100 books like A Song For Kresy

By Helen Bitner-Glindzicz,

Here are 100 books that A Song For Kresy fans have personally recommended if you like A Song For Kresy. 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 The Long Walk: The True Story Of A Trek To Freedom

R. M. Mace Author Of Wolves of Russia

From my list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read modern history as an undergraduate and then trained as a primary school teacher. Unsurprisingly, our classroom topics were often historical. My interest in the experiences of people, especially children, in Europe during WWII stems from the fact that my own father grew up in Germany and had numerous tales to tell. My first book was a recount of his wartime childhood. My father gave a copy of his book to his friend and neighbor who happened to be a Polish wartime veteran with his own remarkable stories to tell and this led to three years’ intensive historical research for his book.

R. M.'s book list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations

R. M. Mace Why did R. M. love this book?

Although there has been a great deal of debate about the authenticity of this account, I still enjoyed reading it and comparing it with the accounts told me by my own protagonist.

It is a heroic tale of survival that conveys much of the horror and desperation experienced by so many in wartime Europe, and the displacement and loss suffered by so many, but also the hope and determination to escape and defy all the odds. The parallels with the story my own protagonist told are uncanny.

By Slavomir Rawicz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I hope The Long Walk will remain as a memorial to all those who live and die for freedom, and for all those who for many reasons could not speak for themselves."--Slavomir Rawicz

In 1941, the author and six other fellow prisoners escaped a Soviet labor camp in Yakutsk--a camp where enduring hunger, cold, untended wounds, untreated illnesses, and avoiding daily executions were everyday feats. Their march--over thousands of miles by foot--out of Siberia, through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India is a remarkable statement about man's desire to be free.

While the original…


Book cover of Looking for Mr. Smith: A Quest for Truth Behind The Long Walk, the Greatest Survival Story Ever Told

R. M. Mace Author Of Wolves of Russia

From my list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read modern history as an undergraduate and then trained as a primary school teacher. Unsurprisingly, our classroom topics were often historical. My interest in the experiences of people, especially children, in Europe during WWII stems from the fact that my own father grew up in Germany and had numerous tales to tell. My first book was a recount of his wartime childhood. My father gave a copy of his book to his friend and neighbor who happened to be a Polish wartime veteran with his own remarkable stories to tell and this led to three years’ intensive historical research for his book.

R. M.'s book list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations

R. M. Mace Why did R. M. love this book?

Having read The Long Walk, like so many others, I wondered about the identity of the character known as Mr. Smith, so I was intrigued to discover that Linda Willis had spent some ten years researching this character.

As I had myself spent three years trying to locate evidence to authenticate the story in my own book, I could empathize with all Linda’s frustration in following dead ends and scrabbling down rabbit warrens. 

By Linda Willis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Looking for Mr. Smith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn the facts behind the blockbuster film The Way Back.
Since 1956, The Long Walk has been, for many, the symbol of an immense love of freedom and has become one of the greatest true-life adventure stories of all time. The harrowing story about a group of POWs who escaped a labor camp in Siberia and walked to freedom in India during WWII deeply affected thousands of its readers, and Linda Willis was one of those moved by the story. But she had questions about its authenticity:

Was it all true?
What happened after their arrival in India?
Were there…


Book cover of A Polish Woman's Experience in World War II: Conflict, Deportation and Exile

R. M. Mace Author Of Wolves of Russia

From my list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read modern history as an undergraduate and then trained as a primary school teacher. Unsurprisingly, our classroom topics were often historical. My interest in the experiences of people, especially children, in Europe during WWII stems from the fact that my own father grew up in Germany and had numerous tales to tell. My first book was a recount of his wartime childhood. My father gave a copy of his book to his friend and neighbor who happened to be a Polish wartime veteran with his own remarkable stories to tell and this led to three years’ intensive historical research for his book.

R. M.'s book list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations

R. M. Mace Why did R. M. love this book?

This account covers pretty much the same period of history as in my own protagonist’s tale, beginning with revolution in Russia and its impact on the lives of privileged Polish families.

She describes her life in the family home between the wars and then the exile to Siberia. As a woman, her experiences were different from much of what I had read before and filled with the useful details of everyday life that help to create a vivid picture of a world that was in reality in colour, but we only ever see in the sepia of old photographs.

The book also contains original letters and depositions and is supplemented with valuable historical notes on the context.

