100 books like Finding Thoroton

By Philip Vickers,

Here are 100 books that Finding Thoroton fans have personally recommended if you like Finding Thoroton. 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 Before Enigma: The Room 40 Codebreakers of the First World War

Roseanna M. White Author Of The Number of Love

From my list on British intelligence in WW1.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roseanna M. White is a historical fiction writer whose bestselling stories always seem to find their way to war, espionage, and intrigue. A fascination with her family’s heritage led her to tales set in Edwardian and Great War England, and she’s spent the last seven years studying that culture and how the era’s events intersected with things like faith, family, the arts, and social reforms. Of course, she does all this study and writing about war and mayhem from the safety of her home in West Virginia, where life is blessedly ordinary and no one expects her to actually crack any codes in order to survive...which is definitely a good thing.

Roseanna's book list on British intelligence in WW1

Roseanna M. White Why did Roseanna love this book?

This is a short punchy book that provides a great introduction to the topic of codebreaking in England during the Great War, giving a sweeping overview and then some entertaining and tantalizing stories about the people involved. At just over a hundred pages, this is a quick read that serves as a fun introduction to the topic.

By David Boyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did the British codebreakers succeed in cracking the apparently unbreakable Enigma code during the Second World War? Was it their gifted amateurism? The brilliance of Alan Turing? The invention of the very first computers? Or the pioneering work of Polish cryptographers? It was all of the above. But there is one other crucial factor, which is much less well known. The same team had done it before. The truth is that many of those most closely involved in cracking the Enigma code – Alistair Denniston, Frank Birch, Dilly Knox – had wrestled with German naval codes for most of…


Book cover of 'Blinker' Hall: Spymaster: The Man Who Brought America into World War I

Roseanna M. White Author Of The Number of Love

From my list on British intelligence in WW1.

Why am I passionate about this?

Roseanna M. White is a historical fiction writer whose bestselling stories always seem to find their way to war, espionage, and intrigue. A fascination with her family’s heritage led her to tales set in Edwardian and Great War England, and she’s spent the last seven years studying that culture and how the era’s events intersected with things like faith, family, the arts, and social reforms. Of course, she does all this study and writing about war and mayhem from the safety of her home in West Virginia, where life is blessedly ordinary and no one expects her to actually crack any codes in order to survive...which is definitely a good thing.

Roseanna's book list on British intelligence in WW1

Roseanna M. White Why did Roseanna love this book?

Any research into the codebreaking arm of British Intelligence during the Great War will quickly point to one man as the mastermind: Admiral Sir Reginald “Blinker” Hall. He is, at a glance, one of the most intriguing historical figures you’ll ever come across…and the more you learn, the more convinced you’ll be of that. In Blinker Hall, Spymaster, Ramsay delivers not only a thorough look into intelligence and codebreaking, using documents that have been declassified only recently to his writing, but also an insightful look into the man who orchestrated one of the most complex intelligence systems of the modern era. For anyone interested in intelligence, cryptography, or even just the invisible world behind a war that spanned continents, this book delivers it all, and does it in an engaging, entertaining style.

By David Ramsay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Admiral Sir Reginald 'Blinker' Hall, the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI) for most of the First World War, described as 'a genius in his own sphere and brilliantly successful', was one of the outstanding if largely unrecognized naval leaders of that war. Naval intelligence's ability to read and analyze German naval and diplomatic signals on a daily basis was a significant factor in the allied victory. The Germans never realized that their codes had been broken. The revelation of the Zimmermann Telegram, depicted as one of the most exciting events in the history of intelligence, astutely handled by Hall, was…


Book cover of Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918

Mark Harris Author Of Harwich Submarines in the Great War: The First Submarine Campaign of the Royal Navy in 1914

From my list on WWI naval history without the same old story.

Why am I passionate about this?

Military history has always fascinated me. I grew up in Britain with my parents’ tales of service in the Second World War on land, sea, and in the air. The First World War saw the zenith of British sea power and was an obvious draw. The scale and scope of the fighting were huge, and I’ve been researching the naval war in depth for over thirty years. The high levels of literacy of the combatants mean that it is also possible to gain deep insights into their experiences. This makes for stories I'm passionate about discovering as a reader and telling as an author. I hope this list helps you discover them too.

