100 books like Rosie the Riveter

By Penny Colman,

Here are 100 books that Rosie the Riveter fans have personally recommended if you like Rosie the Riveter. 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 Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Kate Andersen Brower Author Of Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon

From my list on rule-breaking, risk-taking, bad a$# women.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I covered the White House as a young reporter I was always more interested in understanding what was happening in the upstairs residence than in what briefings we were getting from the president’s advisers in the Roosevelt Room. I was raised with the understanding that in the end everyone is equal and that no one, no matter how powerful they are, gets out of the human experience. I think that’s what makes me interested in iconic women, from Elizabeth Taylor to Betty Ford. There’s nothing I like better than reading their letters and trying to understand what made them tick, and how they navigated their complicated and very public lives.

Kate's book list on rule-breaking, risk-taking, bad a$# women

Kate Andersen Brower Why did Kate love this book?

My friend Denise Kiernan shines a light on the thousands of women who worked on the Manhattan Project.

If you’ve seen Oppenheimer and you’re interested in the story behind the development of the atomic bomb, then this book will help you understand the hidden figures behind its creation. What I love the most about Denise’s writing is the way that she brings the mysterious origins of Oak Ridge, a Tennessee town created to house the people working on the bomb, to life. 

At a time when the stakes couldn’t have been higher, women were at the center of the story.

By Denise Kiernan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girls of Atomic City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback—an incredible true story of the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb.

“The best kind of nonfiction: marvelously reported, fluidly written, and a remarkable story...As meticulous and brilliant as it is compulsively readable.” —Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not…


Book cover of Our Mothers' War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II

Merrill J. Davies Author Of Becoming Jestina

From my list on how women helped win World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

After teaching high school English for thirty-one years, I retired and began my second career in writing. I have published five novels and one collection of poetry. When I met Jane Tucker in 1974, she became a good friend, fellow church member, and my dental hygienist. I had no idea she had worked as a welder on Liberty Ships during World War II when she was only sixteen years old. After I learned this in 2012, I began my journey into learning all about the Rosies during World War II and writing my fourth novel Becoming Jestina. Jane’s story is an amazing one, and I still talk to her regularly.

Merrill's book list on how women helped win World War II

Merrill J. Davies Why did Merrill love this book?

I recommend this book because it gives a broader picture of the women who changed the way women participate in society forever. It wasn’t just building bombs, liberty ships, and planes that women had a part in. It was everything! When I’ve talked to women who lived during that time, and when I read this book, I realized how many ways women changed during that period of history.

By Emily Yellin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Our Mothers' War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Our Mothers' War is a stunning and unprecedented portrait of women during World War II, a war that forever transformed the way women participate in American society.

Never before has the vast range of women's experiences during this pivotal era been brought together in one book. Now, Our Mothers' War re-creates what American women from all walks of life were doing and thinking, on the home front and abroad. These heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking accounts of the women we have known as mothers, aunts, and grandmothers reveal facets of their lives that have usually remained unmentioned and unappreciated.

Our Mothers'…


Book cover of Slacks and Calluses: Our Summer in a Bomber Factory

Merrill J. Davies Author Of Becoming Jestina

From my list on how women helped win World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

After teaching high school English for thirty-one years, I retired and began my second career in writing. I have published five novels and one collection of poetry. When I met Jane Tucker in 1974, she became a good friend, fellow church member, and my dental hygienist. I had no idea she had worked as a welder on Liberty Ships during World War II when she was only sixteen years old. After I learned this in 2012, I began my journey into learning all about the Rosies during World War II and writing my fourth novel Becoming Jestina. Jane’s story is an amazing one, and I still talk to her regularly.

Merrill's book list on how women helped win World War II

Merrill J. Davies Why did Merrill love this book?

Since I taught school for thirty-one years, this book was especially fascinating to me because it involved two young teachers spending their summer in 1943 working on a production line at a San Diego bomber plant. It enlightened me significantly on how difficult it often was for women during that time to be accepted in what was usually an exclusively male world of work.

