100 books like 1946

By Victor Sebestyen,

Here are 100 books that 1946 fans have personally recommended if you like 1946. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Merle Nygate Author Of The Righteous Spy

From my list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written and script edited in a lot of different genres, from factual drama to sitcom, children’s TV to fantasy. I’ve always loved spy stories, and I’ve always wanted to write one. Recently, at the University of East Anglia I studied for an MA in Crime Fiction, and that’s where I finally got the chance to study espionage and write a spy novel myself. I hope you enjoy my selection of books if you haven’t already read them. Or even if you have. They’re all so good that I feel like re-reading them right now. 

Merle's book list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves

Merle Nygate Why did Merle love this book?

This is a non-fiction book but it reads like a novel and explores one of the great mysteries of the spy world: how on earth did Kim Philby manage to betray not only his country but also his friends over so many years? 

A former spy I had the privilege of interviewing described Philby as a shit, so maybe there’s the answer. I think this is a terrific read, and although Macintyre probably isn’t a spy, like Deighton, he knows them. 

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked A Spy Among Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and…

Book cover of The Cold War: A World History

Robert D. Kaplan Author Of In Europe's Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey Through Romania and Beyond

From my list on the Cold War from a journalist who lived it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a foreign correspondent in Cold War Eastern Europe, under communist domination. I lived in Greece, a Cold War battleground, in the 1980s, from where I made regular forays into the Balkans and Central Europe. Those journeys left a vivid, lifelong impression on me.

Robert's book list on the Cold War from a journalist who lived it

Robert D. Kaplan Why did Robert love this book?

This is a thick history of the Cold War that breaks new ground in that it shifts the emphasis from Europe, where the Cold War started and ended, to the Third World where it was actually fought in a bloody manner through a series of proxy wars, large and small.

By Odd Arne Westad,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cold War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Odd Arne Westad's daring ambition, supra-nationalist intellect, polyglot sources, masterly scholarship and trenchant analysis make The Cold War a book ofresounding importance for appraising our global future as well as understanding our past' Richard Davenport-Hines, TLS, Books of the Year

As Germany and then Japan surrendered in 1945 there was a tremendous hope that a new and much better world could be created from the moral and physical ruins of the conflict. Instead, the combination of the huge power of the USA and USSR and the near-total collapse of most of their rivals created a unique, grim new environment: the…

Book cover of Bridge of Spies

Giles Milton Author Of Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown That Shaped the Modern World

From my list on the insanity of the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

Giles Milton is the internationally bestselling author of twelve works of narrative history. His most recent book is Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown That Shaped the Modern World. His previous work, Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, is currently being developed into a major TV series. Milton’s works—published in twenty-five languages—include Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, serialized by the BBC. He lives in London and Burgundy.

Giles' book list on the insanity of the Cold War

Giles Milton Why did Giles love this book?

Giles Whittell’s narrative history tells the true story of three colorful Cold War characters, revealing much about the extraordinary tension and paranoia of that febrile time. William Fisher, aka Rudolf Abel, was a British-born KGB agent arrested in New York City and jailed for his attempt to steal America’s nuclear secrets; Gary Powers was the American pilot captured when his plane was shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over Russia; Frederic Pryor was a young American student in Berlin arrested and held without charge by East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi. Whittell skilfully narrates the interwoven stories of these three men, highlighting the political tensions that brought the United States and the Soviet Union so close to nuclear war.

By Giles Whittell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bridge of Spies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who were the three men the Soviet and American superpowers exchanged on Berlin's Glienicke Bridge on February 10, 1962, in the first and most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West? Bridge of Spies vividly traces the journeys of these men, whose fate defines the complex conflicts that characterized the most dangerous years of the Cold War. Bridge of Spies is a true story of three men - Rudolf Abel, a Soviet Spy who was a master of disguise; Gary Powers, an American who was captured when his spy plane was shot down by the Russians; and Frederic Pryor, a…

Book cover of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

FX Holden Author Of Aggressor

From my list on war stories you probably haven’t read yet.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former journalist and intelligence officer turned writer, so I seek out authenticity in my reading, especially when it comes to war stories. I look for fiction from people who have been there or know how to listen to those who have, and be their voice. When I write, I always put together a team of veterans and specialists in their fields to challenge my work and make sure I get it right, too!

FX's book list on war stories you probably haven’t read yet

FX Holden Why did FX love this book?

I was researching a novel and wanted to know more about the Cuban Missile Crisis. This non-fiction book reads like an action thriller, going hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute.

I finished this one in a single weekend and felt almost physically sick at the thought of how close the world had come to Armageddon in those few tense days and how lucky we were the leaders of the time were so determined to avoid it.

Would our leaders today be as level-headed? You judge!

By Michael Dobbs,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked One Minute to Midnight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

October 27, 1962, a day dubbed Black Saturday in the Kennedy White House. The Cuban missile crisis is at its height, and the world is drawing ever closer to nuclear apocalypse.

