100 books like The Splendid and the Vile

By Erik Larson,

Here are 100 books that The Splendid and the Vile fans have personally recommended if you like The Splendid and the Vile. 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 Atonement

Paul Tomkins Author Of London Skies

From my list on heroism and flaws of the English during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

A lover of fiction since my teens, I only really took an interest in history in my 20s. I’m fascinated with WWII and the 1950s due to family histories and having visited key sites, like Bletchley Park and the Command Bunker in Uxbridge, near where I grew up. I’m not especially patriotic, but I am proud of what Britain had to do in 1940, as well as the toll the war took and the years of recovery. But it’s also the time, albeit decreasingly so, when people still alive today can look back at their youth, and we can all have a nostalgia for that time in our lives.

Paul's book list on heroism and flaws of the English during WWII

Paul Tomkins Why did Paul love this book?

As a huge fan of Ian McEwan’s early novels with their dark drama, especially The Innocent, I initially gave up on this book after the first 70 pages—but then, thankfully, resumed a while later. 

What seemed a genteel novel about manners transforms into something much more sinister and dramatic. I loved the tense atmosphere of it, with much of the story condensed into one hot pre-war summer’s day and then the later serious repercussions from what, at the time, seem fairly harmless childish actions.

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…


Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Emerald Dodge Author Of Battlecry

From my list on take place in America’s deep South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in Virginia, so I am very familiar with America’s southern lands and culture. The South—also known as the Deep South—is a unique part of America’s tapestry of identities, and I love books set in this locale. Southern literature tends to focus on themes such as racial politics, one’s personal identity, and rebellion. When I wrote my book, I knew the story would have to take place in the southern states. 

Emerald's book list on take place in America’s deep South

Emerald Dodge Why did Emerald love this book?

Perhaps the most famous Southern novel of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, is the pinnacle of American literature. Covering heavy themes such as racial bigotry, death in families, and the loss of childhood innocence, Lee spins a tale of Tom Robinson, a black man who is accused of rape by a local white woman and her father.

The conclusion of the trial and the events following it stand as a terrible warning to this day, reminding readers of the dangers of prejudice. It’s truly a must-read novel.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

36 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


Book cover of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Tanya E. Williams Author Of Welcome To The Hamilton: A Hotel Hamilton Novel

From my list on books that take place at a hotel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve admired old buildings, hotels in particular, for many years. When immersed in a historic building, I find myself leaning in to discover what the walls might tell me if only I could listen closely enough. When I began writing The Hotel Hamilton series, I scoured the archives for historic hotels, learning how they came to be and how they've evolved through the years. One of the most fascinating aspects of hotel life for me is the juxtaposition of experiences felt by the guests versus those of the hotel staff. The upstairs/downstairs vibe of hotel life is ripe for creating tension within a novel, and that always intrigues me.

Tanya's book list on books that take place at a hotel

Tanya E. Williams Why did Tanya love this book?

This deeply moving story took hold of my heart and didn’t let it go. Even years after having read this novel, I am still moved by the thought of it.

Struggle, war, injustice, and young love are carefully woven together in a gripping tale that speaks of truths and heartbreak we seldom examine. I can’t recommend Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet enough as it is as moving as it is important.

By Jamie Ford,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so…


Book cover of The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II

Linda Stewart Henley Author Of Kate's War

From my list on young women in WW II in the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two of my three novels have young women protagonists. I find young adulthood a fascinating time in women’s lives and I enjoy creating a character and putting her in a historical setting. The Second World War offers fertile ground for storytelling, and I grew up south of London after the war. My father’s unpublished memoir, in which he describes an event that he experienced in the war, inspired me to write about it, but I told the story through the eyes of the protagonist, Kate. 

Linda's book list on young women in WW II in the UK

Linda Stewart Henley Why did Linda love this book?

I loved this book because Grace, the young woman in the story, was able to find meaning even in the face of war. She discovered the power of storytelling and used it to raise morale when bombs were falling on London. I found the book easy to read, and I felt sympathy for Grace and other ordinary people whose lives were upended by the war.  

By Madeline Martin,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Last Bookshop in London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“An irresistible tale which showcases the transformative power of literacy, reminding us of the hope and sanctuary our neighborhood bookstores offer during the perilous trials of war and unrest.”

