100 books like The Last Hundred Days

By Patrick McGuinness,

Here are 100 books that The Last Hundred Days fans have personally recommended if you like The Last Hundred Days. 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 Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia

Vesna Goldsworthy Author Of Iron Curtain: A Love Story

From my list on English women and men in Eastern Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved to Britain from Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, in 1986. Still in my early twenties, I was a published poet in Serbian, but I didn’t dream I would eventually become a novelist in English. I devoured any English book that dealt with East-West encounters. I must have read several hundred as I researched my first book, Inventing Ruritania, a cultural study of the “Wild East”. I returned to them when I wrote Iron Curtain, a novel about a “Red Princess” from an unnamed East European country who marries an impecunious English poet. I sometimes thought of it as Ruritania writes back.

Vesna's book list on English women and men in Eastern Europe

Vesna Goldsworthy Why did Vesna love this book?

This book about Yugoslavia is my favourite work of travel writing, all the more remarkable for being written during the Blitz, amid the sound of bombs raining over London.

It is half-a-million words long and it deals with a country that doesn’t exist anymore – but don’t let that put you off. Historians and critics have called Black Lamb and Grey Falcon the greatest travel book of the twentieth century and I agree.

Rebecca West discovered Yugoslavia on the eve of the Second World War because – in the growing certainty of the apocalypse which was facing Europe – she wanted to write about a small country and its relationship with great empires.

Yugoslavia seemed at first an almost accidental choice but it changed her life. 

By Rebecca West,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Black Lamb and Grey Falcon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Impossible to put down' Observer
'One of the great books of the century' Times Literary Supplement

Rebecca West's epic masterpiece not only provides deep insight into the former country of Yugoslavia; it is a portrait of Europe on the brink of war. A heady cocktail of personal travelogue and historical insight, this product of an implacably inquisitive intelligence remains essential for anyone attempting to understand the history of the Balkan states, and the wider ongoing implications for a fractured Europe.


Book cover of Rates of Exchange

Vesna Goldsworthy Author Of Iron Curtain: A Love Story

From my list on English women and men in Eastern Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved to Britain from Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, in 1986. Still in my early twenties, I was a published poet in Serbian, but I didn’t dream I would eventually become a novelist in English. I devoured any English book that dealt with East-West encounters. I must have read several hundred as I researched my first book, Inventing Ruritania, a cultural study of the “Wild East”. I returned to them when I wrote Iron Curtain, a novel about a “Red Princess” from an unnamed East European country who marries an impecunious English poet. I sometimes thought of it as Ruritania writes back.

Vesna's book list on English women and men in Eastern Europe

Vesna Goldsworthy Why did Vesna love this book?

I can think of few novels as funny as this one.

Rates of Exchange depicts a hapless British academic, Angus Petworth, on his first journey behind Iron Curtain and into the imaginary land of Slaka, a country that combines elements of a number of East European communist states but is perhaps most like a combination of Romania and Bulgaria, with a touch of former Yugoslavia.

The riotous Cold War comedy begins as Petworth boards the flight (“Welcome here please on Comflug 155, destiny Slaka”) and it continues to the last line, as Petworth is feted, followed, seduced, and left thoroughly confused.

It is as funny about the British as it is about the East Europeans, and his language games are infectious. I end up speaking “Slakan” English every time I reread the novel.

By Malcolm Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Slaka! Land of lake and forest, of beetroot and tractor. Slaka! Land whose borders are sometimes here, often further north, and sometimes not at all!

Dr Petworth is on a cultural exchange to the small (and fictional) Eastern European country of Slaka. Pallid and middle-aged, Dr Petworth might appear stuffy, but during his short stay he manages to embroil himself in the thorny thickets of sexual intrigue and love, while still finding time to see the major sites.

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1983, Rates of Exchange took Bradbury's satirical gifts to a new level.


Book cover of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Vesna Goldsworthy Author Of Iron Curtain: A Love Story

From my list on English women and men in Eastern Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved to Britain from Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, in 1986. Still in my early twenties, I was a published poet in Serbian, but I didn’t dream I would eventually become a novelist in English. I devoured any English book that dealt with East-West encounters. I must have read several hundred as I researched my first book, Inventing Ruritania, a cultural study of the “Wild East”. I returned to them when I wrote Iron Curtain, a novel about a “Red Princess” from an unnamed East European country who marries an impecunious English poet. I sometimes thought of it as Ruritania writes back.

Vesna's book list on English women and men in Eastern Europe

Vesna Goldsworthy Why did Vesna love this book?