By Constance Bowman Reid, Clara Marie Allen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1943 two spirited young teachers decided to do their part for the war effort by spending their summer vacation working the swing shift on a B-24 production line at a San Diego bomber plant. Entering a male-dominated realm of welding torches and bomb bays, they learned to use tools that they had never seen before, live with aluminum shavings in their hair, and get along with supervisors and coworkers from all walks of life. 
   
   They also learned that wearing their factory slacks on the street caused men to treat them in a way for which their "dignified schoolteacher-hood" hadn't…


Book cover of On the Swing Shift: Building Liberty Ships in Savannah

Merrill J. Davies Author Of Becoming Jestina

From my list on how women helped win World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

After teaching high school English for thirty-one years, I retired and began my second career in writing. I have published five novels and one collection of poetry. When I met Jane Tucker in 1974, she became a good friend, fellow church member, and my dental hygienist. I had no idea she had worked as a welder on Liberty Ships during World War II when she was only sixteen years old. After I learned this in 2012, I began my journey into learning all about the Rosies during World War II and writing my fourth novel Becoming Jestina. Jane’s story is an amazing one, and I still talk to her regularly.

Merrill's book list on how women helped win World War II

Merrill J. Davies Why did Merrill love this book?

I recommend this book because it not only helped me understand the role of women during the war, but also the whole culture of Savannah, Georgia, during that time. Tony Cope was a young child in Savannah during World War II and was very familiar with the Southeastern Shipyards. When he returned as an adult and realized that most people in the city did not even know the shipyards had existed, he was determined to make sure that part of Savannah’s history wasn’t lost. His interviews with those who had worked in the shipyards are fascinating and enlightening.

By Tony Cope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Swing Shift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During World War II eighty-eight of the almost three thousand Liberty ships built in America were launched in Savannah, Georgia. Without Liberty ships, the Battle of the Atlantic might have been lost.

Few remember the Liberty ships today; fewer remember the shipyard or that the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation was the largest industry ever located there. The land on which this shipyard stood is now derelict. Thousands drive by it every day and have no idea of the great contribution to the war effort that was made on that site.

This social history tells the story of the men and women…


Book cover of From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front

Gregory A. Daddis Author Of Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men's Adventure Magazines

From my list on war and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the USS Midway Chair in Modern US Military History at San Diego State University. I’ve been teaching courses on the relationships between war and society for years and am fascinated not just by the causes and conduct of war, but, more importantly, by the costs of war. To me, Americans have a rather peculiar connection with war. In many ways, war has become an integral part of American conduct overseas—and our very identity. And yet we often don’t study it to question some of our basic assumptions about what war can do, what it means, and what the consequences are for wielding armed force so readily overseas.

Gregory's book list on war and society

Gregory A. Daddis Why did Gregory love this book?

I teach at a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and it’s important for my students to identify with the historical actors we study. Escobedo resonates with them because she artfully discusses how the “Good War” was perceived within Mexican American families living in Southern California. She argues that Mexican American women, especially those working in the defense industry, were “racially malleable” and members of an “in-between” community during the war.

There’s so much going on in this story—insights into race and gender, sexuality and family dynamics, fears about “race mixing,” and wartime demographic shifts. Yet in all this, Escobedo never loses sight of the women themselves and their powerful voices.

By Elizabeth R. Escobedo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Coveralls to Zoot Suits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During World War II, unprecedented employment avenues opened up for women and minorities in U.S. defense industries at the same time that massive population shifts and the war challenged Americans to rethink notions of race. At this extraordinary historical moment, Mexican American women found new means to exercise control over their lives in the home, workplace, and nation. In From Coveralls to Zoot Suits, Elizabeth R. Escobedo explores how, as war workers and volunteers, dance hostesses and zoot suiters, respectable young ladies and rebellious daughters, these young women used wartime conditions to serve the United States in its time of…


Book cover of The Little Wartime Library

Julia Jarman Author Of The Widows' Wine Club

From my list on improbable friendships.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like the widows in The Widows’ Wine Club, I’m getting on. Unlike them, I’ve been a writer for forty years, often hunched over a keyboard, ignoring people. Amazingly, though, I managed to have a happy marriage and make some great friends. Phew! Because I’ve needed friends, especially since my husband died. Looking back, I’m interested to see that I didn’t instantly take to some of my closest buddies. Circumstances threw us together, and we got to know and like and love each other. I explore this in my book. 

