10 books like Alex's Wake

By Martin Goldsmith,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Alex's Wake. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Paper Love

By Sarah Wildman,

Book cover of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

A poignant, well-written and deeply researched non-fiction story of the author’s search for the girlfriend her grandfather had left behind in Vienna. As my family left Vienna because of the Nazi regime, and my own novel takes place in Vienna, I found Ms. Wildman’s book especially meaningful, raising the question not only of what had happened to the woman but also of how much guilt and responsibility the grandfather carried?

Paper Love

By Sarah Wildman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Paper Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One woman’s journey to find the lost love her grandfather left behind when he fled pre-World War II Europe, and an exploration into family identity, myth, and memory.

Years after her grandfather’s death, journalist Sarah Wildman stumbled upon a cache of his letters in a file labeled “Correspondence: Patients A–G.” What she found inside weren’t dry medical histories; instead what was written opened a path into the destroyed world that was her family’s prewar Vienna. One woman’s letters stood out: those from Valy—Valerie Scheftel—her grandfather’s lover, who had remained behind when he fled Europe six months after the Nazis annexed…


Three Minutes in Poland

By Glenn Kurtz,

Book cover of Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film

Glenn Kurtz’s grandparents traveled to Poland in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of the Second World War, to visit family. They filmed parts of that trip, including 3 minutes in Poland, footage that ultimately became one of the last records of a once vibrant Jewish community. Decades later, Kurtz painstakingly set out to identify the people in the film. He ultimately located seven living survivors, including an eighty-six-year-old man who appeared in the film as a thirteen-year-old boy. A heartfelt and powerful telling of what it means to rescue history and stories of survival.

Three Minutes in Poland

By Glenn Kurtz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Three Minutes in Poland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traveling in Europe in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of World War II, David Kurtz, the author's grandfather, captured three minutes of ordinary life in a small, predominantly Jewish town in Poland on 16 mm Kodachrome colour film. More than seventy years later, through the brutal twists of history, these few minutes of home-movie footage would become a memorial to an entire community, an entire culture that was annihilated in the Holocaust. Three Minutes in Poland traces Glenn Kurtz's remarkable four year journey to identify the people in his grandfather's haunting images. His search takes him across the…


The Souvenir

By Louise Steinman,

Book cover of The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father's War

After Steinman’s parents passed away, she found a trove of WWII-era letters her father wrote along with a silk flag inscribed to a man named Yoshio Shimizu. In this book, Steinman recounted her years-long quest to learn who Shimizu was, a search that resulted in a trip to Japan to return the precious artifact. At the same time, by reading her father’s letters, Steinman discovered a tender and expressive side of her father—a side that had been wiped away by trauma. Steinman’s book shines a light on the universal cost of war.

The Souvenir

By Louise Steinman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A soldier’s daughter unravels the secrets of her father’s experience in the Pacific Theater in this “graceful, understated” World War II memoir for fans of The Things They Carried (The New York Times Book Review)
 
Louise Steinman’s American childhood in the fifties was bound by one unequivocal condition: “Never mention the war to your father.” That silence sustained itself until the fateful day Steinman opened an old ammunition box left behind after her parents’ death. In it, she discovered nearly 500 letters her father had written to her mother during his service in the Pacific War and a Japanese flag…


Chasing Portraits

By Elizabeth Rynecki,

Book cover of Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter's Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy

Rynecki’s great-grandfather, Moshe, was a painter who documented moments of Jewish life in the interwar years: women sewing, children playing, wedding celebrations, men in prayer. When WWII broke out Moshe’s paintings were hidden, and afterward only a fraction were recovered. In this book, Rynecki recounted her decades-long quest to locate and archive the lost artwork. It’s a memoir about the lengths one will go to to ensure a lost family legacy will never be forgotten.

Chasing Portraits

By Elizabeth Rynecki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The memoir of one woman's emotional quest to find the art of her Polish-Jewish great-grandfather, lost during World War II.

Moshe Rynecki's body of work reached close to eight hundred paintings and sculptures before his life came to a tragic end. It was his great-granddaughter Elizabeth who sought to rediscover his legacy, setting upon a journey to seek out what had been lost but never forgotten...

The everyday lives of the Polish-Jewish community depicted in Moshe Rynecki's paintings simply blended into the background of Elizabeth Rynecki's life when she was growing up. But the art transformed from familiar to extraordinary…


Paper Walls

By David S. Wyman,

Book cover of Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis, 1938-1941

Wyman’s later book, The Abandonment of the Jews got all the attention, but Paper Walls, about how immigration to the United States actually worked and how the US government alternately tried and refused to aid Jews desperately attempting to escape increasing Nazi persecution and violence, is my go-to recommendation. If this is your family’s story, or if you want to know why Jews couldn’t just leave, Wyman’s book will explain a lot.

Paper Walls

By David S. Wyman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Paper Walls was the first scholarly book to deal with the question of America’s response to the Nazi assault on the European Jews. A revised version of my Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard University, it was originally published in 1968... Those times were very different from these. There was little public receptivity to Holocaust studies then, and only limited academic interest... The scholarly reviews, of which there were several, were favorable. But the general press paid little attention to the book...