“Mad, bad and dangerous to know”, Lord Byron is such an enduring literary superstar that he hardly needs a recommendation, but today people talk about his many lovers, or his death in Greece where he went to fight against the Ottoman empire, much more than they read his work.

It may be that an idea of an old, long narrative poem sounds off-putting; Childe Harold is anything but. An early example of “autobiografiction”, this tale of a young and world-weary aristocrat on a long trip around European peripheries is based on Byron’s own experiences.

In terms of Harold’s jaded attitude, it could almost be a contemporary gap year trip, with a huge historic difference.

I love it for its early descriptions of the European East, and I encourage you to observe the attitude of superiority which would be emulated by so many Victorian and later authors, without Byron’s panache,…

By George Gordon Byron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Childe Harold's Pilgrimage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of The Balkan Trilogy

Vesna Goldsworthy Author Of Iron Curtain: A Love Story

From my list on English women and men in Eastern Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved to Britain from Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia, in 1986. Still in my early twenties, I was a published poet in Serbian, but I didn’t dream I would eventually become a novelist in English. I devoured any English book that dealt with East-West encounters. I must have read several hundred as I researched my first book, Inventing Ruritania, a cultural study of the “Wild East”. I returned to them when I wrote Iron Curtain, a novel about a “Red Princess” from an unnamed East European country who marries an impecunious English poet. I sometimes thought of it as Ruritania writes back.

Vesna's book list on English women and men in Eastern Europe

Vesna Goldsworthy Why did Vesna love this book?

Having not one but three books as my second choice may look like cheating, but the novels which comprise Manning’s unforgettable Balkan TrilogyThe Great Fortune and The Spoilt City, set in Bucharest, Romania; and Friends and Heroes, set in Athens – are now usually published under one cover.

The first two volumes paint the story of Guy and Harriet Pringle, newly married English expats in the Romanian capital on the eve of the Second World War, who then escape to Athens as the Germans advance across the Balkans.

I use the verb “paint” deliberately. Manning was a painter in her youth, and few writers can paint the word-picture of a foreigner in a strange city as well as she does.

I fell in love with Bucharest after reading it, and I travelled there for the first time in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution in 1989, while there…

By Olivia Manning,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Her gallery of personages is huge, her scene painting superb, her pathos controlled, her humour quiet and civilised' Anthony Burgess

'So glittering is the overall parade - and so entertaining the surface - that the trilogy remains excitingly vivid; it amuses, it diverts and it informs, and to do these things so elegantly is no small achievement' Sunday Times

'A fantastically tart and readable account of life in eastern Europe at the start of the war' Sarah Waters

The Balkan Trilogy is the story of a marriage and of a war, a vast, teeming, and complex masterpiece in which Olivia…


Book cover of Calus: Symbolic Transformation in Romanian Ritual

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Author Of The Dancing Goddesses: Folklore, Archaeology, and the Origins of European Dance

From my list on European dance in female fertility and health.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an information junkie who loves to dance. I fell in love with folk dancing at age 6, European archaeology at 11, linguistics and cognition at 21—and could never drop any of them. My scientist-father always said, “Follow the problem, not the discipline,” and I began to see how these fields could help answer each other’s questions. Words can survive for millennia—with information about what archaeologists don’t find, like oh-so-perishable cloth. Determining how to reconstruct prehistoric textiles (Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years) then led me to trace the origins of various European folk costumes, and finally even to reconstruct something about the origins of the dances themselves.

Elizabeth's book list on European dance in female fertility and health

Elizabeth Wayland Barber Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Humans also draft dance to help heal body and mind. I loved Kligman’s personal ventures deep into the complex concerns about life and death, fertility and health, found in related pre-Christian rituals in three areas of the Balkans: the Căluşari in SW Romania, the Rusaltsi in NW Bulgaria, and the Kraljevi—often with other names—just west in former Yugoslavia. (The word Rusaltsi comes from Rusalka, a Slavic name for the “dancing goddess”, as does Rusalii, the thrice-yearly festival in their honor.)  Her intriguing study comes from direct observation of the healing rituals, and on personal discussions with the dancers—including one who was particularly vulnerable to trance!  This is also true of L. Danforth’s remarkable account of the firewalkers of SE Bulgaria and northern Greece (Firewalking and Religious Healing). 

By Gail Kligman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic ethnography of a rural Romanian village and ritual by the outstanding American scholar of Romania and Romanian culture.


