100 books like The Book Of Dirt

By Bram Presser,

Here are 100 books that The Book Of Dirt fans have personally recommended if you like The Book Of Dirt. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Georgina Banks Author Of Back to Bangka: Searching For The Truth About A Wartime Massacre

From my list on truth-seeking post WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick – in their unseen inner world. In my twenties, I literally embodied others in my work as an actor. In my thirties, I studied applied psychology and sat alongside others and talked. In my forties, I started my consulting business Changeable, working with group and organizational dynamics. Now in my fifties, I am accessing inner worlds through writing, placing myself imaginatively into other people and places. I have merely scratched the surface. These post-WWII books give a gripping, personal, and scorching window into truth-seeking. 

Georgina's book list on truth-seeking post WWII

Georgina Banks Why did Georgina love this book?

A young Australian, Anna Funder, places an advertisement in the newspaper to find resistors and enforcers of the brutal East German regime, the Stasi. This naïve, but bold act leads her on a path to discover tales that reverberate through time.

Similarly, I felt ill equipped to face vestiges of censored war crimes, historical documents, and fragments of memory, but, inspired by Funder’s curiosity and dedication, I pressed on.  

By Anna Funder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Stasiland demonstrates that great, original reporting is still possible. . . . A heartbreaking, beautifully written book. A classic.” — Claire Tomalin, Guardian “Books of the Year”

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction: a powerfully moving account of people who heroically resisted the communist dictatorship of East Germany, and of people who worked for its secret police, the Stasi.

Anna Funder delivers a prize-winning and powerfully rendered account of the resistance against East Germany’s communist dictatorship in these harrowing, personal tales of life behind the Iron Curtain—and, especially, of life under the iron fist of the Stasi, East…


Book cover of The Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness

Georgina Banks Author Of Back to Bangka: Searching For The Truth About A Wartime Massacre

From my list on truth-seeking post WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick – in their unseen inner world. In my twenties, I literally embodied others in my work as an actor. In my thirties, I studied applied psychology and sat alongside others and talked. In my forties, I started my consulting business Changeable, working with group and organizational dynamics. Now in my fifties, I am accessing inner worlds through writing, placing myself imaginatively into other people and places. I have merely scratched the surface. These post-WWII books give a gripping, personal, and scorching window into truth-seeking. 

Georgina's book list on truth-seeking post WWII

Georgina Banks Why did Georgina love this book?

This is a story about brutality, justice, and mercy, set amongst the aftermath of Lomax’s experiences as a POW in WWII. With a steady gaze he faces the depths of human barbarity and reckons with his own emotional responses.

Lomax confronts his previous captor wanting retribution, but instead makes an astonishing decision that changes the course of hatred for both him and his perpetrator. I also grappled with the shadows of dark acts committed against my family - even all these years later. 

By Eric Lomax,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING COLIN FIRTH, NICOLE KIDMAN AND JEREMY IRVINE

During the second world war Eric Lomax was forced to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway and was tortured by the Japanese for making a crude radio.

Left emotionally scarred and unable to form normal relationships Lomax suffered for years until, with the help of his wife Patti and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, he came to terms with what had happened and, fifty years after the terrible events, was able to meet one of his tormentors.

The Railway Man is an…


Book cover of The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between

Paul Lamb Author Of One-Match Fire

From my list on understand the joys and sorrows of being a father.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the natural course as a young man, I became a husband and a father. I have four children and eleven grandchildren. Fatherhood has been the most difficult yet rewarding job of my life. You never stop being a parent. So, it was inevitable that this would become a subject of my writing. I have tried to be a compassionate caregiver and a positive role model to my children; you’ll have to ask them if I’ve succeeded. In my novel, I try to depict two fathers (and their two sons) as good yet flawed men, doing their best and finding their way. Just as all fathers do.

Paul's book list on understand the joys and sorrows of being a father

Paul Lamb Why did Paul love this book?

I didn’t think I could appreciate this memoir of a son searching for his imprisoned father in Gaddafi’s Libya until, suddenly, I did. This book showed me that the bonds between all fathers and their sons transcend things like nationality and religion. It is part of the core of what it means to be human.

I knew from the very first pages that the author would never again see his father, even as he tirelessly spends most of his adult life trying to. By extension, I understood that as much as we want to, we can never really know our fathers.

I raced through the pages.

