100 books like A House in the Mountains

By Caroline Moorehead,

Here are 100 books that A House in the Mountains fans have personally recommended if you like A House in the Mountains. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of War in Val d'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944

Christine Foster Meloni Author Of Growing Up in Mussolini's Fascist Italy: The Story of Andrea Marcello Meloni

From my list on the dangers of living under Hitler and Mussolini.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became very interested in this topic when I moved to Italy and met and married Andrea Meloni. I had never been particularly interested in wars and battles but, when he began to tell me about his very personal experience growing up in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, I was captivated and felt that his unique story was important. I, therefore, encouraged him to write his memoirs. My book is based on them, and so it is more his book than mine. However, I did extensive research to set his story in a coherent historical context. 

Christine's book list on the dangers of living under Hitler and Mussolini

Christine Foster Meloni Why did Christine love this book?

Origo was an English woman married to a wealthy Italian.

They were living on their estate in Italy (Tuscany) when Mussolini came to power and soon allied himself with Hitler. Her personal account of how they, both anti-Fascists, lived during this very difficult period brings history to life. They often put themselves in harm’s way by helping others hide from Fascist pursuers.

By Iris Origo,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked War in Val d'Orcia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling diaries of WWII in Tuscany, with a new introduction by writer and social historian Virginia Nicholson, and stunning rediscovered photographsAt the height of the Second World War, Italy was being torn apart by German armies, civil war, and the eventual Allied invasion. In a corner of Tuscany, one woman - born in England, married to an Italian - kept a record of daily life in a country at war. Iris Origo's compellingly powerful diary, War in Val d'Orcia, is the spare and vivid account of what happened when a peaceful farming valley became a battleground.

At great personal…


Book cover of To War with Whitaker

Christina Lynch Author Of The Italian Party

From my list on women in wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Doing the research for The Italian Party meant submerging myself in the Cold War Italy of the 1950s. But I found I couldn't understand that period without a better understanding of World War II and Italian Fascism. Cue an avalanche of books from which this list is culled, and the new novel I have just finished. I am drawn to first-hand accounts of women’s lives in wartime because I wonder how I would react and survive such challenges. Recent events in Europe have revived the nightmare of life under an occupying army. These stories are back at my bedside right now because I need their humor and wisdom.

Christina's book list on women in wartime

Christina Lynch Why did Christina love this book?

It’s rare to find a war diary that makes you laugh out loud, but this had me snorting tea through my nose. Lady Ranfurly broke the law by following her new husband, a British officer, to the North African front in 1940 and staying there for the duration. No pampered aristocrat, she’s a hard-charging career woman who ends up working for, and spying on, a secret war organization running covert missions, and then becomes personal assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander (nicknamed “Jumbo”). Her diary is hilarious and touching as she weathers fear, tragedy, and colossal male egos with maximum moxie. 

By Hermione Ranfurly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To War with Whitaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, kept a diary all her life. To War with Whitaker is an account of the most adventurous, most defiant and most valiant of those years.

Hermione and Dan Ranfurly married only months before the Second World War erupted. So when Dan was posted to the Middle East, taking their faithful butler Whitaker with him, Hermione resolved to join them there. This memoir offers astounding displays of commitment and independence. After vowing not to go home without her husband, Hermione travelled alone from Cape Town to Cairo, and remained in the Middle East and North Africa for…


Book cover of Looking for Trouble: The Classic Memoir of a Trailblazing War Correspondent

Judith Mackrell Author Of The Correspondents: Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II

From my list on WW2 – but written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I was child growing up in London, the war was a powerful presence in my life. It was there in the films we watched, in the comics my brothers read, and in my vague understanding of what it meant to be British. It was not a subject we ever studied at school and as an adult I’ve always felt frustrated by my inadequate knowledge of this world-changing conflict. When I first had the idea of writing about the six remarkable women who pioneered the way for female war journalists, it wasn’t just their personal stories that drew me in but the chance to learn more about WW2 itself.

Judith's book list on WW2 – but written by women

Judith Mackrell Why did Judith love this book?

