100 books like The Spy Who Loved

By Clare Mulley,

Here are 100 books that The Spy Who Loved fans have personally recommended if you like The Spy Who Loved. 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 A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

David Snell Author Of Sing to Silent Stones: Part One

From my list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My reading is almost entirely influenced by my own family’s extraordinary history. My mother and father-in-law were both illegitimate. Both suffered for the fact and my father-in-law was 11 years old when he first found out and was reunited with his mother, albeit on a second-class basis compared to his half siblings. My mother trained bomb aimers. My father flew Lancaster bombers and was just 19 years old in the skies above wartime Berlin. My own books combine history, my personal experiences, and my family’s past to weave wartime stories exploring the strains that those conflicts imposed on friendships.

David's book list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2

David Snell Why did David love this book?

What I loved about this book is that it is the true story of an American woman living in Nazi-occupied France, where she organised and ran resistance groups and led them in action.

The book, though factual, reads like a fictional novel, and her exploits and shear "daring do" almost beggar belief. She only had one leg, a fact that many who met her were completely unaware of, yet she crossed the Pyrenees on foot in winter!

It didn’t surprise me to find out that the men who "ran" the operations from London and Washington denigrated her achievements and consigned her to obscurity, describing her in the words of the book’s title. But she was a truly amazing heroine, and I would have loved to have met her.

By Sonia Purnell,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Woman of No Importance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London

Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

"Excellent...This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR

"A…


Book cover of A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII

Mara Timon Author Of City of Spies

From my list on real-life, kick-ass female agents of WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My mother instilled a love of books in me, and my father fostered my fascination with history – which meant that a good part of my formative years involved books, writing, and watching WW2 films. Years later, when a BBC documentary captured my imagination, I delved into the world of SOE’s female spies, binge-reading biographies and autobiographies. I was struck by their determination, dedication, resourcefulness – and in awe of their exploits. These women were heroes. When an idea for a story took hold, I followed one "what if..." after another until my first novel emerged. While City of Spies is fiction, I tried to stay as faithful as possible to history.

Mara's book list on real-life, kick-ass female agents of WW2

Mara Timon Why did Mara love this book?

Sarah Helm’s biography of Vera Atkins is perfectly titled. On one level, Vera was the 2nd in command of SOE’s French Section, responsible for recruiting, training, and deploying SOE operatives into France. On another level, there were the closely guarded secrets of her own life.

Sarah Helm’s biography revealed a workaholic, an immigrant who became more English than the English, and whose loyalty to her charges, and the Allied cause, was unswerving. After the war, when 118 SOE agent didn’t make it home, Vera launched a personal crusade to find out what happened to them – a mission that took her across Allied-Occupied Germany to the concentration camps. (She found all but one.)

On a side note, Vera Atkins has been fictionalised on both big and small screens, from Ian Fleming’s Miss Moneypenny to Foyle’s War Hilda Pierce. Her legacy remains an inspiration.

By Sarah Helm,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Life in Secrets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During World War Two the Special Operation Executive's French Section sent more than 400 agents into Occupied France -- at least 100 never returned and were reported 'Missing Believed Dead' after the war. Twelve of these were women who died in German concentration camps -- some were tortured, some were shot, and some died in the gas chambers. Vera Atkins had helped prepare these women for their missions, and when the war was over she went out to Germany to find out what happened to them and the other agents lost behind enemy lines. But while the woman who carried…


Book cover of The Huntress

Bruce Stachenfeld Author Of Faythe of North Hinkapee: The Saga of a Young Woman’s Quest for Justice and Love in Colonial America

From my list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget.

Why am I passionate about this?

I made up Faythe of North Hinkapee by being a jerk! I was ranting about how bad a "best seller" book I had read was. My wife looked at me and said, "So, could you write a bestseller?" I was challenged, and then, somehow, this book just tumbled out. It was about a girl in Colonial Timesher family burned as witchesvowing vengeance and how she gets it. My wife looked at me and said: “My God, that could be a bestseller!’ My kids also loved the story. For about twenty years, I planned to write it, and after a ton of work, I finally finished.

Bruce's book list on irrepressible, exciting and heroic female lead characters that you will never forget

Bruce Stachenfeld Why did Bruce love this book?

Any time Kate Quinn writes a book, I grab it immediately. Her characters are always amazing women doing amazing things. This one is, I think, her best.

The character of Nina is possibly the most interesting single character I have ever read about. I can’t describe Nina as words just fail me. I will never forget her. Nor will I forget the evil huntress either. 

This is World War II historical fiction at its absolute best, as Ms. Quinn does super solid research.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling novel, THE ALICE NETWORK, comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted...

Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When she is stranded behind enemy…


Book cover of Agent Jack: The True Story of Mi5's Secret Nazi Hunter

Helen Fry Author Of Spymaster: The Man Who Saved Mi6

From my list on spies and their greatest stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Helen is an ambassador for the Museum of Military Intelligence, President of the Friends of the National Archives, and a trustee of the Medmenham Collection. Her history of MI9 – the first such history for over 40 years – was shortlisted for The Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2021. Her latest book is ‘Spymaster: The Man Who Saved MI6’ about one of the greatest spies of the 20th century.