By Hisham Matar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD
SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
WINNER OF THE SLIGHTLY FOXED BEST FIRST BIOGRAPHY PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES' TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2016

The Return is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale. It is an exquisite meditation on how history and politics can bear down on an individual life. And yet Hisham Matar's memoir isn't just about the burden of the past, but the consolation of love, literature and art. It is the story of what…


Book cover of Jewels and Ashes

Georgina Banks Author Of Back to Bangka: Searching For The Truth About A Wartime Massacre

From my list on truth-seeking post WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick – in their unseen inner world. In my twenties, I literally embodied others in my work as an actor. In my thirties, I studied applied psychology and sat alongside others and talked. In my forties, I started my consulting business Changeable, working with group and organizational dynamics. Now in my fifties, I am accessing inner worlds through writing, placing myself imaginatively into other people and places. I have merely scratched the surface. These post-WWII books give a gripping, personal, and scorching window into truth-seeking. 

Georgina's book list on truth-seeking post WWII

Georgina Banks Why did Georgina love this book?

Zable writes of the haunted consciousness of post-conflict generations, in his case, the holocaust.

He argues that great stories must have both terror and beauty, or they merely add to the darkness. It is easy to see the terror, but what of the jewels? I grappled with this question too - how do we rightly remember victims of extreme violence? When I looked to Zable, I found a work imbued with poetry and lyricism.

Jewels and Ashes is a transcendent retracing of the terrain of his parents and grandparents.

By Arnold Zable,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a memoir of a Jewish man's search for his roots, the son of Holocaust survivors returns to his parents' homeland in Poland to rediscover the former glory of East European Jewry.


Book cover of The Takeaway Men

Rose Ross Author Of Lila

From my list on post-Holocaust coming of age fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the only child of Holocaust survivors, I wanted to know everything, and my parents would tell me nothing. "It is to spare you" would be my mother's words of comfort to me. Sadly they were not. Growing up is at best complex; growing up as children of Holocaust survivors is even more so. Some second-generation children could escape the shadow of their parents' suffering; for others, their parents' experiences led them, as I did, into early maturity.

Rose's book list on post-Holocaust coming of age fiction

Rose Ross Why did Rose love this book?

Takeaway Men is a novel that proves once again that you can never forget. Aron and Judy Lubinski and their twin daughters, Bronka and Johanna, leave a Displaced Person Camp in Poland and immigrate to America, hoping to build a new life and escape the horrors of the Holocaust behind them. Through the kindness of Izzy, a cousin that immigrated earlier to America, they settle in Izzy and his wife, Faye's home in Queens, NY. In their neighborhood, we meet other immigrants, survivors, all working hard to build a better life for themselves and their children. Each of the other characters has a different story. They bring another perception of how people try to deal with the experiences of loss, trauma, doubt, and everyday complexities of life. We see this most clearly in the inner thoughts of Aron and Judy. Their struggle is, at times, painful and sorrowful and affects…

By Meryl Ain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents' pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories…


Book cover of Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Richard Overy Why did Richard love this book?

There is a common assumption among a younger generation brought up on the horrors of the Holocaust or Shoah that the Allies waged war to save the Jews. As Aronson shows in this candid and carefully researched volume, nothing could be further from the truth. The war waged by Hitler against the Jews was well-known, but the Allies did very little to try to end or modify the outcome. For anyone interested in the war, understanding the fate of the Jews in both German and Allied terms is bound up with wider issues of strategy and politics. Aronson tells a slice of the wartime narrative that many might want to forget. It is also a reminder that the war and the Holocaust were bound together, not separate histories. This perspective has not won general acceptance, but it should. 

By Shlomo Aronson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hitler, the Allies, and the Jews as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book offers an analysis of the Holocaust as a multiple trap, its origins, and its final stages, in which rescue seemed to be possible. With the Holocaust developing like a sort of a doomsday machine set in motion from all sides, the Jews found themselves between the hammer and various anvils, each of which worked according to the logic created by the Nazis that dictated the behavior of other parties and the relations between them before and during the Holocaust. The interplay between the various parties contributed to the victims' doom first by preventing help and later preventing rescue.…


Book cover of The Curator's Daughter

Sarah Sundin Author Of Until Leaves Fall in Paris

From my list on World War II novels to inspire you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sarah Sundin’s love for the stories of World War II comes from family members who served during the war on the US Home Front and abroad. Her passion for research and travel has fueled her award-winning novels. The horrors of the war brought out the worst in humanity. Yet they also brought out the best in humanity, and those stories—of people who chose kindness and courage and right in trying times—are the stories that inspire us to choose kindness and courage and right in our own trying times.

