100 books like The Good German

By Joseph Kanon,

Here are 100 books that The Good German fans have personally recommended if you like The Good German. 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 Soldiers

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?

Another master, Alan Furst’s 1st novel (of 15 so far) is a great place to start. His stories are so well researched you might think you were reading a travel guide.

Filled with intricate details of the conflict between Russia and Germany as World War II begins, Khristo Stoianev is a young man recruited to work for the Russian secret service, the NKVD. From his recruitment in Bulgaria through training and successive secret missions, Khristo must survive not only the Nazis, but his own employers, who decide he too must be killed.

Furst builds both the pace and tension as Khristo fights his way across Europe trying to escape. Relentless.  

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bulgaria, 1934. A young man is murdered by the local fascists. His brother, Khristo Stoianev, is recruited into the NKVD, the Soviet secret intelligence service, and sent to Spain to serve in its civil war. Warned that he is about to become a victim of Stalin's purges, Khristo flees to Paris. Night Soldiers masterfully re-creates the European world of 1934-45: the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for Eastern Europe, the last desperate gaiety of the beau monde in 1937 Paris, and guerrilla operations with the French underground in 1944. Night Soldiers is a scrupulously researched panoramic novel, a…

Book cover of The Kill Artist

Jonathan Payne Author Of Citizen Orlov

From my list on spy thrillers for readers of literary fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a reader and writer of thrillers, especially espionage, but I also love literary fiction, including contemporary writers like Kazuo Ishiguro, Mohsin Hamid, and Amor Towles. And I enjoy reading classic writers including Gogol, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka. So, when it comes to reading thrillers, I gravitate towards those that are very well written, with precise prose and evocative imagery. This is my crossover list of the best five spy thrillers for readers of literary fiction. If you’re a literary reader interested in dabbling in a bit of espionage, these five books would be a great place to start.  

Jonathan's book list on spy thrillers for readers of literary fiction

Jonathan Payne Why did Jonathan love this book?

Silva’s novels about Gabriel Allon—a reluctant Israeli secret agent posing as an Italian art restorer—are my current favorite read and a serious contender for the best spy thrillers by a contemporary writer.

Each of the novels in the series works as a separate episode; in this case, Allon is lured into action to track down a Palestinian assassin.

But Allon is brought to life by recurring themes across the series, including the fact that his traumatized wife is permanently assigned to a psychiatric hospital by the car bomb that killed their son.

Silva’s meticulous writing and ingenious mixing of historical fact and fiction will appeal to literary readers. 

By Daniel Silva,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Kill Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wily old Israeli intelligence chief recalls former agents in order to eliminate top Palestinian terrorist. One agent is now an art restorer, the other a fashion model. Ten years before on a mission to destroy the Arab Black September group they were briefly lovers. Now their pasts and their enemies come back to haunt them, as the terrorist murders ambassadors in Paris and Holland. Will the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks be his next target? And what motivates the terrorist? Is it politics, or is it possibly personal? Set mainly in London, but with forays into Paris, Amsterdam, the Middle East and…

Book cover of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Eric Coulson Author Of The Chrysalis Option

From my list on espionage and intrigue in Great Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been in love with London and the UK since I started reading British thrillers over 40 years ago. When I finally had the chance to live in London as a US diplomat, I was able to see so many of those places that had filled my imagination for years. I have my JD from Southern Illinois University. I have worked for the US Army and the US State Department. I now support my wife Karen, who is a US Diplomat.

Eric's book list on espionage and intrigue in Great Britain

Eric Coulson Why did Eric love this book?

I love the sense of intimacy in this book.

The characters are flawed and detailed against the backdrop of London and Great Britain. It is a classic of the genre and really takes you back to the pre-internet and pre-fall of the USSR. It really captures what it was like to live in those times.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 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 A Legacy of Spies.

The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement-especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla-his Moscow Centre nemesis-and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

The Oscar-nominated feature film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is directed by…

Book cover of The Company: A Novel of the CIA

Richard Powell Author Of Pact with the Devil

From my list on spy and espionage I encourage my friends to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I devoured historical works. In fact, the city librarian told my mother when I reached my teens. that I had read every book in the Children’s section on the Civil War and they recommended I get adult privileges. In my teenage years, I developed a taste for spy novels thanks to Ian Fleming. However, as I matured, I became drawn to the less gadgety stories in the genre like the books I recommend here and write myself. I have no unique expertise in the area beside a desire to learn more about the field so my own work will inform as well as entertain. 

