100 books like Soaring Underground

By Larry Orbach, Vivien Orbach-Smith,

Here are 100 books that Soaring Underground fans have personally recommended if you like Soaring Underground. 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 Night

James Taing Author Of Under the Naga Tail: A True Story of Survival, Bravery, and Escape from the Cambodian Genocide

From my list on surviving impossible odds.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since arriving as a refugee in America, my father, Mae Bunseng has always wanted to tell his story. It would take many decades later for me, as I was coming of age, to consider what exactly my father had lived through. I was shocked at what he told me and knew his story had to be told. Thus over a decade ago I worked with my him to what eventually became Under the Naga Tail. In addition to this book, along the way, a short documentary called Ghost Mountain was created and released on PBS, which is accessible for streaming here. The film would win the best documentary at the HAAPI Film Festival.

James' book list on surviving impossible odds

James Taing Why did James love this book?

The masterpiece memoir by Elie Wiesel is an astonishingly short autobiographical of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. His account of surviving a concentration camp is important as any other, a narrative that is chilling, yet with compassion put into each word. Night is a book that has to be read. Elie would become an important human rights activist and this continued beyond the subject matter of the Holocaust. During the refugee crisis on the Thai-Cambodia border in 1980, he and several other notables (such as Joan Baez, Liv Ullman, and Bayard Rustin), mobilized to bring relief assistance for Cambodians fleeing the dangerous borders of their country. When asked by a journalist why help Cambodia, he replied, “When I needed people to come, they didn't. That's why I am here.” It demonstrated Elie’s resolve and will to prevent the next genocide from happening somewhere else.

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor's perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of…


Book cover of Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews

Monica Porter Author Of Deadly Carousel: A Diva’s Exploits in Wartime Budapest

From my list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 12 years old when, in Amsterdam on a family holiday, I was taken to see the Anne Frank House. Until then I knew very little about WW2, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. After viewing the ‘secret annexe’ my father bought me The Diary of Anne Frank, which was on sale there, and I started reading it in the car as we drove off. The book sparked my deep lifelong interest in that chapter of history. Many years later I discovered that my own mother also had an extraordinary wartime story. By then I was a journalist and knew I’d have to write a book about it—Deadly Carousel.  

Monica's book list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

Anyone who wants to know what a real-life, daring British secret agent looks like (hint: nothing like James Bond) should read about Frank Foley. The son of a West Country railway worker, only 5’2” tall, he wore a tweed jacket and owlish spectacles. Not very sexy. Officially a ‘passport control officer’ at the British embassy in Berlin, in fact he was the ringmaster of a spy network. Following Hitler’s rise to power he focused on saving Jews. As time was of the essence, he dispensed with cumbersome bureaucracy: "I pounded on the desks until I got what I wanted." As well as issuing thousands of life-saving visas, he hid in his own home Jews fleeing the Gestapo and helped them acquire forged documents. With no diplomatic immunity, he could have been arrested as a spy and shot. So often in life the unassuming ‘little guy’ is the greatest hero of…

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the horror of Nazism tightened its grip on Germany, Jews found themselves trapped and desperate. For many, their only hope of salvation came in the form of a small, bespectacled British man: Frank Foley. Working as a Berlin Passport Control Officer, Foley helped thousands of Jews to flee the country with visas and false passports, personally entering the camps to get Jews out, and sheltering those on the run from the Gestapo in his own apartment. Described by a Jewish leader as 'the Pimpernel of the Jews', Foley was an unsung hero of the Holocaust.But why is this extraordinary…


Book cover of Desperate Journey: Vienna-Paris-Auschwitz

Monica Porter Author Of Deadly Carousel: A Diva’s Exploits in Wartime Budapest

From my list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 12 years old when, in Amsterdam on a family holiday, I was taken to see the Anne Frank House. Until then I knew very little about WW2, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. After viewing the ‘secret annexe’ my father bought me The Diary of Anne Frank, which was on sale there, and I started reading it in the car as we drove off. The book sparked my deep lifelong interest in that chapter of history. Many years later I discovered that my own mother also had an extraordinary wartime story. By then I was a journalist and knew I’d have to write a book about it—Deadly Carousel.  

