100 books like Blitz

By Juliet Gardiner,

Here are 100 books that Blitz fans have personally recommended if you like Blitz. 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 Blitz Families: The Children Who Stayed Behind

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Blackbirds

From my list on the London Blitz and the bomber war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in London for eighteen years and acquired an abiding affection for my nation’s capital. I wanted to write a sequel to Bluebirds and jumped at the chance of giving Bryan Hale an adventure where he could walk the streets that I knew and loved. The scars caused on the fair face of London by sticks of Nazi bombs landing in ragged lines across the streets and terraces may still be discerned from the incongruity of the buildings that have since risen to fill the gaps. London heals and thrives. Ultimately, I believe every English writer harbours an ambition to write a London novel. I did, and I did.

Melvyn's book list on the London Blitz and the bomber war

Melvyn Fickling Why did Melvyn love this book?

We’re all familiar with wartime images of young evacuees gathered together on railway stations. But over fifty percent of children were not evacuated from British cities, and it is they that Penny Starns has studied. Once we get past the mothers’ ‘keep or send’ moral dilemma, there are the issues of discipline, education, health, food, and psychological development to consider. Starns takes these subjects chapter by chapter, relating stories of disease, poverty, criminality, and terror (including one child who spent the night in a shelter within reach of an unexploded bomb). These tales she counterpoints with examples of unexpectedly increasing emotional and physical wellbeing amongst some of the stay-behinds. This is an important record of the experiences of a demographic that war histories often ignore.

By Penny Starns,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The mass evacuation of children and new and expectant mothers during the Second World War is well documented. But over fifty per cent of children were not evacuated during the War, and it is these young people who offer an unrivalled view of what life was like during the bombing raids in Britain's cities. In Blitz Families Penny Starns takes a new look at the children whose parents refused to bow to official pressure and kept their beloved children with them throughout the War. As she documents family after family which made this difficult decision, she uncovers tales of the…


Book cover of Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare, 1939-1945

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Blackbirds

From my list on the London Blitz and the bomber war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in London for eighteen years and acquired an abiding affection for my nation’s capital. I wanted to write a sequel to Bluebirds and jumped at the chance of giving Bryan Hale an adventure where he could walk the streets that I knew and loved. The scars caused on the fair face of London by sticks of Nazi bombs landing in ragged lines across the streets and terraces may still be discerned from the incongruity of the buildings that have since risen to fill the gaps. London heals and thrives. Ultimately, I believe every English writer harbours an ambition to write a London novel. I did, and I did.

Melvyn's book list on the London Blitz and the bomber war

Melvyn Fickling Why did Melvyn love this book?

British Radio Direction Finding stations (RDF), later to be dubbed Radar, with their iconic arrays of masts along England’s south coast, contributed greatly to the RAF’s success in the Battle of Britain by detecting approaching raids and giving early warning. Both sides in the European war possessed similar technologies operated from ground stations. The race to miniaturise RDF sets for airborne interception, once realised, would have devastating consequences for intruding bomber crews facing A.I. equipped night fighters over Britain and Germany. Price takes an even-handed approach in relating the development of these technologies in Britain, Germany, the US, and Japan, making this an absorbing and enjoyable read that demystifies an aspect of the war that is usually only mentioned in passing.

By Alfred Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The rapid evolution of radio and radar systems for military use during World War II, and devices to counter them, led to a technological battle that neither the Axis nor the Allied powers could afford to lose. The result was a continual series of thrusts, parries, and counter-thrusts, as first one side then the other sought to wrest the initiative in the struggle to control the ether. This was a battle fought with strange-sounding weapons-"Freya," "Mandrel," "Boozer," and "Window"-and characterized by the bravery, self-sacrifice, and skill of those who took part in it. During the war, however, and for many…


Book cover of Bomber

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Blackbirds

From my list on the London Blitz and the bomber war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in London for eighteen years and acquired an abiding affection for my nation’s capital. I wanted to write a sequel to Bluebirds and jumped at the chance of giving Bryan Hale an adventure where he could walk the streets that I knew and loved. The scars caused on the fair face of London by sticks of Nazi bombs landing in ragged lines across the streets and terraces may still be discerned from the incongruity of the buildings that have since risen to fill the gaps. London heals and thrives. Ultimately, I believe every English writer harbours an ambition to write a London novel. I did, and I did.

