100 books like Striking Back

By Peter Masters,

Here are 100 books that Striking Back fans have personally recommended if you like Striking Back. 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 Unsettled: Refugee Camps and the Making of Multicultural Britain

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

The history of refugees in twentieth-century Britain is hardly known. A map at the beginning of Unsettled reveals how many places in Britain feature in this history, all given the title ‘refugee camp’. Accommodation was in tents or in facilities that were repurposed including workhouses, holiday camps, wartime barracks, internment camps, air bases, and prisoner-of-war camps. Unsettled tells the story of life in these camps and is also about the impact of refugees and camps on local communities and the contexts in which refugees and local populations encountered each other. A striking finding is that homeless Britons sometimes lived in the camps alongside refugees. Unsettled is an unsettling read—it challenges the widespread forgettings of refugee camps in Britain and records a time before the state had the power to detain asylum seekers and deprive them of the right to work. 

By Jordanna Bailkin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Today, no one really thinks of Britain as a land of camps. Camps seem to happen 'elsewhere', from Greece, to Palestine, to the global South. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, dozens of British refugee camps housed hundreds of thousands of Belgians, Jews, Basques, Poles, Hungarians, Anglo-Egyptians, Ugandan Asians, and Vietnamese. Refugee camps in Britain were never only for refugees. Refugees shared a space with Britons who had been displaced by war and
poverty, as well as thousands of civil servants and a fractious mix of volunteers. Unsettled: Refugee Camps and the Making of Multicultural Britain explores how…


Book cover of Black Teacher

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

I still remember discovering Beryl Gilroy‘s book—it’s one of the very rare memoirs by Black women about living in England in the 1950s and 1960s. There were many single women who migrated to Britain in what was called—much later—the Windrush generation. Most of Gilroy’s memoir is about teaching in London schools, but although she’d done teacher training in Guyana she was rejected by many schools before she got her first teaching job. Her perspective on teaching in an East End London school reverses racial stereotypes. She describes it as an encounter with dirt, disease, backwardness, and ignorance, and all of it pretty uncivilised—just the same conditions that are attributed to her in racist taunts and slurs. She has some low moments but takes much of this in her stride. The memoir bears witness to the appalling racism she experiences but is entertaining and exhilarating.

By Beryl Gilroy, Bernardine Evaristo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The rediscovered classic: an unforgettable memoir by a trailblazing black woman in post-war London, introduced by Bernardine Evaristo ('I dare anyone to read it and not come away shocked, moved and entertained')
Benjamin Zephaniah: 'A must-read. Her life makes you laugh. Her life makes you cry. Get to know her.'
Jacqueline Wilson: 'A superb but shocking memoir ... Imaginative, resilient and inspiring.'
Christie Watson: 'A beautiful memoir of one woman's strength and dignity against the odds.'
Steve McQueen: 'Gilroy blazed a path that empowered generations of Black British educators.'
David Lammy: 'This empowering tale of courage, resistance, and triumph is…


Book cover of A Very Private Diary: A Nurse in Wartime

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

I chose Mary Morris’s diary because her writing is so engaging. She wrote in June 1940, "We are not allowed to go out with patients, or even speak to them on matters other than their treatment, Pierre is charming. I shall go out with him." In 1944 when she was nursing in Normandy she wrote, "A badly wounded cockney says 'thanks mate' to Hans as he gives him his tea and fixes his pillow. Why are they all so tolerant of each other inside this canvas tent, and killing each other outside?" Through her entries we meet all kinds of people, just like she did. The diary is also part of the history of Irish people in Britain. In the twentieth century the majority of Irish migrants were women, most of them young and single like Mary who was 18 when she arrived to train as a nurse—and was told…

By Mary Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Very Private Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The newly discovered diary of a wartime nurse - a fascinating, dramatic and unique insight into the experiences of a young nurse in the Second World War. Mary Mulry was eighteen years old when she arrived in London from Ireland to begin training as a nurse. The year was 1939. She had hoped for an adventure and a new start; she could not have predicted what the next seven years would bring. In this extraordinary diary Mary recorded in intimate detail her experiences as a nurse on the Home Front and later working on the frontline in Europe. In London,…