A pioneer in its field, Paper Walls first established the thesis that three features of American society in the 1930’s…


Border and Rule

By Harsha Walia,

Book cover of Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism

Walia’s Border and Rule expands the framework to think globally about the role of borders in fracturing the global working-class to the benefit of corporations and states and to the detriment of ordinary people and the planet. She helps us see that there is in fact no migrant crisis, but multiple crises of racism, capitalism, and imperialism that converge at national borders. The fact that people move across borders is a symptom of these convergent crises. So, again, if we want to get serious about addressing border violence, targeting migrants (the symptom) makes no sense. Instead, we must address the root causes in vastly unequal life chances spread across the globe that borders enforce. She ultimately argues that we must abolish capitalism and imperialism in order to achieve a world without borders and their violence. 

Border and Rule

By Harsha Walia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Border and Rule, one of North America's foremost thinkers and immigrant rights organizers delivers an unflinching examination of migration as a pillar of global governance and gendered racial class formation.

Harsha Walia disrupts easy explanations for the migrant and refugee crises, instead showing them to be the inevitable outcomes of conquest, capitalist globalization, and climate change generating mass dispossession worldwide. Border and Rule explores a number of seemingly disparate global geographies with shared logics of border rule that displace, immobilize, criminalize, exploit, and expel migrants and refugees. With her keen ability to connect the dots, Walia demonstrates how borders…


Other Words for Home

By Jasmine Warga,

Book cover of Other Words for Home

This is a moving middle grade novel in verse in which the protagonist, a young Syrian girl who flees to America with her mother, must leave devoted family members behind and in danger. Written by an American-born woman with patriarchal roots in Jordan and a few Syrian friends, she has nevertheless given us a vivid picture of the war in Aleppo, Syria, and the difficulties encountered by Jude who must come of age during a very difficult and confusing time in her own life and the life of her country. Young people will be able to relate to this on many levels including the wish to belong, homesickness for what was known, and what it is to come of age in such a completely unfamiliar setting. For someone who has moved many times, this story was particularly affecting.

Other Words for Home

By Jasmine Warga,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times bestseller and Newbery Honor Book!

A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed.

Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always…


Last Boat Out of Shanghai

By Helen Zia,

Book cover of Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao's Revolution

Decadent Old Shanghai was never going to survive a Communist takeover. It wasn’t easy to leave—in her family, my mother was told she was the lucky one, and so was the mother of author Helen Zia. An accomplished journalist, Zia masterfully captures what it was like for four young people—including her mother—to make the wrenching decision to leave their homes for places unknown, the chaos and distress of boarding that fabled “last boat” out of Shanghai, and what came after. The core of the story unfolds through the authentic accounts of the main characters Benny, Annuo, Bing, and Ho. Additionally, Zia uses detailed research and extensive interviews with hundreds of émigrés from all strata of Shanghai society, bringing to life this last of a generation to embark on a largely forgotten mass exodus.

Last Boat Out of Shanghai

By Helen Zia,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Last Boat Out of Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The dramatic real life stories of four young people caught up in the mass exodus of Shanghai in the wake of China’s 1949 Communist revolution—a heartrending precursor to the struggles faced by emigrants today. 

“A true page-turner . . . [Helen] Zia has proven once again that history is something that happens to real people.”—New York Times bestselling author Lisa See

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR • FINALIST FOR THE PEN/JACQUELINE BOGRAD WELD AWARD FOR BIOGRAPHY

Shanghai has historically been China’s jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city.…


Teacup

By Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley (illustrator),

Book cover of Teacup

In the space where our fears and our hopes live, there is the landscape of our dreams and nightmares. This book lushly carries a boy's search for home to readers everywhere. It's a magical book for it carries a great deal of room for the reader to step into the words and images within. 

Teacup

By Rebecca Young, Matt Ottley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A stunning picture book that addresses life’s big journeys with hope, beauty, and reassurance

School Library Journal [STARRED REVIEW!]  
“[A] moving, allegorical tale… inspiring reflection and empathy”
 
Kirkus Reviews [STARRED REVIEW!] 
“A potent discussion starter… Enchanting, beautiful, and full of hope. “
 
Booklist [STARRED REVIEW!]  
“A lyrical tale of leaving home and finding a new one…Thought-provoking and arrestingly beautiful.”

A boy must leave his home and find another. He brings with him a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off to sea. Some days, the journey is peaceful, and the skies are cloudless…


Between the Ottomans and the Entente

By Stacy D. Fahrenthold,

Book cover of Between the Ottomans and the Entente: The First World War in the Syrian and Lebanese Diaspora, 1908-1925

Connecting nation, migration, and narration, Stacy’s debut is a corrective to what we know about Arabs in the Americas at a time when their homeland transitioned from the Ottoman regime to the European mandate. It strikes with global strokes and fine details whether it is about women at a Brooklyn factory, a French consulate spy chasing an anti-German diplomat-turned-traitor, or some mysteriously disappearing witnesses on sight.

Between the Ottomans and the Entente

By Stacy D. Fahrenthold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between the Ottomans and the Entente as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since 2011 over 5.6 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and beyond, and another 6.6 million are internally displaced. The contemporary flight of Syrian refugees comes one century after the region's formative experience with massive upheaval, displacement, and geopolitical intervention: the First World War.

In this book, Stacy Fahrenthold examines the politics of Syrian and Lebanese migration around the period of the First World War. Some half million Arab migrants, nearly all still subjects of the Ottoman Empire, lived in a diaspora concentrated in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. They faced new demands for their political loyalty…


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