As the opposing Cold War leaders, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, mobilize their forces to fight a nuclear war on land, sea and air, the world watches in terror. In Bobby Kennedy's words, 'There was a feeling that the noose was tightening on all of us, on Americans, on mankind, and that the bridges to escape were crumbling.'

In One Minute to Midnight Michael Dobbs brings a fresh…

Book cover of Latin America's Cold War

Russell C. Crandall Author Of "Our Hemisphere"? The United States in Latin America, from 1776 to the Twenty-First Century

From my list on U.S. involvement in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been interested in U.S.-Latin American relations ever since my junior year in college when I studied abroad in Chile, a country that had only two years prior been run by dictator Augusto Pinochet. Often referred to as America’s “backyard,” Latin America has often been on the receiving end of U.S. machinations and expansions. In terms of the history of American foreign policy, it's never a dull moment in U.S. involvement in its own hemisphere. I have now had the privilege to work inside the executive branch of the U.S. government on Latin America policy, stints which have forced me to reconsider some of what I had assumed about U.S. abilities and outcomes. 

Russell's book list on U.S. involvement in Latin America

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

Lucidly written and soberly considered, Latin America’s Cold War is one top-five pick for a host of reasons, not least of which is that it forces us to consider that the usually potent Uncle Sam did mean that Latin American actors did not have influence, for good or ill. Rightist Latin American militaries, for a searing case, had their reasons for combatting leftist guerrillas, not just serving Washington’s bidding. 

By Hal Brands,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For Latin America, the Cold War was anything but cold. Nor was it the so-called "long peace" afforded the world's superpowers by their nuclear standoff. In this book, the first to take an international perspective on the postwar decades in the region, Hal Brands sets out to explain what exactly happened in Latin America during the Cold War, and why it was so traumatic.

Tracing the tumultuous course of regional affairs from the late 1940s through the early 1990s, Latin America's Cold War delves into the myriad crises and turning points of the period-the Cuban revolution and its aftermath; the…

Book cover of The Genius Under the Table: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Polly Farquhar Author Of Lolo Weaver Swims Upstream

From my list on middle-grade books where setting makes the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love books where the setting is just as big and alive as the characters. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a familiar place or someplace new: if a vivid setting is a key element of the story, I’m in. I think it’s because I grew up in one of those small towns in the beautiful middle of nowhere where if someone asks where you’re from, it’s just easier to say someplace else. I wanted to see the world, and books let me do that. I also wanted validation in reading—and writing—about the small places I knew, and books let me do that, too.  

Polly's book list on middle-grade books where setting makes the story

Polly Farquhar Why did Polly love this book?

This middle-grade memoir written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin is hands down one of my favorite books in any category, period.

It is a short but rich story with layers of setting, from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the courtyard of the narrator’s communal apartment building, to his private world under the family table in their one-room apartment. I laughed out loud, except for when I was crying.

By Eugene Yelchin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Genius Under the Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

An Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Honor Winner

With a masterful mix of comic timing and disarming poignancy, Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin offers a memoir of growing up in Cold War Russia.

Drama, family secrets, and a KGB spy in his own kitchen! How will Yevgeny ever fulfill his parents’ dream that he become a national hero when he doesn’t even have his own room? He’s not a star athlete or a legendary ballet dancer. In the tiny apartment he shares with his Baryshnikov-obsessed mother, poetry-loving father, continually outraged grandmother, and safely talented brother, all Yevgeny has is his…

Book cover of Red Alert: The Novel that Inspired Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Paul Lashmar Author Of Britain's Secret Propaganda War

From my list on the madness of the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started researching the way the West’s intelligence services manipulated the public when I was a student in the mid-1970s. I then became an investigative journalist and often returned to the subject in different ways, especially as a national security correspondent. I fully acknowledge the massive manipulation by the Communist Bloc during the Cold War but believe that it is important the public is aware of the manipulation that the West’s Cold Warriors utilized is fully known and recognized as it has left a legacy that has allowed for the rise of ‘fake news’.

Paul's book list on the madness of the Cold War

Paul Lashmar Why did Paul love this book?

Red Alert is a 1958 novel by a former RAF pilot called Peter George about nuclear war and was the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick in the concept of his 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. George’s book is a great read and pretty grim but it is not comedic in any way. After playing around with storyboards for a film based on the book, Kubrick realised the only way to deal with the nuclear mindset was through satire. Inspired by Peter George Kubrick somehow got to the nub of the lunacy of the nuclear gamble.