Richard's book list on spy and espionage I encourage my friends to read

Richard Powell Why did Richard love this book?

As I mentioned before, I am a history buff. This book traces the cold war and the CIA through the lives of three wonderful characters. A loyal agent, a Russian spy, and a mole in American intelligence are all done in a way that puts you in their shoes from the Cold War’s start through the demise of the Soviet Union. Littell keeps you on the edge of your seat while teaching you what actually happened. A must-read for spy aficionados.

By Robert Littell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling spy novel The Company lays bare the history and inner workings of the CIA. This critically acclaimed blockbuster from internationally renowned novelist Robert Littell seamlessly weaves together history and fiction to create a multigenerational, wickedly nostalgic saga of the CIA-known as "the Company" to insiders. Racing across a landscape spanning the legendary Berlin Base of the '50s, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Bay of Pigs, Afghanistan, and the Gorbachev putsch, The Company tells the thrilling story of agents imprisoned in double lives, fighting an amoral, elusive, formidable enemy-and each other-in an internecine battle within…

Book cover of Woman on Fire

Lisa Niver Author Of Brave-ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty

From my list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both a lifelong traveler and reader, I cannot start an adventure without a great book. Having owned a Kindle since 2008, I consistently carry a virtual library, curating an assortment of captivating reads for every journey. As a travel journalist, I fly multiple times a month, which amplifies my need and understanding of the perfect in-flight companions; stories that transport and captivate. As an author with a memoir to my name, I appreciate the transformative power of storytelling. This blend of literary passion, frequent travel, and personal authorship has led me on my search for engaging, unforgettable books that mesmerize the reader.  

Lisa's book list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story

Lisa Niver Why did Lisa love this book?

I could not put down Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr.

This book is a captivating tale of passion, history, and mystery. Set against the backdrop of 1940s Chicago and war-torn Europe, the novel follows the journey of a resilient journalist navigating love and espionage.

Barr's evocative prose and meticulous research transport readers to a bygone era, creating a rich tapestry of emotions. The intricate blend of romance and suspense ensures a thrilling reading experience perfectly suited for the transient nature of air travel.

As you glide through the clouds, let the pages of this book transport you to a riveting tale of love, courage, and intrigue, making your journey truly unforgettable. 

By Lisa Barr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


A young journalist embroiled in an international art scandal centred around a Nazi-looted masterpiece, forcing the ultimate showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth.

After talking her way into a job in Chicago, young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual assignment: locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years ago. The painting? None other than legendary artist Ernst Engel's most famous work, Woman on Fire. A dying designer covets the portrait…

Book cover of Berlin for Jews: A Twenty-First-Century Companion

Dina Gold Author Of Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin

From my list on Berlin and its history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dina Gold is the author of Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin. After postgraduate degrees from London and Oxford universities, Dina spent over twenty years working as an investigative journalist and television producer at the BBC in London. She now lives in Washington DC and is a senior editor and film critic at Moment magazine.

Dina's book list on Berlin and its history

Dina Gold Why did Dina love this book?

If you are Jewish and have ambivalent feelings about visiting Berlin, then this could be the book for you.  Leonard Barkan is a professor at Princeton where he teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature. A Jewish American, growing up in a secular New York family, his book is a personal reflection on traveling in the city. 