Melvyn's book list on the London Blitz and the bomber war

Melvyn Fickling Why did Melvyn love this book?

It is June 1943 and the RAF are mounting another bombing raid on Fortress Europe, part of the whirlwind that Arthur Harris had promised Germans would reap following the night blitz they waged against Britain. Deighton’s fictional account follows a single crew on a mission that would go horribly wrong, mixing their narrative with the stories of their adversaries in the air and their victims on the ground. Deighton writes with forensic clarity and at key points delivers events in a kind of literary slow-motion that drills the harrowing details into his reader. Set over a single twenty-four-hour period, and played out mostly in darkness, the drama is tense and exhausting. This is indeed a modern classic that illuminates the biggest contradictory moral dilemma of the war.

By Len Deighton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic novel of the Second World War that relates in devastating detail the 24-hour story of an allied bombing raid.

Bomber is a novel of war. There are no victors, no vanquished. There are simply those who remain alive, and those who die.

Bomber follows the progress of an Allied air raid through a period of twenty-four hours in the summer of 1943. It portrays all the participants in a terrifying drama, both in the air and on the ground, in Britain and in Germany.

In its documentary style, it is unique. In its emotional power it is overwhelming.…


Book cover of The Secret History of the Blitz

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Blackbirds

From my list on the London Blitz and the bomber war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in London for eighteen years and acquired an abiding affection for my nation’s capital. I wanted to write a sequel to Bluebirds and jumped at the chance of giving Bryan Hale an adventure where he could walk the streets that I knew and loved. The scars caused on the fair face of London by sticks of Nazi bombs landing in ragged lines across the streets and terraces may still be discerned from the incongruity of the buildings that have since risen to fill the gaps. London heals and thrives. Ultimately, I believe every English writer harbours an ambition to write a London novel. I did, and I did.

Melvyn's book list on the London Blitz and the bomber war

Melvyn Fickling Why did Melvyn love this book?

Today, it is almost impossible to imagine aircraft roaming freely over British cities, disgorging bombs onto the streets below. So, it’s vital for us to have access to the personal, unvarnished stories and contemporary accounts from those that actually lived through this particular horror. In The Secret History of the Blitz Levine pulls no punches as he documents the behaviour of ordinary people faced with extreme experiences. Some reacted with fortitude, uniting in neighbourhood solidarity and extending charity to strangers. Others exploited the chaos, breaking legal and moral codes for their own personal enrichment. To this day, the British psyche collectively benefits from the social concept of a Blitz Spirit. But we should remember it was always a two-sided coin.

By Joshua Levine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Blitz of 1940-41 is one of the most iconic periods in modern British history - and one of the most misunderstood. The 'Blitz spirit' is celebrated by some, whereas others dismiss it as a myth. Joshua Levine's thrilling biography rejects the tired arguments and reveals the human truth: the Blitz was a time of extremes of experience and behaviour. People werepulling together and helping strangers, but they were also breaking rules and exploiting each other. Life during wartime, the author reveals, was complex and messy and real.

From the first page readers will discover a different story to the…


Book cover of His Majesty's Hope

Joyce Tremel Author Of Death On A Deadline

From my list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with historical fiction, especially the World War II era, ever since I listened to my mother playing her Big Band Records. I’ve also loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. Once I discovered historical mysteries, I haven’t been able to separate the two. I’ve recently expanded my interest to include the first world war. There are so many great stories that I’m afraid I’ll never get to read them all. It was really hard to narrow down my list to five books and I hope you’ll love the ones I’ve chosen for you.

Joyce's book list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs

Joyce Tremel Why did Joyce love this book?

I adore this entire series, and especially this third book. Maggie Hope, who started out as a typist for Winston Churchill is now a full-blown spy for MI-5 and is sent to Germany.

