100 books like Our Man in New York

By Henry Hemming,

Here are 100 books that Our Man in New York fans have personally recommended if you like Our Man in New York. 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 Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville

Sarah Percy Author Of Forgotten Warriors: The Long History of Women in Combat

From my list on women in combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic, writer, and broadcaster, and I’ve always been fascinated by the big questions of who fights wars and why. A puzzle caught my eye: the only profession (short of maybe priest) where women were actively banned in the 1980s and as late as the 2010s, was combat. How could Western democracies ban women from an entire profession? This was especially odd, given that the plentiful historical evidence that women were perfectly capable of combat. So I wrote a book explaining how women in combat fit into the broader sweep of military history, and how the suppression and dismissal of their stories has had a profound social and cultural impact. 

Sarah's book list on women in combat

Sarah Percy Why did Sarah love this book?

The stories of women spies during World War II are not as well known as they should be – especially  because these women were highly trained, incredibly brave, and trained in all kinds of combat techniques.

I find them fascinating because they demonstrate that ordinary women are capable of the greatest feats of physical bravery – these women were not recruited because they were muscle-bound or could shoot a bullseye from a great distance.

They were usually just regular women who happened to speak a European language fluently. Krystyna Skarbek, brilliantly written about in this exciting biography by Clare Mulley, was one such woman – her adventures, including crucial organization of French resistance fighters and rescuing her colleagues from the Nazis – make for irresistible reading.

By Clare Mulley,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Spy Who Loved as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in South Kensington. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising, but that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable. The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, she would become one of Britain's most daring and highly decorated special agents. Having fled to Britain on the outbreak of war, she was recruited by the intelligence services long before the establishment of the SOE, and took on mission after mission. She skied into occupied Poland, served…


Book cover of Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

Larry Enmon Author Of Class III Threat

From my list on spies from a retired secret service agent.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I always wanted to be a Secret Service agent. As an adult, I became one. The job introduced me to the classified and shadowy world of national security. I traveled the globe, working in places I'd only read about in novels and meeting people who seemed like well-written characters from a book. When I was assigned as a liaison agent to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I attended numerous FBI and CIA schools—even the facility known as The Farm. But through it all, I read! When I retired and had time to think about what I did, I figured I'd try writing.

Larry's book list on spies from a retired secret service agent

Larry Enmon Why did Larry love this book?

I have always been fascinated with WWII war stories, especially those involving intelligence operations.

Double Cross is one of the most unbelievable stories I've ever read. It's a nonfiction book that's so incredible it almost sounds like fiction. The British scored success after success against all the German intelligence services to keep the Germans guessing about dozens of Allied military activities, including the actual site of the D-Day landings.

MI6 might get all the cool James Bond movies made about it, but MI5 was the real star of this book.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Double Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force.

The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty…


Book cover of Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler

Robert Hutton Author Of Agent Jack: The True Story of Mi5's Secret Nazi Hunter

From my list on secret wartime histories around WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Robert Hutton is the author of Agent Jack, the previously untold tale of the surprisingly large number of British people who tried to help Hitler win World War 2. He spent a decade and a half following British prime ministers around the world for Bloomberg and now writes parliamentary sketches for The Critic while researching intelligence history.

Robert's book list on secret wartime histories around WW2

Robert Hutton Why did Robert love this book?

We hear a lot about the wars of soldiers and spies, but much less about the lives of ordinary people. In this book, O’Donnell pieces together the story of her grandmother’s life as a young woman in Germany before and during the war. Unlike the tales of daring action, this is a story that is unexceptional, but all the more powerful for it. A reminder that for many people in Europe, the war was something that happened to them, rather than something they did.