By Irena Protassewicz, Hubert Zawadzki (editor), Meg Knott (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Polish Woman's Experience in World War II as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This hitherto unpublished first-hand witness account, written in 1968-9, tells the story of a privileged Polish woman whose life was torn apart by the outbreak of the Second World War and Soviet occupation. The account has been translated into English from the original Polish and interwoven with letters and depositions, and is supplemented with commentary and notes for invaluable historical context. Irena Protassewicz's vivid account begins with the Russian Revolution, followed by a rare insight into the life and mores of the landed gentry of northeastern Poland between the wars, a rural idyll which was to be shattered forever by…


Book cover of Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell

R. M. Mace Author Of Wolves of Russia

From my list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read modern history as an undergraduate and then trained as a primary school teacher. Unsurprisingly, our classroom topics were often historical. My interest in the experiences of people, especially children, in Europe during WWII stems from the fact that my own father grew up in Germany and had numerous tales to tell. My first book was a recount of his wartime childhood. My father gave a copy of his book to his friend and neighbor who happened to be a Polish wartime veteran with his own remarkable stories to tell and this led to three years’ intensive historical research for his book.

R. M.'s book list on accounts of the Stalinist Siberian Deportations

R. M. Mace Why did R. M. love this book?

As part of his journey, my own protagonist had enlisted in Anders’ Army and took part in the Battle for Monte Cassino.

Of the books that I searched through, this was the most useful both in helping me understand the context of the battle and in picturing the physical landscape of the location, which was essential to my understanding of the account I had been given. The book is evidently very well researched by a highly regarded and undoubted expert in his field.

By Peter Caddick-Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The five-month Monte Cassino campaign in central Italy is one of the best-known European land battles of World War Two, alongside D-Day and Stalingrad. It has a particular resonance now, because Cassino, with its multitude of participating armies - most notably the American 5th Army under the controversial General Mark Clark - was perhaps the campaign of the Second World War that most closely anticipates the coalition operations of today, with its ever-shifting cast of players stuck in inhospitable, mountainous terrain, pursuing an objective set by unknowing politicians in distant capitals, where victory is difficult to define.

Monte Cassino was…


Book cover of The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War

Carly Schabowski Author Of All the Courage We Have Found

From my list on WWII that shed light on Polish history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for writing historical fiction set mainly in Poland, or including Polish protagonists is born from my own familial history. My grandfather was forced into the Wehrmacht as a young man, who managed to escape to the UK and join the Polish Army in exile, eventually going back to fight against the Germans. His story set me on a course to become a historical fiction author; reimagining the past and bringing little-known stories to a wider audience. I find that the best way to gain a basic understanding of Polish life during WWII is to read widely – try historical accounts, memoirs, second-hand accounts, and of course, historical fiction. 

Carly's book list on WWII that shed light on Polish history

Carly Schabowski Why did Carly love this book?

This book is, I think, the cornerstone of understanding Polish history during WWII. Indeed, it is my ‘go-to' book before I even think about writing anything! It gives such a comprehensive view of all Poles – those forced into the Wehrmacht, those sent to camps, those sent out of their own country, and much, much more. When you have read this fact-based book, it gives you a greater understanding when you come to read historical fiction.

By Halik Kochanski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Second World War gripped Poland as it did no other country in Europe. Invaded by both Germany and the Soviet Union, it remained under occupation by foreign armies from the first day of the war to the last. The conflict was brutal, as Polish armies battled the enemy on four different fronts. It was on Polish soil that the architects of the Final Solution assembled their most elaborate network of extermination camps, culminating in the deliberate destruction of millions of lives, including three million Polish Jews. In The Eagle Unbowed, Halik Kochanski tells, for the first time, the story…


Book cover of Never Come Morning

Colin Asher Author Of Never a Lovely so Real: The Life and Work of Nelson Algren

From my list on Works Progress Administration or by WPA authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

While writing Never a Lovely so Real, I fell into many traps. The Federal Writers Project was one of the deepest. Nelson Algren’s time at the project in Chicago saved him from personal and professional ruin. And I became a bit obsessed with the idea that, during the Great Depression, there had been a government program that hired writers by the hundreds and brought them together to work toward a common goal; one that helped shape a literary generation. As I say though, it was a pitfall. Most of what I learned wouldn’t fit in my book, but I’m grateful for all of the writing my research introduced me to.      

Colin's book list on Works Progress Administration or by WPA authors

Colin Asher Why did Colin love this book?

