The best books to understand World War 2 through the eyes of an individual

Who am I?

I have studied World War 2 for thirty years not so much about the killing, but to see how the Allies developed strategies to win the battles. So many decisions and so many sacrifices were made which give me pause about how great our leaders were even with their mistakes. They orchestrated the war in a grand panorama as well as focused on tactics to take a key bridge. I served in Vietnam but WW2 was different in almost every way. Recently I have focused on the effects of shell shock (WW1) and battle fatigue (WW2) known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD remains in the forefront from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. I have even counseled soldiers and families about PTSD.

I wrote...

Second Chance Against the Third Reich: U.S. Colonel Rescues His Daughter From the Nazis

By Kent Hinckley,

Book cover of Second Chance Against the Third Reich: U.S. Colonel Rescues His Daughter From the Nazis

What is my book about?

Prior to D-day 1944, Colonel Dirk Hoffman, who suffers from shell shock (today known as PTSD) from World War 1, finds out from an MI-6 spy in Germany that the Nazis will arrest his estranged daughter. She married an SS major in Berlin in 1938. Hoffman goes behind the lines with the aid of the German Resistance and escapes with her from Berlin thereby incurring the wrath of an SS General who is obsessed with his capture. Hoffman despite bouts of shell shock manages to overcome incredible odds and near-death situations so he and his daughter can reach Switzerland. Instead of finding safety from the SS, they come to him. Hoffman also becomes prey for a Nazi spy working as a mole in U. S. Intelligence who has set a trap to kill them.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos

Kent Hinckley Why did I love this book?

This well-researched and well-written book describes the heroism of Jewish women in Poland during the killing of Jews by the Nazis. Usually, the women get overlooked in war, but in Poland, their bravery and deception along with the men sabotaged the Nazis, and saved Jewish people and families because of incredible sacrifices. Even though the story is non-fiction, it reads as a fast-paced novel. The information was taken from old diaries and out of print books in Yiddish which shed light on the unbelievable war in Poland.

By Judy Batalion,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Original and compelling, an untold story of rare and captivating power' Philippe Sands

'A fascinating history about a little-known group who took on the Nazis . . . The individual tales of these courageous young women are remarkable' Independent

'Rescues a long-neglected aspect of history from oblivion, and puts paid to the idea of Jewish, and especially female, passivity during the Holocaust. It is uncompromising, written with passion - and it preserves truly significant knowledge. ... Judy Batalion has uncovered a trove of unknown or forgotten information about the Holocaust of genuine import and impact.'…


Book cover of The Last Train To London

Kent Hinckley Why did I love this book?

While this book is considered historical fiction, the author and her vast research put you in the times and places prior to the fighting in World War 2. Well-written and thoroughly researched, this page turning true story is based on real life hero Truus Wijsmuller, a Dutch woman who saved the lives of 10,000 Jewish children. The book shows her bravery and reminds you how one person can make a difference.

By Meg Waite Clayton,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Train To London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

National bestseller

A Historical Novels Review Editors' Choice

A Jewish Book Award Finalist

The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Exiles conjures her best novel yet, a pre-World War II-era story with the emotional resonance of Orphan Train and All the Light We Cannot See, centering on the Kindertransports that carried thousands of children out of Nazi-occupied Europe-and one brave woman who helped them escape to safety.

In 1936, the Nazi are little more than loud, brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan Neuman, the son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family and budding playwright whose playground extends from…


Book cover of The Nightingale

Kent Hinckley Why did I love this book?

An international bestseller and a movie to be released shortly. I have read it three times. It’s about life in occupied France centered around two sisters that take different paths to survive the Nazis. One sister stays at home to care for her daughter and assumes responsibility for a Jewish friend’s daughter so she wouldn’t be killed. The second sister has a wild streak and avoids the Gestapo while she escorts downed British and American pilots over the Pyrenees mountains to Spain. I cried at the end as I admired the spirit of these two as they deal with death every day.

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked The Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, The Nightingale is a multi-million copy bestseller across the world. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women.

This story is about what it was like to be a woman during World War II when women's stories were all too often forgotten or overlooked . . . Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals and passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love and freedom in war-torn France.

Kristin Hannah's…


Book cover of A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald: The Joe Moser Story

Kent Hinckley Why did I love this book?

During August 1944, Joe Mower’s P-38 was shot down, and Nazi forces sent him to Buchenwald—the infamous work camp where tens of thousands died of cruelty, medical experiments, and starvation. It’s a story of survival in the worst of situations.

By Joseph F. Moser, Gerald R. Baron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On August 13, 1944, during his 44th combat mission, Joe Moser's P-38 Lightning was shot down. Captured by Nazi forces, he and his fellow group of Allied fliers were scheduled for execution as “terrorfliegers” and shipped in overcrowded cattle cars to Buchenwald—the infamous work camp where tens of thousands died of cruelty, medical experiments, and starvation. Once a simple farm boy focused on sports and his dream to fly the fastest, meanest fighter plane, Moser now faced some of the worst of Hitler’s ghastly system. From the harrowing and sometimes hilarious experiences of flight training to the dehumanization at the…


Book cover of Berlin Diary

Kent Hinckley Why did I love this book?

This book was a best seller in 1941 and is still popular today. William L. Shirer was Edward R. Murrow’s counterpart in Germany where he reported on the radio about the build-up of the Nazis from 1934 to 1940 and set the stage for World War 2. This riveting book is for those who love history and freedom.

By William L. Shirer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Berlin Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the acclaimed journalist and bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day, eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is now available in a new paperback edition. CBS radio broadcaster William L. Shirer was virtually unknown in 1940 when he decided there might be a book in the diary he had kept in Europe during the 1930s-specifically those sections dealing with the collapse of the European democracies and the rise of Nazi Germany. Berlin Diary first appeared in 1941, and the timing was perfect. The energy, the…


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Unsettled

By Laurie Woodford,

Book cover of Unsettled

Laurie Woodford

New book alert!

What is my book about?

At the age of forty-nine, Laurie Woodford rents out her house, packs her belongings into two suitcases, and leaves her life in upstate New York to relocate to Seoul, South Korea. What begins as an opportunity to teach college English in Asia evolves into a nomadic adventure.

Laurie spoon-feeds orphans in Ethiopia, performs 108 bows at a Buddhist mountain temple, walks shelter dogs in Peru, milks goats in Fuerteventura, and gets lost in Mexico, all the while navigating dating at midlife.

After four years of traveling, Laurie’s return “home” becomes an unexpected adventure of its own when she ends up in Arkansas and meets Bruce, a bird-loving, bearded Quaker, and then struggles to reconcile her need for freedom with her longing to feel settled.

Unsettled

By Laurie Woodford,

What is this book about?

At the age of forty-nine, driven by an urgent restlessness, Laurie Woodford rents out her house, packs her belongings into two suitcases, and relocates to Asia. What begins as an opportunity to teach college English overseas, evolves into a nomadic adventure as Laurie works and volunteers in South Korea, Ethiopia, Peru, Spain, and Mexico. After four years of traveling, Laurie's return "home" to the U.S. becomes an unexpected adventure of its own when she ends up in Arkansas and meets Bruce, a bird-loving, bearded Quaker, who challenges her to reconcile her life of fierce independence with her longing to feel…


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