By Svenja O'Donnell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An extraordinary saga." -David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon

The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for sixty years

Growing up in Paris as the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her great-grandparents, grandmother, and mother had fled their home city of Koenigsberg near the end of World War II, never to return. But everything changed when O'Donnell traveled to the city-now known as Kaliningrad, and a part…


Book cover of The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler

David C. Dawson Author Of A Death in Berlin

From my list on historical gay heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve read a lot of books that feature gay characters. These characters often partition into two main groups: angsty men who are victims of oppression or illness, or camp stereotypes who provide the light relief. I prefer to read about heroes who happen to be gay. That’s why I started writing novels. My recent books are historical novels inspired by real gay heroes. The feedback I get from readers indicates that there are a lot of people who want the same as I do.

David's book list on historical gay heroes

David C. Dawson Why did David love this book?

The untold true story of how a group of gay MPs lobbied the British government to stop its policy of appeasing Hitler in the run up to WWII. It’s a book about patriotic heroes who are criminals in their own land because of their sexuality. It moved me deeply and inspired my own fictional thriller set in Berlin in 1933.

By Chris Bryant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A STORY OF UNSUNG BRAVERY AT A DEFINING MOMENT IN BRITAIN'S HISTORY

'Superb' Stephen Fry
'Thrillingly told' Dan Jones
'Fascinating' Neil MacGregor
'Astonishing' Peter Frankopan

We like to think we know the story of how Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, but there is one chapter that has never been told. In the early 1930s, a group of young, queer British MPs visited Berlin on a series of trips that would change the course of the Second World War.

Having witnessed the Nazis' brutality first-hand, these men were some of the first to warn Britain about Hitler, repeatedly…


Book cover of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship

Peter Shinkle Author Of Uniting America: How FDR and Henry Stimson Brought Democrats and Republicans Together to Win World War II

From my list on American leaders who broke the rules during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been shocked in recent years by the bitter partisanship in America, and by how our politics have turned into a sort of sports grudge match – my team versus yours, no matter what – with very little interest in seeking the truth or working for the national good. So when I discovered a number of years ago that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt built an alliance with Republicans that led the country to victory in World War II, I immediately set out to understand how such an extraordinary bipartisan alliance could take place – and whether America might do such a thing again. Uniting America provides an answer.

Peter's book list on American leaders who broke the rules during WWII

Peter Shinkle Why did Peter love this book?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, cast together by the rising tide of fascism, became allies to fight their common enemy.

Their politics, however, in some ways stood in sharp contrast. FDR was a liberal Democrat who believed in using the levers of government to help those thrown out of work by the Great Depression. Churchill was a Conservative who had fought many a battle against Britain’s liberals.

Yet the two men broke the rules of rigid adherence to any party. 

As Jon Meacham puts it in his masterful Franklin and Winston, “Churchill changed parties from Conservative to Liberal and back again, and the vicissitudes of his views did not surprise those closest to him.” As for FDR, who built an alliance with prominent Republicans during the war, one associate pointed to the “flexibility of the Roosevelt mind.”

By Jon Meacham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The most complete portrait ever drawn of the complex emotional connection between two of history’s towering leaders

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were the greatest leaders of “the Greatest Generation.” In Franklin and Winston, Jon Meacham explores the fascinating relationship between the two men who piloted the free world to victory in World War II. It was a crucial friendship, and a unique one—a president and a prime minister spending enormous amounts of time together (113 days during the war) and exchanging nearly two thousand messages. Amid cocktails, cigarettes, and cigars, they met, often secretly, in…


Book cover of Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941

Lew Paper Author Of In the Cauldron: Terror, Tension, and the American Ambassador's Struggle to Avoid Pearl Harbor

From my list on why America was unprepared for Pearl Harbor attack.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a lawyer (Harvard Law School) who loves to write. My books reflect my eclectic interests. I've written nonfiction books about John Kennedy’s presidency, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, CBS Founder William S. Paley, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pearl Harbor. Each of my nonfiction books tries to focus on something with respect to a particular person or event that had not been addressed in detail in any other book. I've also written a thriller (Deadly Risks) which revolves around JFK’s assassination and can be likened to John Grisham’s book, The Pelican Brief.