Mark's book list on WWI naval history without the same old story

Mark Harris Why did Mark love this book?

Good intelligence is the key to winning any war.

The work of Bletchley Park in the Second World War is well known. The equally important role that the enigmatically named Room 40 played in the First World War is less well known.

This book unravels the story of this formidable naval code breaking and intelligence unit. It was made up of men from all walks of life, under the leadership of the maverick genius and spymaster, Rear-Admiral ‘Blinker’ Hall.

Without the work of Room 40 there would have been no naval battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland. The U-Boat campaign against commerce would have been much harder to overcome. Most importantly, read how their work on the infamous Zimmermann Telegram led directly to the American declaration of war.

By Patrick Beesly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Room 40 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recounts World War I intelligence operations of the British, shows how broken German codes were used to help control the shipping lanes, and identifies the events in which Naval Intelligence played a key role


Book cover of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

Benjamin Hruska Author Of Valor and Courage: The Story of the USS Block Island Escort Carriers in World War II

From my list on the human superpower of teamwork overcoming challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been drawn to narratives where a group of individuals needs to collectively overcome a seemingly insurmountable challenge. And, as someone who loves reasonable outdoor challenges such as whitewater rafting trips, I love stories that combine the two. I have been lucky enough to partake in two private float trips of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. With no internet, or electricity for 16 days at a time, a carefully crafted book list is key for any river descend. All these books at their core are narratives of individuals digging in deep, and cultivating that collective human superpower known as teamwork, to overcome challenges many thought could not be overcome.

Benjamin's book list on the human superpower of teamwork overcoming challenges

Benjamin Hruska Why did Benjamin love this book?

Davis in this book completes the literary equivalent of juggling bowling balls and razor blades. He crafts an incredible, readable adventure narrative on a generation of men seeking to make sense of the world after the slaughter of the Western Front concluded.

Using the vehicle of Mallory and Irvines’ 1924 attempt to summit Everest, Davis interweaves several intriguing narratives including the British coming to terms with the cause and effects of empire, climbers using mountains to overcome survivor’s guilt, and man’s indelible need to explore.

Sweeping in both detailed research and the human costs of mechanized warfare, Davis book is a prime example of the paradoxical notion of wounded men seeking solace on the top of the world’s tallest peaks.  

By Wade Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The definitive story of the British adventurers who survived the trenches of World War I and went on to risk their lives climbing Mount Everest.

On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp perched at 23,000 feet on an ice ledge just below the lip of Everest’s North Col. George Mallory, thirty-seven, was Britain’s finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a twenty-two-year-old Oxford scholar with little previous mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned.
 
Drawing on more than a decade of prodigious research, bestselling author and explorer Wade Davis vividly re-creates the heroic efforts of Mallory and his fellow…


Book cover of Female Tommies: The Frontline Women of the First World War

Wendy Moore Author Of No Man's Land: The Trailblazing Women Who Ran Britain's Most Extraordinary Military Hospital During World War I

From my list on women’s experiences in WW1.

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Moore is a journalist and author of five non-fiction books on medical and social history. Her writing has appeared in the Guardian, Times, Observer and Lancet. Her new book is about Endell Street Military Hospital which was run and staffed by women in London in the First World War.

Wendy's book list on women’s experiences in WW1

Wendy Moore Why did Wendy love this book?

Shipton’s book is a brilliantly researched account of the thousands of incredible women who refused to sit at home knitting socks when war began. Using diaries, letters and memoirs, she tells the story of the women who put on uniforms of various hues to drive ambulances, carry stretchers, nurse the wounded and even to bear arms close to the frontlines of World War One. They included the wonderful Flora Sandes who went to Serbia to nurse casualties and ended up joining the Serbian Army. It’s a testimony to women’s bravery, daring and refusal to take no for an answer.

By Elisabeth Shipton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The First World War saw one of the biggest ever changes in the demographics of warfare, as thousands of women donned uniforms and took an active part in conflict for the first time in history. Female Tommies looks at the military role of women worldwide during the Great War and reveals the extraordinary women who served on the frontline.

