100 books like The Berlin Airlift

By John Tusa, Ann Tusa,

Here are 100 books that The Berlin Airlift fans have personally recommended if you like The Berlin Airlift. 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 Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown That Shaped the Modern World

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

From my list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Why did Helena love this book?

Milton does an exceptional job of tracing the origins of the Berlin crisis that culminated in a Soviet blockade of the 2.2 million German civilians living in the Western Sectors of Berlin.

The book starts with a look at Allied decisions and actions during the Second World War and describes how these influenced and shaped the post-war period. It does a particularly outstanding job of portraying life in occupied Berlin with rare granularity and neutrality. The result is a work that highlights Western hubris, failings, and mistakes as much as Soviet arrogance, deceit, and cruelty.

The book’s strength is explaining the build-up to the crisis (three-quarters of the book) rather than the confrontation itself. I recommend it as a good book to start with.

By Giles Milton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Brilliantly recapturing the febrile atmosphere of Berlin in the first four years after the Second World War, Giles Milton reminds us what an excellent story-teller he is' - Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

Berlin was in ruins when Soviet forces fought their way towards the Reichstag in the spring of 1945. Streets were choked with rubble, power supplies severed and the population close to starvation. The arrival of the Soviet army heralded yet greater terrors: the city's civilians were to suffer rape, looting and horrific violence. Worse still, they faced a future with neither certainty nor hope.…


Book cover of Berlin in the Balance: The Blockade, the Airlift, the First Major Battle of the Cold War

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

From my list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Why did Helena love this book?

Parris’ book provides a “peek behind the curtains” to look at the decision-making process, particularly in Washington.

He uses eye-witness reports to highlight the differences between the various actors, and underlines disagreements within governments. Truman, for example, was not only often at odds with his generals and diplomats, he was also considered a “lame duck” president, destined for electoral defeat during the critical early months of the blockade and airlift.

Understanding his relationships with his cabinet officials is thus extremely illuminating and well handled by Parrish. The weakness of the book is that its focus on American politics and issues results in a comparative neglect of British, German, and Soviet perspectives.   

By Thomas Parrish,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Berlin in the Balance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June 1948, Soviet authorities in Germany announced a land blockade of the American, British, and French sectors of Berlin. Isolated more than one hundred miles within Soviet-occupied territory, western Berlin was in danger of running out of coal, food, and the courage to stand up to Joseph Stalin.As Berlin in the Balance recounts, this crisis was a turning-point for U.S. policy. Just three years earlier, the Soviet Union had been an ally and Berlin the target of American bombers. In 1946 Winston Churchill had ignited protests by calling for an Anglo-American alliance against the USSR. The Berlin blockade made…


Book cover of Berlin Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

From my list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Why did Helena love this book?

This is a rare book on the Berlin Airlift written by an airman for airmen and is about the massive logistical undertaking that the Airlift represented rather than the political crisis that led to it, the negotiations to end it, the impact on the people of Berlin or the balance of power in Europe that resulted.

It is organized around topics such as “organization and operations,” “bases,” “men and machines,” “air traffic control” and so on. It provides a wealth of statistics in 10 appendices that include the units employed, the casualties, the monthly tonnages, and individual aircraft performances. It is a treasure trove of useful details for an author (like me) who wants to depict the Airlift realistically. 

By Arthur Pearcy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Pearcy, Arthur


Book cover of The Berlin Candy Bomber

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

From my list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Why did Helena love this book?

Nothing epitomizes the striking success of the Berlin Airlift more than the true story of the so-called “candy bomber.”

This was a USAF pilot who on his own initiative started dropping candy tied to handcrafted mini-parachutes out of his transport plane to give the children of Berlin a little sweetness in their otherwise bleak lives. His gesture more than any transformed the “terror bombers”—responsible for so much of Berlin’s destruction—into friends in the eyes of the Berliners.

This book is an autobiographical account by the candy bomber himself, Lt. Gail Halvorsen. It is written with candid clarity and heartwarming charm. A gem!

By Gail S Halvorsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Berlin Candy Bomber is a love story-how two sticks of gum and one man's kindness to the children of a vanquished enemy grew into an epic of goodwill spanning the globe-touching the hearts of millions in both Germany and America.

In June 1948, Russia laid siege to Berlin, cutting off the flow of food and supplies over highways into the city. More than two million people faced economic collapse and starvation. The Americans, English, and French began a massive airlift to bring sustenance to the city and to thwart the Russian siege.