Monica's book list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

If Lothar Orbach survived in Berlin by creeping about in the shadows, Freddie did the opposite. This Viennese Jew brazenly entered the lion’s den of Nazi-occupied Paris and hobnobbed with the Wehrmacht. His true story is so amazing it would seem preposterous in a novel. Freddie left Austria after Hitler’s annexation of his country, and aged 20, with a false Aryan identity, he headed for the City of Lights. There he befriended Nazi soldiers and sold them his services as a guide to the red-light district, thereby earning commission from the nightspots and brothels to which he ushered them. "In reality I was a pimp," he writes. "But I didn’t consider it a situation I should be ashamed of. Because it saved my life." His luck ran out when a spurned lover betrayed him to the Gestapo, and he ended up in Auschwitz. Thankfully this remarkably resourceful man stayed alive…but…

By Freddie Knoller, John Landaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freddie Knoller was so used to anti-semitism that he hardly questioned it, not since the day at school when, aged six years old, he punched a fellow pupil for shouting "Sans Jud" at him. November 9th 1938 the telephone rang: "The Synagogue is burning" Brownshirts entered the courtyard of the Knoller's apartment building. The crash of breaking windows, a scream and the body of a neighbour lay crumpled in the courtyard. Kristallnacht had come to the Knollers. This is the all too familiar background to Freddie Knoller's story of persecution, flight and the death camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. From…


Book cover of The Hero of Budapest: The Triumph and Tragedy of Raoul Wallenberg

Monica Porter Author Of Deadly Carousel: A Diva’s Exploits in Wartime Budapest

From my list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was 12 years old when, in Amsterdam on a family holiday, I was taken to see the Anne Frank House. Until then I knew very little about WW2, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. After viewing the ‘secret annexe’ my father bought me The Diary of Anne Frank, which was on sale there, and I started reading it in the car as we drove off. The book sparked my deep lifelong interest in that chapter of history. Many years later I discovered that my own mother also had an extraordinary wartime story. By then I was a journalist and knew I’d have to write a book about it—Deadly Carousel.  

Monica's book list on the Holocaust and the stories of victims and heroes

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

For me (and not just because my family is Hungarian), Wallenberg’s story is the most heart-wrenching of all accounts of Holocaust heroism. He was the Swedish diplomat in Nazi-occupied Budapest who worked tirelessly to save Jewish lives, despite death threats to himself. He issued thousands of Swedish protection documents and set up Jewish safe-houses. One incident particularly brings a lump to my throat. Hearing of a death march of Jewish deportees, he drove to the Hungarian border to head it off. Clutching a bunch of Swedish passports, he ordered the Arrow Cross guards (Hungarian fascists) to stand aside whilst he searched for the Jews entitled to them. The suspicious guards surrounded him with pointed bayonets, but he shouted above their heads that he had passes for anyone who had ‘lost’ them. Hands were raised throughout the crowd. Wallenberg was so convincing that the SS officer in charge finally relented. The…

By Bengt Jangfeldt, Harry D. Watson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of Raoul Wallenberg - the Swedish businessman who, at immense personal risk, rescued many of Budapest's Jews from the Holocaust and subsequently disappeared into the Soviet prison system - is one of the most fascinating episodes of World War II. Yet the complete story of his life and fate can only be told now - and for the first time in this book - following access to the Russian and Swedish archival sources, previously not used. Born into a wealthy Swedish family, Wallenberg was a moderately successful businessman when he was recruited by the War Refugee Board to…


Book cover of My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Why did Sylvia love this book?

Peter Gay was a child in Nazi Berlin in the 1930s. I read his book to see what life was like there while writing my third novel, much of which takes place in Nazi Berlin. Gay was an academic historian but this memoir is deeply personal, laced with self-deprecating humour. His assimilated life (he and his father were staunch atheists) was relatively unaffected by the regime until 1933 when he became a Jew overnight by law. The Nazis quickly stripped the Jews of all rights, culminating in the violent Kristallnacht in 1938. He and his parents managed to escape to the U.S. six months later. Many of his relatives were killed. The underlying question in the book: why didn’t his family—and by extension other Jewish families—leave right after 1933 when Nazi plans became clear?