I love seeing Maggie’s development throughout the series. Even when faced with what seem like insurmountable odds, she doesn’t give up. Maggie is the epitome of a woman working not only in a job that was likely considered “man’s work” but doing it splendidly.

By Susan Elia MacNeal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked His Majesty's Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to…


Book cover of Human Voices

Janet Beard Author Of The Atomic City Girls

From my list on women’s experiences of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, I was aware that the city had historical significance but also that it wasn’t particularly famous, at least to people from outside the region. I’ve always been drawn to these sorts of overlooked stories from history, which are, not coincidentally, often women’s stories. Women made up the majority of workers in Oak Ridge during World War II, and for decades afterward, their stories were generally viewed as less important than male-dominated narratives of the war. But I’ve always believed that women’s stories are no less interesting than men’s. These books look at history’s worst conflict from unique perspectives that foreground the female experience. 

Janet's book list on women’s experiences of World War II

Janet Beard Why did Janet love this book?

An unsparing portrait of a cast of characters working for the BBC in London at the outset of the war, this novel is both funny and moving, though Fitzgerald’s keen sense of irony assures that the writing is never sentimental. Even the most minor characters come to life, as they adjust to both the bureaucracy of the wartime BBC and the realities of life during the Blitz. 

By Penelope Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The human voices of Penelope Fitzgerald's novel are those of the BBC in the first years of the Second World War, the time when the Concert Hall was turned into a dormitory for both sexes and the whole building became a target for the enemy bombers.


Book cover of When the Siren Wailed

Kate Albus Author Of A Place to Hang the Moon

From my list on England’s World War II evacuations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by England’s World War II evacuations since I was a child. Appropriately enough, I first learned of this extraordinary historical event in a story: it’s the reason the Pevensies are sent to the Professor’s house in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the dark days of World War II, more than a million English children boarded trains, buses, and ships, to be picked up and cared for by strangers, in some cases for the duration of the war. It’s a historical event that is as astonishing to me now as it was when I first read of it all those years ago. 

Kate's book list on England’s World War II evacuations

Kate Albus Why did Kate love this book?

Several evacuee novels published in the few decades after the war became beloved classics. Michelle Magorian’s Good Night, Mr. Tom, and Nina Bawden’s Carrie’s War, for example, are extraordinary. But my favorite of this era’s evacuee novels is Noel Streatfeild’s. Laura, Andy, and Tim Clark are none too happy to be sent away from their London home, so it’s a pleasant surprise when they find themselves comfortable in the care of Colonel Launcelot Stranger Stranger (not a typo… that’s his name). But when the Colonel dies suddenly, the Clarks run away back to London and their mum. It’s Streatfeild’s ever-so-dry wit that made me fall for this one, and her wry portrayal of the children’s experience in both the countryside and the Blitz-torn streets of London.

By Noel Streatfeild,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Siren Wailed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A thrilling and moving adventure story about evacuees in World War Two, perfect for readers of Goodnight Mister Tom

'A compelling heart-warming story about three children in the Second World War - I loved it.' Jacqueline Wilson

When war breaks out in September 1939, Laura, Andy and Tim Clark are evacuated to the countryside. The Colonel's comfortable home in Dorset is a huge contrast to their cramped terraced house in London, where their loving parents struggle to put the next meal on the table. Though unused to having children around, the Colonel proves to be a kind and generous, if…


Book cover of Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Jennifer Kincheloe Author Of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc

From my list on smart historical mysteries that start a series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a public health research scientist who writes humorous historical mysteries set in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD. Like you, I read. I love smart, well-researched historical fiction with strong female protagonists and a good romantic subplot. Extra points if the book is funny because studies show laughter is good for you. 

Jennifer's book list on smart historical mysteries that start a series

Jennifer Kincheloe Why did Jennifer love this book?

In 1940 London, Maggie Hope, a brilliant mind who graduated top of her class, is recruited by Number 10 Downing Street to be…a typist. Of course. She’s a woman. She’s also a crackerjack code breaker. I think you know where this is going. The character is wonderful, the writing strong, the story tight. A highlight for me was when Maggie –a young, virginal, cerebral type—pulls off a daring motorcycle jump with a man on the back because she has to. I don’t know, I think there’s a life lesson somewhere in there.

