100 books like The Ravine

By Wendy Lower,

Here are 100 books that The Ravine fans have personally recommended if you like The Ravine. 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 Life and Fate

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From my list on life in the Soviet Union.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Paul Clark Why did Paul love this book?

Grossman consciously attempted to write the War and Peace of the Second World War, and in this panoramic masterpiece, he pulled it off. Like War and Peace, the book focuses both on the travails of a single family and the broader sweep of history, as we witness events from the perspective of persecuted Jewish scientists, soldiers (both Soviet and German), partisans, peasants, and generals.

This is an intensely personal work – Grossman covered the battle of Stalingrad for the Soviet press and knew his subject matter firsthand. Writing it was also an extremely courageous act. The KGB confiscated the manuscript and Grossman never lived to see the book published.

By Vasily Grossman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Life and Fate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based around the pivotal WWII battle of Stalingrad (1942-3), where the German advance into Russia was eventually halted by the Red Army, and around an extended family, the Shaposhnikovs, and their many friends and acquaintances, Life and Fate recounts the experience of characters caught up in an immense struggle between opposing armies and ideologies. Nazism and Communism are appallingly similar, 'two poles of one magnet', as a German camp commander tells a shocked old Bolshevik prisoner. At the height of the battle Russian soldiers and citizens alike are at last able to speak out as they choose, and without reprisal…


Book cover of The Promised Land

Pamela S. Nadell Author Of America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

From my list on memoirs through the voices of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of history and Jewish studies at American University and author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, winner of the National Jewish Book Award – 2019 Jewish Book of the Year. Since childhood I have been reading stories of women’s lives and tales set in Jewish communities across time and space. Yet, the voices that so often best evoke the past are those captured on the pages of great memoirs.

Pamela's book list on memoirs through the voices of women

Pamela S. Nadell Why did Pamela love this book?

When we think of the memoirs, especially immigrant memoirs, contemporary literature pops out —Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior.  But long before their families came to America, more than a hundred years ago, another immigrant family, this one Jewish, landed in Boston. In 1912, at the age of thirty, Mary Antin told their story. Her tale of flight from the land of oppression to the land of freedom has remained in print for over a century, the quintessential memoir of the world opened to a young child who thirsted to learn and to live.

By Mary Antin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Promised Land is a compelling account of one woman's journey from Polotsk to Boston and her attempts to embrace a new culture and identity. Author Mary Antin highlights the old values and contemporary views that shaped her immigrant experience.



In The Promised Land, Antin recounts the many obstacles she encountered before and after emigrating to the U.S. Arriving in 1894, she details the years in Boston where she attempted to assimilate while facing religious, political and financial challenges. Despite hidden pitfalls and social barriers, Antin continued to make strides towards her American dream.

Although it centers a specific experience,…


Book cover of Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood

Pamela S. Nadell Author Of America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

From my list on memoirs through the voices of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of history and Jewish studies at American University and author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, winner of the National Jewish Book Award – 2019 Jewish Book of the Year. Since childhood I have been reading stories of women’s lives and tales set in Jewish communities across time and space. Yet, the voices that so often best evoke the past are those captured on the pages of great memoirs.

Pamela's book list on memoirs through the voices of women

Pamela S. Nadell Why did Pamela love this book?

In this evocative memoir, the first in a series of three and a New York Times 1982 best book of the year, Simon, a travel writer, captures the world of an immigrant child growing up in the Bronx in the 1920s. Their fathers were harsh disciplinarians; mothers knew abortion to be the most effective birth control; and daughters saw poor scores in math crush their dreams. A story of triumph over the odds, of female rebellion, and of the many ways of learning, this memoir evokes a bygone world that also feels very contemporary.

By Kate Simon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"As an account of growing up female, it is a fit companion piece to Mary McCarthy's classic Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood." Le Anne Schreiber, The New York Times.


Book cover of All-Of-A-Kind Family

Pamela S. Nadell Author Of America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

From my list on memoirs through the voices of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of history and Jewish studies at American University and author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, winner of the National Jewish Book Award – 2019 Jewish Book of the Year. Since childhood I have been reading stories of women’s lives and tales set in Jewish communities across time and space. Yet, the voices that so often best evoke the past are those captured on the pages of great memoirs.

Pamela's book list on memoirs through the voices of women

Pamela S. Nadell Why did Pamela love this book?

In 1951, Sydney Taylor invented the memorable Brenners—papa, mama, five sisters, and baby brother—a Jewish family on the Lower East Side in turn-of-the-century New York. Taylor’s words and Helen John’s illustrations in this book, the first in a series, set the scene. A calendar in the parlor announced that it was 1912. Tenements lined city streets. When I read these novels as a child, I did not yet know that they were closely based on Taylor’s own life. When the entire series was republished in 2014, I quipped: I became a Jewish historian because of these books. 

