The best books about ordinary people who became heroes in WWII

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author of a trilogy about the Flying Tigers (a group of American pilots who fought the Japanese valiantly in WWII in China), I love reading wartime stories, especially WWII. I was very shy and fearful when I was young. It was because of my shyness and fearfulness that I fell in love with wartime stories. I looked up to heroes. I admired their courage and spirits. I read books about those extraordinary people so that I could be inspired by them and hopefully learn from them. Where else can you find more heroic stories than in wartime? As a writer, I write what I love to read: heroic tales with touching love stories.


I wrote...

Wings of a Flying Tiger

By Iris Yang,

Book cover of Wings of a Flying Tiger

What is my book about?

In 1942, Danny Hardy bailed out into a remote region in China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, this American pilot’s odds of survival seemed slim. Saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, Jasmine Bai was an art student. To rescue the wounded Flying Tiger, this Chinese girl turned out to be an unlikely heroine. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also fell in love with the courageous American. An impassable chasm, however, loomed between them. Birch Bai, Daisy’s brother, a brave combatant, would do anything to protect the American pilot. Even his sister’s death couldn’t stop him. 

The first of the Flying Tiger Trilogy, this book is about love, sacrifice, and bravery in the darkest hours of Chinese history.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of "Tex" Hill: Flying Tiger

Iris Yang Why did I love this book?

This is a well-written book about one of America's most famous fighter aces, a Flying Tiger. Flying Tiger is an endearment for the American Volunteer Group—a group of American pilots who fought the Japanese in WWII in China and changed the course of Chinese history through unparalleled valor.

As an author of three historical novels about the Flying Tigers, I read almost all the books on this subject.“Tex” Hill: Flying Tiger touched me the most. It inspired me to write my novels. Danny Hardy, an American pilot, a Flying Tiger, was created because of my love and admiration for Tex Hill, a man of courage and integrity, a true American hero.

By David Lee Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2003 new copy, hard bound in dust jacket, 6x9, 318 pages, numerous illustrations & maps, bibliography, index. dust jacket color art work by John Shaw. Born the son of missionary parents in Korea, David "Tex" Hill has become one of America's most famous and beloved fighter aces. "Tex" Hill: Flying Tiger recounts his intriguing early life, standout career, and non-stop adventures of all kinds. Tex's story is inescapably intertwined with those of Claire Chennault, the famed 'Flying Tigers', and the nation of China, and this book weaves all three fascinating storylines into a masterful tapestry, certain to entertain and educate.…


Book cover of The Nightingale

Iris Yang Why did I love this book?

It’s a war story; it’s a hero’s story; it’s a love story; it’s my favorite type of story. I read other books written by Kristin Hannah, but The Nightingale remains my favorite.

The book is powerful, compelling, and cinematic. It draws me into the Nazis' occupied France in WWII. I felt the pain and suffering of the two sisters, and I was inspired by their courage. “In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” In this book, ordinary people found themselves doing extraordinary things to survive and fight.

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

27 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 Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Iris Yang Why did I love this book?

Beneath a Scarlet Sky is an incredible tale of one young man’s courage and resilience in WWII. Although it's a novel, it's based on a true story. And that makes the book even more remarkable and awe-inspiring.

Pino Lella was only 17 in 1943 when the war and Nazi occupation in Italy affected his life. He fought the Nazis in secret by taking the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command. I could hardly imagine anyone at his age would have such courage and determination. And I could feel his love for Anna and for the life he dreamed they would share one day. Beneath a Scarlet Sky is one of those rare books that has stuck with me for a long time.

By Mark Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Beneath a Scarlet Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager-obsessed with music, food, and girls-but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape…


Book cover of Unbroken

Iris Yang Why did I love this book?

I must say that non-fiction isn’t my favorite type of book. Since a friend highly recommended it, I read the book from the middle, thinking if it didn’t speak to me, I'd stop. I didn’t stop until the end!

As a Chinese-American, I’ve read a lot about WWII in China, so the Japanese brutality didn’t shock me. I was deeply touched, however, by the courage of the character, Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner in the 1930s, Mr. Zamperini was a downed pilot in WWII who was adrift in the Pacific for over a month and then imprisoned by the Japanese. His will to survive under wretched conditions was incredible and awe-inspiring. Unbroken is a fascinating story of a true hero.

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the bestselling and much-loved Seabiscuit, an unforgettable story of one man's journey into extremity. On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood,…


Book cover of The Lost Girls of Paris

Iris Yang Why did I love this book?

The Lost Girls of Paris is a historical fiction about a group of young British women who make the ultimate sacrifice to help their country in WWII. Fraught with danger and filled with mystery, it’s a fascinating tale, and I finished it in two days. I wasn’t aware of the war efforts of these brave women, who went unheralded for many years after the war, and I’m thankful to read this intriguing book of bravery and perseverance. 

By Pam Jenoff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lost Girls of Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A gripping tale' MY WEEKLY
'Thrilling' WOMAN
'A truly gripping read of mystery, love and heroism' FROST MAGAZINE

The Lost Girls of Paris is an emotional story of friendship and betrayal during the second world war, inspired by true events - from the international bestseller Pam Jenoff.

1940s With the world at war, Eleanor Trigg leads a mysterious ring of female secret agents in London. Twelve of these women are sent to aid the resistance.

They never return home.

1946 Passing through Grand Central Station, New York, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. The case is…


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A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

Book cover of A Beggar's Bargain

Jan Sikes Author Of The Edge of Too Late

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

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Jan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Historical Fiction Post WW2.

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.
Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger. If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

A Beggar's Bargain

By Jan Sikes,

What is this book about?

A shocking proposal that changes everything.

Desperate to honor his father's dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time-a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

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