Sarah's book list on World War II novels to inspire you

Sarah Sundin Why did Sarah love this book?

This dual timeline novel is expertly researched and woven into a tapestry. In 1940, a German archaeologist is forced to marry an SS officer—and to catalog art stolen from the Jews. In modern times, a young woman with a traumatic past in the neo-Nazi movement works with the Holocaust Museum to fight hate crimes. Their entwining stories show the courage needed to stand up against racism—and the necessity of doing so, no matter the cost.

By Melanie Dobson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young girl, kidnapped on the eve of World War II, changes the lives of a German archaeologist forced into the Nazi Party and―decades later―a researcher trying to overcome her own trauma.

1940. Hanna Tillich cherishes her work as an archaeologist for the Third Reich, searching for the Holy Grail and other artifacts to bolster evidence of a master Aryan race. But when she is reassigned to work as a museum curator in Nuremberg, then forced to marry an SS officer and adopt a young girl, Hanna begins to see behind the Nazi facade. A prayer labyrinth becomes a storehouse…


Book cover of Ordinary Men

Suzanna Eibuszyc Author Of Memory is Our Home

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Suzanna Eibuszyc Why did Suzanna love this book?

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

By Christopher R. Browning,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Ordinary Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews.


Book cover of I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust

Allan Zullo Author Of Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust

From my list on about children in the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have penned more than 120 nonfiction books on a broad range of subjects for general audiences and middle-school readers, including five books about the true-life experiences of young people during the Holocaust.  The most heartbreaking, yet inspiring, moments in my decades-long writing career have been my interviews with Holocaust survivors, who, as children, relied on their courage, their faith, their smarts—and sometimes their luck—to endure years of unbelievable terror.

Allan's book list on about children in the Holocaust

Allan Zullo Why did Allan love this book?

This is an extremely well-written first-person account of how anti-Semitism followed and haunted Livia (born Elli Friedmann in Czechoslovakia) before, during, and after she, her brother, and mother were shipped off to Auschwitz.  The atrocities and harassment they endured in the death camp didn’t stop after they were liberated in 1945 because so many anti-Semites made life unbearable, yet eventually Livia and her family triumphed.

By Livia Bitton-Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Have Lived a Thousand Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

What is death all about? What is life all about?

So wonders thirteen-year-old Elli Friedmann as she fights for her life in a Nazi concentration camp. A remarkable memoir, I Have Lived a Thousand Years is a story of cruelty and suffering, but at the same time a story of hope, faith, perseverance, and love.

It wasn’t long ago that Elli led a normal life that included family, friends, school, and thoughts about boys. A life in which Elli could lie and daydream for hours that she was a beautiful and elegant celebrated poet.

But these adolescent daydreams quickly darken…


Book cover of Kiss Every Step: A Survivor's Memoir from the Nazi Holocaust

Luis Ramirez Arellano Author Of Angel

From my list on human perseverance and the human spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love stories that show humanity persevering, stories that show life is lived through easy times and hard ones too. I like stories where there is something worth celebrating in everyday life. Stories that remind us we’re just human and that isn’t too bad and that no matter what hell we’re going through, there’s something on the other side worth enduring for. I have a passionate love for stories like this. I always seek out stories that give me a similar feeling. When I write, I try to write stories that make others feel like how I do when I come across a similar story.

Luis' book list on human perseverance and the human spirit

Luis Ramirez Arellano Why did Luis love this book?

A memoir written by a holocaust survivor’s experience, as well as that of her family, Martin tells the story of how the war came to their lives and uprooted their daily lives.

I met Martin when she signed my copy of her book, so this one holds a special place for me. The story is told from multiple perspectives, as Martin and her siblings take turns describing the ordeals they went through both inside concentration camps and out.

Heartbreaking and harrowing at times, the story also makes a point to address things that helped Martin’s family smile in spite of it all. Martin’s story reminds us of why we keep going, as well as shows us how her family endured the six long years of the war. 

By Doris Martin, Ralph S Martin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The German army swept into Poland on September 1, 1939, and four days later into Dora Szpringer's home town of Bendzin. To begin their reign of terror, the Nazis burned down Bendzin's beautiful synagogue with some 200 helpless Jews inside. Most Jewish families in Bendzin, and rest of Poland were completely wiped out by the Holocaust. The Szpringers were just an ordinary middle-class family, but through many incredible strokes of luck, or perhaps miracles, all seven of them survived. For an entire Jewish family in Poland to survive the Holocaust is amazing--likely unique. What is more remarkable is how they…


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