Through their diaries, letters and memoirs, meet the women who defied convention and followed their convictions to defend the less fortunate and fight for their country. Follow British Flora Sandes as she joins the Serbian Army and takes up a place…


Book cover of The Thirty-Nine Steps

Ray C Doyle Author Of The Defector's Diary

From my list on mystery thrillers ripped from news headlines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I guess my real interest in writing about the good and bad in crime and politics and the good and bad characters involved started with my first job as a junior in a local newspaper. The 60s was a time of great change. I was in the right place at the right time and got involved in reporting local government politics. I graduated later to cover Britain’s role within the EU in Brussels. I was fascinated, not so much by the politics but by the politicians and fellow news reporters involved. They inspired the creation of my fictional character, Pete West, a hardboiled political columnist. 

Ray's book list on mystery thrillers ripped from news headlines

Ray C Doyle Why did Ray love this book?

Read as a teenager, this book hooked me into mystery thrillers. It has everything from murder to political intrigue to a spy ring.

The book is a chase thriller with twists, turns, and surprises. Written in 1930, the work had the feel of a ‘boy's own’ adventure story with a man on the run hunting German spies and clues leading to the 39 steps and victory.

Great story!

By John Buchan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Thirty-Nine Steps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.


Book cover of Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War

Kate Breslin Author Of High as the Heavens

From my list on World War One and the hidden world of espionage.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an American novelist and Anglophile who enjoys writing about British history, I never planned to venture into world war fiction, but once a story led me there I was hooked. I love doing deep-dive research and learning about real men and women of the past who faced high stakes: life and death situations and having to make impossible decisions, both on the battlefield and in the hidden world of espionage. Their courage and resourcefulness inspire me, and I realize that even when we’re at our most vulnerable, we can still rise to become our best and bravest when it counts. 

Kate's book list on World War One and the hidden world of espionage

Kate Breslin Why did Kate love this book?

I’d always imagined the femme fatale, Mata Hari, as the female spy of WWI, but in this well-researched book by Tammy Proctor, I was fascinated to learn there were quite a few women agents in the Great War. Proper ladies, in long dress skirts or nurses’ uniforms, each playing her part in a dangerous game of subterfuge against the enemy to help the Allies win. They knew the risks, yet were willing to sacrifice their lives for what they saw as the greater good; and it was these women who inspired me to create the heroine in my book, Evelyn Marche. Her bravery and daring in the novel are a tribute to them.

By Tammy M. Proctor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the Germans invaded her small Belgian village in 1914, Marthe Cnockaert's home was burned and her family separated. After getting a job at a German hospital, and winning the Iron Cross for her service to the Reich, she was approached by a neighbor and invited to become an intelligence agent for the British. Not without trepidation, Cnockaert embarked on a career as a spy, providing information and engaging in sabotage before her capture and imprisonment in 1916. After the war, she was paid and decorated by a grateful British government for her service.
Cnockaert's is only one of the…


Book cover of Gabrielle Petit: The Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War

Alison Fell Author Of Women as Veterans in Britain and France After the First World War

From my list on women and the First World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the First World War ever since I read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth at the age of 19. When I lived in France in my twenties I started to read French nurses’ memoirs and diaries, and for the last fifteen years or so have continued to read and write about women’s experiences during and after the war as a university academic researcher, often from a comparative perspective. Men’s stories and memories of the First World War still dominate our understanding of it, but I believe that women’s perspectives give us a vital and often overlooked insight into the war and its consequences.

Alison's book list on women and the First World War

Alison Fell Why did Alison love this book?

British people have often heard of Edith Cavell, who has been commemorated in Britain as a national heroine of the war after she was executed by the Germans in 1915 for her role in running an escape network in Belgium for Allied Soldiers. But Cavell was only one individual amongst hundreds who resisted the authorities in occupied France and Belgium. Like Cavell, young Belgian woman Gabrielle Petit was remembered as a national heroine after her execution during the war. De Schaepdrijver’s book vividly brings her story to life, explaining how she was became involved in espionage, as well as showing how a cult of remembrance grew around her in the decades following the 1918 armistice.

