100 books like Looking for Mr. Smith

By Linda Willis,

Here are 100 books that Looking for Mr. Smith fans have personally recommended if you like Looking for Mr. Smith. 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 Long Walk: The True Story Of A Trek To Freedom

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?

Although there has been a great deal of debate about the authenticity of this account, I still enjoyed reading it and comparing it with the accounts told me by my own protagonist.

It is a heroic tale of survival that conveys much of the horror and desperation experienced by so many in wartime Europe, and the displacement and loss suffered by so many, but also the hope and determination to escape and defy all the odds. The parallels with the story my own protagonist told are uncanny.

By Slavomir Rawicz,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Long Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I hope The Long Walk will remain as a memorial to all those who live and die for freedom, and for all those who for many reasons could not speak for themselves."--Slavomir Rawicz

In 1941, the author and six other fellow prisoners escaped a Soviet labor camp in Yakutsk--a camp where enduring hunger, cold, untended wounds, untreated illnesses, and avoiding daily executions were everyday feats. Their march--over thousands of miles by foot--out of Siberia, through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India is a remarkable statement about man's desire to be free.

While the original…


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 A Song For Kresy

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?

The area of Poland that I had been researching for my own book was known as Kresy – the eastern borderlands.

The Polish family in this book had a long history of living in the region and I found the description of the life long before the Russian Revolution helpful in understanding the context and broadening my perspective on the region and its history.

The book is interspersed with photographs and illustrations that helped me to visualise the atmosphere of their privileged life that was later put into such stark contrast with the deportation to Siberia. The surviving members of the family were at the same Polish Resettlement Corps camp in Herefordshire as my own protagonist.

By Helen Bitner-Glindzicz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Song For Kresy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of one of the thousands of Polish Families who were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan by the Soviets in 1940. The Glindzicz family had their roots in the Eastern Borderlands of Poland known as Kresy. The family held their lands in this region since before the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1648). The Glindzicz men supported all the major Polish uprisings against Czarist Russia. Mieczyslaw Glindzicz was a local commander in the 1863 Uprising. Despite having fought loyally side by side with Britain throughout the Second World War, when it ended, the Poles of Kresy lost their homes…


Book cover of Monte Cassino: Ten Armies in Hell

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?

As part of his journey, my own protagonist had enlisted in Anders’ Army and took part in the Battle for Monte Cassino.

Of the books that I searched through, this was the most useful both in helping me understand the context of the battle and in picturing the physical landscape of the location, which was essential to my understanding of the account I had been given. The book is evidently very well researched by a highly regarded and undoubted expert in his field.

By Peter Caddick-Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The five-month Monte Cassino campaign in central Italy is one of the best-known European land battles of World War Two, alongside D-Day and Stalingrad. It has a particular resonance now, because Cassino, with its multitude of participating armies - most notably the American 5th Army under the controversial General Mark Clark - was perhaps the campaign of the Second World War that most closely anticipates the coalition operations of today, with its ever-shifting cast of players stuck in inhospitable, mountainous terrain, pursuing an objective set by unknowing politicians in distant capitals, where victory is difficult to define.

Monte Cassino was…


Book cover of Life Can Be Cruel: The Story Of A German P.O.W. In Russia

Ken Scott Author Of Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?

From my list on WWII prisoner of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied WW2 and prisoners of war during that period for more than 20 years. They're very much the forgotten soldiers of war in my opinion. Few spoke of their treatment and brutality at the hands of the enemy, starvation, and the psychological effects that they lived with for many years afterward. Marriages fell apart, alcoholism was commonplace and many committed suicide, during a time where the term PTSD hadn't been invented. I've selected books that tell the story from several different perspectives. There were good and bad on all sides and for every ten stories of brutality and murder, there were another ten stories of good men and women who did their best to help the POWs survive.

Ken's book list on WWII prisoner of war

Ken Scott Why did Ken love this book?

