The Best Books About The Second World War

The Books I Picked & Why

Tanamera

By Noel Barber

Tanamera

Why this book?

This story is not only a history of Singapore and Malaya before, during, and after the war, it is also a beautiful love story and gripping family Saga. It’s a chunky book in which Noel Barber paints an indelible picture of pre-war colonial life in Singapore for both the colonials and the Malaysians.

Noel Barber brings to life the British defence build-up and the military and colonial administration’s mistakes, which led to the Japanese invasion. It was as though they could not believe the Japanese could or would invade their territory. The story is romantic and heart-breaking, as Noel Barber delves into family ties and the characters’ fight for survival.

I recommend this book for two reasons: I read a lot, yet this book has stuck with me for over twenty years, so it must have impacted me. Second, this author is no longer with us, so I think everyone should know Noel Barber and his books. I have read them all


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Code Talker

By Chester Nez, Judith Schiess Avila

Code Talker

Why this book?

Chester Nez was not his name. The American government gave him it. They punished him for speaking his native language, and he faced discrimination. Yet after Pearl Harbour, he accepted the call to serve his country.

This memoir is both a poignant and fascinating story of how the military trained Native Americans to develop and implement a secret code, which remained unbroken, and helped to secure victory for the United States. I recommend it because it was gripping, and completely different from anything I have read in the WW2 period.


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Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission

By Hampton Sides

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission

Why this book?

I only had to read the headline to know this was the book for me. The Americans handpicked 121 soldiers to slip behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission seemed impossible; another reason I chose this book. It was to march thirty miles in rugged terrain, and at the end, rescue over 500 POWs, amongst them the last survivors of the Bataan Death March.

I recommend this book because it engrossed me from page one to the last. The realistic imagery depicting how the prisoners lived in the camp, how they bonded together, and survived despite starvation, tropical diseases, and unimaginable torture, made this an unforgettable book for me.


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When We Were Brave: A completely gripping and emotional WW2 historical novel

By Suzanne Kelman

When We Were Brave: A completely gripping and emotional WW2 historical novel

Why this book?

This is a ‘going back in time’ novel, not original, but well-written and very engaging. A woman finds a photograph of a woman in an attic. She discovers the woman is an aunt no one talks about. Her crime: to fall in love and flee to Paris with a Nazi prisoner of war.

I am recommending this book because of the emotions it evoked in me, the tension throughout, and the beautiful love story that unraveled in a time of war. It has stuck with me.


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The Wooden Horse: The Classic World War II Story of Escape

By Eric Williams

The Wooden Horse: The Classic World War II Story of Escape

Why this book?

I love POW stories, and this one did not disappoint me. It was an exquisite story of bravery. The pace was slow at the beginning, but it had to be to allow the reader to understand the backstory. When the prison escape came, I was on the edge of my seat, and I stayed there. Would they make it, or would the Germans capture them? It has every ingredient a book needs to become a classic WW2 story. I recommend this book because of the way the author held the suspense all the way through. This really was a Great Escape story.


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