Lew's book list on why America was unprepared for Pearl Harbor attack

Lew Paper Why did Lew love this book?

Although not technically about the Pearl Harbor attack, Those Angry Days is an excellent companion to understand the mood in America in those months before the attack.  While Grew was focused on avoiding an almost inevitable conflict between Japan and the United States, Olson shows that Americans in general and President Roosevelt in particular were far more focused on whether and how to engage in the ongoing conflict in Europe.

By Lynne Olson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND KIRKUS REVIEWS

From the acclaimed author of Citizens of London comes the definitive account of the debate over American intervention in World War II—a bitter, sometimes violent clash of personalities and ideas that divided the nation and ultimately determined the fate of the free world.

At the center of this controversy stood the two most famous men in America: President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who championed the interventionist cause, and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who as unofficial leader and spokesman…


Book cover of Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945: The Origins of the Cold War

Sean McMeekin Author Of Stalin's War: A New History of World War II

From my list on Stalin and the Second World War.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1992, I graduated high school and although I did not then know how to read or speak Russian, I interviewed six Soviet veterans who happened to live in a nursing home in Rochester NY. I was blown away by their stories; each was missing at least one limb and had a tale to tell about it. The timing was fortuitous in that there was an exhibition at the U.S. Library of Congress that summer on “Revelations from the Russian archives,” which has just opened to researchers. Although it took me some years to master Russian, I resolved then and there to go to the source and research Soviet history in Moscow itself. I am a historian now and I have been working in Moscow archives for nearly a quarter-century now. Stalin’s War is my eighth book to date, all of which draw on this work in the Russian archives.

Sean's book list on Stalin and the Second World War

Sean McMeekin Why did Sean love this book?

Like Sebag Montefiore and Mawdsley, Raack was the first diplomatic historian to re-evaluate Stalin’s foreign policy in light of documents which became available after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. He exploded numerous myths about the supposed Soviet interest in “collective security” in the 1930s, showing that this was mere projection on the part of French and British and Czechoslovak statesmen who saw what they wanted to see in Stalin’s foreign policy, which was just as territorially “revisionist” as that of Italy, Germany, and Japan, just as expansionist – but better camouflaged.

By R.C. Raack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploiting new findings from former East Bloc archives and from long-ignored Western sources, this book presents a wholly new picture of the coming of World War II, Allied wartime diplomacy, and the origins of the Cold War. The author reveals that the story - widely believed by historians and Western wartime leaders alike - that Stalin's purposes in European diplomacy from 1938 on were mainly defensive is a fantasy. Indeed, this is one of the longest enduring products of Stalin's propaganda, of long-term political control of archival materials, and of the gullibility of Western observers.

The author argues that Stalin…


Book cover of Stilwell and the American Experience in China: 1911-1945

Don Glickstein Author Of After Yorktown: The Final Struggle for American Independence

From my list on political biographies that are well written.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Massachusetts, which produced four presidents and untold presidential candidates including Mitt Romney, Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, and Gov. William Butler, who ran in 1884. My first career was as a newspaper reporter and editor, and I worked for papers in Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, and Washington state. I’ve dabbled in politics myself, working as a campaign press secretary for the late Washington Gov. Booth Gardner. Newspapers gave me an abiding hatred for adverbs, the passive voice, and bias in word selection. (No, historians shouldn’t use “patriot” in describing the Revolution’s American rebels, because loyalists and Indian nations were just as patriotic in their own minds.)

Don's book list on political biographies that are well written

Don Glickstein Why did Don love this book?

