100 books like Agent Jack

By Robert Hutton,

Here are 100 books that Agent Jack fans have personally recommended if you like Agent Jack. 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 Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville

Sarah Percy Author Of Forgotten Warriors: The Long History of Women in Combat

From my list on women in combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic, writer, and broadcaster, and I’ve always been fascinated by the big questions of who fights wars and why. A puzzle caught my eye: the only profession (short of maybe priest) where women were actively banned in the 1980s and as late as the 2010s, was combat. How could Western democracies ban women from an entire profession? This was especially odd, given that the plentiful historical evidence that women were perfectly capable of combat. So I wrote a book explaining how women in combat fit into the broader sweep of military history, and how the suppression and dismissal of their stories has had a profound social and cultural impact. 

Sarah's book list on women in combat

Sarah Percy Why did Sarah love this book?

The stories of women spies during World War II are not as well known as they should be – especially  because these women were highly trained, incredibly brave, and trained in all kinds of combat techniques.

I find them fascinating because they demonstrate that ordinary women are capable of the greatest feats of physical bravery – these women were not recruited because they were muscle-bound or could shoot a bullseye from a great distance.

They were usually just regular women who happened to speak a European language fluently. Krystyna Skarbek, brilliantly written about in this exciting biography by Clare Mulley, was one such woman – her adventures, including crucial organization of French resistance fighters and rescuing her colleagues from the Nazis – make for irresistible reading.

By Clare Mulley,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Spy Who Loved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in South Kensington. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising, but that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable. The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, she would become one of Britain's most daring and highly decorated special agents. Having fled to Britain on the outbreak of war, she was recruited by the intelligence services long before the establishment of the SOE, and took on mission after mission. She skied into occupied Poland, served…

Book cover of Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews

Monica Porter Author Of Deadly Carousel: A Diva’s Exploits in Wartime Budapest

From my list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 12 years old when, in Amsterdam on a family holiday, I was taken to see the Anne Frank House. Until then I knew very little about WW2, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. After viewing the ‘secret annexe’ my father bought me The Diary of Anne Frank, which was on sale there, and I started reading it in the car as we drove off. The book sparked my deep lifelong interest in that chapter of history. Many years later I discovered that my own mother also had an extraordinary wartime story. By then I was a journalist and knew I’d have to write a book about it—Deadly Carousel.  

Monica's book list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

Anyone who wants to know what a real-life, daring British secret agent looks like (hint: nothing like James Bond) should read about Frank Foley. The son of a West Country railway worker, only 5’2” tall, he wore a tweed jacket and owlish spectacles. Not very sexy. Officially a ‘passport control officer’ at the British embassy in Berlin, in fact he was the ringmaster of a spy network. Following Hitler’s rise to power he focused on saving Jews. As time was of the essence, he dispensed with cumbersome bureaucracy: "I pounded on the desks until I got what I wanted." As well as issuing thousands of life-saving visas, he hid in his own home Jews fleeing the Gestapo and helped them acquire forged documents. With no diplomatic immunity, he could have been arrested as a spy and shot. So often in life the unassuming ‘little guy’ is the greatest hero of…

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the horror of Nazism tightened its grip on Germany, Jews found themselves trapped and desperate. For many, their only hope of salvation came in the form of a small, bespectacled British man: Frank Foley. Working as a Berlin Passport Control Officer, Foley helped thousands of Jews to flee the country with visas and false passports, personally entering the camps to get Jews out, and sheltering those on the run from the Gestapo in his own apartment. Described by a Jewish leader as 'the Pimpernel of the Jews', Foley was an unsung hero of the Holocaust.But why is this extraordinary…

Book cover of Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy

Barron H. Lerner Author Of The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics

From my list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case.

Why am I passionate about this?

The executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg seem so distant that it is jarring for me to contemplate that I was born in 1960, only seven years after their deaths. Growing up Jewish, I often heard the Rosenberg case invoked as an example of anti-Semitism. But it was not until I was an undergraduate history major that I read the scholarly literature about the Rosenbergs and subscribed to the newsletter of the Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case. My ongoing interest in the case helps me remind students about two crucial points: ongoing historical scholarship gets us closer to the “truth” but we may never know what “actually” happened. Which is OK.

Barron's book list on the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case

Barron H. Lerner Why did Barron love this book?

