100 books like Open Fire

By Amber Lough,

Here are 100 books that Open Fire fans have personally recommended if you like Open Fire. 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 The Alice Network

Ann O’Loughlin Author Of Escape to the Irish Village

From my list on strong women and female friendship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by the extraordinary things ordinary people do, particularly women. Women show such strength; they juggle so many things every day, and they can draw on huge reserves of power in a crisis. Time and time again, I see how when women pull together, they can conquer anything. A woman on her own can do many things, but when we band together, nothing can stop us. So often, others concentrate on the negative aspects of a group of women together, but I have seen the power of female friendship and how we can reach the stars when we hold each other up. 

Ann's book list on strong women and female friendship

Ann O’Loughlin Why did Ann love this book?

This book, a novel that spans two world wars, gripped my heart and made me fully realise how strong women can be in the face of adversity.

I was completely drawn in, and there were plenty of moments to cry, laugh, or gasp at the courage displayed. So often, the contribution of women gets pushed aside, but I felt here it was brought to life in the sacrifices and true grit displayed by the women as we made our way through WW1 and WW2. 

There is a vitality and optimism in this book, which shines through. I loved this story and how it showed that women when they band together can do anything.   These women are definitely on my party invitation list. 

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Alice Network as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women-a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947-are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might…


Book cover of All Quiet on the Western Front

Anne Montgomery Author Of Your Forgotten Sons

From my list on depicting war without glorifying it.

Why am I passionate about this?

The night before my dear friend Gina faced a delicate surgery that could have left her paralyzed from the waist down, she handed me a ziplock bag containing yellowed letters dating back to World War II. “No matter what happens to me, I want you to tell Bud’s story,” she said. “Promise me!” And so I did. What followed was a deep dive into what had happened to Gina’s uncle, Sergeant Bud Richardville, a young man drafted into the Army as the U.S. prepared to enter the war in Europe. 

Anne's book list on depicting war without glorifying it

Anne Montgomery Why did Anne love this book?

Once upon a time, war was portrayed as glorious. Smartly-dressed soldiers strutted off to battle as admiring crowds cheered their departure. But then came Erich Maria Remarque’s stunning semi-autographical rebuke. Remarque was conscripted into the Imperial German Army at 18 and was wounded in the poisonous trenches of World War I. While he survived, like many, he did not return home unscathed.  

This book centers around young Paul Bäumer, an idealistic German boy raised in a picturesque village where patriotic speeches in school romanticize war and urge young men to sign up and fight for the Fatherland. He and his friends do just that and soon find themselves mired in the horrific conditions of trench warfare, a new kind of battle where little ground is ever made, and men die in all sorts of miserable ways.

As Paul and his peers struggle to do their duty, they succumb physically and…

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked All Quiet on the Western Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war; under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations. Although there are vividly described incidents which remain in mind, there is no sense of adventure here, only the feeling of youth betrayed and a deceptively simple indictment of war - of any war - told for a whole generation of victims.


Book cover of The Skylarks' War

Eva Seyler Author Of The War in Our Hearts

From my list on historical fiction books about WWI.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!

Eva's book list on historical fiction books about WWI

Eva Seyler Why did Eva love this book?

My absolute favourite WWI novel, this is the story of several English young people who come of age during the Great War. It gives glimpses into home front life as well as life at the front. As usual, McKay’s characters are vibrant, maddening, loveable, ridiculous--sometimes all at once. The prose is elegant, poetic, subtle, will smack you in the feels, and stay in your mind long after.

By Hilary McKay, Rebecca Green (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Skylarks' War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018.

The Skylarks' War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One, from the award-winning Hilary McKay.

Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September - boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer.

When Rupert goes…


Book cover of The Summer Before the War

Eva Seyler Author Of The War in Our Hearts

From my list on historical fiction books about WWI.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!

Eva's book list on historical fiction books about WWI

Eva Seyler Why did Eva love this book?

