The best oldie, but goldie, books of the past century

Who am I?

I have a keen interest in history. I have been fortunate enough to have lived a life filled with wide-ranging experiences. I have lived in the smallest of towns and the largest of cities. At one time or another, I have called eight different states, Europe, and Asia home. As an Army veteran, I am driven to work on stories based on my own experiences and observations of the world we live in. It’s that insight that I hope comes across vividly in The Red Line.


I wrote...

The Red Line

By Walt Gragg,

Book cover of The Red Line

What is my book about?

World War III explodes in seconds when a resurgent Russian Empire launches a deadly armored thrust into the heart of Germany. With a powerful blizzard providing cover, Russian tanks thunder down the autobahns. Standing against them are the woefully undermanned American forces. What they lack in numbers they make up for in superior weapons and training. But before the sun rises they are on the run across a smoking battlefield crowded with corpses.
 
Any slim hope for victory rests with one unlikely hero. Army Staff Sergeant George O'Neill, a communications specialist, may be able to reestablish links that have been severed by hostile forces, but that will take time. While he works, it's up to hundreds of individual American soldiers to hold back the enemy flood.

The books I picked & why

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Mila 18

By Leon Uris,

Book cover of Mila 18

Why this book?

Although not mentioned as often as some of his other masterpieces, in Mila 18 Uris spins an unforgettable tale that deftly combines fiction and nonfiction in a way few authors have been able to match. It is a truly unforgettable rendering of the events involved in the 1943 uprising against the Nazis in the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw. Like the other four I am recommending, this book was one that truly touched my soul. Mila 18 provides incredible insight into people’s determination to stand up against their fates in even the direst of circumstances. It is well worth the read.

Mila 18

By Leon Uris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mila 18 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the brilliant storyteller who gave us Exodus, QB VII, The Haj, and Mitla Pass

It was a time of crisis, a time of tragedy—and a time of transcendent courage and determination.  Leon Uris's blazing novel is set in the midst of the ghetto uprising that defied Nazi tyranny, as the Jews of Warsaw boldly met Wehrmacht tanks with homemade weapons and bare fists. Here, painted on a canvas as broad as its subject matter, is the compelling of one of the most heroic struggles of modern times.

“Not only authentic as history . . . it is convincing as…


Shōgun

By James Clavell,

Book cover of Shōgun

Why this book?

Set in 1500, an English navigator’s ship crashes off the shores of Japan. He ends up falling into the hands of a determined warlord seeking to become the Shōgun, the ruler of Japan. Caught in a totally isolated, alien world, he struggles to both survive, and learn. Masterfully written, the story contains a classic, but tragic, love story, tons of action, and a life and death struggle for power. Clavell’s intense tale will lift you up and place you right in the center of the world of the Samurai. 

Shōgun

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Shōgun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Clavell never puts a foot wrong . . . Get it, read it, you'll enjoy it mightily' Daily Mirror

This is James Clavell's tour-de-force; an epic saga of one Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, and his integration into the struggles and strife of feudal Japan. Both entertaining and incisive, SHOGUN is a stunningly dramatic re-creation of a very different world.

Starting with his shipwreck on this most alien of shores, the novel charts Blackthorne's rise from the status of reviled foreigner up to the hights of trusted advisor and eventually, Samurai. All as civil war looms over the fragile country.

'I can't…


Centennial

By James A. Michener,

Book cover of Centennial

Why this book?

Set in the town of Centennial, Colorado, the story, like so many of Michener’s works, moves through the centuries from the Arapaho who inhabited the area, to the fur trappers, to the first settlers, all the way to modern times. Each generation is filled with incredible, remarkably vivid characters. You will find yourself anguishing over each and every passing. Yet remarkably, Michener is able to seamlessly transition into the next cast of characters with a skill few, if any, authors can match. Filled with action and heart-rendering people, if you enjoy historical works and broad tales, this American epic just might be for you.

Centennial

By James A. Michener,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

Written to commemorate the Bicentennial in 1976, James A. Michener’s magnificent saga of the Westis an enthralling celebration of the frontier. Brimming with the glory of America’s past, the story of Colorado—the Centennial State—is manifested through its people: Lame Beaver, the Arapaho chieftain and warrior, and his Comanche and Pawnee enemies; Levi Zendt, fleeing with his child bride from the Amish country; the cowboy, Jim Lloyd, who falls in love with a wealthy and cultured Englishwoman, Charlotte Seccombe. In Centennial, trappers, traders, homesteaders, gold seekers, ranchers, and hunters are brought together in the dramatic conflicts that shape the…


Catch-22

By Joseph Heller,

Book cover of Catch-22

Why this book?

Heller’s classic is one of the funniest, yet most poignant, stories in American literature. Set in Italy in World War II, it is the tale of a young American airman, Yossarian, who, as his bombing missions increase wants only to survive the insanity of a war being played with ever-changing rules he cannot comprehend. Being able to write such a hysterical work against the backdrop of a world in flames is truly remarkable, yet Heller more than excels at it. You’ll be laughing uncontrollably by the end of the first page.  No library is truly complete without Catch-22

Catch-22

By Joseph Heller,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Catch-22 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explosive, subversive, wild and funny, 50 years on the novel's strength is undiminished. Reading Joseph Heller's classic satire is nothing less than a rite of passage.

Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy - it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the…


All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Book cover of All Quiet on the Western Front

Why this book?

I have always been passionate about history. As one who believes we can’t understand where mankind is going if we don’t understand where we’ve been this work found me in my teens and is one I’ve never been able to shake. Based on his years as a German soldier in the trenches of World War I, Remarque’s novel is a masterpiece on the realities of war. Inside its pages you will find a vivid, incredibly realistic tale, compelling characters, and a gut-wrenching story.

While all the books I am recommending are works of fiction, each provides compelling insights into the human psyche. If you’re looking for something new, something significant, something exceptionally well written, you might want to explore each of these classic 20th Century authors.

All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked All Quiet on the Western Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war; under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations. Although there are vividly described incidents which remain in mind, there is no sense of adventure here, only the feeling of youth betrayed and a deceptively simple indictment of war - of any war - told for a whole generation of victims.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Colorado, Warsaw, and World War 1?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Colorado, Warsaw, and World War 1.

Colorado Explore 49 books about Colorado
Warsaw Explore 11 books about Warsaw
World War 1 Explore 624 books about World War 1

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Wooden Horse, And No Birds Sang, and Pachinko if you like this list.