Helen's book list on spies and their greatest stories

Helen Fry Why did Helen love this book?

When Nazi Germany posed a threat to peace in Europe in the 1930s, British intelligence became increasingly concerned about right-wing groups and subversive activities in Britain, and that included the rise of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) under Sir Oswald Mosley. Robert Hutton’s compelling narratives tell the story of agent ‘Jack King’ – real name Eric Roberts (an ex-bank clerk from Cornwall) who was tasked by Maxwell Knight (‘M’) of counter-espionage at MI5 with infiltrating the BUF in the 1930s. Hutton has been able to immerse us in the world of Agent Jack because of a chance discovery of a brief reference in declassified MI5 files. Then in 1942 Agent Jack was tasked with masquerading as a Gestapo officer in London. He met with a German female recruiting officer ‘Marita’ in a safe house near Paddington and she suspected he might have been an undercover MI5 spy, but in…

By Robert Hutton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

June 1940. Britain is Europe's final bastion of freedom - and Hitler's next target. But not everyone fears a Nazi invasion. In factories, offices and suburban homes are men and women determined to do all they can to hasten it.

Throughout the Second World War, Britain's defence against the enemy within was Eric Roberts, a former bank clerk from Epsom. Equipped with an extraordinary ability to make people trust him, he was recruited into the shadowy world of espionage by the great spymaster Maxwell Knight. Roberts penetrated first the Communist Party and then the British Union of Fascists, before playing…


Book cover of Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

Larry Enmon Author Of Class III Threat

From my list on spies from a retired secret service agent.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I always wanted to be a Secret Service agent. As an adult, I became one. The job introduced me to the classified and shadowy world of national security. I traveled the globe, working in places I'd only read about in novels and meeting people who seemed like well-written characters from a book. When I was assigned as a liaison agent to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I attended numerous FBI and CIA schools—even the facility known as The Farm. But through it all, I read! When I retired and had time to think about what I did, I figured I'd try writing.

Larry's book list on spies from a retired secret service agent

Larry Enmon Why did Larry love this book?

I have always been fascinated with WWII war stories, especially those involving intelligence operations.

Double Cross is one of the most unbelievable stories I've ever read. It's a nonfiction book that's so incredible it almost sounds like fiction. The British scored success after success against all the German intelligence services to keep the Germans guessing about dozens of Allied military activities, including the actual site of the D-Day landings.

MI6 might get all the cool James Bond movies made about it, but MI5 was the real star of this book.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Double Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force.

The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty…


Book cover of Our Man in New York: The British Plot to Bring America into the Second World War

Robert Hutton Author Of Agent Jack: The True Story of Mi5's Secret Nazi Hunter

From my list on secret wartime histories around WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Robert Hutton is the author of Agent Jack, the previously untold tale of the surprisingly large number of British people who tried to help Hitler win World War 2. He spent a decade and a half following British prime ministers around the world for Bloomberg and now writes parliamentary sketches for The Critic while researching intelligence history.

Robert's book list on secret wartime histories around WW2

Robert Hutton Why did Robert love this book?

I have a vivid memory of opening the file on Britain’s efforts to bring America into the war, declassified only recently, and being astonished at the things that had gone on. Hemming’s book tells this amazing story and raises the ethical question of whether Britain’s end – defeating Hitler – was justified by its means – spreading fake news in the US and even interfering in its politics.

By Henry Hemming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Man in New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A revelatory and wholly fascinating work of history. Superbly researched and written with gripping fluency, this lost secret of World War II espionage finally has its expert chronicler."
- WILLIAM BOYD

'Gripping and intoxicating, it unfolds like the best screenplay.'
NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE

The gripping story of a propaganda campaign like no other: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into the Second World War.

When William Stephenson - "our man in New York" - arrived in the United States towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to 'organise'…


Book cover of Inge's War: A German Woman's Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler

Robert Hutton Author Of Agent Jack: The True Story of Mi5's Secret Nazi Hunter

From my list on secret wartime histories around WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Robert Hutton is the author of Agent Jack, the previously untold tale of the surprisingly large number of British people who tried to help Hitler win World War 2. He spent a decade and a half following British prime ministers around the world for Bloomberg and now writes parliamentary sketches for The Critic while researching intelligence history.

Robert's book list on secret wartime histories around WW2

Robert Hutton Why did Robert love this book?

We hear a lot about the wars of soldiers and spies, but much less about the lives of ordinary people. In this book, O’Donnell pieces together the story of her grandmother’s life as a young woman in Germany before and during the war. Unlike the tales of daring action, this is a story that is unexceptional, but all the more powerful for it. A reminder that for many people in Europe, the war was something that happened to them, rather than something they did.