This 2021 book, the latest in the Rosenberg oeuvre, not only recounts the history of what happened to the Rosenbergs but chronicles past historical accounts. One of the most important legacies of this literature is to remind us how all events are historically grounded. The Schneirs wrote that the Rosenberg trial “was a product of its times, displaying in microcosm many of the prevalent sociopolitical assumptions and preoccupations of the day.” The same could be said of the books by the Schneirs, the Meeropols, and Doctorow, which viewed the Rosenbergs through the sympathetic prism of American progressivism of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sebba also explores the enduring mystery of the “single-minded” Ethel Rosenberg, a “tragic figure” who herself committed no espionage but orphaned her sons rather than naming names or implicating her husband.

By Anne Sebba,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A heart-piercingly brilliant book about a woman whose personal life put her in the cross-hairs of history' HADLEY FREEMAN
'Totally riveting. I couldn't put it down' VICTORIA HISLOP
'Ethel sings out for all women who have been misunderstood and wronged, and refuse to bow down' NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE
'A shocking tale of betrayal, naivety, misogyny and judicial failure' SONIA PURNELL
'A historic miscarriage of justice laid bare for our times' PHILIPPE SANDS

Ethel Rosenberg was a supportive wife, loving mother to two small children and courageous idealist who grew up during the Depression with aspirations to become an opera singer.


Book cover of Red Sea Spies: The True Story of Mossad's Fake Diving Resort

Helen Fry Author Of Spymaster: The Man Who Saved Mi6

From my list on spies and their greatest stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Helen is an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence, President of the Friends of the National Archives, and a trustee of the Medmenham Collection. Her history of MI9 – the first such history for over 40 years – was shortlisted for The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2021. Her latest book is ‘Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6’ about one of the greatest spies of the 20th century.

Helen's book list on spies and their greatest stories

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

Who would have imagined that a fake diving resort on the Red Sea would become the focus of a clandestine operation by the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad? Raffi Berg’s book tells the epic story of a mission behind enemy lines by Israeli spies to secretly rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews and bring them to Israel. It was a clandestine operation sparked by a single cryptic message pleading for help from the Ethiopian Jewish community. During his research, Raffi Berg was given rare permission to interview the Mossad agents involved in the mission, including the commander Dani. He also gathered testimonies from those who were brought out of Ethiopia and narrates this human story with honesty and openness.

Rare video footage of the operation has now been released. It uses night vision technology and provides deeply moving footage of the exodus of these people in the middle of the night to…

By Raffi Berg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Secret missions, brazen deceptions and thrilling, clandestine operations - Red Sea Spies has it all. But it has something more important, too - a genuine human mission that made a difference.' David Hoffman, author of The Billion Dollar Spy

'[A] thrilling and meticulous account.' The Times

In the early 1980s on a remote part of the Sudanese coast, a new luxury holiday resort opened for business. Catering for divers, it attracted guests from around the world. Little did the holidaymakers know that the staff were undercover spies,…

Book cover of The Honest Spy

Steve Anderson Author Of The Losing Role

From my list on underdogs on a doomed mission.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m drawn to characters who are stuck between two worlds and in over their heads and doomed to fail, but they stick with it anyway. My novels also tend to include overlooked historical themes from the WWII and Cold War eras, often involving espionage or crime. I have an MA in history, so I like researching and using historical detail to dramatize the story. I’ve also been a Fulbright Fellow, a fiction editor, and a translator of German fiction. The books on this list all include the type of underdogs that I love—and inspired my work. 

Steve's book list on underdogs on a doomed mission

Steve Anderson Why did Steve love this book?

This is the improbable story of a true underdog who will stop at nothing to fight fascist evil, even when he has no idea what he’s doing and no one to help him. It’s also a true story. In WWII, Fritz Kolbe was a nondescript German official in the Berlin Foreign Office who made himself into a crucial spy against the Nazis yet for years remained an unknown and unsung hero. Kolbe’s dark drive and passion are fictionalized brilliantly by Andreas Kollender. I was so taken by this tale that I translated it myself from the original German. 

By Andreas Kollender, Steve Anderson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During one of history's darkest chapters, one man is determined to make a difference.

In the tradition of Schindler's List comes a thrilling novel based on the heroic true story of Fritz Kolbe, a widowed civil servant in Adolf Hitler's foreign ministry. Recognizing that millions of lives are at stake, Kolbe uses his position to pass information to the Americans-risking himself and the people he holds most dear-and embarks on a dangerous double life as the Allies' most important spy.

Summoned from his South African post to return to Nazi Germany, Kolbe leaves behind his beloved fourteen-year-old daughter, a decision…

Book cover of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From my list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Why did Richard love this book?