I loved Virginia Cowles from the moment I read about her arrival in Madrid to cover the Spanish Civil War. In her high-heeled shoes and elegant wool dress Cowles looked as though she were dressed for a Manhattan tea party rather than the trenches of Spain. Yet she was a doggedly ambitious reporter whose glamour often bought her unique access to her subjects, not least the besotted Soviet General who kept her captive for three days, feeding her champagne while trying to convert her to Marxism. From Spain, Cowles went on to cover much of WW2, including the fall of Paris where she arrived just two days before the Nazis. Looking for Trouble is a rollicking thriller of a memoir, packed with political gossip and wildly entertaining anecdotes.

By Virginia Cowles,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Looking for Trouble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This sensational 1941 memoir of life on wartime Europe's frontline by a trailblazing female reporter is an 'unforgettable' (The Times) rediscovered classic, introduced by Christina Lamb (who calls her 'the Forrest Gump of journalism').

Paris as it fell to the Nazis
London on the first day of the Blitz
Berlin the day Germany invaded Poland
Madrid in the Spanish Civil War
Prague during the Munich crisis
Lapland as the Russians attacked
Moscow betrayed by the Germans
Virginia Cowles has seen it all.

As a pioneering female correspondent, she reported from the frontline of 1930s Europe into the Second World War,…


Book cover of A Stricken Field

Christina Lynch Author Of The Italian Party

From my list on women in wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Doing the research for The Italian Party meant submerging myself in the Cold War Italy of the 1950s. But I found I couldn't understand that period without a better understanding of World War II and Italian Fascism. Cue an avalanche of books from which this list is culled, and the new novel I have just finished. I am drawn to first-hand accounts of women’s lives in wartime because I wonder how I would react and survive such challenges. Recent events in Europe have revived the nightmare of life under an occupying army. These stories are back at my bedside right now because I need their humor and wisdom.

Christina's book list on women in wartime

Christina Lynch Why did Christina love this book?

Most of us know Martha Gellhorn as a war correspondent and Mrs. Ernest Hemingway, but she was a brilliant novelist as well. A Stricken Field is the story of an American woman in Prague in 1938 as the Nazis move in and hunt down opponents of the regime. If you are looking for models of resistance to brutality (I am), this is your book.

By Martha Gellhorn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Martha Gellhorn was one of the first - and most widely read - female war correspondents of the twentieth century. She is best known for her fearless reporting in Europe before and during World War II and for her brief marriage to Ernest Hemingway, but she was also an acclaimed novelist. In 1938, before the Munich pact, Gellhorn visited Prague and witnessed its transformation from a proud democracy preparing to battle Hitler to a country occupied by the German army. Born out of this experience, "A Stricken Field" follows a journalist who returns to Prague after its annexation and finds…


Book cover of The Road to San Giovanni

Barney Norris Author Of Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

From my list on collage novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first novel Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was a collage novel; an interweaving of several voices in order to create a composite portrait of the city of Salisbury, which told several stories as a way of revealing more of the life of that place. Since then I’ve written three more novels, all of them interested in the effects of using different voices to tell different parts of the story. I think that polyphony makes for great books, and these are four examples of that—different ways of weaving multiple tales together.

Barney's book list on collage novels

Barney Norris Why did Barney love this book?

Calvino, like Perec, was an experimental novelist, interested in imposing games and rules on what he created. Here, he took the convention of the short story collection and used it to dramatise the arrival of the twentieth century into rural Italy—the machine age, but also the fascist age, and the consuming fires of the Second World War. The incremental tension that comes from time passing is a powerful reading experience.

By Italo Calvino, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In five elegant autobiographical meditations Calvino delves into his past, remembering awkward childhood walks with his father, a lifelong obsession with the cinema and fighting in the Italian Resistance against the Fascists. He also muses on the social contracts, language and sensations associated with emptying the kitchen rubbish and the shape he would, if asked, consider the world. These reflections on the nature of memory itself are engaging, witty, and lit through with Calvino's alchemical brilliance.


Book cover of Rossano – Valley in Flames: An Adventure of the Italian Resistance

Brian Lett Author Of Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation Postmaster

From my list on history about real secret agents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started writing military history out of anger—a national newspaper had published an obituary of one of our SAS heroes, and it had wrongly defamed a deceased Italian partisan as a traitor. The newspaper published my letter of correction, but only on its website. It mattered to me that the record should be put straight, and therefore I wrote my first book. In researching that book, I discovered links that led me to Operation Postmaster, and after that, I caught the researcher's bug. As an experienced criminal lawyer, evaluating evidence has always been one of my skills, and sometimes "building" a book is very similar to building a case for the defence or prosecution.  