This book is leisurely, reminiscent of Elizabeth Gaskell’s works (such as North and South or Wives and Daughters); it reads and feels like a warm summer day. It takes place in a small English town in the tense and uncertain months leading up to the war and a little beyond, featuring family dramas, romantic entanglements, spunky schoolteachers, Belgian refugees, underage recruits, life, and death, and love.

By Helen Simonson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Helen Simonson's characters enchant us, her English countryside beguiles us, and her historical intelligence keeps us at the edge of our seats.' - Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.East Sussex, 1914. It's the end of an idyllic summer and Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha in the pretty coastal town of Rye. Casting aside the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans, Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.When Beatrice…


Book cover of They Fought for the Motherland: Russia's Women Soldiers in World War I and the Revolution

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?

Although they are largely forgotten now, the five to six thousand Russian women who enlisted as soldiers were amongst the most photographed and written about women in the First World War, especially the charismatic but tyrannical leader of the 1st Russian Women’s Battalion of Death, Maria Bochkareva. Stoff’s book gives a highly readable and fascinating account of their formation, their military action, their ill-fated involvement in the defence of the Winter Palace when it was stormed by the Bolsheviks in November 1917, and their reception by the rest of the world as the only battalions of women to carry out officially sanctioned combat roles in the war.

Stoff uses their own memoirs alongside other first-hand accounts by American, British, and French diplomats stationed in Russian in the tumultuous year of 1917, and her book provides a balanced and nuanced analysis.

By Laurie S. Stoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked They Fought for the Motherland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Women have participated in war throughout history, but their experience in Russia during the First World War was truly exceptional. Between the war's beginning and the October Revolution of 1917, approximately 6,000 women answered their country's call. These courageous women became media stars throughout Europe and America, but were brushed aside by Soviet chroniclers and until now have been largely neglected by history. Laurie Stoff draws on deep archival research into previously unplumbed material, including many first-person accounts, to examine the roots, motivations, and legacy of these women. She reveals that Russia was the only nation in World War I…


Book cover of The Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917

Joshua A. Sanborn Author Of Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire

From my list on Russia in World War I.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of history at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been studying Russia ever since visiting the Soviet Union as a college student in 1990. I’ve been particularly interested in seeking connections between violence and other dimensions of historical experience. My first book (Drafting the Russian Nation) explored connections between political ideologies and violence, Imperial Apocalypse is in part a social history of violence, and my current project is examining the connection between literary cultures, professional communities, and the violence of the Cold War.

Joshua's book list on Russia in World War I

Joshua A. Sanborn Why did Joshua love this book?

There is a shortage of good books on the military aspect of the war on the Eastern Front, with some of the most prominent books in English (and for that matter in Russian) dating back nearly fifty years. Stone’s volume is a prominent exception in this regard. Stone is thoughtful, concise, and judicious throughout. Readers will emerge with a comprehensive view of combat operations – and more.

By David R. Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Russian Army in the Great War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A full century later, our picture of World War I remains one of wholesale, pointless slaughter in the trenches of the Western front. Expanding our focus to the Eastern front, as David R. Stone does in this masterly work, fundamentally alters-and clarifies-that picture. A thorough, and thoroughly readable, history of the Russian front during the First World War, this book corrects widespread misperceptions of the Russian Army and the war in the east even as it deepens and extends our understanding of the broader conflict.

Of the four empires at war by the end of 1914-the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, German, and…


Book cover of Journey into Russia

Sara Wheeler Author Of Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age

From my list on to read when visiting Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sara Wheeler is a prize-winning non-fiction author. Sara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Contributing Editor of The Literary Review, a Trustee of The London Library, and former chair of the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award. She contributes to a wide range of publications in the UK and US and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio. Her five-part series, ‘To Strive, To Seek’,  went out on Radio 4, and her book Cherry was made into a television film. 

Sara's book list on to read when visiting Russia

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

The author was an old fraud but this is a delightful period piece which reveals a good deal, sometimes inadvertently, about the lives of Russians in the benighted Soviet sixties.