Reading about the Holocaust in high school and college, it was easy for me to see WWII Europe in a binary of “Nazis vs. Everybody Else.” This book utterly destroyed that illusion, and it remains today one of the most disturbing books I have ever read about the Holocaust. In the summer of 1941, without any prompting from the Nazis, the gentile half of the Polish town of Jedwabne slaughtered the Jewish half of the town in a single day. This truly horrifying story, hidden for over half a century, is a reminder that the evils unleashed by the Nazis did not remain confined to the Germans. The Holocaust occurred on many fronts: the town of Jedwabne was one of them.   

By Jan T. Gross,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A landmark book that changed the story of Poland's role in the Holocaust

On July 10, 1941, in Nazi-occupied Poland, half of the town of Jedwabne brutally murdered the other half: 1,600 men, women, and children-all but seven of the town's Jews. In this shocking and compelling classic of Holocaust history, Jan Gross reveals how Jedwabne's Jews were murdered not by faceless Nazis but by people who knew them well-their non-Jewish Polish neighbors. A previously untold story of the complicity of non-Germans in the extermination of the Jews, Neighbors shows how people victimized by the Nazis could at the same…

Book cover of The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach

Rosanna Warren Author Of Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters

From my list on France modern art, culture, and political conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a poet, literary critic, translator, and biographer, and I grew up partly in France. I became obsessed with Max Jacob when I was twenty. Max Jacob—mystic, poet, painter, and suffering lover—took hold of me, and I found myself writing poems to him, in his voice, in my sketchbooks. They were among my first published poems: he redirected my life. A few years later I stumbled into writing his biography, never imagining that it would take thirty-five years: it came out from W. W. Norton in 2020, along with my most recent book of poems So Forth. I teach Comparative Literature in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

Rosanna's book list on France modern art, culture, and political conflict

Rosanna Warren Why did Rosanna love this book?

An expert in French fascism, Kaplan meticulously documents the career and the fate of the anti-Semitic, collaborationist novelist and journalist, Robert Brasillach. He was one of the few prominent intellectuals executed after the Liberation in France. His trial in late 1944 and execution in February 1945 put on the public stage the drama the country had just experienced: the Occupation, collaboration with the Nazis, the Resistance. As Kaplan presents it, Brasillach’s eloquent defense lawyer, the equally eloquent prosecutor, and Brasillach himself articulated the collision of visions of what it meant to be French and what it meant to be a patriot (or a traitor), arguments that still agitate France today. 

By Alice Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On February 6, 1945, a 35-year-old French writer and newspaper editor named Robert Brasillach was executed for treason by a French firing squad. He was the only writer of any distinction to be put to death by the French Liberation government during the violent days of score-settling known as the Purge. In this book, Alice Kaplan, author of the memoir "French Lessons" tells the story of Brasillach's rise and fall: his emergence as the golden boy of literary fascism during the 1930s, his wartime collaboration with the Nazis, his dramatic trial and his afterlife as a martyr for French rightists…

Book cover of European Mennonites and the Holocaust

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Author Of Religion, Ethnonationalism, and Antisemitism in the Era of the Two World Wars

From my list on German Protestantism in Hitler’s Germany.

Why are we passionate about this?

Kevin P. Spicer is a historian of twentieth-century Germany who investigates the relationship between church and state from 1918-1945. I'm fascinated by the choices of Christian leaders as they negotiated the challenges of living and leading under National Socialism. I seek to understand the connections between Christian antisemitism and National Socialist’s racial-based exclusionary ethnonationalism and antisemitism. Rebecca Carter-Chand is a historian of twentieth-century Germany who focuses on Christianity during the Nazi period. I'm particularly interested in the smaller Christian churches on the margins of the German religious landscape, many of which maintained ties with their co-religionists abroad. I seek to understand how religious communities navigate ethical and practical challenges of political upheaval and fascism.

Kevin's book list on German Protestantism in Hitler’s Germany

Kevin P. Spicer and Rebecca Carter-Chand Why did Kevin love this book?

The collective memory of Mennonites during the Holocaust has long been mythologized or has remained unexamined. A recent renewal of interest from both the Mennonite community itself and scholars of the Holocaust has led to a number of conferences and publications. This collection of essays showcases the latest scholarship and paints a complex portrait of Mennonites in both western and eastern Europe during the Holocaust. The book highlights the many roles that Mennonites played, largely due to their proximity to the events of the Holocaust, including as neighbors, killers, enablers, witnesses, and rescuers. The contributors discuss Mennonite identity, theology, agency, and collective memory, all situating their stories in local, national, and European geopolitical contexts. 