This was three decades before I was able – using then declassified documents and interviews with the generals and policymakers only then just prepared to speak about Mutual Assured Destruction and the Doomsday machine for my documentaries and book in the mid-1990s. They revealed Kubrick,…

By Peter Bryant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Alert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The basis for Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove: A chilling Cold War thriller in which unchecked power unleashes total nuclear disaster.
Air Force Brigadier General Quinten is a dying man suffering from the paranoid delusion that he can make the world a better place by ordering a full-scale nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Receiving word of the attack already underway, the president of the United States and his advisors now must work frantically to stop it. The US bombers are to be shot down—but a lone bomber called the “Alabama Angel” escapes and flies on to complete its lunatic…

Book cover of Molehunt: The Secret Search for Traitors That Shattered the CIA

Steve Vogel Author Of Betrayal in Berlin: The True Story of the Cold War's Most Audacious Espionage Operation

From my list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and veteran journalist who reported for The Washington Post for more than two decades, and I write frequently about military history and intelligence. My father worked for the CIA, and I was born in Berlin when he was stationed there as a case officer. Later I was based in Germany as a foreign correspondent when the Berlin Wall came down. So it’s not too surprising that I am interested in Cold War espionage and history. As a reporter, author, and reader, I’ve always been attracted to stories off the beaten track, the ones that most people know little or nothing about. 

Steve's book list on accurate non-fiction about Cold War espionage

Steve Vogel Why did Steve love this book?

David Wise was the dean of American espionage writers, the author of more than a dozen well-regarded books about spies before his death in 2018, and Molehunt is my favorite. It tells the story of the James Angleton-inspired to hunt for a supposed mole within the CIA, an enormously damaging affair that paralyzed the agency for years. Wise’s books are so authoritative because of the unmatched sources he had in the intelligence community.

By David Wise,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Details the obsessive internal spy hunt reminiscent of the McCarthy era lead by CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton after he was lead astray by former KGB officer Anatoly Golitsin. 25,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo. Tour.

Book cover of The Charm School

David Michael Dunaway Author Of Angry Heavens: Struggles of a Confederate Surgeon

From my list on celebrating an author’s literary style.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lifetime, passionate reader. During the summer vacations, my brother and I would often ride with our father to his job in downtown Mobile and walk to Mobile Public Library, where we would spend all day exploring and reading. Well-written novels with remarkable but believable characters—such as those I've noted here are my passion. I have included novels in my list where I can identify personally with the protagonist. My list of books is varied. They have one thing in common: believable characters who struggle with life—authored by legitimate wordsmiths. When I wrote Angry Heavens as a first-time novelist, it was my history as a reader that I used as a writer.

David's book list on celebrating an author’s literary style

David Michael Dunaway Why did David love this book?

The Charm School was written at the height of the Cold War and is the story of a young American aspiring to drive a Pontiac Trans Am into and across Russia. After not many days of arduous travel—after all Russian roads and gasoline access points were not built for a Pontiac Trans Am muscle car of the 1960s—he accidentally comes across a Russian village unlike any he has seen thus far—a village far into the pinewoods that looked as if it had been plucked out of New England America with its residents speaking perfect American English free of Russian accents and filled with typical Americanisms. He knows he must reach the American Embassy in Moscow and alert the CIA station chief.  

Given the current state of affairs with Russia, there may not be a more informative book to read. The Charm School is simply the #1 spy novel ever written.…

By Nelson DeMille,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"True master" and #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille presents a chilling, relentlessly suspenseful story of Cold War espionage perfect for fans of the hit FX show The Americans (Dan Brown).

On a dark road deep inside the Russian woods at Borodino, a young American tourist picks up an unusual passenger with an explosive secret: an U.S. POW on the run from "The Charm School," a sinister operation where American POWs teach young KBG agents how to be model U.S. citizens. Their goal? To infiltrate the United States undetected. With this horrifying conspiracy revealed, the CIA sets an…

Book cover of The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

Ann Hagedorn Author Of Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away

From my list on bringing you close to what deeply drives people to become spies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing narrative nonfiction books is, for me, quite an adventure. My quest is to discover remarkable stories of deep significance and find answers to long-lingering questions, such as why a spy was never caught. For my six books, I have travelled worldwide to interview key players, dig through archives, and see first-hand the stories’ settings. With master’s degrees in journalism (Columbia University) and library science (University of Michigan), I use the research skills of both professions. Designing the best story structure is my passion because that’s the bridge writers must construct to artfully deliver true stories to readers. And I am inspired by reading excellent books.

Ann's book list on bringing you close to what deeply drives people to become spies

Ann Hagedorn Why did Ann love this book?

I read this unforgettable, true story, cover to cover while sitting for hours in the Denver airport waiting for a long-delayed flight to Seattle.

Thanks to Ben Macintyre’s brilliance, my day of stress became a meaningful and hugely informative adventure into the double life of Oleg Gordievsky. How this man, like his father and brother, joined the KGB; why certain realities and events during his KGB assignments changed him; what motivated his decision to become a double agent for British intelligence; and how he survived it all filled this saga with astute lessons about espionage.

There’s a simple yet profound line that stuck with me about the double life, something like: You love those around you while you conceal your true inner self.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Spy and the Traitor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.

“The best true spy story I have ever read.”—JOHN LE CARRÉ

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Economist • Shortlisted for the Bailie Giffords Prize in Nonfiction

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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