Gail Halvorsen was one of hundreds of…


Book cover of This Is Not Who We Are: America's Struggle Between Vengeance and Virtue

Elliot Y. Neaman Author Of A Dubious Past: Ernst Junger and the Politics of Literature after Nazism

From my list on war and collective memory.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of modern European history at the University of San Francisco. I have written or co-edited three major books and many articles and reviews, as well as serving as a correspondent for a German newspaper. My areas of expertise are intellectual, political, military, and cultural history. I also work on the history of espionage and served as a consultant to the CIA on my last book about student radicals in Germany.

Elliot's book list on war and collective memory

Elliot Y. Neaman Why did Elliot love this book?

I think Zachary Shore is one of our most underappreciated, insightful interpreters of American and global history.

Shore impressed me with his unique method of examining micro-events that give us a much wider view of American culture. He shows how America, at its best, can be a strong and moral guiding force for good in the world, but he doesn't shy from divulging the darker sides of the American psyche, such as the blunders that lead American leaders to make terrible and consequential military decisions.

Shore is not only a great historian but also a gifted writer. This book showed me how the collective memory of our nation has been portrayed too often in flawed stereotypes, either a villainous, youthful colossus or a city on a hill, a shining example for the rest of humanity. Shore convinced me that at its root, America can be a force for good as…

By Zachary Shore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Is Not Who We Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What kind of country is America? Zachary Shore tackles this polarizing question by spotlighting some of the most morally muddled matters of WWII. Should Japanese Americans be moved from the west coast to prevent sabotage? Should the German people be made to starve as punishment for launching the war? Should America drop atomic bombs to break Japan's will to fight? Surprisingly, despite wartime anger, most Americans and key officials favored mercy over revenge, yet a minority managed to push their punitive policies through. After the war, by feeding the hungry, rebuilding Western Europe and Japan, and airlifting supplies to a…


Book cover of Funeral in Berlin

Stephen Holgate Author Of Tangier

From my list on spies and intrigue.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always loved spy stories. The best offer complex characters, exotic locales, suspense, and stakes higher than any detective story. I got to know quite a few CIA types during my foreign service career. Some became good friends. I never asked them about their work, but once or twice passed a tidbit their way. Once, the local KGB got the notion I was with the CIA or was somehow prone to persuasion. They were all over me for weeks, making me extremely uncomfortable. The station chief held my hand throughout. So, while I can’t claim a lot of personal knowledge, I’ve had a touch. Here’s my list of favorite spy stories.

Stephen's book list on spies and intrigue

Stephen Holgate Why did Stephen love this book?

Though Deighton has gone on to write several hugely popular and better-known spy stories, none of them beats Funeral In Berlin for sheer fun. Narrated by its nameless, smart-ass protagonist, who works for an obscure and underfunded British intelligence agency, the book has all the Cold War suspense, plot twists, and dubious characters you could wish for. Swiftly paced and told with great irreverent humor, it’s terrific entertainment.

By Len Deighton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A ferociously cool Cold War thriller from the author of The Ipcress File.

Len Deighton's third novel has become a classic, as compelling and suspenseful now as when it first exploded on to the bestseller lists.

In Berlin, where neither side of the wall is safe, Colonel Stok of Red Army Security is prepared to sell an important Russian scientist to the West - for a price. British intelligence are willing to pay, providing their own top secret agent is in Berlin to act as go-between. But it soon becomes apparent that behind the facade of an elaborate mock funeral…


Book cover of The Berlin Exchange

James Stejskal Author Of A Question of Time

From my list on spies by Americans who really know the score.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a military historian and an author. To get inspiration for my writing, I spent 35 years in Special Forces (as a "Green Beret") and as a CIA officer in strange places working with interesting people. I first wrote non-fiction but I needed US Government approval for everything. So, following the saying “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth,” I tell my tales as “faction”—stories reflecting a reality most people don’t know or understand. I write about “Us Versus Them”—stories about teamwork—and the result is The Snake Eater Chronicles. I leave it to the reader to decide where fact ends and fiction begins.

James' book list on spies by Americans who really know the score

James Stejskal Why did James love this book?

Okay, I like almost anything that is set in Berlin because I lived and “worked” there during the Cold War, but Canon really brings it in this tightly woven story of Martin Keller, a hapless former convict who has been co-opted to work for the CIA in East Berlin.

From the first page, paranoia sets in, as it must on anyone working against the Communist regime of East Germany, when Keller embarks on his own agenda to save himself and, more importantly, the family he loves.

Kanon re-creates the tension of a divided Berlin while his well-drawn characters try to escape the clutches of a morally corrupt government. Kanon is simply one of the best.  