By Sydney Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All-Of-A-Kind Family 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?

Meet the All-of-a-Kind  Family -- Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie -- who live with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century.

Together they share adventures that find them searching for hidden buttons while dusting Mama's front parlor and visiting with the peddlers in Papa's shop on rainy days. The girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises.

But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!


Book cover of Back Then: Two Literary Lives in 1950s New York

Pamela S. Nadell Author Of America's Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

From my list on memoirs through the voices of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of history and Jewish studies at American University and author of America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, winner of the National Jewish Book Award – 2019 Jewish Book of the Year. Since childhood I have been reading stories of women’s lives and tales set in Jewish communities across time and space. Yet, the voices that so often best evoke the past are those captured on the pages of great memoirs.

Pamela's book list on memoirs through the voices of women

Pamela S. Nadell Why did Pamela love this book?

Written in separate voices in alternating chapters, this unusual double memoir by the long-married couple, the novelist Anne Bernays and biographer Justin Kaplan, tells the stories of two privileged New Yorkers.  Growing up on opposite sides of Central Park, they came of age in the 1950s. Dreaming dreams of literary lives, they came to see them realized as their lives converged.

By Justin Kaplan, Anne Bernays,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Novelist Anne Bernays and biographer Justin Kaplan -- both native New Yorkers -- came of age in the 1950s, when the pent-up energies of the Depression years and World War II were at flood tide. Written in two separate voices, Back Then is thecandid, anecdotal account of these two children of privilege -- one from New York's East Side, the other from the West Side -- pursuing careers in publishing and eventually leaving to write their own books.

Infused with intelligence and charm, Back Then is an elegant reflection on the transformative years in the lives of two young people…


Book cover of The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews

Jeffrey Veidlinger Author Of In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust

From my list on the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father survived the Holocaust in Budapest and my mother’s immediate family fled Poland just before she was born, leaving behind a large extended family. I grew up witnessing the trauma of suffering and loss. As a professional historian, I had already written several books on Russian-Jewish history, mostly on culture and theater, when I joined a group that was interviewing Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors in Ukraine. Since 2014, I have been teaching courses on the Holocaust at the University of Michigan and soon after became involved with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where I serve on the Academic Committee.

Jeffrey's book list on the Holocaust in Ukraine

Jeffrey Veidlinger Why did Jeffrey love this book?

In deeply personal terms, Father Desbois describes how his curiosity about his grandfather’s incarceration in Ukraine led him to study the atrocities committed there against the Jews. The book is written in an almost conversational style, creating a sense of intimacy between Father Desbois and the reader. Desbois is able to persuade those who witnessed atrocities to open up and confess what they have seen and what they remember. Together with a team of ballistic experts, interpreters, historians, and archaeologists, he identified numerous sites of mass graves. Desbois, who popularized the term “The Holocaust by Bullets,” has been instrumental in expanding our understanding of the Holocaust beyond the death camps and the ghettos to the more intimate killings that took place in Ukraine and elsewhere in the Soviet Union.

By Patrick Desbois,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this heart-wrenching book, Father Patrick Desbois documents the daunting task of identifying and examining all the sites where Jews were exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine in WWII. Using innovative methodology, interviews, and ballistic evidence, he has determined the location of many mass gravesites with the goal of providing proper burials for the victims of the forgotten Ukrainian Holocaust. Compiling new archival material and many eye-witness accounts, Desbois has put together the first definitive account of one of history's bloodiest chapters.Published with the support of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Book cover of The Ratline: The Exalted Life and Mysterious Death of a Nazi Fugitive

Herlinde Pauer-Studer Author Of Konrad Morgen: The Conscience of a Nazi Judge

From my list on Nazi perpetrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Vienna (Austria), interested in ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. I am fascinated by the work of classical philosophers—foremost, Immanuel Kant and David Hume. A particularly interesting question for me concerns how political and legal systems shape people's identity and self-understanding. One focus of my research is on the distorted legal framework of National Socialist Germany. I wrote, together with Professor J. David Velleman (New York University), Konrad Morgen: The Conscience of a Nazi Judge. In German: "Weil ich nun mal ein Gerechtigkeitsfanatiker bin." Der Fall des SS-Richters Konrad Morgen. 

Herlinde's book list on Nazi perpetrators

Herlinde Pauer-Studer Why did Herlinde love this book?

How could so many Nazi perpetrators escape to South America? Most relied on the help of a bishop of the Catholic Church in the Vatican, Alois Hudal.

Sands describes the structure of this support system (the so-called ratline) through the story of former SS-Obergruppenführer Otto Gustav Wächter, the governor of Galicia (1942–1944), who was responsible for the deportation of nearly 500,000 Jews to the Nazi death camps.