By Peter Gay,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My German Question as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this poignant book, a renowned historian tells of his youth as an assimilated, anti-religious Jew in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1939-"the story," says Peter Gay, "of a poisoning and how I dealt with it." With his customary eloquence and analytic acumen, Gay describes his family, the life they led, and the reasons they did not emigrate sooner, and he explores his own ambivalent feelings-then and now-toward Germany and the Germans.
Gay relates that the early years of the Nazi regime were relatively benign for his family: as a schoolboy at the Goethe Gymnasium he experienced no ridicule or…


Book cover of The Shawl

Sharon Hart-Green Author Of Come Back for Me

From my list on Jewish survival under the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been drawn to stories about Jewish survival. My mother’s family were Yiddish-speaking Jews from Belarus, and as a child I was often asking questions about what their world was like before it was destroyed. I later studied at Brandeis University where I earned my doctorate in Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, and then taught Jewish Literature at the University of Toronto. When my novel Come Back for Me was published, it felt as though many of my lifelong passions had finally come together in one book. Yet I’m still asking questions. My second novel (almost completed!) continues my quest to further my knowledge of all that was lost.

Sharon's book list on Jewish survival under the Nazis

Sharon Hart-Green Why did Sharon love this book?

As one of the most distinguished writers of Jewish fiction, Cynthia Ozick is known for her work that is both linguistically spellbinding and profoundly thought-provoking.

After reading her two-part novella, The Shawl and Rosa, I believe that it stands out as one of her finest. It tells the story of two women whose survival during World War Two is painfully intertwined, to the point that they cannot separate their horrific experiences from the way they view each other. This penetrating psychological portrait of the devastating effects of victimhood is unparalleled in Jewish literature.  

By Cynthia Ozick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A devastating vision of the Holocaust and the unfillable emptiness it left in the lives of those who passed through it.


Book cover of The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders

Michael S. Bryant Author Of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953

From my list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a life-long interest in genocide dating back to my teenage years, when I read Simon Wiesenthal’s book The Murderers Among Us. Wiesenthal introduced me to the idea that governments sometimes murdered innocent people and could elude justice for their crimes. The question of human evil interacted with my theological interest in the problem of evil generally. Both genocide scholars and theologians were posing similar questions: how could people or God permit the occurrence of wanton evil when it was in their power to avoid it? And what should we do about genocide after it has happened? These questions launched my research into genocide and continue to fuel my study of this topic.

Michael's book list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes

Michael S. Bryant Why did Michael love this book?

Where Gitta Sereny talks with people involved in Nazi atrocities, Ernst Klee presents documentary evidence of these crimes. No one has published better or more important compendia of documents on Nazi crimes than Klee. I discovered his books as an exchange student in Germany (1988-89) and quickly found them to be unique. Klee’s spare method is to portray the Nazis’ descent into evil through the medium of their own texts and photographs. Regrettably, few of his books have been translated into English. The one I’m recommending here is a fine introduction to his style of historical writing.  

Klee’s evidence shows the awful arc drawn by Nazi crimes, from German incitement of pogroms against Jews in the east and Einsatzgruppen shootings of Jewish men, women, and children to the development of stationary gassing installations in death camps. Klee has a point of view, but he doesn’t want to convince you with…

By Ernst Klee (editor), Willi Dressen (editor), Volker Riess (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The title "The Good Old Days" ("Schone Zeiten" in German) comes from the cover of a private photo album kept by concentration camp commandant Kurt Franz of Treblinka. This gruesomely sentimental and unmistakably authentic title introduces an disturbing collection of photographs, diaries, letters home, and confidential reports created by the executioners and sympathetic observers of the Holocaust. "The Good Old Days" reveals startling new evidence of the inhumanity of recent twentieth century history and is published now as yet another irrefutable response to the revisionist historians who claim to doubt the historic truth of the Holocaust.


Book cover of On the Borderline of Extermination: A Narrative of Inhumanity

Mirla G. Raz Author Of The Birds Sang Eulogies: A Memoir

From my list on the Holocaust and remembering the world's failure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always known that my parents survived the Holocaust. I often listened in when they, my aunt, uncle, and their survivor friends would sit and talk of their lives during the Holocaust. I am the past president for the Phoenix Holocaust Survivor’s Association (now called the Phoenix Holocaust Association) and am on its Board and the Chair of its Education Committee. During this year of Covid, I have been instrumental in hosting numerous writers from around the world who have spoken, in Zoom, about their Holocaust writings and research.

Mirla's book list on the Holocaust and remembering the world's failure

Mirla G. Raz Why did Mirla love this book?