Book cover of Rubies in the Snow: Diary of Russia's Last Grand Duchess, 1911-1918

Helen Azar Author Of In the Steps of the Romanovs: Final two years of the last Russian imperial family (1916-1918)

From my list on historical fiction on royalty and Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

After a relatively short career in research science, Helen Azar switched gears and returned to graduate school to fulfill a dream of becoming a reference librarian. She worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia for ten years, during which time she became a published author. While researching for her first book, The Diary of Olga Romanov, Helen visited Russia several times, and worked in the Rare Book Fund at the Museum at Tsarskoe Selo, which holds the imperial book collection. Today, Helen lives on the beautiful far south coast of New South Wales, Australia; she continues writing about Russia's last imperial family and leads Romanov history tours. She also administers The Romanov Family website and is the content creator for a YouTube channel In the Steps of the Romanovs.

Helen's book list on historical fiction on royalty and Russia

Helen Azar Why did Helen love this book?

I am surprised that I never came across this book until now. I rarely read Young Adult books, but of course make exceptions for Romanov fiction. There simply is not enough decent Romanov fiction out there, period. IMO this one is a gem. Although of course it is not based on the diaries of real Anastasia (who unfortunately burnt them all when the revolution broke out), the author clearly did a lot of research and seemingly read the diaries of the other sisters. Not sure why this book got so many 3 star ratings, even though the reviews say it is a very good book, but I would definitely recommend it to Romanov fiction and non-fiction history fans.

By Kate Hubbard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rubies in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The diary of Anastasia Nicolaevna Romanov, the last Grand Duchess.


Book cover of The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921

Steven G. Marks Author Of How Russia Shaped the Modern World: From Art to Anti-Semitism, Ballet to Bolshevism

From my list on modern Russian history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Steven G. Marks is a historian who has written extensively on Russian economic and cultural history, the global impact of Russian ideas, and the history of capitalism. He received his PhD from Harvard University and has spent more than 30 years teaching Russian and world history at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Steven's book list on modern Russian history

Steven G. Marks Why did Steven love this book?

There are many excellent histories of the Russian Revolution that chronicle the main events, but none convey the complexity of experiences in Tsarist Russia during its final years and the Soviet regime in its initial phase as Mark Steinberg’s short but powerful and original work. This book gives us the bird’s-eye view of developments as they unfold, but also places them under the microscope to give us personal stories and experiences from different wakes of life. Using contemporary journalism and diaries, Steinberg recovers the voices of a range of ethnic groups in various regions of the empire—Jews, Ukrainians, and Central Asians--as well as workers, peasants, women, and members of the intelligentsia. As we witness their lives being thrown into upheaval by rapid political and economic transformation in the first years of the 20th century, followed by World War I, the two revolutions of 1917, and civil war, we gain…

By Mark D. Steinberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 is a new history of Russia's revolutionary era as a story of experience-of people making sense of history as it unfolded in their own lives and as they took part in making history themselves. The major events, trends, and explanations, reaching from Bloody Sunday in 1905 to the final shots of the civil war in 1921, are viewed through the doubled perspective of the professional historian looking backward and the contemporary
journalist reporting and interpreting history as it happened. The volume then turns toward particular places and people: city streets, peasant villages, the margins of empire…


Book cover of Looking for Mr. Smith: A Quest for Truth Behind The Long Walk, the Greatest Survival Story Ever Told

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?

Having read The Long Walk, like so many others, I wondered about the identity of the character known as Mr. Smith, so I was intrigued to discover that Linda Willis had spent some ten years researching this character.

As I had myself spent three years trying to locate evidence to authenticate the story in my own book, I could empathize with all Linda’s frustration in following dead ends and scrabbling down rabbit warrens. 

By Linda Willis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Looking for Mr. Smith as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn the facts behind the blockbuster film The Way Back.
Since 1956, The Long Walk has been, for many, the symbol of an immense love of freedom and has become one of the greatest true-life adventure stories of all time. The harrowing story about a group of POWs who escaped a labor camp in Siberia and walked to freedom in India during WWII deeply affected thousands of its readers, and Linda Willis was one of those moved by the story. But she had questions about its authenticity:

Was it all true?
What happened after their arrival in India?
Were there…


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