100 books like Men at Arms

By Evelyn Waugh,

Here are 100 books that Men at Arms fans have personally recommended if you like Men at Arms. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Atonement

Paul Tomkins Author Of London Skies

From my list on heroism and flaws of the English during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lover of fiction since my teens, I only really took an interest in history in my 20s. I’m fascinated with WWII and the 1950s due to family histories and having visited key sites, like Bletchley Park and the Command Bunker in Uxbridge, near where I grew up. I’m not especially patriotic, but I am proud of what Britain had to do in 1940, as well as the toll the war took and the years of recovery. But it’s also the time, albeit decreasingly so, when people still alive today can look back at their youth, and we can all have a nostalgia for that time in our lives.

Paul's book list on heroism and flaws of the English during WWII

Paul Tomkins Why did Paul love this book?

As a huge fan of Ian McEwan’s early novels with their dark drama, especially The Innocent, I initially gave up on this book after the first 70 pages—but then, thankfully, resumed a while later. 

What seemed a genteel novel about manners transforms into something much more sinister and dramatic. I loved the tense atmosphere of it, with much of the story condensed into one hot pre-war summer’s day and then the later serious repercussions from what, at the time, seem fairly harmless childish actions.

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Atonement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…


Book cover of Eye of the Needle

Why am I passionate about this?

Suspense thrillers were staple “reading food” in my college and young adult days, and my love for them continues. I always craved thrillers that are based on WWII, the Cold War, and secret scientific advances and that offered fresh historical perspectives and dared to challenge popular narratives while delighting the readers with dexterously woven fictional tales. And then, most importantly, it is the feeling the author has conducted genuine, painstaking research bringing out captivating, reasoned nuggets of history that I find most satisfying.

Neal's book list on historical suspense thrillers that blend superior writing prowess with solid research

Neal Nathan Why did Neal love this book?

WWII era-based stories always fascinated me. Eye of the Needle is perhaps one of the most absorbing among such thrillers. While the antagonist’s military/spy mission forms the necessary, persistent backdrop throughout the story, it’s the human drama that kept me on the edge of my seat.

I loved the staggering tale of a woman protagonist’s transformation from initial attraction to fear to gathering courage and ultimately taking on the enemy spy in the final duel. 

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Eye of the Needle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The worldwide phenomenon from the bestselling author of The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, A Column of Fire, and The Evening and the Morning

His code name was "The Needle." He was a German aristocrat of extraordinary intelligence-a master spy with a legacy of violence in his blood, and the object of the most desperate manhunt in history. . . .

But his fate lay in the hands of a young and vulnerable English woman, whose loyalty, if swayed, would assure his freedom-and win the war for the Nazis. . . .


Book cover of The End of the Affair

Paul Tomkins Author Of London Skies

From my list on heroism and flaws of the English during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lover of fiction since my teens, I only really took an interest in history in my 20s. I’m fascinated with WWII and the 1950s due to family histories and having visited key sites, like Bletchley Park and the Command Bunker in Uxbridge, near where I grew up. I’m not especially patriotic, but I am proud of what Britain had to do in 1940, as well as the toll the war took and the years of recovery. But it’s also the time, albeit decreasingly so, when people still alive today can look back at their youth, and we can all have a nostalgia for that time in our lives.

Paul's book list on heroism and flaws of the English during WWII

Paul Tomkins Why did Paul love this book?

I remember reading this in my student bedsit and being transfixed. I was studying art but had just decided that I wanted to be a novelist. As such, I loved the opening lines: “A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”

It is a simple yet beautiful book about love, belief, and betrayal. I’m not religious, but the testing of someone’s faith and how it may make them act stuck with me. Also, the facade of the ‘stiff upper lip,’ but underneath, the vulnerability.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The End of the Affair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MONICA ALI

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.