Book cover of Blue River, Black Sea

Ben Coates Author Of The Rhine

From my list on rivers and the people who leave alongside them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Anglo-Dutch writer living in the Netherlands, and the author of two books. Growing up in England I never thought much about rivers, but in the Netherlands they’re hard to avoid, and I’ve become fascinated by them. These days, when we all work remotely and (when rules allow) usually travel by car, train, or plane rather than boat, it’s easy to think of rivers as just scenic backdrops, rather than anything more important. But the truth is many of our cities wouldn’t exist without the waters which flow through them, and waterways like the Rhine, Thames, and Seine have had a huge influence on the history and culture of the people living alongside them. If you want to understand why somewhere like Rotterdam, London or Paris is the way it is, you could spend the day in a library or museum – but you’d be better off going for a boat ride or swim, poking around under some bridges and talking to the fishermen, boatmen, and kayakers down at the waterline.

Ben's book list on rivers and the people who leave alongside them

Ben Coates Why did Ben love this book?

The Danube vies with the Rhine for the title of Europe's Amazon: a behemoth that spans a huge swathe of the continent, flowing from the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania. In this book, Andrew Eames travels along the river by bicycle, horse, boat, and on foot, meeting everyone from royals to boatmen and gypsies, and providing a sparkling history of south-eastern Europe on the way. Before Covid, I was planning to travel along the Danube myself and hopefully write something about it. If that ever happens, this will be in my backpack.

By Andrew Eames,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Danube is Europe's Amazon. It flows through more countries than any other river on Earth - from the Black Forest in Germany to Europe's farthest fringes, where it joins the Black Sea in Romania. Andrew Eames' journey along its length brings us face to face with the Continent's bloodiest history and its most pressing issues of race and identity.

As he travels - by bicycle, horse, boat and on foot - Eames finds himself seeking a bed for the night with minor royalty, hitching a ride on a Serbian barge captained by a man called Attila and getting up…


Book cover of The Kilt Behind the Curtain: A Scotsman in Ceausescu's Romania

Jacqueline Lambert Author Of Dogs n Dracula

From my list on Romania and her people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an adventure traveller, author, blogger, and dog-ma. Tired of living life in thin slices, I quit work to live my dream. I wanted to travel meaningfully and get to know the countries I visit in a way that is not possible in a two-week mini-break. B.C. (Before Canines). I hurtled, slid, submerged, and threw myself off bits of every continent except Antarctica. A.D. (After Dog), Mark and I became Adventure Caravanners. Our aim: To Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before. Against all advice, we toured Romania for three months and fell in love. Since then, I have been on a one-woman mission to set Romania’s record straight! My forthcoming books will chronicle our progress around Poland in a pandemic and our Brexit-busting plan to convert a 24-tonne army truck and drive to Mongolia.

Jacqueline's book list on Romania and her people

Jacqueline Lambert Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This funny and fascinating memoir is a great read and provides a window into what life was like behind the Iron Curtain in the 1960s, under a brutal and oppressive regime. 

Mackay spends two years in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, as visiting professor at the University. Spied on, treated warily by locals, and forbidden to travel, he nevertheless finds ways to see the country and gain insight into its culture and people.

Whether you want to find out more about Romania or you just want a captivating read which will open your mind to how different life can be without the freedoms and privileges we currently enjoy in the West, you will love this book.

By Ronald Mackay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sent deep behind the Iron Curtain to Bucharest by the British Government in 1967, Ronald Mackay serves as the “sharp end” of a trade initiative. How will he fare in communist-run Romania where suspicion abounds and Ceausescu’s Secret Police are everywhere?
With irony-tinged humour, Ronald tells of seductive informants; an ex-political-prisoner-turned-spy; fearful minorities; a hunting trip with the Communist elite; travels in Dracula’s Transylvania; of running into a company of armed tanks; and of threatening Charles de Gaulle’s attempt to be the first Western premier to court this bright but baffling tyrant-run country.


Book cover of Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania

Jacqueline Lambert Author Of Dogs n Dracula

From my list on Romania and her people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an adventure traveller, author, blogger, and dog-ma. Tired of living life in thin slices, I quit work to live my dream. I wanted to travel meaningfully and get to know the countries I visit in a way that is not possible in a two-week mini-break. B.C. (Before Canines). I hurtled, slid, submerged, and threw myself off bits of every continent except Antarctica. A.D. (After Dog), Mark and I became Adventure Caravanners. Our aim: To Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before. Against all advice, we toured Romania for three months and fell in love. Since then, I have been on a one-woman mission to set Romania’s record straight! My forthcoming books will chronicle our progress around Poland in a pandemic and our Brexit-busting plan to convert a 24-tonne army truck and drive to Mongolia.