Brian's book list on history about real secret agents

Brian Lett Why did Brian love this book?

An SOE agent with a difference - of particular relevance, perhaps, to the present war in Ukraine. Major Gordon Lett escaped from a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy in 1943 and became a partisan leader behind enemy lines there. He was recruited by SOE in 1944 when already leading a resistance band in the mountains above La Spezia. This book tells of the difficulties of fighting a partisan war, something that we understand is going on today behind Russian lines in Ukraine. It tells the story of civilian courage and sacrifice, and of guerrilla warfare in the face of a brutal enemy.

By Gordon Lett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rossano – Valley in Flames as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In July 1942, Major Gordon Lett was taken prisoner at the fall of Tobruk. After fourteen months in the notorious prison camps at Bari and Chieti, he escaped at the Armistice of September 1943 from the camp at Veano and took to the mountains above the Cisa Pass. Rather than return to England, he founded and led an entirely non-political band of highly-successful partisans, the Battaglione Internazionale. The group fought and harassed the Brigate Nere and the Germans along the Magra valley from North of Pontremoli to La Spezia for 18 months. They were so influential to the success of…


Book cover of The Fascist Revolution in Italy: A Brief History with Documents

T. Corey Brennan Author Of The Fasces: A History of Ancient Rome's Most Dangerous Political Symbol

From my list on fascist propaganda.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of Classics at Rutgers University, where I’ve taught since 2000; before that, I spent a decade on the faculty of Bryn Mawr College. For three years I served on the staff of the American Academy in Rome, a somewhat frenetic experience that prompted me to shift my focus from ancient Roman history to the history of the city of Rome. Since 2010 I’ve been managing a private family archive in Rome, that of the papal Boncompagni Ludovisi, which covers the period from the early 1400s to the 1940s. Now completely digitized, the archive has much new material to offer, not least on the era of Mussolini, including resistance to his regime.

T.'s book list on fascist propaganda

T. Corey Brennan Why did T. love this book?

In her decades of work on Italy’s Fascist era, Marla Stone has shown an especially keen eye for the development of the regime’s policies and ideologies, whether in the sphere of art and culture, or that of political violence and imperialist aggression. Here Stone offers a succinct and penetrating overview of the origins, rise, consolidation, and eventual crash of Fascism in Italy, followed by a translation of some three dozen primary documents—about a third of which were otherwise unavailable in English—to illustrate her narrative. Particularly chilling are the propaganda texts from 1938 on, when Mussolini’s grandiose claims to the legacy of ancient Rome took a back seat to full-blown racial politics, “as Italians were declared ‘Aryans’ and biological anti-Semitism became part of official ideology.”

By Marla Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fascist Revolution in Italy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the first mass movement of the radical right to assume power in the wake of World War I, Italian Fascism became the model and inspiration for violent anti-democratic and anti-socialist forces that swept Europe between 1919 and 1945. In this volume Marla S. Stone provides an essential introduction to the rise and fall of Benito Mussolini's Fascist dictatorship. Drawing on the most recent historical scholarship, Stone explores the multifaceted nature of Fascist rule, which drew strength not only from its terror apparatus but also from popular support for its social programs. More than 35 primary sources, including speeches, decrees,…


Book cover of Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy

Joseph Fronczak Author Of Everything Is Possible: Antifascism and the Left in the Age of Fascism

From my list on the worst sort of politics: fascism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who wrote a book on antifascism. In a way, I decided to write a book on the history of antifascism because I thought it was a good way to make sense of the history of fascism. Something along the lines of: Nobody knows you like your worst enemies. But I also thought that more books on the history of antifascism itself would be a good thing. There are many books on fascism and relatively few on anti-fascism. Ultimately, I decided to write Everything Is Possible because I thought that the first antifascists had useful lessons to share about how to turn the world toward something better than the one you’ve been given.

Joseph's book list on the worst sort of politics: fascism

Joseph Fronczak Why did Joseph love this book?

