100 books like Primo Levi's Resistance

By Sergio Luzzatto,

Here are 100 books that Primo Levi's Resistance fans have personally recommended if you like Primo Levi's Resistance. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Suite Française

By Irene Nemirovsky,

Book cover of Suite Française

Sarah Steele Author Of The Schoolteacher of Saint-Michel

From the list on formidable females in Nazi-occupied France.

Who am I?

Having spent much time in France, I’ve been party to some incredible stories of the war years. The beautiful home owned by friends was once gifted by General De Gaulle to the village baker for his work hiding Resistance messages in loaves of bread; 90-year-old Jeanne remembers her father hiding Jewish families and helping them cross into free France; woodlands are punctuated by wooden crosses marking execution sites. For a writer, this is irresistible material, and it has been an honour to write The Schoolteacher of Saint-Michel and The Lost Song of Paris in tribute to the many acts of bravery and resistance over four long years of German occupation.

Sarah's book list on formidable females in Nazi-occupied France

Why did Sarah love this book?

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.

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

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From the list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Who am I?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Why did Ursula love this book?

Mr. Lowe’s meticulous research of post-WWII Europe gives startling insight into how devastated the continent was after the war.

He paints a picture of lawlessness and depravity, arguably as bad as battle conditions had been. In some cases, it might have been worse. Revenge killings, rapes, and starvation were among the horrors. It begs the question, when did WWII really end? 

By Keith Lowe,

Why should I read it?

3 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

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

From the list on WWII stories of ordinary people caught in war.

Who am I?

In 1945 my mother, grandmother, and myself, aged two and a half, fled Berlin after bombs had destroyed our apartment. My Austrian father had been killed in 1943; only my grandfather, a doctor, stayed behind. Yet as I grew up there was silence about the recent past. When I studied drama, earning a PhD from the University of London, I did not think about this either. Then I discovered my grandfather’s diaries and finally felt compelled to face my past. I have published 8 books and some 40 articles. My twin passions are writing about the impact of history on our lives and helping others tell their stories.

Gabrielle's book list on WWII stories of ordinary people caught in war

Why did Gabrielle love this book?

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).

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

Gemma Liviero Author Of The Road Beyond Ruin

From the list on WW2 occupation, resistance, and the aftermath.

Who am I?

Gemma is the bestselling author of historical fiction novels, translated into several languages. Set against the backdrop of war in Europe, her fifth book in this genre will be released later this year. She has combined the war experiences of family members in WWI and WWII, information collected during her research and travels, and her academic studies in writing and history, to create the authentic scenes and characters for her books.

Gemma's book list on WW2 occupation, resistance, and the aftermath

Why did Gemma love this book?

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.

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

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From the list on courage during the holocaust.

Who am I?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Why did Karen love this book?

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.

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…

Book cover of If Only It Were Fiction

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Author Of Find Me Again: A Rebecca Temple Mystery

From the list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced.

Who am I?

I'm a child of Holocaust survivors who spent three years in slave labour camps. My mother told me stories of her experiences a child should probably not hear. The result is that my philosophy of life, and sometimes my writing, can be dark. It’s no surprise that this period of history imbues my novels. I chose to write mysteries to reach a wider audience, the Holocaust connections integral to the stories. During my research, I discovered a wealth of information on the Holocaust but learned that memoirs revealed best what happened to people on the ground. Memoirs draw you into the microcosm of a person’s life with its nostalgia, yearning, and inevitable heartbreak.

Sylvia's book list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced

Why did Sylvia love this book?

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. 

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.

Ordinary Men

By Christopher R. Browning,

Book cover of Ordinary Men

Suzanna Eibuszyc Author Of Memory is Our Home

From the list on the trials and tribulations of the generation that came before us.

Who am I?

Professor Elie Wiesel was instrumental in my translating and researching my mother’s journals. My awakening to the dark period in the chapter of the Jewish history happened between 1971-1974 at CCNY, when our paths crossed while I was taking his classes at the department of Jewish studies. It was in his classes that the things that bewildered me as a child growing up in communist Poland in the shadows of the Holocaust aftermath started to make sense. I asked my mother to commit to paper the painful memories, she buried deep inside her. She and the next generations have an obligation to bear witness, to be this history's keepers.

Suzanna's book list on the trials and tribulations of the generation that came before us

Why did Suzanna love this book?

The famous Hannah Arendt coined “the banality of evil." Not monsters, but ordinary people were able to follow Hitler’s murderess ideology. Ordinary Men clearly shows how men and women from all walks of life were capable of becoming cold-blooded killers. Ordinary Men were the Nazi mobile gas units and death squads responsible for the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Poland & Ukraine.   

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.

Names in a Jar

By Jennifer Gold,

Book cover of Names in a Jar

Kathy Kacer Author Of Under the Iron Bridge

From the list on the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Who am I?

I'm the child of Holocaust survivors. I grew up with parents willing to talk about their survival experiences and do so in a way that wouldn't terrify me. I asked a million questions that my parents willingly answered. I grew up passionate about this history and determined to write their stories and the stories of other survivors. I'm aware that this generation of survivors is aging and passing away. Their "voices" will soon be gone. I feel a responsibility to capture these stories and write them for the next generations. I'm about to have my thirtieth book about the Holocaust published! And I've got more book ideas on the go.

Kathy's book list on the Second World War and the Holocaust

Why did Kathy love this book?

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.

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…

Book cover of Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews

Richard Overy Author Of Blood and Ruins: The Great Imperial War 1931-1945

From the list on key moments in World War II and the soldiers who fought in them.

Who am I?

I am a professional historian who has been writing books for more than forty years. Most of the books have been about war and dictatorship in the first half of the twentieth century. My last book, The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945, developed my long interest in air war history, which goes back to my first major book written in 1980 on air warfare in World War II.

Richard's book list on key moments in World War II and the soldiers who fought in them

Why did Richard love this book?

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. 

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.…

The Baton and the Jackboot

By Berta Geissmar,

Book cover of The Baton and the Jackboot

Isabel Vincent Author Of Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan that Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich

From the list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust.

Who am I?

I became interested in the Holocaust and the Second World War during my senior year of high school. I took a literature class entitled “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” which focused a great deal on the literature that emerged from the Holocaust. At the end of the year, I had the great honor to meet author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who had actually read my essay (my teacher knew him, and gave it to him to read) and encouraged me to keep writing. I am fascinated by stories of survival and the quiet heroism that characterized women like Ida and Louise Cook.

Isabel's book list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust

Why did Isabel love this book?

Berta Geissmar was the Jewish secretary and confidante to legendary German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler beginning in 1921.

In her memoir, published in 1944, Geissmar describes how the Nazi hierarchy interfered in the world of classical music, purging orchestras of Jewish musicians and banning works by Jewish composers. Although Furtwangler at first refused to do the bidding of the Nazis, he was eventually sidelined. And Geissmar soon became a Nazi target.

They blamed her for the bad publicity that the regime was getting in the classical music world, and seized her passport. Geissmar was eventually allowed to leave the country, and, ended up in London as the secretary of another legendary conductor—Sir Thomas Beecham.

By Berta Geissmar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


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