Book cover of Ten Pound Poms: Australia's Invisible Migrants

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

This may seem an odd choice, but many British who migrated to Australia subsequently returned to Britain and some, nicknamed ‘boomerang migrants,’ had lives of to and fro between Australia and Britain. I’ve chosen it because the experiences of migrants who don’t settle but either return or migrate onwards are often missing from histories. In Ten Pound Poms, the voices of people who returned or boomeranged are prominent, talking about intense homesickness, but also about a kind of reverse homesickness since the place they return to doesn’t match the way they imagined it while they were away and has changed during their absence. The book reminds us that people’s attachment to particular places and landscapes and soundscapes can be powerful, and that migration often involves complex feelings of belonging and unbelonging.

By A. James Hammerton, Alistair Thomson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ten Pound Poms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

More than a million Britons emigrated to Australia between the 1940s and 1970s. They were the famous 'ten pound Poms' and this is their story. Illuminated by the fascinating testimony of migrant life histories, this is the first substantial history of their experience and fills a gaping hole in the literature of emigration.

The authors, both leading figures in the fields of oral history and migration studies, draw upon a rich life history archive of letters, diaries, personal photographs and hundreds of oral history interviews with former migrants, including those who settled in Australia and those who returned to Britain.…


Book cover of I Shall Bear Witness: The Diaries Of Victor Klemperer 1933-41

David Roman Author Of Geli Hitler

From my list on the batshit-crazy history of Nazi Germany.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a long-time correspondent for American media across the world. I reported on Europe and Asia for the Wall Street Journal, and on Southeast Asia for Bloomberg News. I was always fascinated by deep historical layers to be found in ancient societies like those of Europe, and the sometimes accurate clichés about European tribes and their strange customs; no European tribe is weirder than the Germans, for a long time the wildest of the continent and then the most cultured and sophisticated until they came under the spell of a certain Austrian. The twelve years that followed still rank as the most insane historical period for any nation ever.

David's book list on the batshit-crazy history of Nazi Germany

David Roman Why did David love this book?

The coming of the Third Reich in 1933 left Klemperer, a cash-strapped Jewish scholar, without his teaching job in a German university, but somehow sheltered from the worst excesses of Nazism due to his marriage to an “Aryan” German woman. His diaries are a window to the daily life of a childless middle-aged couple that observes world-shaking events from close proximity, while worrying about debts and the high costs of keeping the family car, Klemperer's most cherished possession. 

By Victor Klemperer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Shall Bear Witness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A publishing sensation, the publication of Victor Klemperer's diaries brings to light one of the most extraordinary documents of the Nazi period.

'A classic ... Klemperer's diary deserves to rank alongside that of Anne Frank's' SUNDAY TIMES

'I can't remember when I read a more engrossing book' Antonia Fraser

'Not dissimilar in its cumulative power to Primo Levi's, is a devastating account of man's inhumanity to man' LITERARY REVIEW

The son of a rabbi, Klemperer was by 1933 a professor of languages at Dresden. Over the next decade he, like other German Jews, lost his job, his house and many…


Book cover of The Nazis Go Underground

Robert Temple Author Of Drunk on Power Vol 1: A Senior Defector's Inside Account of the Nazi Secret Police State

From my list on the inner workings of Nazi Germany.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I find a big story that has not come out, which has massive relevance for history and for the entire world, I go all out to bring it to light, as I have done with this book. Most of the books I have written have been devoted to telling big, unknown stories that concern the world. (Examples: alien intelligence, the origins of ancient civilisations, the Chinese contribution to the history of inventions, the existence of optical technology in antiquity, who were the people who tried and executed King Charles I and why did they do it.) I simply had to expose this information to the public.

Robert's book list on the inner workings of Nazi Germany

Robert Temple Why did Robert love this book?