By Mark Jantzen (editor), John D. Thiesen (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked European Mennonites and the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the Second World War, Mennonites in the Netherlands, Germany, occupied Poland, and Ukraine lived in communities with Jews and close to various Nazi camps and killing sites. As a result of this proximity, Mennonites were neighbours to and witnessed the destruction of European Jews. In some cases they were beneficiaries or even enablers of the Holocaust. Much of this history was forgotten after the war, as Mennonites sought to rebuild or find new homes as refugees. The result was a myth of Mennonite innocence and ignorance that connected their own suffering during the 1930s and 1940s with earlier centuries…

Book cover of Once Upon a Time in France

Diaa Anwar Author Of The Sculptor and the Sacred River

From my list on comics with historical background.

Why am I passionate about this?

In Egypt, we did not have our own Arab comics, but different worlds came to us from translated comics, American (Disney and superheroes), and French comics. I did not like superhero comics, I loved Disney comics and French comics, and n addition to my passion for reading history, some French series combine this, such as the Alix series. I would have loved to have a historical background to the events that prompted me to read more about them and get to know the real characters, how they lived, and how they ended.

Diaa's book list on comics with historical background

Diaa Anwar Why did Diaa love this book?

This comic book is one of the best-selling books in France, and it has won several awards.

Here we will find more historical facts than fiction. The book tells about the life of Joseph Joanovici, a Jew of Romanian origin who immigrated to France, became one of the wealthy, and experienced one of the darkest periods.

French history, which is the Nazi invasion of France, and in order to survive the horrors of this period, he had to deal with everyone, friends and enemies, until people were confused in judging him, was he loyal to his people or was he a traitor.

What I liked about this book is the wonderful scenario and the cinematic style, this series consists of five parts that you will never forget after you finish reading it.

By Fabien Nury, Sylvain Vallee (illustrator), Ivanka Hahnenberger (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon a Time in France as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For some, he was a villain. For others, a hero.

Based on a true story, Once Upon a Time in France follows the life of Joseph Joanovici, a Romanian Jew who immigrated to France in the 1920s and became one of the richest men in Europe as a scrap-metal magnate. During the German occupation of France, he thought his influence could keep his family safe, but he soon finds that the only way to stay one step ahead of the Nazis is to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. Though he plays both sides of the fence as…

Book cover of Verdict On Vichy: Power and Prejudice in the Vichy France Regime

Boaz Dvir Author Of Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence

From my list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started conducting primary research about the Holocaust in the 1990s, when I spent a week interviewing my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor and a pious Hasid, about his life. Fascinated with the survival of his faith, I applied for and received a grant from the Religion News Service to explore spiritual aspects of the Holocaust. I also sought to answer my saba’s question: How did Israelis end up fighting their 1948 War of Independence with Nazi weapons such as the Mauser he had received? I answered it in the 2015 PBS documentary I directed and produced, A Wing and a Prayer, and the 2020 nonfiction book I wrote, Saving Israel.

Boaz's book list on 21st century nonfiction about the Holocaust

Boaz Dvir Why did Boaz love this book?

Making Cojot, a documentary about a Parisian business consultant who hunted down former Gestapo commander Klaus Barbie, prompted me to closely examine Vichy. This French national administration went out of its way to appease its Nazi occupiers during World War II. But the more answers I dug up, the more questions I had. Verdict on Vichy filled in many of the gaps. For instance, it provided a possible explanation as to why the judges presiding over Barbie’s 1987 trial in Lyon granted his request to sit out the proceedings, thus depriving his victims’ families the opportunity to look him in the eyes as they recounted some of his crimes against humanity. The judges might have pounced at the chance to hide Barbie, who was reportedly ready to spill the beans about French leaders such as then-President François Mitterrand who collaborated with the Nazis. Michael Curtis went to great lengths…

By Michael Curtis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This masterful book is the first comprehensive reappraisal of the Vichy France regime for over 20 years. France was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1944, and the exact nature of France's role in the Vichy years is only now beginning to come to light. One of the main reasons that the Vichy history is difficult to tell is that some of France's most prominent politicians, including President Mitterand, have been implicated in the regime. This has meant that public access to key documents has been denied and it is only now that an objective analysis is possible. The…

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