Wächter's post-war escape to Argentina actually ended in Rome, where he died of an infection in July 1949. Sands offers a riveting analysis of how this man found his way into the Nazi party, rose to a position that implicated him in mass murder, and how, with the support of his wife, he managed to hide in the Austrian mountains for years after the war. Sands also reflects on how difficult it is for the next generation to face up to the…

By Philippe Sands,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A tale of Nazi lives, mass murder, love, Cold War espionage, a mysterious death in the Vatican, and the Nazi escape route to Perón's Argentina,"the Ratline"—from the author of the internationally acclaimed, award-winning East West Street.

"Hypnotic, shocking, and unputdownable." —John le Carré, internationally renowned bestselling author

Baron Otto von Wächter, Austrian lawyer, husband, father, high Nazi official, senior SS officer, former governor of Galicia during the war, creator and overseer of the Krakow ghetto, indicted after as a war criminal for the mass murder of more than 100,000 Poles, hunted by the Soviets, the Americans, the British, by Simon…


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 Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel

Abby Smith Rumsey Author Of Memory, Edited: Taking Liberties with History

From my list on when history gets personal.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was in 1982, while a Fulbright scholar in the USSR researching my doctoral dissertation, that I realized my responsibility as a historian extended far beyond writing history books. I lived among Russians and saw up close how the Kremlin-controlled what citizens knew about their own past. The future was already determined—the end of class struggle. The past was merely a made-up prologue. As a consequence of that year, I focus on the creation, preservation, and accessibility of cultural knowledge. History clues us into where we come from. Like a DNA test, it reveals how our single life is intricately braided with people we will never meet.

Abby's book list on when history gets personal

Abby Smith Rumsey Why did Abby love this book?

When I heard of the 2021 mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the fear of anti-Semitism became deeply personal.

I grew up just a few blocks from the synagogue. (I was raised Catholic.) In Kuznetsov’s “documentary novel” about Nazi-occupied Ukraine, the author recounts how, as an 8-year old, he witnessed the German army’s 1941 invasion of Kiev.

They set about massacring over 30,000 Jews within the first week of occupation. This happened in a large ravine only a stone’s throw from the boy’s home. This third edition of the book comprises the heavily censored published Soviet text, the uncensored text, and Kuznetsov’s added commentaries.

It is a palimpsest that lets us see past, present, and no doubt future ways that regimes use history to control what people know about their own past.

By Anatoly Kuznetsov, David Floyd (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The powerful rediscovered masterpiece of Kyiv during the Second World War, told by a young boy who saw it all.

'So here is my invitation: enter into my fate, imagine that you are twelve, that the world is at war and that nobody knows what is going to happen next...'

It was 1941 when the German army rolled into Kyiv. The young Anatoli was just twelve years old. This book is formed from his journals in which he documented what followed.

Many Ukrainians welcomed the invading army, hoping for liberation from Soviet rule. But within ten days the Nazis had…


Book cover of A Castle in Wartime: One Family, Their Missing Sons, and the Fight to Defeat the Nazis

Isabel Vincent Author Of Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan that Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich

From my list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in the Holocaust and the Second World War during my senior year of high school. I took a literature class entitled “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” which focused a great deal on the literature that emerged from the Holocaust. At the end of the year, I had the great honor to meet author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who had actually read my essay (my teacher knew him, and gave it to him to read) and encouraged me to keep writing. I am fascinated by stories of survival and the quiet heroism that characterized women like Ida and Louise Cook.

Isabel's book list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust

Isabel Vincent Why did Isabel love this book?

This is an extraordinary story of a brave German woman whose diplomat father and Italian aristocrat husband decide to resist the Nazis.

When German troops enter Italy, Fey von Hassell finds herself trapped with her young children in a 12th-century villa in northern Italy while her husband joins the anti-fascist underground in Rome and her father decides to join the group that plots to kill Adolf Hitler. Nazi stormtroopers take over the villa and later arrest Fey.

Using archival materials and family letters, Caroline Bailey reconstructs Fey’s harrowing journey—moved from prison to prison and concentration camp to concentration camp. Her two young boys are taken away from her, and sent to a Nazi orphanage. Fey’s single-minded mission to find her children reads like a good thriller.

By Catherine Bailey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I was gripped by A Castle in Wartime--it contained more tension, more plot in fact--than any thriller."--Kate Atkinson, author of Big Sky and Case Histories

An enthralling story of one family's extraordinary courage and resistance amidst the horrors of war from the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Rooms.

As war swept across Europe in 1940, the idyllic life of Fey von Hassell seemed a world away from the conflict. The daughter of Ulrich von Hassell, Hitler's Ambassador to Italy, her marriage to Italian aristocrat Detalmo Pirzio-Biroli brought with it a castle and an estate in the north…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the German occupation of Europe, Germany, and Ukraine?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the German occupation of Europe, Germany, and Ukraine.

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