100 books like The Hero of Budapest

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

Here are 100 books that The Hero of Budapest fans have personally recommended if you like The Hero of Budapest. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Night

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

From my list on surviving impossible odds.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

James' book list on surviving impossible odds

James Taing Why did James love this book?

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

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


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

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

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

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


Book cover of Soaring Underground: A Young Fugitive's Life in Nazi Berlin

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

This autobiography showed me that a tale of survival against the odds, in the most dangerous of times, can also be highly entertaining. To avoid deportation to the death camps, Jewish teenager Lothar Orbach assumes a fake Aryan identity and launches into a precarious underground existence in the heart of the Nazi empire, living off his wits, dodging the authorities and mixing with various shady characters. In my favourite episode, he and his hustler pal Tad meet two sex-starved teenage sisters, the daughters of a prominent Nazi family living in the elegant house of a deported Jewish professor. As the parents are away, Lothar and Tad move in and fulfil the girls’ lusty desires in return for homecooked meals…until the day they stuff two suitcases with food, clothes, alcohol and jewellery, and scarper back underground. Marvellous.

By Larry Orbach, Vivien Orbach-Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in book form, this is the intensely moving first-person account of "the Auschwitz Memoirist's extraordinary manuscript" described in Philip Roth's Patrimony: A True Story.

This is the true story of a young man born at the wrong time in the wrong place. Lothar Orbach's family proudly traces its German heritage back to the fifteenth century, but that is no help to a Jewish boy coming of age in Hitler's Berlin.

At the center of this world gone mad is Lothar, outwardly a cagey, amoral street thug, inwardly a sensitive, romantic youth, devoted son, and increasingly religious Jew, clinging to…


Book cover of Desperate Journey: Vienna-Paris-Auschwitz

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

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

Monica Porter Why did Monica love this book?

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

By Freddie Knoller, John Landaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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


Book cover of The Red Lion: The Elixir of Eternal Life

Viktoria Duda Author Of Twenty-Five Centuries Without You

From my list on spiritual adventure books to open new doors to your consciousness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer, a hypnotherapist, and a consciousness researcher. Ever since I was a baby, I had the memory and the sense that there was more to our existence than meets the eye. Even though I started my career as a lawyer in Vienna, Austria, after a transformative illness and a series of spiritually awakening experiences, I left for Mexico to pursue my calling as a metaphysical explorer and writer. Ever since, I’ve spent my life mapping out various dimensions of the psyche. When I’m not traveling, I like to retreat into my small highland cottage with Marius, the border collie, and Kasiopea, the black magic cat.

Viktoria's book list on spiritual adventure books to open new doors to your consciousness

Viktoria Duda Why did Viktoria love this book?

With this Hungarian author, I share the same birthday, as well as our mystical philosophy on life. Her book is an epic alchemical tale spanning centuries that describes the evolution of consciousness through subsequent incarnations from one life to the next.

I find not only the book itself fascinating but also the story of how it came into being. The author began to write it in a bomb shelter during WWII. Afterward, the Communists banned it and burned it, yet a few copies were miraculously rescued and hand-copied during dictatorial times.

Today, the book enjoys cult status in its homeland of Hungary. Unfortunately, the English translation is currently out of print, but if you can lay your hands on a version you can read, don’t miss out on this masterpiece.   

By Maria Szepes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Conceived amidst the horrors and hellfire of the Second World War, Mria Szepes' novel about a man's search for the Elixir of Life offered a glimpse of hope at a time of con-flagration. By giving a broad cosmic perspective to the events touching the lives of everyone in Europe in those years, she put human existence in a broader scale extending beyond daily life and put forth a reason for existence within the entirety of the Universe. After the war this remarkable book was published in Budapest but was soon banned by the government. Following decades of hibernation, like the…


Book cover of Strangers in Budapest

Caroline Leavitt Author Of With or Without You

From my list on hidden gems that won’t stay hidden for long.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a voracious reader, an author, and also a book critic, so hundreds of books cross my desk. What I love the most is the feeling of discovery—reading a book whose likes I haven’t seen on any bestseller list or on a front display in a bookstore. There are so many, many hidden gems—books that have stayed with me long after the publication day, and I always want others to have the same devotion to them that I do!

Caroline's book list on hidden gems that won’t stay hidden for long

Caroline Leavitt Why did Caroline love this book?

Strangers in Budapest is exotic, gorgeous, and like a beautiful orchestra on paper. It also keeps you turning the pages.

A young American couple move here with their baby son after the fall of the Communists, but they bring their ghosts with them, and assimilating is difficult. especially when they encounter an elderly Jewish-American veteran, who has come to Hungary to exact revenge on someone he is convinced married and then murdered his daughter. Just dazzlingly original.

