The best books about what our fathers never told us about World War Two

Donald L. Willerton Author Of Teddy's War
By Donald L. Willerton

Who am I?

My father never talked about his experiences during the war. After he died at 67, we found his handwritten itinerary of three years and ten days in the Army Signal Corps. Plotting it on a map sparked a passion that continued for years, taking me twice to sites in Europe and through hundreds of records and books. I am amazed at all he never told us—the Queen Mary troopship, his radar unit’s landing on Omaha Beach (D+26), the Normandy Breakout, Paris after liberation, fleeing Bastogne, and so on. I grew up on WWII films but never grasped till now what my dad may have seen. 


I wrote...

Teddy's War

By Donald L. Willerton,

Book cover of Teddy's War

What is my book about?

Teddy Gunnarson kept his war secrets hidden from his family, but terminal cancer convinces him to reveal them. To help his troubled family heal, he makes a video to be played after his death, charging his wife to reveal her secrets, as well.

As the family watches Teddy’s confessions, they discover his mission to rescue his older brother from a POW camp behind German lines. They learn that Teddy suffered terror, treason, and dishonor for the sake of a brother who had betrayed Teddy and the family and disgraced his pilot’s wings. Teddy’s War not only describes the raw horrors of war, it examines the cost of family loyalty—lengths that a man will go to demonstrate how to love a family.

The books I picked & why

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D-Day and Beyond: The Things Our Fathers Saw-The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation-Volume V

By Matthew Rozell,

Book cover of D-Day and Beyond: The Things Our Fathers Saw-The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation-Volume V

Why this book?

Matthew Rozell was teaching history in Hudson Falls, NY, when he asked his students to find people in town who had served in World War II. Interviewing them was very well received and became his passion. By 2004, he had published his first book of interviews with WWII veterans. Since then, he has produced seven additional volumes, spanning both European and Pacific Theaters. Face-to-face interviews are becoming harder to come by and Rozell did a wonderful job for history in compiling personal descriptions that detail the daily lives of soldiers in WWII.

D-Day and Beyond: The Things Our Fathers Saw-The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation-Volume V

By Matthew Rozell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked D-Day and Beyond as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches

By David Nichols (editor),

Book cover of Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches

Why this book?

I haven’t found anyone better at describing the personal situations and experiences of soldiers in war than Ernie Pyle. In this compilation, he interviews soldiers at every level, in a wide variety of duties, with honesty, directness, humor, and literary style. It is no wonder that his syndicated columns appeared in over 400 daily and 300 weekly newspapers, making him the voice of war-time America.

Ernie's War: The Best of Ernie Pyle's World War II Dispatches

By David Nichols (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ernie's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains

By Ariana Neumann,

Book cover of When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains

Why this book?

This is an extraordinary memoir. Arianna’s father, Hans, came from a family with 34 family members living in Czechoslovakia before WWII; by 1945, 25 would have been murdered by the Nazis. He experienced unspeakable horrors, but he did not speak of them to his family. Having grown up in Venezuela, Arianna knew nothing of his past—not even, in fact, that Hans’ family was Jewish. Upon his death, Hans left her a box crammed with letters, diary entries, and memorabilia, including an identification card that had his picture but bore a different name. Investigating the various threads of his life, this book tells the story of her search for her father and his family, while uncovering the devastating details of life and death in Nazi Germany.

When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father's War and What Remains

By Ariana Neumann,

Why should I read it?

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


The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

By Art Spiegelman,

Book cover of The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

Why this book?

To learn about the Holocaust, I read personal remembrances, eyewitness accounts, and detailed descriptions of ghettos, camps, and transports, but this graphic novel based on Spiegelman’s father captured me like none of the others. Its words tell its terrible story masterfully and its drawings fill in what words can’t say, both as his father lived it and as his son learns about it. Banning it from U.S. schools would be completely wrongheaded. It should be required reading.

The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

By Art Spiegelman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Complete Maus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Dachau Concentration Camp, 1933 to 1945

By Barbara Distel, Ludwig Eiber, Thomas Felsenstein, Gabriele Hammermann, Micha Neher, Christian Scholzel, Stanislav Zamecnik, Paul Bowman (translator)

Book cover of The Dachau Concentration Camp, 1933 to 1945

Why this book?

Concentration and termination camps may have been one of the topics least talked about by those who saw them. This catalog of text and photos was created for the 2003 documentary exhibition at the Dachau Concentration Memorial Site, created by survivors of the camp and an International Committee. Dachau developed and tested the appalling procedures that became standard for the whole network of camps in Europe. I recommend the book for its concise history, chronologies, maps, biographical sketches of prisoners and officers, and hundreds of photos. They are invaluable as a case study of how the Holocaust was designed and implemented.

The Dachau Concentration Camp, 1933 to 1945

By Barbara Distel, Ludwig Eiber, Thomas Felsenstein, Gabriele Hammermann, Micha Neher, Christian Scholzel, Stanislav Zamecnik, Paul Bowman (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dachau Concentration Camp, 1933 to 1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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