This is a dazzling mix of theory, sociology, and history. Falasca-Zamponi is attentive to the myths, rituals, festivals and ceremonies, symbols, and recurring images of Italian fascism—and she is attentive, too, to the political power that Mussolini relentlessly drew from such cultural forms.

With tremendous analytical imagination, Falasca-Zamponi unpacks the significance of the fascist salute, Mussolini’s balcony poses, all the axe-and-bundle imagery, those omnipresent black shirts, and the fascists’ distinctive “passo romano” marching style. For me, the heart of the book is its intense analysis of fascist violence as spectacle. Not just spectacle, though. Falasca-Zamponi also makes the case that for the early fascists violence—“great, beautiful, inexorable violence,” in Mussolini’s words—was sublime, regenerative, glorious, salvific.

The early fascists made violence, Falasca-Zamponi suggests, as if it were art. 

By Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A cultural history of Italian fascism, this work traces the narrative path that accompanied the making of a regime and the construction of Mussolini's power. The author reads fascist myths, rituals, images, and speeches as texts that tell the story of fascism. Linking Mussolini's elaboration of a new ruling style to the shaping of the regime's identity, she finds that in searching for symbolic means and forms that would represent its political novelty, fascism in fact brought itself into being, creating its own power and history. Falasca-Zamponi aregues that an aesthetically founded notion of politics guided fascist power's historical unfounding…


Book cover of Bread and Wine

David Hanna Author Of Broken Icarus: The 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the Golden Age of Aviation, and the Rise of Fascism

From my list on the perils of fascism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've found the creep of authoritarianism to be very disquieting. One would have to be willfully blind to not see its manifestations both here and abroad. I wanted to better understand how this phenomenon cast its shadow over the world and I found the '33 Chicago World's Fair an ideal lens to view this through. I've been fascinated by world's fairs since I was a child and the '33 Fair was the first to consciously feature the future. I'm also strangely drawn to this period – if I believed in reincarnation it might provide answers, but I don't. The Zeitgeist just before the full, brutal ugliness of fascism broke over the world, fascinates me.

David's book list on the perils of fascism

David Hanna Why did David love this book?

This famous novel tells the story from the other side, a socialist on the run, in fascist Italy. Certain unforgettable scenes portray the bullying and humiliation at the core of fascism and its human cost. I first read this in college, then re-read it when I was conducting research on Mussolini’s Italy.

By Ignazio Silone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bread and Wine is an anti-fascist and anti-Stalinist novel written by Ignazio Silone. It was finished while the author was in exile from Benito Mussolini's Italy. It was first published in 1936 in a German language edition in Switzerland as Brot und Wein, and in an English translation in London later the same year. An Italian version, Pane e vino, did not appear until 1937.


Book cover of Sawdust Caesar: The Untold History of Mussolini and Fascism

Martin M. Winkler Author Of Arminius the Liberator: Myth and Ideology

From my list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor of Classics at George Mason University. I learned about ancient Romans and Greeks in my native Germany, when I attended a humanist high school, possibly the oldest in the country. (It was founded during the reign of Charlemagne, as the eastern half of the Roman Empire was still flourishing.) My mother once informed me that I betrayed my passion for stories long before I could read because I enthusiastically used to tear pages out of books. In my teens I became fascinated with stories told in moving images. I have been a bibliophile and, em, cinemaniac ever since and have pursued both my obsessions in my publications.

Martin's book list on ideological and popular uses of ancient Rome

Martin M. Winkler Why did Martin love this book?

An American journalist, expelled from Italy in 1925, traces roots, rise, and rule of Il Duce in this 1935 book, which is as vivid as its title.

Mussolini appears as a cheap showman, who, “acting the Hero,” revived ancient Roman pomp and spectacles. He was also aware of the power of mass media, especially the cinema, “posing before men and moviemen.”

One of the virtues of Seldes’ book are the extensive quotations, which unmask Mussolini and others in their own words. Fascist documents, quoted at length, include “The Fascist Decalogue” (note its VIII. Commandment!) and the “Fascist Catechism,” which must be read to be (dis)believed.

Seldes’ book has become valuable again in the current age of assorted domestic and foreign media- and image-obsessed demagogues, autocrats, and dictators.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Italy, fascism, and Rome?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Italy, fascism, and Rome.

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