Julia's book list on improbable friendships

Julia Jarman Why did Julia love this book?

Again, this has everything I like in a book, characters I care about, a great page-turning plot, a fight for what’s right, and a beautiful romantic thread.

By amazing coincidence, it’s also about inspiring librarians, two very different women who join forces to bring books to people who need them. Clara Button, recently widowed and under pressure to be respectable, is very different from racy unmarried Ruby Munroe, but the two form a strong bond grounded in mutual respect.

Based on historical fact, it tells the story of the underground library, built in the disused Bethnal Green tube station in 1944 when the Blitz was wreaking havoc in wartime London. Feel-good fiction at its best. Brill!

By Kate Thompson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Little Wartime Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A splendid warm-hearted novel' - Rachel Hore

London, 1944.

Clara Button is no ordinary librarian. While the world remains at war, in East London Clara has created the country's only underground library, built over the tracks in the disused Bethnal Green tube station. Down here a secret community thrives: with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a cafe and a theatre offering shelter, solace and escape from the bombs that fall above.

Along with her glamorous best friend and library assistant Ruby Munroe, Clara ensures the library is the beating heart of life underground. But as the war drags on,…


Book cover of Balcony In The Forest

J.E. Tolbert Author Of Arsalan the Magnificent

From my list on descriptions of the real world make it seem unreal.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author, poet, and visual artist. These interests converge in my approach to literature. I think that visual and psychological descriptions of environments and circumstances are essential to enlivening the narrative and setting its tone. Often in modern literature this is diluted in favor of straightforward accounts. I believe that a story is never told with any complete objectivity but has a psychological context that must be highlighted. In addition, vivid visual descriptions greatly assist the reader in inhabiting the world of the story as seen from the characters’ points of view.

J.E.'s book list on descriptions of the real world make it seem unreal

J.E. Tolbert Why did J.E. love this book?

In the forests of France near the Belgian border during World War II, a French soldier is stationed in a bunker with his squad members.

They are ordered not to leave their posts and to be on the lookout for German tanks. Nothing happens for months except a long, snowy winter. The protagonist experiences a sense of liberation in this rural isolation that he relishes. His environment appears timeless, forever suspended in a gray, benevolent limbo filled with snow, mist, and conifers. He wishes his post would never end.

I love this book because it describes an introvert’s ideal environment: ensconcement, privacy, silence, freedom from larger society, and nature. It contains some of the most unique descriptions of splendid aloneness in the woods I have ever read.

By Julien Gracq,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the Ardennes Forest on the Begian border the French guns point north-east, awaiting the German onslaught. One reinforced concrete blockhouse in the heart of the forest is manned, this winter of 1939/40, by Lieutenant Grange with three men, who live in a chalet built over it. cut off from the rest of the world, their senses heightened to capture the sounds and smells of the forest, the men create their own security as autumn turns to winter. Later, though, when winter turns to spring, when the sap rises and the panzer divisions attack, Lieutenant Grange meets the fate he…


Book cover of The Tenth Man

Sarah Hawthorn Author Of The Dilemma

From my list on keeping you asking, ‘what would I have done?’.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing the Dilemma, I was struck by how many readers’ feedback posed this question, What would I have done? In the process of writing the book, whilst I created the story around this one particular big fat problem, I little realised how it would resonate with so many, and also have such divided – and deeply personal responses. I’ve since become increasingly fascinated by the many ‘sliding door’ moments we experience in our lives requiring split-second decisions which may (in retrospect) have been ill-considered but by then it’s too late to ‘wind back time.’ All we can do is learn to live with consequences, however damaging they may be. 