One of the most heartwrenching stories of POW books you will ever read. This time the author gives an honest yet horrific account of German POWs at the hands of their Russian captors after WWII. Not a book for the faint-hearted and has no happy endings. A story about how cruel mankind can be.

By H.R.R. Furmanski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Can Be Cruel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1960, this compact book tells the true story of a German soldier: from his early childhood during the First World War, through to his harrowing experiences on the frontline during the Word War II, culminating in his capture by the Red Army on 20 December 1942…

An astonishing first-hand account.


Book cover of Soviet Fairytales

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on books that changed my perspective on Eastern Europe and Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about Eastern Europe, both past and present, and what it means to have Russia as a neighbor. I write historical fiction and historical thrillers with a soupcon of espionage. I talk about the politics of the day, whether the story is set during WWII or in modern times. While my stories and characters are fictional, I constantly strive to accurately reflect time, place, and, most of all, history. I hope that my novels entertain and inform about a corner of the world folks may not know much about. 

Ursula's book list on books that changed my perspective on Eastern Europe and Russia

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

This book shows us that not everyone had a devastating experience under the Soviets. I love it because it’s about average people and (somewhat) average events that become extraordinary because of the political circumstances. 

What was it like for a teenager to date when the KGB might be watching? How did families manage to cheer at military parades of sophisticated equipment when they couldn’t find toilet paper to buy?

These wonderful stories entertained and informed. They weren’t funny, but a few made me chuckle from the absurdity. 

By Grazina Pranauskas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the 'Workers Paradise' of the Soviet Union what was life like for those on the periphery of the Russian empire? In these short stories, Grazina Pranauskas offers the reader piercing vignettes of everyday existence in Lithuania under a totalitarian regime ...


Book cover of A History of the Baltic States

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on books that changed my perspective on Eastern Europe and Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write about Eastern Europe, both past and present, and what it means to have Russia as a neighbor. I write historical fiction and historical thrillers with a soupcon of espionage. I talk about the politics of the day, whether the story is set during WWII or in modern times. While my stories and characters are fictional, I constantly strive to accurately reflect time, place, and, most of all, history. I hope that my novels entertain and inform about a corner of the world folks may not know much about. 

Ursula's book list on books that changed my perspective on Eastern Europe and Russia

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

Mr. Kasekamp’s book is the first substantial reference I found on the great European kingdom called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. For hundreds of years, this religiously and culturally tolerant kingdom ruled the lands from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. It encompassed most of Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states, part of Russia, Poland, and more. Andres Kasekamp tells us how it came to be, how it thrived, and how it fell. 

He goes on to tell us how the Commonwealth’s progressive ideals were reflected in the freedom that came to Poland and the Baltic countries after WWI and why the resistance to the Soviet occupation of WWII was so passionate. 

Now, when I read about Poles, Lithuanians, and others standing alongside their brothers and sisters on today’s battlefields of Ukraine, I understand that it goes beyond protecting home and hearth. It’s about a shared spiritual and political history.

By Andres Kasekamp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A History of the Baltic States as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this key textbook, Andres Kasekamp masterfully traces the development of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, from the northern crusades against Europe's last pagans and Lithuania's rise to become one of medieval Europe's largest states, to their incorporation into the Russian Empire and the creation of their modern national identities. Employing a comparative approach, a particular emphasis is placed upon the last one hundred years, during which the Baltic states achieved independence, endured occupation by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and transformed themselves into members of the European Union.

This is an essential textbook for undergraduate students taking modules on…


Book cover of Russia at War, 1941-1945: A History

Francine Hirsch Author Of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

From my list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet History, Modern European History, and the History of Human Rights. She spent fifteen years researching and writing about the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II and the role that it played in the Nuremberg Trials. Her recently published Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg was awarded the 2021 Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship from the American Society of International Law.

Francine's book list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2

Francine Hirsch Why did Francine love this book?