Book cover of Black Out

Mark Ellis Author Of The Embassy Murders

From my list on British home front in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

During WW II, my father served in the Navy, and my mother worked as a secretary. My father contracted a lung disease while on service in Africa and died in 1960 when I was seven. My mother happily lived to a ripe old age and enjoyed discussing her wartime experiences. Her stories included ones of going up to London for jolly weekends at a time when the city was being bombed. When I asked her why she took such risks, she said the Germans were not going to stop her having a life. It is in this context that I became fascinated with WW II.

Mark's book list on British home front in World War II

Mark Ellis Why did Mark love this book?

This book is the the first in a gripping and atmospheric wartime thriller series featuring London policeman, Detective Sergeant Troy.

Troy has an unusual background for a police officer in that he is the son of an immensely rich Russian emigré businessman. In this story, set in 1944, a man’s severed arm is found on a bomb site. Troy investigates and discovers the arm belongs to a refugee German scientist working for British intelligence.

This is a marvelous thriller from a writer once selected in a Time all-time list of detective authors to savor. 

By John Lawton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

John Lawton’s debut novel—first published by Viking in 1995, and now being reissued by Grove Press—is a stunning, war-time thriller that cements his place among the greatest crime writers of our era. The first of the Inspector Troy novels, Black Out singularly captures the realities of wartime London, weaving them into a riveting drama that encapsulates the uncertainty of Europe at the dawn of the postwar era.

London, 1944. While the Luftwaffe makes its final assault on the already battered British capital, Londoners rush through the streets, seeking underground shelter in the midst of the city’s black out. When the…


Book cover of The Sword of Honour Trilogy

Simon Akam Author Of The Changing of the Guard: the British army since 9/11

From my list on the British Army.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2003-4 I spent a year in the British Army between school and university. Ten years later, having become a journalist, I returned to investigate what a decade of war had done to the institution I knew as an adolescent. In the years I spent researching and writing The Changing of the Guard I read reams of non-fiction. However, novels retain an ability to hit wider – or harder truths – and some of our greatest writers have fictionalised British Army life. Here is a selection of British Army novels, well-known and less so. They take in conflicts ranging from the First and Second World Wars through to Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. 

Simon's book list on the British Army

Simon Akam Why did Simon love this book?

I have a theory that great fiction about the British Army may require conscription – that system propelled individuals who otherwise would have never joined the military into the institution. They could then respond in writing in a manner that peacetime volunteers were never able to.

Evelyn Waugh, already in his late 30s when the Second World War was declared in 1939, was an unlikely soldier. However, he turned his experiences – notably in West Africa, Crete, and Yugoslavia – into a trio of fine fiction centered on a somewhat Waugh-like character, Guy Crouchback.

Waugh’s genius is to capture some of the eccentricities of army life – the discussion about the merits of porpoise skin as a material for boots will echo with anyone who has ever overheard, or participated in, an earnest discussion about the minutiae of kit. 

Book cover of Wartime: Britain 1939-1945

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

Written by one of the most respected and well-known British historians living today, Juliet Gardiner’s Wartime Britain is a bulky collection of anecdotes and details on homefront life, ranging from devastating to joyful. She covers many topics in depth and in a very human way: the Blitz, homefront crimes, evacuation, the enlistment process, food rationing, and a lot more. It includes quite a few photos from wartime Britain as well. 

By Juliet Gardiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Juliet Gardiner's critically acclaimed book - the first in a generation to tell the people's story of the Second World War - offers a compelling and comprehensive account of the pervasiveness of war on the Home Front. The book has been commended for its inclusion of many under-described aspects of the Home Front, and alongside familiar stories of food shortages, evacuation and the arrival of the GIs, are stories of Conscientious Objectors, persecuted Italians living in Britain and Lumber Jills working in the New Forest. Drawing on a multitude of sources, many previously unpublished, she tells the story of those…


Book cover of How We Lived Then: A History of Everyday Life During the Second World War

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

This book contains a multitude of stories from people who lived in Britain during WWII and dealt with things like wartime preparations, rationing, “Dig for Victory,” travel, homefront war work, and lots of other daily life details—even something as mundane as the types of books people were reading during that time makes it into this thick and comprehensive social history book. Also includes quite a few very nice photos.

