The best of WWII prisoner of war books

Who am I?

I have studied WW2 and prisoners of war during that period for more than 20 years. They're very much the forgotten soldiers of war in my opinion. Few spoke of their treatment and brutality at the hands of the enemy, starvation, and the psychological effects that they lived with for many years afterward. Marriages fell apart, alcoholism was commonplace and many committed suicide, during a time where the term PTSD hadn't been invented. I've selected books that tell the story from several different perspectives. There were good and bad on all sides and for every ten stories of brutality and murder, there were another ten stories of good men and women who did their best to help the POWs survive.

I wrote...

Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?

By Horace Greasley, Ken Scott,

Book cover of Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?

What is my book about?

I was fortunate enough to meet and ‘ghost’ Horace's story more than ten years ago. 99% of POWs never talked about their experiences and it wasn’t until Horace was 90 years of age that he decided to talk. He knew he was close to death, he wanted to share his story with the world. This is a unique insight into what camp life was really about and surely one of the greatest love stories of all time.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero

Why did I love this book?

Judy was the only official animal POW, in a Japanese POW camp in the far east, even issued with her own POW number. A brutal tale, yet at the same time a heartwarming story of a truly special animal. Damien Lewis is once again on top form, giving a historically accurate and emotional account of life as a POW both for humans and dogs.

By Damien Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The impossibly moving story of how Judy, World War Two's only animal POW, brought hope in the midst of hell.

Judy, a beautiful liver and white English pointer, and the only animal POW of WWII, truly was a dog in a million, cherished and adored by the British, Australian, American and other Allied servicemen who fought to survive alongside her.

Viewed largely as human by those who shared her extraordinary life, Judy's uncanny ability to sense danger, matched with her quick-thinking and impossible daring saved countless lives. She was a close companion to men who became like a family to…

Book cover of Hitler's Last Army: German POWs in Britain

Why did I love this book?

Not a subject often written about and sometimes we forget that the Allies held POWs too. A fascinating insight into German POWS held on UK soil helped me with another one of my collaborations, the book, The Psychiatrist by John West.

Very well researched and written, at times sad, other times very moving, and some nice tales which reflect the old adage that all wars are futile. One arrives at the clear conclusion that young German men were no different to our own boys, except those who took on the Nazi propaganda and believed it until the bitter end.

By Robin Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After the Second World War, 400,000 German servicemen were imprisoned on British soil, some remaining until 1948. These defeated men in their tattered uniforms were, in every sense, Hitler's Last Army. Britain used the prisoners as an essential labour force, especially in agriculture, and in the devastating winter of 1947 the Germans helped avert a national disaster by clearing snow and stemming floods, working shoulder to shoulder with Allied troops.

Slowly, friendships were forged between former enemies. Some POWs fell in love with British women, though such relationships were often frowned upon: `Falling pregnant outside marriage was bad enough -…

Book cover of Life Can Be Cruel: The Story Of A German P.O.W. In Russia

Why did I love this book?

One of the most heartwrenching stories of POW books you will ever read. This time the author gives an honest yet horrific account of German POWs at the hands of their Russian captors after WWII. Not a book for the faint-hearted and has no happy endings. A story about how cruel mankind can be.

By H.R.R. Furmanski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Can Be Cruel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1960, this compact book tells the true story of a German soldier: from his early childhood during the First World War, through to his harrowing experiences on the frontline during the Word War II, culminating in his capture by the Red Army on 20 December 1942…

An astonishing first-hand account.

Book cover of The Long Road Home: An account of the author's experiences as a prisoner-of-war in the hands of the Germans during the Second World War

Why did I love this book?

Another prisoner who lost five years of his life to Nazi tyranny. A real honest and at times, brutal account of what it was like in a German POW camp during WWII. It begins with the soldier's capture in Northern France, and the horrendous journey just to get to the camp in Germany. A story that captures the hopes and the hopelessness of these young men, who at first believed it, 'would be all over by Christmas' and endured year after year staring down the barrel of a gun behind barbed wire, wondering where the next meal would come from. 
A very well-written, emotional journey, not for the faint-hearted.

By Adrian Vincent,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Long Road Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The honest account of one prisoner-of-war’s struggle to survive through five years of Nazi imprisonment. An essential book for readers of Horace Greasley, Alistair Urquhart and Heather Morris.

On a cold May morning in 1940, Adrian Vincent arrived in France with his battalion.

His war didn’t last long.

Within five days the Siege of Calais was over and nearly all his comrades were killed, wounded or, like him, taken prisoner.

After a brutal journey across the breadth of Germany, Vincent and his fellow survivors began their life in Stalag VIIIB, set to work in terrible conditions down a Polish mine.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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