Jacqueline's book list on Romania and her people

Jacqueline Lambert Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Former BBC reporter Ormsby presents a compilation of anecdotes from his time living in Romania. 

The stories vary between shocking, upsetting, and laugh-out-loud funny. They are authentic and absorbing sketches of the characters and hardships that make up everyday life in Romania before the country had shaken every vestige of its communist past. 

Since each chapter is a complete story, this is a great book to dip into for a little light entertainment. If you’re thinking of visiting Romania, it will help to give perspective on what makes the locals tick.

By Mike Ormsby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Never Mind the Balkans, Here’s Romania' has been described as one of the best guide books on Romania. If you want to discover Romania with someone who knows it well, Mike Ormsby’s travel writing is for you. Whilst the average Romania travel guide provides details of places to visit, this writer takes a different approach. Ormsby gets up close and personal, blending journalistic objectivity with dry wit to craft true-life stories about the people who live in Romania: from friendly hikers and shepherds in Transylvania, to exasperated taxi drivers and bossy bureaucrats in Bucharest. Ormsby's bittersweet short stories are a…


Book cover of Fortunes of War: The Balkan Trilogy

Debbie Rix Author Of The German Mother

From my list on WW2 books that will inform and inspire.

Why am I passionate about this?

My parents both fought in the Second World War – my father as a bomber pilot, my mother as a Wren.  Dad often entertained us at family mealtimes with tales of his wartime adventures – of how was shot down over Germany, captured, imprisoned, but finally escaped. My interest in the period grew from there, and my first ‘wartime’ novel The Secret Letter was in fact largely based on my parents experiences.  Since then, I have become increasingly fascinated by the period, with now a total of four novels set in WW2, culminating in my present book The German Mother.

Debbie's book list on WW2 books that will inform and inspire

Debbie Rix Why did Debbie love this book?

A set of six novels that follow the fortunes of Harriet and Guy Pringle, set during the chaos of World War Two in Europe.

Guy teaches English at the University of Bucharest, and the novel opens with him bringing his new wife to join him in Romania. Manning combines an intimate story of the couple’s relationship with an epic tale of war-torn Europe and the Middle East. Her descriptions of places are brilliantly done; her dialogue is perfect, and she effortlessly portrays significant moments in history. 

I learned so much when I read it, and yet never felt I was being ‘taught’; in other words it’s the gold standard of historical fiction.

By Olivia Manning,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set under the gathering storm that is the Second World War in Romania, The Great Fortune is the first action-packed, romantic and fascinating book of The Balkan Trilogy.

Guy and Harriet Pringle marry after a six month courtship. Still getting to know each other, they arrive in Bucharest, where Guy is employed in the English Department of the University of Bucharest.

Over the following years Guy builds an eclectic network of friends and acquaintances. These charismatic contacts include his work colleague Clarence, his boss Lord Inchcape, the eccentric Prince Yakimov and Sophie, a local Romanian beauty. Harriet appears tough, but…


Book cover of The Story That Cannot Be Told

Gigi Griffis Author Of The Wicked Unseen

From my list on history for those who find history intimidating.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to my passion for history later in life—when I realized I could trade in the endless date memorization I remembered from history class for an exploration of fierce lady pirates like Shek Yeung and unwilling empresses like Sisi of Austria. Historical stories that felt like thrillers, adventures, or mystery novels. Comedies. Tragedies. And most of all: books that didn’t require a history PhD to get swept up in the story. These are the books that made me fall in love with history, and they’re the kind of books I now write. I’m the author of three historical novels, all written first and foremost to sweep you away into a damn good story.

Gigi's book list on history for those who find history intimidating

Gigi Griffis Why did Gigi love this book?

Another way to ease yourself into historical fiction is to start with books for young readers—like this gorgeous, compelling read set during the Communist regime’s fall in Romania in 1989. 

Our heroine is a young girl named Ileana who loves stories, even though stories can be dangerous (like the one that got her uncle arrested for criticizing the government). Afraid for her life, her parents send her to live with grandparents she’s never met—and still she gets caught up in the independence. 

I adored this book as an adult reader and—bonus!—it would be the perfect thing to co-read with a middle schooler or young teen if you’ve got one in your life. 

By J. Kasper Kramer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Story That Cannot Be Told as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“By turns surprising, poetic, and stark, The Story That Cannot Be Told is one that should most certainly be read.” —Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee
“A mesmerizing debut.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A powerful middle grade debut with three starred reviews that weaves together folklore and history to tell the story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.

Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Romania, Eastern Europe, and the Cold War?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Romania, Eastern Europe, and the Cold War.

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The Cold War Explore 244 books about the Cold War