Sarah's book list on keeping you asking, ‘what would I have done?’

Sarah Hawthorn Why did Sarah love this book?

Another novel set in WW2, this dark story delves into how far a man will go to secure his survival – and the guilt (and unhappiness) he must subsequently live with as a result of his arrogance in believing his money and status gives him certain privileges. Wealthy lawyer Chavel is a prisoner in occupied France. His Nazi gaolers decree three men are to be executed, at the prisoners’ discretion. The men draw lots and when Chavel’s name is drawn he offers his fortune to anyone who will take his place. A dying man agrees. What unravels after war’s end, and Chavel is released, offers him a chance for redemption for his cowardice.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the classics Brighton Rock and The Power and the Glory, a morally complex tale about a man at the mercy of deadly forces while being held in a German prison camp during World War II. Featuring an introduction by the author and two other story ideas from his archives.

When Jean-Louis Chauvel, a French lawyer incarcerated in a German prison camp, is informed by his captors that three prisoners must die, he devises a plan for survival. Offering everything he owns to a fellow prisoner if he will take Chauvel’s place, he manages to escape the…


Book cover of The Book of Esther: A Novel

Michael David Lukas Author Of The Last Watchman of Old Cairo

From my list on magical historical.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by history, by the way that the past informs the present, how it makes us who we are. And I’ve found myself drawn, as a reader and as a writer, towards those stories that incorporate some element of magic into the past. I’ve written two magical historical novels. And my third book, which I hope to be finished with soon, is a fabulist tale set in the future, which I like to say is history that hasn’t happened yet. 

Michael's book list on magical historical

Michael David Lukas Why did Michael love this book?

As someone writing a post-apocalyptic retelling of the biblical Book of Esther, I was immediately drawn to this counterfactual history set amidst an isolated Eastern European nation of Turkic warrior Jews. Called the “Jewish Game of Thrones” the book goes deep into a magical alternative universe that will have you hungering for a sequel.

By Emily Barton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What if an empire of Jewish warriors that really existed in the Middle Ages had never fallen—and was the only thing standing between Hitler and his conquest of Russia? 

Eastern Europe, August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania—and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad.

After years of Jewish refugees streaming across the border from Europa, fleeing the war, Germania launches its…


Book cover of The Moon is Down

Christine Foster Meloni Author Of Growing Up in Mussolini's Fascist Italy: The Story of Andrea Marcello Meloni

From my list on the dangers of living under Hitler and Mussolini.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became very interested in this topic when I moved to Italy and met and married Andrea Meloni. I had never been particularly interested in wars and battles but, when he began to tell me about his very personal experience growing up in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, I was captivated and felt that his unique story was important. I, therefore, encouraged him to write his memoirs. My book is based on them, and so it is more his book than mine. However, I did extensive research to set his story in a coherent historical context. 

Christine's book list on the dangers of living under Hitler and Mussolini

Christine Foster Meloni Why did Christine love this book?

Steinbeck wrote this novel about a country occupied by the Nazis during World War II.

Although the name of this country is never mentioned, it was generally acknowledged that it was Norway. The focus is on one particular town and shows what life is like when you are not free and live in constant fear.

This book found its way to Europe and was translated into European languages and widely distributed clandestinely. It served to encourage occupied countries to rebel against their oppressor.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Occupied by enemy troops, a small, peaceable town comes face-to-face with evil imposed from the outside—and betrayal born within the close-knit community

A Penguin Classic

In this masterful tale set in Norway during World War II, Steinbeck explores the effects of invasion on both the conquered and the conquerors. As he delves into the emotions of the German commander and the Norwegian traitor, and depicts the spirited patriotism of the Norwegian underground, Steinbeck uncovers profound, often unsettling truths about war—and about human nature.

Nobel Prize winner JohnSteinbeck’s self-described “celebration of the durability of democracy” had an extraordinary impact as Allied…


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