By Susan Elia MacNeal,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mr. Churchill's Secretary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BARRY AWARD WINNER • Heralding the arrival of a brilliant new heroine, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.

“With any luck, the adventures of red-haired super-sleuth Maggie Hope will go on forever. . . . Taut, well-plotted, and suspenseful, this is a wartime mystery to sink your teeth into.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none…


Book cover of The London Cage: The Secret History of Britain's World War II Interrogation Centre

Mary Kathryn Barbier Author Of Spies, Lies, and Citizenship: The Hunt for Nazi Criminals

From my list on WW2 intelligence history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Mississippi State University and a historian of World War II in general and, more specifically, of WWII intelligence history. My interest stems from a research topic that my Ph.D. advisor recommended and that became the subject of my dissertation – Operation Fortitude, which was the deception plan that provided cover for the Normandy Invasion. While my own research interests are focused on the intelligence history of the Normandy invasion, I am increasingly drawn to intelligence history or novels that showcase the people, technologies, and other theaters of war.

Mary's book list on WW2 intelligence history

Mary Kathryn Barbier Why did Mary love this book?

Intelligence was collected in multiple ways by all sides during World War II. The British housed German prisoners at a site called the London Cage, which was located in an upper-class London neighborhood. The London Cage was later used as a Nazi war criminal detention site. While in residence, the German prisoners underwent interrogation, in some cases what we would now call “enhanced interrogation” and in others while under the influence of “truth drugs.” As Fry’s book reveals, the post-9/11 “enhanced interrogations” were not the first of its kind. I recommend this book because it demonstrates the lengths to which governments, in this case the British government, would go during wartime to gather actionable intelligence about an enemy.

By Helen Fry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first complete account of the fiercely guarded secrets of London's clandestine interrogation center, operated by the British Secret Service from 1940 to 1948

Behind the locked doors of three mansions in London's exclusive Kensington Palace Gardens neighborhood, the British Secret Service established a highly secret prison in 1940: the London Cage. Here recalcitrant German prisoners of war were subjected to "special intelligence treatment." The stakes were high: the war's outcome could hinge on obtaining information German prisoners were determined to withhold. After the war, high-ranking Nazi war criminals were housed in the Cage, revamped as an important center for…


Book cover of Love Lessons

Clare Harvey Author Of The Escape

From my list on WW2 memoirs by brave and remarkable women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m endlessly fascinated by the stories of young women from the WW2 era, who came of age at the moment the world was torn apart. As an author of wartime historical fiction with strong female characters, it’s vital for me to understand the experience of ordinary women who grew up in such extraordinary times, so I’m always on the hunt for real voices from the era. I’d love to think that in similar circumstances I’d face my challenges with the same humour, resourcefulness, bravery, and humanity as my favourite five female memoirists selected for you here.

Clare's book list on WW2 memoirs by brave and remarkable women

Clare Harvey Why did Clare love this book?

If I’d been a London teenager at the outbreak of WW2, Joan is who I’d choose to have as my best friend. Joan’s memoirs, taken from her actual diaries, which were written secretly during bombing raids, reveal a conflicted, hormonally charged, humorous woman. This snippet gives you an idea: “Well here I sit in the air-raid shelter with screaming bombs falling right and left…I can’t help feeling that each moment may be my last, and as the opposite of death is life, I think I shall get seduced by Rupert tomorrow.” Written with great wit, and full of joie de vivre, Love Lessons is a wonderful read.

By Joan Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On my way to the studio there was an air-raid. I ran into the brick shelter in the middle of the road. There were poor little Leonard and Agnes sitting on their suitcases, having lost their all. Luckily Leonard had been wearing his best trousers at the time. Madame Arcana was there too wearing a gold brocade toque and a blanket. It was bloody cold and I wanted to pee badly, but couldn't. Leonard wouldn't give me his seat as he believes in the equality of the sexes, so I sat on the floor...'

August 1939. As a teenage Catholic…


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