100 books like First to Fight

By Roger Moorhouse,

Here are 100 books that First to Fight fans have personally recommended if you like First to Fight. 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 Snow and Steel: The Battle of the Bulge, 1944-45

Jeremy Black Author Of A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps

From my list on WW2 in Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeremy Black is a prolific lecturer and writer, the author of over 100 books. Many concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European, and American political, diplomatic and military history but he has also published on the history of the press, cartography, warfare, culture, and on the nature and uses of history itself.

Jeremy's book list on WW2 in Europe

Jeremy Black Why did Jeremy love this book?

Much of what I have said about James Holland can also be said of his friend Peter Caddick-Adams, whose first-rate works include Monte Cassino. Ten Armies in Hell (2012), Sand and Steel: A New History of D-Day (2019), and this, by far the best book on the last major German offensive. Adroit at capturing the German perspective, Caddick-Adams is also very good on the American response. A lengthy read, but worth it.

By Peter Caddick-Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Snow and Steel is a huge reassessment of Hitler's last great throw of the dice: 'The Battle of the Bulge', the battle for the Ardennes 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945. This was an utterly fascinating five weeks when for a time it looked like Hitler had outflanked the allied armies pushing toward the Rhine and might just throw them back to the Normandy beaches. It is also the context for the catastrophic events at Bastogne depicted so graphically in Band of Brothers.

For military history fans this is one of those touchstone battles of the second world war,…


Book cover of Sicily '43: The First Assault on Fortress Europe

Jeremy Black Author Of A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps

From my list on WW2 in Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeremy Black is a prolific lecturer and writer, the author of over 100 books. Many concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European, and American political, diplomatic and military history but he has also published on the history of the press, cartography, warfare, culture, and on the nature and uses of history itself.

Jeremy's book list on WW2 in Europe

Jeremy Black Why did Jeremy love this book?

Holland is a talented scholar who has honed his skill in providing excellent campaign-level accounts of the war. Thus, among much else, his books include Fortress Malta (2003), The Battle of Britain (2010), Burma ’44 (2016), Normandy ’44 (2019), and this excellent study of the Anglo-American invasion of Sicily in 1943. Holland is particularly good at capturing the grittiness of war, and at adding the perspective of individual combatants without being trapped by it. Reads very well and provides a superb campaign-level account that is also tactically adroit.

By James Holland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sicily '43 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'James Holland is the best of the new generation of WW2 historians.' Sebastian Faulks
'Holland's skill lies in bringing these warriors to life with vivid prose.' The Times
Shortlisted for the 2021 British Army Military Book of the Year
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This is the story of the biggest seaborne landing in history.

Codenamed Operation HUSKY, the assault on Sicily on 10 July 1943 remains the largest amphibious invasion ever mounted. That day, over 160,000 Allied troops were dropped from the sky or came ashore to begin the fight for Europe.

The subsequent thirty-eight-day Battle for Sicily was one of the most…


Book cover of Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe

Jeremy Black Author Of A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps

From my list on WW2 in Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeremy Black is a prolific lecturer and writer, the author of over 100 books. Many concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European, and American political, diplomatic and military history but he has also published on the history of the press, cartography, warfare, culture, and on the nature and uses of history itself.

Jeremy's book list on WW2 in Europe

Jeremy Black Why did Jeremy love this book?

Already a published expert on air power, armour, and the Normandy campaign, Buckley went on to produce a well-considered and ably researched evaluation of the British army in 1944-5, one that rescued it from the deeply-flawed criticism by Max Hastings of its relative effectiveness.

By John Buckley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Historian John Buckley offers a radical reappraisal of Great Britain's fighting forces during World War Two, challenging the common belief that the British Army was no match for the forces of Hitler's Germany. Following Britain's military commanders and troops across the battlefields of Europe, from D-Day to VE-Day, from the Normandy beaches to Arnhem and the Rhine, and, ultimately, to the Baltic, Buckley's provocative history demonstrates that the British Army was more than a match for the vaunted Nazi war machine. This fascinating revisionist study of the campaign to liberate Northern Europe in the war's final years features a large…


Book cover of The Red Army and the Second World War

Jeremy Black Author Of A History of the Second World War in 100 Maps

From my list on WW2 in Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeremy Black is a prolific lecturer and writer, the author of over 100 books. Many concern aspects of eighteenth-century British, European, and American political, diplomatic and military history but he has also published on the history of the press, cartography, warfare, culture, and on the nature and uses of history itself.