No one can truly know what life was like for Jews under the Nazis. We cannot feel the constant terror and inhumanity imposed upon their Jewish victims. We cannot hear their constant pleas, moans, and screams. We cannot smell the stench of filth, sickness, and death. Nevertheless, Joseph Gershowitz manages to take us as close as we can to his suffering in his absolutely riveting first-hand account of life in the Nazi’s concentration camps. On the Borderline of Extermination is a must-read for understanding the cruelty, barbarism, and inhumanity of the Germans and their all too willing helpers.

By Joseph Gershkowitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A true story of strategy and survival as told by Joseph Gershkowitz (AUSCHWITZ HÄFTLING 99310). With this inspiring story of innate knowledge and determination, Mr. Gershkowitz paints a vivid picture of the atrocities of the Holocaust as seen through his eyes. With that, 100% of the proceeds will be split and donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in tribute of Joseph Gershkowitz to ensure the memory of the Holocaust is never forgotten & the Women for Women International organization that works to support marginalized women in countries that have been severely affected by conflict and war.


Book cover of Badenheim 1939

V.S. Alexander Author Of The Taster

From my list on understanding the Holocaust and its ramifications.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, I found myself suddenly fascinated by World War II after reading a Classics Illustrated comic that detailed the history of the war. I remember asking myself, “How could this happen? How could Hitler have exerted such control and power?” Years later, I found myself wanting to write a novel about the Holocaust, but I was shamed and awed by the work of those who had lived through it. Despite that, I kept reading about the war and learning its history. The Taster grew out of all the research I’d done over the years.  

V.S.'s book list on understanding the Holocaust and its ramifications

V.S. Alexander Why did V.S. love this book?

A longtime friend introduced me to this novel after he found out that I had some interest in the subject. I’m so glad he did because, after the first reading, I’ve never forgotten it. This slim volume is a masterpiece of deft description and character development. A resort town, somewhere near Vienna, is peopled with colorful residents, tourists, and later the forced resettlement of Jews. “The light stood still. There was a frozen kind of attentiveness in the air. An alien orange shadow gnawed stealthily at the geranium leaves.” Such is Appelfeld’s sparse, beautiful prose. Disaster looms, tension builds, and people disappear...slowly, inexorably. The chilling ending is a tour de force of writing.

By Aharon Appelfeld, Dalya Bilu (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Badenheim 1939 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A small masterpiece of world literature, set in Europe months before the Nazis began their rise.

It is spring 1939. And Badenheim, a resort town vaguely in the orbit of Vienna, is preparing for its summer season. The vacationers arrive as they always have, a sampling of Jewish middle-class life: the impresario Dr. Pappenheim, his musicians, and their conductor; the bubbly Frau Tsauberblit; the historian, Dr. Fussholdt, and his much younger wife; the “readers,” twins with a passion for Rilke; a child prodigy; a commercial traveler; a rabbi.

The list of guests grows longer as the summer goes on. Receiving…


Book cover of The Passenger

Tessa Harris Author Of The Paris Notebook

From my list on WW2 novels featuring loners we love.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a journalist for much of my life and have been passionate about history since I was a child. Ever since I visited a castle at age five, I’ve loved imagining the past and naturally ended up doing a History degree at Oxford. I love fact-based stories and am always meticulous in my research so that I can bring my readers with me on a journey of discovery. But what always brings history to life for me is focusing on the characters, real or imagined, who’ve made history themselves.

Tessa's book list on WW2 novels featuring loners we love

Tessa Harris Why did Tessa love this book?

Written in just four weeks, this book pulsates with fury and is all the more poignant when you know its young Jewish author died after his ship was sunk in the war.

Otto Silbermann is a Jewish businessman on the run as his world collapses around him, and he slowly realises his homeland is enemy territory. It’s chilling and devastatingly real.

By Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, Philip Boehm (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Berlin, November 1938. With storm troopers battering against his door, Otto Silberman must flee out the back of his own home. He emerges onto streets thrumming with violence: it is Kristallnacht, and synagogues are being burnt, Jews rounded up and their businesses destroyed.

Turned away from establishments he had long patronised, betrayed by friends and colleagues, Otto finds his life as a respected businessman has dissolved overnight. Desperately trying to conceal his Jewish identity, he takes train after train across Germany in a race to escape this homeland that is no longer home.

Twenty-three-year-old Ulrich Boschwitz wrote The Passenger at…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Holocaust, Berlin, and Nazism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Holocaust, Berlin, and Nazism.

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Nazism Explore 213 books about Nazism