By Svenja O'Donnell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An extraordinary saga." -David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon

The mesmerizing account of a granddaughter's search for a World War II family history hidden for sixty years

Growing up in Paris as the daughter of a German mother and an Irish father, Svenja O'Donnell knew little of her family's German past. All she knew was that her great-grandparents, grandmother, and mother had fled their home city of Koenigsberg near the end of World War II, never to return. But everything changed when O'Donnell traveled to the city-now known as Kaliningrad, and a part…


Book cover of The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler

David C. Dawson Author Of A Death in Berlin

From my list on historical gay heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve read a lot of books that feature gay characters. These characters often partition into two main groups: angsty men who are victims of oppression or illness, or camp stereotypes who provide the light relief. I prefer to read about heroes who happen to be gay. That’s why I started writing novels. My recent books are historical novels inspired by real gay heroes. The feedback I get from readers indicates that there are a lot of people who want the same as I do.

David's book list on historical gay heroes

David C. Dawson Why did David love this book?

The untold true story of how a group of gay MPs lobbied the British government to stop its policy of appeasing Hitler in the run up to WWII. It’s a book about patriotic heroes who are criminals in their own land because of their sexuality. It moved me deeply and inspired my own fictional thriller set in Berlin in 1933.

By Chris Bryant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A STORY OF UNSUNG BRAVERY AT A DEFINING MOMENT IN BRITAIN'S HISTORY

'Superb' Stephen Fry
'Thrillingly told' Dan Jones
'Fascinating' Neil MacGregor
'Astonishing' Peter Frankopan

We like to think we know the story of how Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, but there is one chapter that has never been told. In the early 1930s, a group of young, queer British MPs visited Berlin on a series of trips that would change the course of the Second World War.

Having witnessed the Nazis' brutality first-hand, these men were some of the first to warn Britain about Hitler, repeatedly…


Book cover of The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

Sarah Percy Author Of Forgotten Warriors: The Long History of Women in Combat

From my list on women in combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic, writer, and broadcaster, and I’ve always been fascinated by the big questions of who fights wars and why. A puzzle caught my eye: the only profession (short of maybe priest) where women were actively banned in the 1980s and as late as the 2010s, was combat. How could Western democracies ban women from an entire profession? This was especially odd, given that the plentiful historical evidence that women were perfectly capable of combat. So I wrote a book explaining how women in combat fit into the broader sweep of military history, and how the suppression and dismissal of their stories has had a profound social and cultural impact. 

Sarah's book list on women in combat

Sarah Percy Why did Sarah love this book?

If you didn’t know that between 800,000 and a million Soviet women fought in combat during World War II, this book will blow your mind.

Even for those aware of the history of Soviet female combatants – Soviet women fought in every imaginable military role, from fighter pilots to snipers to tank units – Alexievich’s astonishing oral history brings their stories to life. It’s especially profound to hear from the women themselves because after the war was over, women were told to never speak of their military service and got very little recognition for it.

By the time Alexievich recorded their stories, these women were getting old – and without her work many of these stories would have been lost. 

By Svetlana Alexievich, Larissa Volokhonsky (translator), Richard Pevear (translator)

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Unwomanly Face of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A must read' - Margaret Atwood

'It would be hard to find a book that feels more important or original' - Viv Groskop, Observer

Extraordinary stories from Soviet women who fought in the Second World War - from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown... I want to write the history of that war. A women's history."

In the late…


Book cover of Mission France: The True History of the Women of SOE

Mara Timon Author Of City of Spies

From my list on real-life, kick-ass female agents of WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My mother instilled a love of books in me, and my father fostered my fascination with history – which meant that a good part of my formative years involved books, writing, and watching WW2 films. Years later, when a BBC documentary captured my imagination, I delved into the world of SOE’s female spies, binge-reading biographies and autobiographies. I was struck by their determination, dedication, resourcefulness – and in awe of their exploits. These women were heroes. When an idea for a story took hold, I followed one "what if..." after another until my first novel emerged. While City of Spies is fiction, I tried to stay as faithful as possible to history.

Mara's book list on real-life, kick-ass female agents of WW2

Mara Timon Why did Mara love this book?

Special Operations Executive had the directive to “Set Europe ablaze” and from 1942 began recruiting women as field operatives. 39 were sent into France (of which 26 returned), and Kate Vigurs tells their stories in Mission France. Superbly researched and well written, this book is a really good all-rounder. Broken into 3 sections (Foundations, War, and Death & Deliverance), it tells each woman’s story, from their recruitment to either their death or demob. I loved the fact that she covered the lesser-known agents as well as the big names. Be prepared to be moved – these women’s exploits are more amazing than a lot of fiction I’ve read!

By Kate Vigurs,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Formed in 1940, Special Operations Executive was to coordinate Resistance work overseas. The organization's F section sent more than four hundred agents into France, thirty-nine of whom were women. But while some are widely known-Violette Szabo, Odette Sansom, Noor Inayat Khan-others have had their stories largely overlooked.

Kate Vigurs interweaves for the first time the stories of all thirty-nine female agents. Tracing their journeys from early recruitment to work undertaken in the field, to evasion from, or capture by, the Gestapo, Vigurs shows just how greatly missions varied. Some agents were more adept at parachuting. Some agents' missions lasted for…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Poland, the Special Operations Executive, and Winston Churchill?

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