Never Come Morning is Nelson Algren’s second novel and his first great book.  He wrote it during his time with the Federal Writers’ Project in Chicago, between working on a cookbook, a travel guide, and sundry other assignments. In some ways, this book feels of a piece with his first. In some ways, this book feels like a piece with his first. Both books center on alienated young men; both are coming-of-age stories (after a manner). But this novel was a leap forward for Algren. The psychological portrait of its protagonist is fully realized, and the prose sings. Algren had the project to thank for both developments. He used the access his job afforded him to conduct interviews, portions of which made their way into the novel verbatim. And with the projects’ financial support, he was able to revise for months, and months – folding nuance, insight, and poetry into…

By Nelson Algren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Come Morning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Never Come Morning is unique among the novels of Algren. The author's only romance, the novel concerns Brun Bicek, a would-be pub from Chicago's Northwest side, and Steffi, the woman who shares his dream while living his nightmare. "It is an unusual and brilliant book," said The New York Times. "A bold scribbling upon the wall for comfortable Americans to ponder and digest." This new edition features an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and an interview with Nelson Algren by H.E.F. Donohue.


Book cover of On Civilization's Edge: A Polish Borderland in the Interwar World

Patrice M. Dabrowski Author Of Poland: The First Thousand Years

From my list on the complexity of Poland and Polish history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Harvard-trained historian of Central and Eastern Europe who focuses primarily on Poland. Although I am of Polish descent, my interest in Polish history blossomed during my first visits to the country in the 1980s. My initial curiosity quickly turned into a passion for Poland’s rich and varied past. Poles, who put great stock in their history, seem to have liked my books: in 2014 I was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. The books on Poland listed below, all by outstanding female historians, only scratch the surface of what is truly a rich field. Enjoy!

Patrice's book list on the complexity of Poland and Polish history

Patrice M. Dabrowski Why did Patrice love this book?

From mud and muck to modernity? This elegant examination of the margins of interwar Poland sheds much light on the ins and outs of belonging as well as broader Polish ambitions of being considered part of the civilized world. While Kathryn Ciancia focuses on the push to modernize the ethnically complex eastern borderland that was the province of Volhynia, inhabited by Jews and Ukrainians as well as Poles, she also importantly situates Poland within a global framework.

By Kathryn Ciancia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a resurgent Poland emerged at the end of World War I, an eclectic group of Polish border guards, state officials, military settlers, teachers, academics, urban planners, and health workers descended upon Volhynia, an eastern borderland province that was home to Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. Its aim was not simply to shore up state power in a place where Poles constituted an ethnic minority, but also to launch an ambitious civilizing mission that would transform a
poor Russian imperial backwater into a region that was at once civilized, modern, and Polish. Over the next two decades, these men and women…


Book cover of The Devil's Chain: Prostitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland

Patrice M. Dabrowski Author Of Poland: The First Thousand Years

From my list on the complexity of Poland and Polish history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Harvard-trained historian of Central and Eastern Europe who focuses primarily on Poland. Although I am of Polish descent, my interest in Polish history blossomed during my first visits to the country in the 1980s. My initial curiosity quickly turned into a passion for Poland’s rich and varied past. Poles, who put great stock in their history, seem to have liked my books: in 2014 I was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. The books on Poland listed below, all by outstanding female historians, only scratch the surface of what is truly a rich field. Enjoy!

Patrice's book list on the complexity of Poland and Polish history

Patrice M. Dabrowski Why did Patrice love this book?

Who would have thought that late-nineteenth-century Poles’ preoccupation with the problem of prostitution could reveal so much about the Polish mindset? Concerns over the sex industry arose during a period of rapid change when there was no Polish state. Poles voiced their concerns about their nation’s future—and their womenfolk. A historian at the height of her powers, Keely Stauter-Halsted skillfully shows how debates on prostitution and an obsession with the bodies of impoverished women reflected a variety of visions of a future Poland.