By Joseph Kanon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A modern master at work' THE TIMES
'Heart-poundingly suspenseful' WASHINGTON POST
'Joseph Kanon owns this corner of the literary landscape' LEE CHILD

Berlin. 1963. The height of the Cold War and an early morning spy swap. On one side of the trade: Martin Keller, an American physicist who once made headlines, but who then disappeared into the English prison system. Keller's most critical possession: his American passport. Keller's most ardent desire: to see his ex-wife Sabine and their young son.

But Martin has questions: who asked for him? Who negotiated the deal? Just the KGB bringing home one of its…


Book cover of Winter: The Tragic Story of a Berlin Family 1899-1945

Amy Carney Author Of Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS

From my list on the Third Reich (fiction).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m someone who has one of the best jobs in the world – I’m an associate professor of history. I get paid to learn and to share what I learn with my students. I am super passionate about my work, both teaching and research. As for my research, I’m a historian of Nazi Germany.

Amy's book list on the Third Reich (fiction)

Amy Carney Why did Amy love this book?

While technically a prequel to Deighton’s well-known Cold War Game, Set, Match trilogy, Winter can certainly be read as a standalone novel. As the subtitle indicates, this is a book about a family. But really, this is a novel about two brothers, Peter and Pauli. The evolution of their relationship over the course of nearly half a century, 1900-1945, is the foundation on which Deighton explores this tumultuous period of German history. From their innocent and carefree youth in the late Wilhelmine period, to the trauma of their military service during the First World War, through the rise and rule of the Nazi party – can the ties that bind the Winter brothers survive?  

By Len Deighton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this gripping prelude to the Game, Set, Match trilogy, spies aren't born--they're made. Winter tells the tale of a Berlin family divided. Two brothers, Peter and Paul Winter, came of age during the Great War; then as Hitler's power spreads through Germany threatening a new era of violence, the brothers are driven apart by differing morals and ambitions. Meticulously researched, this allegory of a nation at odds with itself paints a brilliant portrait of the German zeitgeist during those turbulent years, and provides a powerful depiction of the rise of the Third Reich.


Book cover of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Henry Rozycki Author Of Walk the Earth as Brothers

From my list on novels that describe what war does to young men.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the child of Holocaust survivors who chose not to talk about it. The effects were clear and stark – my mother crying out with nightmares, my father doing everything in his power not to be noticed by authorities – but I was not allowed to know their sources. Though my lottery number was 76, I missed going to Vietnam by a year as the draft ended; I watched so many of my peers come back either damaged or at least profoundly changed. I never wish I experienced war in all its hellaciousness, but from early adolescence, I have wondered how I would have acted.

Henry's book list on novels that describe what war does to young men

Henry Rozycki Why did Henry love this book?

I have read virtually all of Le Carre’s books because I don’t believe anyone goes so deeply into the psyche of men who enlisted in the fight for perhaps noble reasons but who now continue on almost as automatons. They have not only lost their idealism, their morality and even humanity are either gone or hanging by a thread. It is what I imagine is the furthest edge of what can happen to young soldiers who don’t die—just keep soldiering.

I don’t think anyone has done it better.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.

The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carre's career worldwide

In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse-a desk job-Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered…


Book cover of Berlin Game

Merle Nygate Author Of The Righteous Spy

From my list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written and script edited in a lot of different genres, from factual drama to sitcom, children’s TV to fantasy. I’ve always loved spy stories, and I’ve always wanted to write one. Recently, at the University of East Anglia I studied for an MA in Crime Fiction, and that’s where I finally got the chance to study espionage and write a spy novel myself. I hope you enjoy my selection of books if you haven’t already read them. Or even if you have. They’re all so good that I feel like re-reading them right now. 

Merle's book list on spy books that spies read and sometimes wrote themselves

Merle Nygate Why did Merle love this book?

This is the first book in a nine-book series, and once again, these are books I read and read again and always find something new to enjoy.

Set towards the end of the Cold War, the books make me laugh as well as think. In planning the series, Deighton said he wanted to write about Samson’s marriage and how the relationship is impacted by the work. I found this a compelling idea and it’s something I’ve done in my new book. I’m not sure that Len Deighton was a spy himself, but he certainly knew a few.

By Len Deighton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Masterly ... dazzlingly intelligent and subtle' Sunday Times

'Deighton's best novel to date - sharp, witty and sour, like Raymond Chandler adapted to British gloom and the multiple betrayals of the spy' Observer

Embattled agent Bernard Samson is used to being passed over for promotion as his younger, more ambitious colleagues - including his own wife Fiona - rise up the ranks of MI6. When a valued agent in East Berlin warns the British of a mole at the heart of the Service, Samson must return to the field and the city he loves to uncover the traitor's identity. This…


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