General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell, the American liaison to Chiang Kai-Shek’s China during World War II, was the opposite of a politician. Blunt, profane, disrespectful, and sarcastic—he called Chiang the “peanut”—Stilwell was incapable of being politic, which makes Tuchman’s book the ultimate political biography. Like many great biographers, including three of the five authors on this list, Tuchman came to history from journalism or publishing, not from academia, something she felt was an asset in helping her write in a style that produced both a Pulitzer and best sellers.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Stilwell and the American Experience in China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell, the general who was the American commander in the China-Burma-India theatre of World War II, had a deep love of China. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman, combines a fascinating narrative of America's relationship with China from the fall of the Manchu Dynasty through to the rise of Mao Tse-Tung with an intimate biography of Vinegar Joe. Stilwell loved China deeply, spoke its languages and understood its people as few Westerners have. Tuchman traces his life from his first visit during the 1911 Revolution through the Second World War to his confrontation with…


Book cover of Lords of the Desert: The Battle Between the United States and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Author Of Our Man In Kuwait

From my list on spies in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a thriller writer who was born and grew up in Kuwait during a period when the country was threatened with invasion by Iraq. My father was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited the country and they became close friends. At the time Britain depended on inside information to prepare for military Operation Vantage. The experiences I had of that time and of that relationship, even as a child, were crying out to be written about. Despite the Middle East being a hotspot for espionage during that period of the Cold War, there’s been relatively little written about it.

Louise's book list on spies in the Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Why did Louise love this book?

This book sums up so much of what went on in the Middle East from the Second World War onwards. As such, James Barr lifts the curtain on British plotting and intrigue in a most readable and thrilling way. It details how America got involved in the middle decades of the twentieth century and much of the rivalry that existed during this period between the secret services. Essential reading to understand some of the present-day political ramifications of the region.

By James Barr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A path-breaking history of how the United States superseded Great Britain as the preeminent power in the Middle East, with urgent lessons for the present day

We usually assume that Arab nationalism brought about the end of the British Empire in the Middle East -- that Gamal Abdel Nasser and other Arab leaders led popular uprisings against colonial rule that forced the overstretched British from the region.

In Lords of the Desert, historian James Barr draws on newly declassified archives to argue instead that the US was the driving force behind the British exit. Though the two nations were allies,…


Book cover of Hard Choices: What Britain Does Next

Peter Foster Author Of What Went Wrong With Brexit: And What We Can Do About It

From my list on Britain after Brexit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a journalist who spent 15 years reporting from all over the world – Kabul, Baghdad, New Delhi, Beijing, Washington D.C. – returning to London in 2015 to report on the UK’s relations with Europe. Then Brexit happened. As a reporter, I’d chronicled the rise of China and India after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, but I’d failed to understand how far Britain had been consumed by the forces of populism that have roiled all Western democracies. I’ve spent the last eight years reporting on the fallout, from both sides of the English Channel; trying to unpack what went wrong, and see what we can do about it.

Peter's book list on Britain after Brexit

Peter Foster Why did Peter love this book?

As a former foreign correspondent based in India, Beijing, and Washington I found myself wanting to press this book by former top UK diplomatic and national security advisor Peter Ricketts into the hands of every British politician I have ever met.

Having spent more than a decade overseas reporting on the UK’s struggle to stay relevant, I was struck on my return to the UK in 2015 at just how myopic and insular British politics had become.

Brexit was the most obvious expression of this. It has left the UK piggy-in-the-middle, between the US and the EU and this book sets out, alongside a wealth of personal anecdote and experience, how the UK needs to think strategically if it is to retain a place at the global top table.

By Peter Ricketts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY BOOK AWARDS

'Thought-provoking and well worth reading' Times Literary Supplement

After decades of peace and prosperity, the international order put in place after World War II is rapidly coming to an end. Disastrous foreign wars, global recession, the meteoric rise of China and India and the COVID pandemic have undermined the power of the West's international institutions and unleashed the forces of nationalism and protectionism.

In this lucid and groundbreaking analysis, one of Britain's most experienced senior diplomats highlights the key dilemmas Britain faces, from trade to security, arguing that international co-operation and solidarity are the…


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