This vivid history of the Soviet Union at war by BBC journalist Alexander Werth is worth picking up for the Stalingrad chapters alone. In January 1943, Werth set out by train from Moscow to Stalingrad with a small group of correspondents. His conversations with Russian soldiers, officers, nurses, and railwaymen about the fighting, the Germans, and the Soviet defense of the city are woven into these chapters and make for extremely engaging reading.

By Alexander Werth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia at War, 1941-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Russian-born British journalist Alexander Werth observed the unfolding of the Soviet-German conflict with his own eyes. What followed was the widely acclaimed book, Russia at War, first printed in 1964. At once a history of facts, a collection of interviews, and a document of the human condition, Russia at War is a stunning, modern classic that chronicles the savagery and struggles on Russian soil during the most incredible military conflict in modern history.

As a behind-the-scenes eyewitness to the pivotal, shattering events as they occurred, Werth chronicles with vivid detail the hardships of everyday citizens, massive military operations,…


Book cover of We Shall Be Masters: Russian Pivots to East Asia from Peter the Great to Putin

Sören Urbansky Author Of Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border

From my list on Russia in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sören Urbansky was born and raised in East Germany next to the Iron Curtain. Since embarking on an overland journey from Berlin to Beijing after high school, he became hooked by peoples’ lifeways in Northeast Asia. In college, Sören began studying history in earnest and grew intrigued by Russia and China, the world’s largest and most populous countries. He has published widely on this pivotal yet forgotten region. Sören is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute Washington and is currently embarking on a new project that examines anti-Chinese sentiments from a global perspective.

Sören's book list on Russia in Asia

Sören Urbansky Why did Sören love this book?

Chris Miller has written a well-argued account of Russia’s various attempts to gain great power status in the Asia-Pacific over the five centuries – and its repeated setbacks. Russia’s imperial expansion to Alaska, Hawaii, and California reminds us that Russia’s expansionist dreams often amounted to little. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another example that Putin’s ambitions in the East are restrained by the country’s firm rooting in Europe.

By Chris Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Shall Be Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An illuminating account of Russia's attempts-and failures-to achieve great power status in Asia.

Since Peter the Great, Russian leaders have been lured by opportunity to the East. Under the tsars, Russians colonized Alaska, California, and Hawaii. The Trans-Siberian Railway linked Moscow to Vladivostok. And Stalin looked to Asia as a sphere of influence, hospitable to the spread of Soviet Communism. In Asia and the Pacific lay territory, markets, security, and glory.

But all these expansionist dreams amounted to little. In We Shall Be Masters, Chris Miller explores why, arguing that Russia's ambitions have repeatedly outstripped its capacity. With the core…


Book cover of The Russian Tradition

Keir Giles Author Of Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West

From my list on why Russia is the way it is.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional explainer of Russia. For over 20 years I’ve been studying the country and trying to understand what makes it (and its leaders and people) so intent on attacking those around it and perceived adversaries further afield. That’s never been more important to understand than today when Ukraine and its soldiers are the only thing preventing Russia from once again rampaging across Europe. These books are ones that have helped me understand one part or several parts of the Russia problem, and I think they’ll be helpful for anybody else who wants to, too.

Keir's book list on why Russia is the way it is

Keir Giles Why did Keir love this book?

I found the first 100 pages of this book, covering Russia’s early history, to be the clearest explanation anywhere of how the country has developed – or failed to – the way it has.

It was published in 1974, so the frame of reference is the Soviet Union – but the way Tibor Szamuely drew on Russia’s early history to explain the present day is just as valid for post-Communist Russia. That proves the point: that Russia is condemned by its own history, and no social or political upheaval to date has enabled it to break free from that trap and move forward to be a country that can co-exist with others. 

By Tibor Szamuely,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This analysis of Russian history traces the essential features of Revolutionary Russia back to medieval times when authoritarian rule first became a prerequisite of survival and is intended as a contribution to our understanding of the Soviet Union.


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