—KIM MICHELE RICHARDSON, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and drawn curtains that she finds on her arrival are not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop…


Book cover of The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Saga

Wanda DeHaven Pyle Author Of The Stone House Legacy

From my list on narrative historical social injustice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of several works of historical fiction. My writing explores the untold stories of past generations and the impact of their actions and choices on those who follow. All across the country, the landscape is dotted with abandoned farmsteads and buildings whose walls are filled with stories of heartache and happiness. As each generation struggles with the unequal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society, they pave the way for succeeding generations. These are the stories I tell and the ones I love to read. 

Wanda's book list on narrative historical social injustice

Wanda DeHaven Pyle Why did Wanda love this book?

As an indie author myself, I am committed to supporting other independent authors and Mark Fine is one of the best. Fine has created an epic love story set against the backdrop of South Africa’s apartheid in the 1970s. When a beautiful white model falls in love with a black man, they become prey in a deadly manhunt that stretches from the golden city of Johannesburg to the dangerous wilds of the African bushveld. The author’s compelling characters and vivid descriptions shine a light on the effects of tribalism and social injustice during a dark period in this nation’s history. This story will keep you riveted until the last page is turned.

By Mark Fine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When affairs of State battle affairs of the heart, ordinary people become heroes! The critically acclaimed novel set in 1976 apartheid South Africa. It tells of the courage of love across the color divide – especially in the face of an unyielding racist police state, and the extreme lengths a man and a woman must go to remain together.
When Stanwell Marunda, a proud descendant of the Zulu, meets the beautiful Elsa, the daughter of a white farmer, he is certain his bad luck has just begun. She has just rescued him, bloodied and hurt, from a car wreck.

As…


Book cover of Edge of Eternity

Daniela Tully Author Of Hotel on Shadow Lake: A Spellbinding Mystery Unravelling a Century of Family Secrets

From my list on East Germany from an insider's point of view.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Germany and have been living all over the globe since I was 18, including the US. I married a New Yorker 15 years ago. I am drawn to stories that combine both the German and American cultures — two worlds I feel at home in — and as reflected in my debut novel. The next one will take place between the US and East Germany - we had relatives on the other side of the Iron Curtain whom we visited frequently. I will never forget surprising my 17-year-old cousin sitting alone in the garden, crying… over a can of Coke that we had smuggled over the border to him.

Daniela's book list on East Germany from an insider's point of view

Daniela Tully Why did Daniela love this book?

Not a hidden gem, for sure — for me, Follett is always the usual suspect to revert to whenever I need to do historical research and find myself too lazy to read a non-fiction book about the period. I’ve read a lot of books about the Stasi, but nothing beats being reminded, through one individual’s account - even if fictional, still based on true events - of how ruthless the Stasi was. Imagine finding out that you’ve been spied on for years by the Stasi - and then to top this off, finding out that the one spying on you was no less than your own husband? Sounds like the German version of the film Sleeping with the Enemy with Julia Roberts playing the abused wife, right? This role in Follett’s novel is played by Rebecca Hofmann, who flees when the Wall goes up in 1961 — causing insurmountable troubles…

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ken Follett's extraordinary historical epic, the Century Trilogy, reaches its sweeping, passionate conclusion.

In Fall of Giants and Winter of the World, Ken Follett followed the fortunes of five international families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they made their way through the twentieth century. Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution-and rock and roll.

East German teacher Rebecca Hoffmann discovers she's been spied on by the Stasi for years and…


Book cover of Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Andrew Amelinckx Author Of Satellite Boy: The International Manhunt for a Master Thief That Launched the Modern Communication Age

From my list on narrative non-fiction that interweave crime and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been enthralled with history since childhood thanks to my late father, a college professor with a passion for the past. Our house was always filled with history books of all types and my father was a veritable encyclopedia who enjoyed answering my questions. When I became a crime reporter in the early 2000s, my predilection for history merged with my interest in crime and I ended up writing four books centered around historical crimes ranging in time from the 1700s to the 1960s. 

Andrew's book list on narrative non-fiction that interweave crime and history

Andrew Amelinckx Why did Andrew love this book?

David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon gives the viewer a window into a piece of Native American culture in 1920s Oklahoma as well as the inner workings of the brand-new FBI under its narcissistic and despotic head J. Edgar Hoover.

For me, the heart of the story is the Osage people and their struggle to prosper in the face of racism, corruption, and murder. That’s not to say that Grann doesn’t do a brilliant job with the FBI investigation into the killings. 

By David Grann,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Killers of the Flower Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. As the death toll climbed, the FBI took up the case. But the bureau badly bungled the investigation. In desperation, its young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. Together with the Osage he and his undercover…


Book cover of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a long career as a professor of organizational behavior. My view is that the most ignored and undervalued aspect of leadership is the development and implementation of political skills. Any leader who claims, “I don’t do politics” or “I’m not political,” is not serving themselves very well and, in fact, may be setting themselves up for failure. Whether in organizational life, in the sphere of public policy, or in daily life, we need to overcome the obstacles that impede our capacity to implement agendas and ideas and achieve our aspirations. Dreamers who lack political skills remain dreamers, not leaders. 