By Norman Longmate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How We Lived Then as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although nearly 90% of the population of Great Britain remained civilians throughout the war, or for a large part of it, their story has so far largely gone untold. In contrast with the thousands of books on military operations, barely any have concerned themselves with the individual's experience. The problems of the ordinary family are barely ever mentioned - food rationing, clothes rationing, the black-out and air raids get little space, and everyday shortages almost none at all.

This book is an attempt to redress the balance; to tell the civilian's story largely through their own recollections and in their…


Book cover of Millions Like Us: Women's Lives In War And Peace 1939-1949

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

Many British women spent the wartime years taking on jobs they would never have had the chance to do before and it provided them with a new confidence and independence that made going back to domestic life a challenge when the war ended. Millions Like Us takes an exhaustive look at wartime work for women, how women dealt with rationing, the struggle of maintaining a marriage while separated, the heartache of having to evacuate children or losing a partner, romance between British women and American troops as well as the awkwardness of marriage when husbands returned from abroad, often times for years. Another hefty tome, this book also includes 24 pages of photos.

By Virginia Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1942 Cora Johnston is grieving over the death of her young husband, torpedoed in the Atlantic; Aileen Morris is intercepting Luftwaffe communications during the siege of Malta - and Clara Milburn, whose son was captured after Dunkirk, is waiting, and waiting ...

We tend to see the Second World War as a man's war, featuring Spitfire crews and brave deeds on the Normandy beaches. But in conditions of "Total War" millions of women - in the Services and on the Home Front - demonstrated that they were cleverer, more broad-minded and altogether more complex than anyone had ever guessed.…


Book cover of Fashion on the Ration: Style in the Second World War

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

In 1941, Britain was shocked to find out that the extra margarine coupons in their food ration books were actually to be used for clothing starting immediately since clothing was now also to be rationed. Clothes rationing, wartime makeup, wedding wear, uniforms (for men and women), restrictions placed on clothing design, fashion houses and magazines, “make-do and mend,” and more are all covered in this dense little book.

By Julie Summers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fashion on the Ration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In September 1939, just three weeks after the outbreak of war, Gladys Mason wrote briefly in her diary about events in Europe: 'Hitler watched German siege of Warsaw. City in flames.' And, she continued, 'Had my wedding dress fitted. Lovely.'

For Gladys Mason, and for thousands of women throughout the long years of the war, fashion was not simply a distraction, but a necessity - and one they weren't going to give up easily. In the face of bombings, conscription, rationing and ludicrous bureaucracy, they maintained a sense of elegance and style with determination and often astonishing ingenuity. From the…


Book cover of The Notebook, the Proof, the Third Lie: Three Novels

Em Strang Author Of Quinn

From my list on short reads that dare to offer something deep.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a poet and creative mentor, and it’s the intensity of poetic language – its expansiveness and limitations – that shows up in my fiction and in the novels I love. Quinn is an exploration of male violence, incarceration, and radical forgiveness. I’ve spent a decade working with long-term prisoners in Scotland, trying to understand and come to terms with notions of justice and responsibility: does guilt begin and end with the perpetrator of a violent act or are we all in some way culpable? How can literary form dig into this question aslant? Can the unsettled mind be a space for innovative thinking?

Em's book list on short reads that dare to offer something deep

Em Strang Why did Em love this book?

Kristóf (1935-2011) was a Hungarian writer who fled to Switzerland during the war and wrote in French.

The Notebook (the first in the trilogy) is currently number one on my list of all-time favourites. It has all the elements of storytelling that I love: deep, psychological insight into the human heart; adroit use of archetypes, which give the book a timeless, folkloric feel; concision (no waffling) and a poetic, pared-back language that creates a sense of startling immediacy.

Kristóf writes about World War II through the eyes of two young brothers in a Nazi-occupied country (unnamed), and she shocks us awake not through sensationalised violence but through matter-of-fact narration.

It reads like a cross-between dramatic monologue and biblical parable – she stretches the novel form and opens up new possibilities for writing. 

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