Berlin for Jews is part history and part travel guide.  Barkan shows how, in the early nineteenth century, Jews dominated the arts, sciences, and public life and the way in which, despite the horrors of the Nazi era, they left an indelible imprint on the Berlin of today.  The book, described as a “love letter” to the city, takes the reader through some of the most iconic locations of Jewish life and describes the long-lost elegant Jewish suburbs, salons, writers, artists, politicians, philanthropists, art collectors, and intellectuals. And throughout, Barkan muses on what…

By Leonard Barkan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is it like to travel to Berlin today, particularly as a Jew, and bring with you the baggage of history? And what happens when an American Jew, raised by a secular family, falls in love with Berlin not in spite of his being a Jew but because of it? The answer is Berlin for Jews. Part history and part travel companion, Leonard Barkan's personal love letter to the city shows how its long Jewish heritage, despite the atrocities of the Nazi era, has left an inspiring imprint on the vibrant metropolis of today. Barkan, voraciously curious and witty, offers…

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 Reading Berlin 1900

Brian Ladd Author Of The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape

From my list on understanding 20th-century Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of cities and the ways people shape them. Living in Berlin, both before and after the Wall came down, made me aware of how the shared experiences and memories of particular places give meaning to civic life. (And for a historian it was thrilling to find a place where history was taken very seriously.) Although I have since written broader studies—of cars and cities (Autophobia) and of earlier street life (The Streets of Europe)–it was the experience of living in Berlin while learning its history that enabled me to see the layers of meaning embedded in buildings and streets.

Brian's book list on understanding 20th-century Berlin

Brian Ladd Why did Brian love this book?

There are many books about the glitz and the cultural icons that we associate with Weimar Berlin. This one gives us a broader and deeper picture. Instead of concentrating on a few writers and artists, it anchors the city’s creative explosion in mass-market newspapers and their readers, turning our eyes to people in the streetcars and cafés and the stories they read about their own lives. We can read about sensational crimes just as Berliners did, and we find the prototypes of modern art in the layout and content of newspapers and in the chaos of the streets where they are hawked.

By Peter Fritzsche,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Reading Berlin 1900 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The great cities at the turn of the century were mediated by words--newspapers, advertisements, signs, and schedules--by which the inhabitants lived, dreamed, and imagined their surroundings. In this original study of the classic text of urban modernism--the newspaper page--Peter Fritzsche analyzes how reading and writing dramatized Imperial Berlin and anticipated the modernist sensibility that celebrated discontinuity, instability, and transience. It is a sharp-edged story with cameo appearances by Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, and Alfred Doeblin. This sumptuous history of a metropolis and its social and literary texts provides a rich evocation of a particularly exuberant and fleeting moment in history.

Book cover of Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewish Woman

Peter Wortsman Author Of Ghost Dance in Berlin: A Rhapsody in Gray

From my list on capturing the spirit of Berlin.

Why am I passionate about this?

The American-born son of Jewish refugees, I would have every reason to revile the erstwhile capital of The Third Reich. But ever since my first visit, as a Fulbright Fellow in 1973, Berlin, a city painfully honest about its past, captured my imagination. A bilingual, English-German author of fiction, nonfiction, plays, poetry, travel memoir, and translations from the German, Ghost Dance in Berlin charts my take as a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in a villa on Wannsee, Berlin’s biggest lake, an experience marked by memorable encounters with derelicts, lawyers, a taxi driver, a hooker, et al, and with cameo appearances by Henry Kissinger and the ghost of Marlene Dietrich.

Peter's book list on capturing the spirit of Berlin

Peter Wortsman Why did Peter love this book?

This idiosyncratic biography of Rahel Levin Varnhagen, a 19th-century German-Jewish Berlin literary salon hostess may at first seem esoteric to the general reader. A prickly, contradictory character, Arendt’s portrayal of Rahel’s outsider status as a Jew in a largely hostile Christian society, her proto-feminist self-affirmation of her womanhood at a time when women were essentially groomed for marriage, and her paradoxical mix of intellectual self-assurance and crippling emotional insecurities make for a riveting read. You don’t have to be Jewish or a woman to appreciate the complexities of this prototypical Berliner.

By Hannah Arendt, Clara Winston (translator), Richard Winston (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Born in 1771 as the daughter of a Jewish merchant, Rahel Varnhagen would come to host one of the most prominent salons of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Hannah Arendt discovered her writings some time in the mid-1920s, and soon began to re-imagine Rachel's inner life and write her biography. Arendt draws a lively and complex portrait of a woman during the period of the Napoleonic wars and the early emancipation of the Jews, a figure who met and corresponded with some of the most celebrated authors, artists, and politicians of her time. She documents Rahel's attempts to…

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.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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