10 books like Primo Levi's Resistance

By Sergio Luzzatto,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Primo Levi's Resistance. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Book cover of Suite Française

I’ve chosen this book not just for the incredible picture it paints of German occupation, but for the story of its survival. Irène Némirovsky was a Ukrainian-Jewish author living in Paris with her young family until she was denied French citizenship and forced to flee to the French countryside. In July 1942 she was arrested during a period of vicious roundups by the Germans and transported to Auschwitz, where she died a month later from typhus. Irène’s two daughters were amongst the crowd that gathered daily outside the Hotel Lutetia in Paris, where returnees from concentration camps were processed after the liberation of France. Her daughter Denise kept the notebook containing Suite Française for fifty years before realising what it contained, and Irène’s masterpiece was finally published in 2004.

Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Suite Française as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Irene Nemirovsky sat down to write a book that would convey the magnitude of what she was living through, not in terms of battles and politicians, but by evoking the domestic lives and personal trials of the ordinary citizens of France. She did not live to see her ambition fulfilled, or to know that sixty-five years later, "Suite Francaise" would be published for the first time, and hailed as a masterpiece. Set during a year that begins with France's fall to the Nazis in June 1940 and ends with Germany turning its attention to Russia, "Suite Francaise" falls…


Savage Continent

By Keith Lowe,

Book cover of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

Keith Lowe is a brilliant researcher and this account of the after-effects of the Second World war on Europe makes for harrowing reading. When Europe was still shuddering from the war's destruction, the allies frequently behave brutally towards the vanquished Germans. The worst excesses, especially against women, were deliberately committed by the Russians followed by the French. This aspect of the war has mostly been overlooked by historians.

Savage Continent

By Keith Lowe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Keith Lowe's Savage Continent is an awe-inspiring portrait of how Europe emerged from the ashes of WWII.

The end of the Second World War saw a terrible explosion of violence across Europe. Prisoners murdered jailers. Soldiers visited atrocities on civilians. Resistance fighters killed and pilloried collaborators. Ethnic cleansing, civil war, rape and murder were rife in the days, months and years after hostilities ended. Exploring a Europe consumed by vengeance, Savage Continent is a shocking portrait of an until-now unacknowledged time of lawlessness and terror.

Praise for Savage Continent:

'Deeply harrowing, distinctly troubling. Moving, measured and provocative. A compelling and…


A Woman in Berlin

By Anonymous, Philip Boehm (translator),

Book cover of A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

Just like Api’s diary, A Woman in Berlin begins on April 20, 1945, and she, too, writes daily to maintain her sanity in a world of chaos and death. The author, who wanted to remain anonymous, gives a clear-eyed perspective of a woman alone, trapped in Berlin, fighting starvation and the terrors of Soviet invasion. For women above all this meant rape. They tried to hide in the ruins, make themselves look old, dress up as men. Nevertheless, Soviet soldiers raped over 100,000 women. I read in Api’s diary that Berlin doctors soon began to perform then illegal abortions for victims who begged them for one. 

The author’s unflinching and courageous account is “among the most chilling indictments of war I have ever read” (Arundhati Roy).

A Woman in Berlin

By Anonymous, Philip Boehm (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Woman in Berlin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

For eight weeks in 1945, as Berlin fell to the Russian army, a young woman kept a daily record of life in her apartment building and among its residents. "With bald honesty and brutal lyricism" (Elle), the anonymous author depicts her fellow Berliners in all their humanity, as well as their cravenness, corrupted first by hunger and then by the Russians. "Spare and unpredictable, minutely observed and utterly free of self-pity" (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland), A Woman in Berlin tells of the complex relationship between civilians and an occupying army and the…


The Second World War

By Martin Gilbert,

Book cover of The Second World War: A Complete History

This 900-page history is a vivid account of WWII across all fronts. Though the research is meticulous and covers the length of the war, the explanations are clear and fascinating and the chronology makes it feel like a guided tour through time. Along the way, Gilbert interposes a human face and a very personal account, revealing upheaval and atrocities, but ensuring that there is a permanent record of those civilians, particularly Jews, who died without just cause. And the examples and conditions endured are at times difficult to read and heartbreaking. The book covers all aspects, from battle lines to partisan attacks, to numbers killed, to firsthand accounts, to Hitler’s inners circle, and more. This is an outstanding read and this book is just one of Gilbert’s many significant contributions as a historian.

The Second World War

By Martin Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Originally published by Weidenfeld in 1989 and now available in paperback, a history of the Second World War, which looks at its political, diplomatic, military and civilian aspects.


Bartali's Bicycle

By Megan Hoyt, Iacopo Bruno (illustrator),

Book cover of Bartali's Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy's Secret Hero

Gino Bartali was a world-famous champion cyclist from Italy. But the world only learned many years later that he was also secretly working for the Italian resistance during WWII to help save the lives of hundreds of Jewish men, women, and children. He acted as a courier, delivering crucial identity papers and other documents that he had rolled up and hidden in the frame of his bike. Everybody recognized the champion and cheered him on as he raced by. They assumed he was in training. They had no idea that he was using his skills to help battle the enemy and save lives. 

This picture book pops with jaunty graphics and eye-catching illustrations that have a retro feel. The story is exciting and rich with detail.