Samuel's book list on books for leaders who need to master the political skills to move ideas and innovations and overcome resistance

Samuel Bacharach Why did Samuel love this book?

This book has become a classic. It’s a brilliant book.

Doris Kearns Goodwin gives specific examples of how Abraham Lincoln was a master in creating coalitions and mobilizing support in the face of continuous resistance. His cabinet was made up of senior and ambitious individuals, many of whom were strong leaders in their own right.

Lincoln had to figure out how to get them on his side and create viable coalitions in order to move his key agenda—win the war and ensure the passage of the 13th Amendment. In many ways, he was not simply a visionary but a master of balancing persuasion and authority—which is a desirable leadership skill.

By Doris Kearns Goodwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most influential books of the past fifty years, Team of Rivals is Pulitzer Prize–winning author and esteemed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s modern classic about the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, his unlikely presidency, and his cabinet of former political foes.

Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inspiration for the Oscar Award winning–film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Tony Kushner.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago.…


Book cover of Restless

Linda Stewart Henley Author Of Kate's War

From my list on young women in WW II in the UK.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two of my three novels have young women protagonists. I find young adulthood a fascinating time in women’s lives and I enjoy creating a character and putting her in a historical setting. The Second World War offers fertile ground for storytelling, and I grew up south of London after the war. My father’s unpublished memoir, in which he describes an event that he experienced in the war, inspired me to write about it, but I told the story through the eyes of the protagonist, Kate. 

Linda's book list on young women in WW II in the UK

Linda Stewart Henley Why did Linda love this book?

I liked this story with two women protagonists because of its drama. The book had me mesmerized from beginning to end. One reason may be that I listened to the audiobook with the actress Rosamund Pike as narrator. She knew how to portray all the accents, from the (male) aristocrat Lucas Romer to the young woman spy Eva Delectorskaya.

I liked the dual timeline, with Eva’s adult daughter learning about her mother’s shocking hidden past as it is slowly revealed. I like books about mother/daughter relationships, and this is one of the better ones in that regard. But what kept me interested above all was the slow unfolding of the information and Eva’s haunted life. 

By William Boyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Eva Delectorskaya,' I said mystified. ' Who's that?' 'Me,' she said. 'I am Eva Delectorskaya.' What happens to your life when everything you thought you knew about your mother turns out to be an elaborate lie? During the long, hot summer of 1976, Ruth Gilmartin discovers that her very English mother Sally is really Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian emigre and one-time spy. In 1939 Eva is a beautiful twenty-eight year old living in Paris. As war breaks out, she is recruited for the British Secret Service by Lucas Romer, a mysterious, patrician Englishman. Under his tutelage she learns to become…


Book cover of Wartime: Britain 1939-1945

Jillianne Hamilton Author Of The Hobby Shop on Barnaby Street: A Heartwarming WW2 Historical Romance

From my list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with English history around age 10 when I began reading historical fiction and non-fiction. I have maintained a history blog, The Lazy Historian, since 2015 and I published a casually written non-fiction book, The Lazy Historian’s Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII, in 2018. When I began writing my Homefront Hearts WWII romance trilogy, I threw myself into researching the well-documented daily lives of the English and the various challenges that came from “keeping calm and carrying on.”

Jillianne's book list on daily life on the British homefront during WWII

Jillianne Hamilton Why did Jillianne love this book?

Written by one of the most respected and well-known British historians living today, Juliet Gardiner’s Wartime Britain is a bulky collection of anecdotes and details on homefront life, ranging from devastating to joyful. She covers many topics in depth and in a very human way: the Blitz, homefront crimes, evacuation, the enlistment process, food rationing, and a lot more. It includes quite a few photos from wartime Britain as well. 

By Juliet Gardiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Juliet Gardiner's critically acclaimed book - the first in a generation to tell the people's story of the Second World War - offers a compelling and comprehensive account of the pervasiveness of war on the Home Front. The book has been commended for its inclusion of many under-described aspects of the Home Front, and alongside familiar stories of food shortages, evacuation and the arrival of the GIs, are stories of Conscientious Objectors, persecuted Italians living in Britain and Lumber Jills working in the New Forest. Drawing on a multitude of sources, many previously unpublished, she tells the story of those…


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