By Keely Stauter-Halsted,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the half-century before Poland's long-awaited political independence in 1918, anxiety surrounding the country's burgeoning sex industry fueled nearly constant public debate. The Devil's Chain is the first book to examine the world of commercial sex throughout the partitioned Polish territories, uncovering a previously hidden conversation about sexuality, gender propriety, and social class. Keely Stauter-Halsted situates the preoccupation with prostitution in the context of Poland's struggle for political independence and its difficult transition to modernity. She traces the Poles' growing anxiety about white slavery, venereal disease, and eugenics by examining the regulation of the female body, the rise of medical…


Book cover of A Chip Shop in Poznan: My Unlikely Year in Poland

R.A. Dalkey Author Of The Road to Innamincka

From my list on crazy travel adventure you get to live vicariously.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a stubborn ox who won’t ever accept that something can’t be done. Tell me I can’t be a Formula 1 reporter for a particular magazine on the other side of the world, and I’ll embark on a journalism degree. Tell me I can’t be a professional golfer, and I’ll quit my job to get practicing. Tell me I can’t camp here, and up goes my hammock. Tell me to grow up and stop fantasising about driving road trains in Australia, and you’re basically insisting I get a truck licence. I like that being this way creates unique stories and that I have a little talent for writing them down.

R.A.'s book list on crazy travel adventure you get to live vicariously

R.A. Dalkey Why did R.A. love this book?

How could I not love a book written by a fellow ‘Brexit refugee’? Around the same time Ben Aitken moved to Poland in the wake of the momentous 2016 UK referendum, I fled to Austria. Although we had different motives and his time in Poznan was a temporary adventure, I had to know how it went! And I wasn’t disappointed. There’s dry humour, plenty of self-deprecation, and lots of interesting trivia, which I like. Best of all, it’s a unique premise: “Britain has just reacted to ‘Poles taking our low-paying jobs’. So let me be the first Brit to try going to Poland as a manual labourer, and see how that pans out.” To learn the answers, and have your thoughts provoked whilst being thoroughly entertained, I recommend joining Aitken in the chip shop!

By Ben Aitken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Chip Shop in Poznan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIMES BESTSELLER

'One of the funniest books of the year' - Paul Ross, talkRADIO

WARNING: CONTAINS AN UNLIKELY IMMIGRANT, AN UNSUNG COUNTRY, A BUMPY ROMANCE, SEVERAL SHATTERED PRECONCEPTIONS, TRACES OF INSIGHT, A DOZEN NUNS AND A REFERENDUM.

Not many Brits move to Poland to work in a fish and chip shop.

Fewer still come back wanting to be a Member of the European Parliament.

In 2016 Ben Aitken moved to Poland while he still could. It wasn't love that took him but curiosity: he wanted to know what the Poles in the UK had left behind. He flew to…


Book cover of My Life in Stalinist Russia: An American Woman Looks Back

Wendy Z. Goldman Author Of Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Home Front During World War II

From my list on the Soviet Union in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of Russian history at Carnegie Mellon University. I have visited Russia many times and spent years working in Russian archives. I am keenly aware of the impact World War II and the Nazis had on the country: a loss of 26-7 million people, wide-scale suffering, mass murder of civilians, and destruction of cities, towns, and villages. The majority of German divisions were concentrated on the eastern front, and it was here the Red Army broke the back of the Wehrmacht. Yet because of divisions created by the Cold War, Americans are taught little about the central role the Soviet Union played in this victory. As a historian, I am strongly committed to bringing the full story of the war to light.

Wendy's book list on the Soviet Union in World War II

Wendy Z. Goldman Why did Wendy love this book?

Mary Leder was an American teenager in the 1930s when her Jewish socialist immigrant parents, poverty-stricken by the Great Depression, decided to return to Russia to build a Jewish homeland in Birobidzhan. After a brief period of difficulty, they left the Soviet Union and returned to the United States, but Leder was detained due to passport difficulties.

In this moving memoir, she discusses her life in Moscow as a student, a factory worker, an editor, and a young wife and mother. She provides a tragic and compelling account of the repressions of the 1930s, the chaotic evacuation of Moscow in 1941 as the Germans approached the city, the death of her baby girl in evacuation, and the growing anti-Semitism after the war.  At one point she shared a communal apartment with a young, very kind Vietnamese revolutionary who she later learned was Ho Chi Minh. The journey she narrates, from…

By Mary M. Leder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life in Stalinist Russia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The thoughtful memoirs of a disillusioned daughter of the Russian Revolution. . . . A sometimes astonishing, worm's-eye view of life under totalitarianism, and a valuable contribution to Soviet and Jewish studies." -Kirkus Reviews

"In this engrossing memoir, Leder recounts the 34 years she lived in the U.S.S.R. . . . [She] has a marvelous memory for the details of everyday life. . . . This plainly written account will particularly appeal to readers with a general interest in women's memoirs, Russian culture and history, and leftist politics." -Publishers Weekly

In 1931, Mary M. Leder, an American teenager, was attending…


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