By Jessica Keener,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Jessica Keener has written a gorgeous, lyrical, and sweeping novel about the tangled web of past and present. Suspenseful, perceptive, fast-paced, and ultimately restorative." -Susan Henderson, author of Up from the Blue Budapest: gorgeous city of secrets, with ties to a shadowy, bloody past. It is to this enigmatic European capital that a young American couple, Annie and Will, move from Boston with their infant son shortly after the fall of the Communist regime. For Annie, it is an effort to escape the ghosts that haunt her past, and Will wants simply to seize the chance to build a new…


Book cover of Katalin Street

Virginia Reeves Author Of Work Like Any Other

From my list on imprisonment both literal and figurative.

Why am I passionate about this?

The idea for my first novel came from a 1946 study of Alabama parolees, linking individual characteristics to the likelihood of recidivism. The outcomes were surprising in many instances: “promising factors” such as education, profession, and intelligence didn’t correlate with good behavior. This got me thinking about the lasting effects of imprisonment. Sentences don’t necessarily end when an inmate walks out the prison door. I see this again and again in the previously incarcerated students I teach at Helena College—they’ve been released from an institution, but mental and physical imprisonment lingers, and sometimes grows. The books on this list don’t shy away from that hard reality.

Virginia's book list on imprisonment both literal and figurative

Virginia Reeves Why did Virginia love this book?

Szabó is another of my all-time favorite authors, and I return to her books again and again. Katalin Street explores the devastating effects of Germany’s occupation of Budapest upon three different, neighboring families. Characters are imprisoned in a variety of ways: Bálint serves time in a prison camp; the Elekes family serves time in the small apartment to which they’re moved during the occupation; everyone serves time in the prison of their memories, including the ghost of sweet Henriette, who haunts the narrative. 

By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

BY THE AUTHOR OF THE DOOR, ONE OF NYTBR'S TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2015

** WINNER OF THE 2018 PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE **

** SHORTLISTED FOR THE WARWICK WOMEN IN TRANSLATION PRIZE 2019 **

"Extraordinary" New York Times

"Quite unforgettable" Daily Telegraph

"Unusual, piercing . . . oddly percipient" Irish Times

"A gorgeous elegy" Publishers Weekly

"A brightly shining star in the Szabo universe" World Literature Today

In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. A game is played by the four children in which Balint, the promising son of the…


Book cover of This Rebel Heart

Lyn Miller-Lachmann Author Of Torch

From my list on for tweens and teens on Russian/Soviet aggression.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of multiple middle grade and YA historical novels, including Torch, which won the 2023 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. Torch takes place in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and it is especially timely in the face of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Bear (a popular symbol of the Russian Empire) has mauled many of its neighbors in the past century, not only Czechoslovakia and Ukraine but also the Baltic countries that, like Ukraine, were incorporated into the Soviet Union and the other Eastern European countries that were part of the Soviet bloc until the fall of Communism in 1989. 

Lyn's book list on for tweens and teens on Russian/Soviet aggression

Lyn Miller-Lachmann Why did Lyn love this book?

For those who like their history infused with magic, this historical fantasy set in Hungary in 1956 introduces Jewish folklore and history along with the lives of Hungarians fighting for their freedom.

Csilla and her aunt have tickets out of the country, but news about her parents—executed by the previous Soviet-backed regime—along with the student uprising and two beautiful and mysterious strangers compel her to stay despite the specter of a bloody Soviet invasion.

By Katherine Locke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Rebel Heart 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?

A tumultuous tale of the student-led 1956 Hungarian revolution—and an all too timely look at the impact of Communism and the USSR in Eastern Europe—set in a fabulist, colorless post-WWII Budapest from Sydney Taylor Honor winner Katherine Locke.

“A haunting, beautiful read that centers queer Jewish characters.” —BuzzFeed

In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most--safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things…


Book cover of On Liberty

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

While the cover only lists John Stuart as the author, he acknowledged in his autobiography that the book was “directly and literally our joint production” with his wife Harriet. And certainly, the book has a different tone than ‘his’ other works; less academic, and more lively. Anyway, what they wanted to show was that the “only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind.” This is so relevant today when autocrats from Beijing, through Moscow, to Budapest are muzzling voices with different degrees of severity. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. And the evidence shows that dictators and despots are fallible. Democracy works. Dictatorship does not.…

By John Stuart Mill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discussed and debated from time immemorial, the concept of personal liberty went without codification until the 1859 publication of On Liberty. John Stuart Mill's complete and resolute dedication to the cause of freedom inspired this treatise, an enduring work through which the concept remains well known and studied.
The British economist, philosopher, and ethical theorist's argument does not focus on "the so-called Liberty of the Will…but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual." Mill asks and answers provocative questions relating to the boundaries of social authority…


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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Holocaust, Sweden, and presidential biography?

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

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