By Sophie de Schaepdrijver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In central Brussels stands a statue of a young woman. Built in 1923, it is the first monument to a working-class woman in European history. Her name was Gabrielle Petit. History has forgotten Petit, an ambitious and patriotic Belgian, executed by firing squad in 1916 for her role as an intelligence agent for the British Army. After the First World War she was celebrated as an example of stern endeavour, but a hundred years later her memory has faded.

In the first part of this historical biography Sophie De Schaepdrijver uses Petit's life to explore gender, class and heroism in…


Book cover of Diversion and Deception: Dudley Clarke's a Force and Allied Operations in World War II

Helen Fry Author Of The Walls Have Ears: The Greatest Intelligence Operation of World War II

From my list on deception in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Helen's book list on deception in WW2

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

This is perhaps an unusual choice in that it focuses on deception outside the sphere of countries usually covered by historians. Bendeck explores the numerous deceptions around D-Day, in a cluster of operations that were known as Plan Bodyguard. He explores the little-known, but vital, Plan Zeppelin which was the largest and most complex of the Bodyguard plans. Plan Zeppelin, in conjunction with A Force’s strategic deception plans in the Mediterranean, succeeded in convincing Hitler to hold back sixty German divisions from southern France and move them to the Balkans in time for D-Day. Focusing on the years 1943 to 1945, Bendeck illuminates how A Force, under the leadership of charismatic Dudley Clarke, orchestrated both strategic and tactical deception plans to create the illusion of military threats by the Allies to German defences and troops across the southern perimeter of Europe. Her book is a nuanced and important…

By Whitney T. Bendeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Among the operations known as Plan Bodyguard, the deception devised to cover the Allies' Normandy landing, was the little known but critical Plan Zeppelin, the largest and most complex of the Bodyguard plans. Zeppelin, in conjunction with the Mediterranean Strategy, succeeded in pinning down sixty German divisions from southern France to the Balkans in time for D-Day. This was the work of "A" Force, Britain's only military organization tasked with carrying out both strategic and tactical deception in World War II. Whitney T. Bendeck's Diversion and Deception finds "A" Force at its finest hour, as the war shifted from North…


Book cover of RMS Mauretania (1907): Queen of the Ocean

John G. Sayers Author Of Secrets of the Great Ocean Liners

From my list on ocean liners and cruises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a passionate, long-time collector of Ocean Liner material. I am recognized as a Member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America, the Board of The Friends of Fort George, the Council of the British Ephemera Society and other historical and collector organizations. I was thrilled to be Recipient of the 2017 Award of Merit by The Ephemera Society of America, I was engaged by The Bodleian Library at Oxford University to author a book which captured some of the highlights of my extensive 60-year collection of Ocean Liner material which has been donated to the University. This book, sold globally, is the result of that work. 

John's book list on ocean liners and cruises

John G. Sayers Why did John love this book?

This is a biography but it’s about a famous ship, the Mauretania, rather than a famous person. Through her illustrious career the Mauretania—affectionately called the ‘Maurycarried passengers in speed and style across the Atlantic while holding the Blue Riband for more than 20 years. In service from 1907 to 1934, she spanned the era of the great luxurious liners.

Lots of textual material, which I like, although there’s enough photos to illustrate the various aspects of her life. If you like detail, this book has it. My only criticism is light coverage of her important role in the First World War. Read this in conjunction with the histories of her sister ship and running mate, the ill-fated Lusitania. They provided a rotating weekly service across the Atlantic for 8 years, and were equally luxurious, but their stories are far from identical.

By David Hutchings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked RMS Mauretania (1907) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FIVE YEARS in the making, RMS Mauretania and her sister the Lusitania represented a new era in British shipbuilding. Ostensibly built to compete against record-breaking German behemoths, the Mauretania was not only one of the first major ships to be turbine-driven or have four propellers - she was the largest moving structure ever to have been created by man at that time. And, soon enough, she would become the fastest as well. But the Mauretania wasn't just built for luxury. When war was declared in August 1914, she was pressed into service as a troop- and hospital ship. Where once…


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