This book was originally published by Doubleday, New York, in 1944. This book also contains material obtained from Heinrich Pfeifer, not only from Pfeifer’s own experience but from Pfeifer’s secret network of sympathisers and informants deep within the Nazi Establishment.

It is alarming in the extreme, detailing as it does how the Nazis of the SS and SD had since 1943 started planning to metastasize their doctrines all round the world, and found a Nazi International organisation, with the eventual hope of creating a Fourth Reich which was not dependent upon the territory of Germany, but was spread across the world invisibly, so that no armies could ever conquer it.

They planned the ratlines and escape routes to all the friendly countries such as Argentina and Chile. Their ratline HQ was in Madrid, with the full cooperation of the Franco Government. One of the two chief organisers was SS Lieutenant…

By Curt Reiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Its existence is known only by the effects of its action.' Author Curt Riess on what happens when an organisation goes underground. Written in 1944, thus contemporary to the events of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, The Nazis Go Underground describes how the Nazis planned and organised their descent into the underground as early as 1943. At this stage of the war, the situation for the Third Reich looked grim. With Bormann and Himmler as its architects, the Nazi party would go underground and prepare for World War III from the shattered ruins of Berlin. German generals were…


Book cover of School for Barbarians: Education Under the Nazis

Helen Roche Author Of The Third Reich's Elite Schools: A History of the Napolas

From my list on childhood in Nazi Germany.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why did I end up spending almost a third of my life researching Nazi boarding schools, and childhood under the Third Reich more generally? I sometimes wonder if it was because I myself was sent to boarding school at the age of nine – somehow, I can sympathise with what these children had to endure, as well as knowing full well from a historian’s perspective which hardships were truly unique to a National Socialist elite education, and which were simply the kind of heart-ache that’s common to any institution which takes children away from their parents at a young age… 

Helen's book list on childhood in Nazi Germany

Helen Roche Why did Helen love this book?

Written during the Third Reich itself, this is the hard-hitting book that told the world just how heinous Nazi education policy was – although it was only heeded by a prescient few at the time. Anyone who is worried about how easily schooling can become subject to ideology should definitely read this book!

By Erika Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked School for Barbarians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published in 1938, when Nazi power was approaching its zenith, this well-documented indictment reveals the systematic brainwashing of Germany's youth. The Nazi program prepared for its future with a fanatical focus on national preeminence and warlike readiness that dominated every department and phase of education. Methods included alienating children from their parents, promoting notions of racial superiority instead of science, and developing a cult of personality centered on Hitler.
Erika Mann, a member of the World War II generation of German youth, observed firsthand the Third Reich's perversion of a once-proud school system and the systematic poisoning of family life.…


Book cover of A Spy at the Heart of the Third Reich: The Extraordinary Story of Fritz Kolbe, America's Most Important Spy in World War II

Greg Lewis Author Of Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule

From my list on the Germans who stood up to the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and television producer who researches and writes in an attic surrounded by tumbling bookshelves. When I was young I watched a BBC series called Secret Army which got me hooked on the people who stood up to the Nazis when their country was occupied. Over the years I’ve travelled around Europe to interview many of WW2’s resisters and veterans, and I became interested in the people inside Germany who defied the Nazis. Trying to tell the stories of the people who dared to oppose Hitler became something of an obsession.

Greg's book list on the Germans who stood up to the Nazis

Greg Lewis Why did Greg love this book?

The story of the nondescript German diplomat who became one of the United States' greatest spies in Nazi Germany reads like a thriller.

It was important to me because it showed how a single person, working alone, could do incredible damage to the Nazi war effort.

Kolbe’s story did not come out until well after the war, when declassified CIA documents revealed 1,600 diplomatic cables copied by Fritz Kolbe, a career-functionary in the German Foreign Office. Koble had smuggled the documents into Switzerland – mainly tucked down into his pants – to be passed to the OSS bureau head, Allen Dulles.