Jeremy's book list on WW2 in Europe

Jeremy Black Why did Jeremy love this book?

The Eastern Front has not always attracted the most readable scholarship, while two of the major works by British writers are by those who cannot read Russian. Hill is a welcome relief. His scholarship is impeccable and his book is readable. An important contribution.

By Alexander Hill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Red Army and the Second World War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a definitive new account of the Soviet Union at war, Alexander Hill charts the development, successes and failures of the Red Army from the industrialisation of the Soviet Union in the late 1920s through to the end of the Great Patriotic War in May 1945. Setting military strategy and operations within a broader context that includes national mobilisation on a staggering scale, the book presents a comprehensive account of the origins and course of the war from the perspective of this key Allied power. Drawing on the latest archival research and a wealth of eyewitness testimony, Hill portrays the…


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 The Island on Bird Street

Annika Thor Author Of A Faraway Island

From my list on for children and young people on war and refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a descendant of Jewish refugees, from pogroms in Russia and from Nazi persecution in Germany, I grew up with stories of war, exile, and loss. As a writer, these themes have been very important for me, not only in the series of four books about Stephie and Nellie, but also in a novel for adults and a picture book for younger children. As a reader, I am interested in stories that deal with the same themes – stories that may be set in the past, the present, or the future. As a mother and grandmother, I know that good books can help us talk to our young about the most difficult matters.

Annika's book list on for children and young people on war and refugees

Annika Thor Why did Annika love this book?

"It was like living on a desert island. Instead of the sea, there were houses and people around me." Aleks, aged 11, uses a metaphor fetched from his favorite book, Robinson Crusoe, to describe his own struggle for survival. But his "island" is a ruined house in the ghetto, where he hides after having been separated from his father during a raid by the Nazis. Just as resourceful and inventive as his literary role model, Aleks manages to fend for himself while hoping for his father to return.

Uri Orlev, himself a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and Bergen-Belsen, succeeds in combining a classic adventure story with a realistic narrative of the Holocaust. I don't know how he does it, but I know that his book is a masterpiece.

By Uri Orlev, Translated by Hillel Halkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During World War II a Jewish boy is left on his own for months in a ruined house in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he must learn all the tricks of survival under constantly life-threatening conditions.


Book cover of The Painted Bird

Timothy P. Munkeby Author Of The Advocate

From my list on transporting you to a new place in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent most of my youth playing sports, and so was forced into being a closet reader, only sissies read books. I never watched TV as a kid. I was always buried in a book that transported me somewhere. These were the days when I had to read with a flashlight under the covers until I was caught and told to shut my darn book and go to sleep. This led to a degree in creative writing and a first career stint teaching the subject. Then, after retiring from founding a financial planning company, I started writing and hope I can transport others.

Timothy's book list on transporting you to a new place in your life

Timothy P. Munkeby Why did Timothy love this book?

A comment in The Washington Star reads: “No one who reads it will forget it.” That is true. I went through every emotion imaginable from stark horror to utter innocence. The boy, escaping the Holocaust, travels on his own through the Slavic countryside where he discovers the best in people and the horrifying worst. I traveled with him. 

By Jerzy Kosinksi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jerzy Kosinski's mythic, master-work of a shattered post-War Europe.

Originally published in 1965, The Painted Bird established Jerzy Kosinski as a major literary figure. Kosinski's story follows a dark-haired, olive-skinned boy, abandoned by his parents during World War II, as he wanders alone from one village to another, sometimes hounded and tortured, only rarely sheltered and cared for. Through the juxtaposition of adolescence and the most brutal of adult experiences, Kosinski sums up a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess where senseless violence and untempered hatred are the norm. Through sparse prose and vivid imagery, Kosinski's novel is a story of…


Book cover of The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944

Jenny Harrison Author Of Dead Before Curfew

From my list on the human cost of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Jenny Harrison and my writing career started in 1997 in South Africa with Debbie's Story, which to my astonishment, became a bestseller. Thinking this was going to be an easy route to fame and fortune, I continued writing after migrating to New Zealand. Alas, the road to a bestseller is rife with disappointment but that didn't stop me from writing a bunch of paranormal and humorous novels. Circumstances led me to writing about families caught up in World War II. I don’t write about battles or generals, I write about ordinary people who face the unimagined cost of war and survive.

