The Best Books On World War 2 Published After 2000

By Glyn Harper

The Books I Picked & Why

All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945

By Sir Max Hastings

All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945

Why this book?

Max Hastings is the author of more than thirty books, many of them about the Second World War. All Hell Let Loose describes the Second World War in considerable detail but focuses on the human experience of what it was like to be a participant in this critical period of history. For its breadth, its power of expression, and penetrating analysis, this book is unsurpassed. There are many excellent single-volume studies of the Second World War, but I rate this as one of the very best.


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The Fall of Berlin 1945

By Antony Beevor

The Fall of Berlin 1945

Why this book?

In a selection of books on the Second World War, it would be a serious omission not to include one on the war on the Eastern Front - the decisive theatre of war in Europe. Antony Beevor’s best book Stalingrad (1998) falls outside the timeframe I have set but his next book Berlin is almost as good. Berlin: the Downfall 1945 examines the war’s final months as a rampaging Red Army exacted its revenge on an overwhelmed Nazi Germany. As The Guardian newspaper so eloquently wrote of this book: "The result is a masterpiece of modern historical writing, which does not shy away from the bad taste left in the mouth as one form of totalitarianism trampled over another while calling it “liberation”." Berlin: the Downfall 1945 is a compelling, if very unpleasant, must-read book.


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The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944

By Rick Atkinson

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944

Why this book?

The Day of Battle was Volume Two of Rick Atkinson’s acclaimed Liberation Trilogy. While all three volumes of this series are well worth reading, Atkinson was at his best in the second volume which deals with the much-neglected campaigns of Sicily and Italy. The doyen of British military history and a veteran of the Italian campaign, the late Sir Michael Howard wrote that The Day of Battle was ‘one of the truly outstanding records of the Second World War’. I think it is too.


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Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein

By Niall Barr

Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein

Why this book?

This was the book that established Niall Barr’s reputation as one of the United Kingdom’s leading historians of the Second World War. Meticulously researched, thoroughly readable, and compelling, Niall Barr’s Pendulum of War has become the recognised standard work on the desert war in 1942. Anyone interested in the battles of El Alamein must read this book.


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The Blood of Free Men: The Liberation of Paris, 1944

By Michael Neiberg

The Blood of Free Men: The Liberation of Paris, 1944

Why this book?

Michael Neiberg is a Professor of History at the US Army War College. Neiberg is the author of numerous books and is one of America’s leading historians of the First World War. However, Professor Neiberg also researches and writes on various aspects of the Second World War and his skill as a scholar of French history is clearly evident in this book. This is a fast-paced, meticulously researched, and gripping account of the liberation of Paris in August 1944. How the City of Light finally regained its freedom is a complex but compelling story. That story is brilliantly presented in The Blood of Free Men.


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