Only a tight circle of people knew who Kolbe was; even the president, Franklin D Roosevelt, who read his reports with astonishment, only knew of Kolbe by the codename, George Wood.

Kolbe disappeared into obscurity after the war, but the CIA left a wreath on his grave.

By Lucas Delattre, George A Holoch Jr (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Spy at the Heart of the Third Reich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating account of Fritz Kolbe, a German bureaucrat who worked secretly with the Allies during World War II, describes his harrowing espionage work relaying valuable information on high-level Axis meetings and munitions factories to the Allies. 25,000 first printing.


Book cover of In the Ruins of the Reich

Keith Lowe Author Of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

From my list on the aftermath of World War 2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Keith Lowe is the author of several works on postwar history. His international bestseller, Savage Continent, won the English PEN/Hessell Tiltman Prize and Italy’s Cherasco History Prize. His book on the long-term legacy of World War II, The Fear and the Freedom, was awarded China’s Beijing News Annual Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Association Non-Fiction Crown. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Keith's book list on the aftermath of World War 2

Keith Lowe Why did Keith love this book?

There are dozens of excellent books about Germany and Germans in the wake of defeat – I could mention Giles MacDonogh’s After the Reich, or R.M. Douglas’s Orderly and Humane – but Douglas Botting’s book is by far the most engaging history of the subject that I’ve ever read. It was written in the 1980s, so it is not quite as up-to-date as the more recent histories, but what it lacks in cutting-edge research it more than makes up for in narrative immediacy. It is impossible not to be moved by Botting’s descriptions of postwar chaos, of orphans hiding in the ruins, of lawlessness, starvation, desperation and retribution. An absolute classic.

By Douglas Botting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Ruins of the Reich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in Britain in 1985, In the Ruins of the Reich is a classic account of Nazi Germany after her fall to the Allies in May 1945. Douglas Botting concentrates on the defining events that took place in the period between the collapse of the Third Reich and the foundation of the new Germanys to create the prevailing atmosphere of a most unusual and little-charted time in history. This was a period when four of the strongest industrial nations to emerge from the Second World War attempted to work together to govern the once strong Germany, now prostate, impoverished…


Book cover of Don't Tell the Nazis

Elaine Orr Author Of Falling Into Place

From my list on World War II for teens who love a good story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the U.S. author of more than thirty books, many of them traditional or cozy mysteries. As the daughter and niece of several World War II veterans, I grew up hearing some of their experiences – they left out the horror. But I did see the impact those travesties had on gentle people. I often marveled at the courage of those who fought without weapons to survive the deprivation and loss of many loved ones. And I’m glad I had opportunities to visit Germany and Japan as an adult, to see the friendships our nations foster today.

Elaine's book list on World War II for teens who love a good story

Elaine Orr Why did Elaine love this book?

The story holds almost more sorrow than seems possible. Krystia Fediuk, her mother Kataryna, sister Maria and their longtime friends, many of them Jewish, live in a Ukrainian town that celebrated as their Soviet occupiers left in 1941. But the even more cruel Nazis arrived, joined by many more Germans and Balkans friendly to them. And they were determined to single out Jewish townspeople, eventually forcing them into a ghetto.

It was then that Krystia and her mother decided to hide three Jewish friends in a hole dug under their stove. The price for what the Nazis saw as their treachery was steep. Krystia fled to the Ukrainian insurgents in the forest, taking only her dwindling hope. Though fiction, the author based the book on several real Ukrainians and the stories of others who survived. 

By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Tell the Nazis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (author of Making Bombs for Hitler) crafts a story of ultimate compassion and sacrifice based on true events during WWII.

The year is 1941. Krystia lives in a small Ukrainian village under the cruel -- sometimes violent -- occupation of the Soviets. So when the Nazis march into town to liberate them, many of Krystia's neighbors welcome the troops with celebrations, hoping for a better life.But conditions don't improve as expected. Krystia's friend Dolik and the other Jewish people in town warn that their new occupiers may only bring darker days.The worst begins to happen when the…


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