Jenny's book list on the human cost of war

Jenny Harrison Why did Jenny love this book?

Forgotten Holocaust is a non-fiction account of the suffering of the Polish people during World War II. Most books on the Holocaust focus on the terrible travail of the Jewish people, which was immense and must never be either underestimated or forgotten. In Poland 3 million Polish Jews died but 3 million Polish Gentiles also died. It is only since the end of Communism in 1989 that the true heroism of the Polish people has come to light. At the Jewish Memorial, Yad Vashem, in Israel, there are more Polish Gentiles listed as Righteous Among the Nations than any other nation. Lukas’s book opened my eyes to this forgotten history. 

By Richard C. Lukas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Forgotten Holocaust has become a classic of World War II literature. As Norman Davies noted, "Dr. Richard Lukas has rendered a valuable service, by showing that no one can properly analyze the fate of one ethnic community in occupied Poland without referring to the fates of others. In this sense, The Forgotten Holocaust is a powerful corrective." The third edition includes a new preface by the author, a new foreword by Norman Davies, a short history of ZEGOTA, the underground government organization working to save the Jews, and an annotated listing of many Poles executed by the Germans for trying…


Book cover of Karolina's Twins

Tetyana Denford Author Of The Child of Ukraine

From my list on showing how people navigate loss and hope.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a natural storyteller, and as an only child of Ukrainian immigrants, I carry all the stories with me. I realized as an adult that if I didn't write them down, they would dissipate and vanish. So, I wanted to write stories not only for myself, but in order to connect to others and inspire them to learn about their own family stories. We're all connected on this planet like a giant village, and I've always loved talking to people and learning about who they are. The core of my work centers around humans and loss and hope, and seeing how each of those things are affected by the environment around them.

Tetyana's book list on showing how people navigate loss and hope

Tetyana Denford Why did Tetyana love this book?

My mother gave me this book to read when I first started writing my novel (in order to write, you have to read all the time), and it profoundly affected me and gave me so much inspiration for my book. It had so many similar stories in it that my own family had gone through during the war, so it was the perfect story for me to sink my teeth into, to find a voice for my characters. This book is so so good, for anyone who loves historical fiction.

By Ronald H. Balson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

She made a promise in desperation Now it's time to keep it Lena Woodward, elegant and poised, has lived a comfortable life among Chicago Society since she immigrated to the US and began a new life at the end of World War II. But now something has resurfaced that Lena cannot ignore: an unfulfilled promise she made long ago that can no longer stay buried. Driven to renew the quest that still keeps her awake at night, Lena enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart. Behind Lena's stoic facade are memories that will no longer…


Book cover of Yellow Star

Sharon K. Mayhew Author Of Keep Calm and Carry On, Children

From my list on children persevering through WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

My life has been blessed by having British grandparents who lived very long lives. Grandad was in the RAF and Nanny sewed for the War Effort during WWII. They rarely spoke of their experiences until they reached their early 90s. Their memories, other family members, and friends inspired me to research the children who persevered through Operation Pied Piper. I also visited related locations in England gathering more information. The Greatest Generation had a huge impact on who I am as a person and how I treat others. My recommendation list is a sampling of some of my favorite books about perseverance. 

Sharon's book list on children persevering through WWII

Sharon K. Mayhew Why did Sharon love this book?

The author does an outstanding job telling her Aunt Sylvia’s story. Sylvia was one of the twelve children to survive the Lodz Ghetto during the Holocaust. This book will capture you from page one through the end. Parts of the book literally took my breath away. By the end, I was in tears. There are no words to describe the heroes who survived the Holocaust.

By Jennifer Roy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"In 1945 the war ended. The Germans surrendered, and the ghetto was liberated. Out of over a quarter of a million people, about 800 walked out of the ghetto. Of those who survived, only twelve were children. I was one of the twelve." For more than fifty years after the war, Syvia, like many Holocaust survivors, did not talk about her experiences in the Lodz ghetto in Poland. She buried her past in order to move forward. But finally she decided it was time to share her story, and so she told it to her niece, who has re-told it…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the German occupation of Europe, Poland, and the Luftwaffe?

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