Bartali's Bicycle

By Megan Hoyt, Iacopo Bruno (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This 2021 National Jewish Book Award finalist by author Megan Hoyt and illustrator Iacopo Bruno brings to light the inspiring, true story of Gino Bartali, a beloved Italian cyclist and secret champion in the fight for Jewish lives during World War II.

Gino Bartali pedaled across Italy for years, winning one cycling race after another, including the 1938 Tour de France. Gino became an international sports hero! But the next year, World War II began, and it changed everything. Soldiers marched into Italy. Tanks rolled down the cobbled streets of Florence. And powerful leaders declared that Jewish people should be…


If Only It Were Fiction

By Elsa Thon,

Book cover of If Only It Were Fiction

Elsa Thon recounts her war experiences in a cinematic tale with the eye of an artist. A teenager in Poland who had apprenticed in photo retouching, she was recruited by the Jewish underground. She left her family behind in the Warsaw Ghetto, ending up in Krakow with false papers. This was difficult for her, a deeply honest person. She writes, “I lied all the time.” She takes the reader with her on her dangerous journey, the degradation of a labour camp, and a forced march. Elsa was also a student in my seniors writing class and I found her to be generous and good-humoured, despite her painful past. She lost her whole family in the Holocaust but she writes that it was her “destiny” to survive. 

If Only It Were Fiction

By Elsa Thon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If Only It Were Fiction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elsa Thon was a sixteen-year-old photographer's apprentice when the Nazis occupied her town of Pruszków, Poland. When her family was sent to the Warsaw ghetto, Elsa joined a community farm and was recruited by the Underground. Despite her deep belief in destiny, Elsa refused to bow to her fate as a Jew in war-torn Poland.


The Periodic Table

By Primo Levi, Raymond Rosenthal (translator),

Book cover of The Periodic Table

A bona fide classic of scientific memoir and short stories, Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table has been considered the gold standard of science writing since it was published. Levi writes about different events in his life, linking them with a different elements on the periodic table. There are many great chapters in his book, but it can be a tough read at times: Levi was imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp, where his skills as a chemist saved him from certain death in the gas chambers at the hands of the Nazis. 

The Periodic Table

By Primo Levi, Raymond Rosenthal (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An extraordinary kind of autobiography in which each of the 21 chapters takes its title and its starting-point from one of the elements in the periodic table. Mingling fact and fiction, science and personal record, history and anecdote, Levi uses his training as an industrial chemist and the terrible years he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz to illuminate the human condition. Yet this exquisitely lucid text is also humourous and even witty in a way possible only to one who has looked into the abyss.


Names in a Jar

By Jennifer Gold,

Book cover of Names in a Jar

I love the way Jennifer Gold writes. She takes an important historical moment and turns it into a heart-stopping, rollercoaster ride that leaves the reader wanting more! That's how I felt when I read Names in a Jar. The story is an important one, historically. It's set in the Warsaw Ghetto and the Treblinka death camp. There are not many YA novels set in Treblinka, probably because so few prisoners survived that death camp. Jennifer has taken the true story of a real revolt that took place in Treblinka and adapted it for her novel. It's a story filled with courage and with hope.

Names in a Jar

By Jennifer Gold,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Names in a Jar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twelve-year-old Anna Krawitz is imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto with her older sister, Lina, and their father. Happy days spent reading about anatomy and science in Papa’s bookshop are long gone, and the knowledge they have is used to help their neighbors through the illnesses caused by starvation and war.

With no hope in sight and supplies dwindling, Anna finds herself taking care of an orphaned baby. With a courage she didn’t know she had, Anna and the baby leave behind all they know and go into hiding with a Catholic family, changing their names to hide their identity, but…


Ordinary Men

By Christopher R. Browning,

Book cover of Ordinary Men

Browning writes about how ordinary middle and working-class people were turned into killers by the Nazis in their war against the Jews. In particular, he raises the question of why the Jews were considered outside their circle of human obligation by those who ordered them to murder men, women, and children. The reader might question who, besides their family and close friends, if ordered to do so, they would feel it necessary to protect in situations like those described in Ordinary Men.

Ordinary Men

By Christopher R. Browning,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Ordinary Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews.


Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews

By Shlomo Aronson,

Book cover of Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews

There is a common assumption among a younger generation brought up on the horrors of the Holocaust or Shoah that the Allies waged war to save the Jews. As Aronson shows in this candid and carefully researched volume, nothing could be further from the truth. The war waged by Hitler against the Jews was well-known, but the Allies did very little to try to end or modify the outcome. For anyone interested in the war, understanding the fate of the Jews in both German and Allied terms is bound up with wider issues of strategy and politics. Aronson tells a slice of the wartime narrative that many might want to forget. It is also a reminder that the war and the Holocaust were bound together, not separate histories. This perspective has not won general acceptance, but it should. 

Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews

By Shlomo Aronson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book offers an analysis of the Holocaust as a multiple trap, its origins, and its final stages, in which rescue seemed to be possible. With the Holocaust developing like a sort of a doomsday machine set in motion from all sides, the Jews found themselves between the hammer and various anvils, each of which worked according to the logic created by the Nazis that dictated the behavior of other parties and the relations between them before and during the Holocaust. The interplay between the various parties contributed to the victims' doom first by preventing help and later preventing rescue.…


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