotaging the Nazis supply of heavy water. The heavy water produced at a facility in occupied Norway was vital to Hitlers race with the United States to develop the atomic bomb. Knut Haukelids Skis Against The Atom gives the reader an intimate account of the valiant and self-sacrificing service that the not-to-be-subdued Norwegians performed for…


Book cover of Occupied: A Novel Based on a True Story

J.L. Oakley Why did I love this book?

Occupied is a fictionalized story of the author’s father, Trygve Borstad, during WWII. I recommend this book because I think the novel gives a realistic portrayal of ordinary life in occupied Norway as he tells the story of his family and their struggles to survive during the German occupation of their country. Trygve was only 7 years old in 1936 when he was living with his grandparents in Norway. His father had gone back to the States to find a place for the family to live and raise money for their passage for them to travel. Ten years will pass until he will see his father again. As he grows into a teenager, he is entrusted with a job that will protect a resistance group in the town. 

By Kurt Blorstad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A world at war, a family kept apart and a young boy in the midst of it all. Will they all survive? As WW II breaks out, a father finds himself in the U.S. while his wife and sons are home in occupied Norway. Based on the son’s true-life journals from 1935-1945, this is the story of a family separated by war and uncertainty.


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Songbird

By Laci Barry Post,

Book cover of Songbird

Laci Barry Post Author Of Songbird

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Group fitness instructor Mom of two Travel consultant Hiker

Laci's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It's 1943, and World War II has gripped the nation, including the Stilwell family in Jacksonville, Alabama. Rationing, bomb drills, patriotism, and a changing South barrage their way of life. Neighboring Fort McClellan has brought the world to their doorstep in the form of young soldiers from all over the country and German POWs from halfway around the globe.

Songbird is an inspirational, historical fiction novel, dealing with family, faith, strong women, and the American home front. It explores many historical elements of the World War II era, such as women's aid groups, the writings of Ernie Pyle, D-day, radio and music of the 1940s, and the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Songbird

By Laci Barry Post,

What is this book about?

When the perils and social changes of World War II confront a small southern town, faith, family, and love sustain the lives of one young woman and her family. Can those left behind endure?

"I'm waiting for my life to begin. Waiting for the train to come in," Ava Stilwell, a young woman eager for life, sings a popular song with the big band that reflects her heart. In the midst of a world at war, Ava finds love, a passion for her music, and new opportunities, but the war still looms over her, threatening to take it all away.…


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