100 books like The Unwomanly Face of War

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

Here are 100 books that The Unwomanly Face of War fans have personally recommended if you like The Unwomanly Face of War. 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 The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville

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?

The stories of women spies during World War II are not as well known as they should be – especially  because these women were highly trained, incredibly brave, and trained in all kinds of combat techniques.

I find them fascinating because they demonstrate that ordinary women are capable of the greatest feats of physical bravery – these women were not recruited because they were muscle-bound or could shoot a bullseye from a great distance.

They were usually just regular women who happened to speak a European language fluently. Krystyna Skarbek, brilliantly written about in this exciting biography by Clare Mulley, was one such woman – her adventures, including crucial organization of French resistance fighters and rescuing her colleagues from the Nazis – make for irresistible reading.

By Clare Mulley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in South Kensington. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising, but that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable. The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, she would become one of Britain's most daring and highly decorated special agents. Having fled to Britain on the outbreak of war, she was recruited by the intelligence services long before the establishment of the SOE, and took on mission after mission. She skied into occupied Poland, served…


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 The Fighting at Jutland

Tim Pears Author Of The Redeemed

From my list on memories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig deep for research for my novels and am entranced by history. It is the soil we grow from; without a sense of history, we have shallow roots. Many history books, however, are academic and tedious. Accounts by living witnesses – from interviews, letters, diaries – bring the past to life with vivid detail.

Tim's book list on memories of war

Tim Pears Why did Tim love this book?

My grandfather fought in the Battle of Jutland, as a young gunnery lieutenant; the hero of The Redeemed, Leo, would do likewise as a boy seaman. I needed insight into men’s experience and found it above all in this book (put together by two naval officers who’d themselves taken part.) It is composed of sixty personal accounts from men of all ranks and is edited to give a gripping chronology of what remains the largest naval battle in history.

By H.W. Fawcett, G.W.W. Hooper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the end of the First World War there was a widespread feeling in the British fleet that the public's disappointment with the results of the Jutland battle was based on misunderstanding. From this grew a desire to set the record straight, and a pair of naval officers collected together some sixty personal accounts of what was the largest ever clash between dreadnought battleships. These came from men of all ranks, widely distributed throughout the British fleet, each only writing of what he had seen and how the experience affected him. These were edited and arranged to follow the chronology…


Book cover of The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War

Tim Pears Author Of The Redeemed

From my list on memories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig deep for research for my novels and am entranced by history. It is the soil we grow from; without a sense of history, we have shallow roots. Many history books, however, are academic and tedious. Accounts by living witnesses – from interviews, letters, diaries – bring the past to life with vivid detail.

Tim's book list on memories of war

Tim Pears Why did Tim love this book?

The Swedish historian stitches together diaries and letters from twenty unknown people - from a Hungarian cavalryman to a German schoolgirl, the American wife of a Polish aristocrat to an English nurse – to tell the history of the First World War as an epic tapestry, with dizzying novelistic shifts from banal human moments to a wide scope of political and military affairs. Riveting and emotional.

By Peter Englund,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An intimate narrative history of World War I told through the stories of twenty men and women from around the globe--a powerful, illuminating, heart-rending picture of what the war was really like.
 
In this masterful book, renowned historian Peter Englund describes this epoch-defining event by weaving together accounts of the average man or woman who experienced it. Drawing on the diaries, journals, and letters of twenty individuals from Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Venezuela, and the United States, Englund’s collection of these varied perspectives describes not a course of events but "a…


Book cover of Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust

Tim Pears Author Of The Redeemed

From my list on memories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig deep for research for my novels and am entranced by history. It is the soil we grow from; without a sense of history, we have shallow roots. Many history books, however, are academic and tedious. Accounts by living witnesses – from interviews, letters, diaries – bring the past to life with vivid detail.

Tim's book list on memories of war

Tim Pears Why did Tim love this book?

Lyn Smith worked at the Imperial War Museum and created this extraordinary history of the Holocaust through her own interviews as well as writings and recordings with over a hundred participants. We follow events from the persecution of Jews in the thirties, through the ghettoes and camps, the Final Solution, to the liberation of the camps and after. Every page illuminates the central event of the twentieth century with heartbreaking, precise recollections. An indispensable monument.

By Lyn Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forgotten Voices of the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the success of Forgotten Voices of the Great War, Lyn Smith visits the oral accounts preserved in the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive, to reveal the sheer complexity and horror of one of human history's darkest hours.

The great majority of Holocaust survivors suffered considerable physical and psychological wounds, yet even in this dark time of human history, tales of faith, love and courage can be found. As well as revealing the story of the Holocaust as directly experienced by victims, these testimonies also illustrate how, even enduring the most harsh conditions, degrading treatment and suffering massive family losses,…


Book cover of Grand Quarrel: Women's Memoirs of the English Civil War

Tim Pears Author Of The Redeemed

From my list on memories of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I dig deep for research for my novels and am entranced by history. It is the soil we grow from; without a sense of history, we have shallow roots. Many history books, however, are academic and tedious. Accounts by living witnesses – from interviews, letters, diaries – bring the past to life with vivid detail.

Tim's book list on memories of war

Tim Pears Why did Tim love this book?

A compilation of memoirs and letters by six women from the English Civil War. Immersed in research for a novel, I was up to my ears in pamphlets and battlefields, troop movements, and religious schism; I opened The Grand Quarrel and began reading Brilliana, Lady Harley’s letters to her son at Oxford. (‘I have sent you some juice of liquorice, which you may keep to make use of, if you should have a cold.’)The past was suddenly refreshed.

By Roger Hudson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work draws together the memoirs of women involved in the English Civil War, on both sides. The accounts of wives and daughters provide an insight into women's experiences of the time for general reader and historian alike. They include the Duchess of Newcastle (who has been called "the first English woman writer") on her husband's role at the battle of Marston Moor in 1644; royalist Lucy Hutchinson, whose writing has the immediacy of a diary; Ann Fanshawe's memoirs of 1676, written so a son could know a father killed in battle (and valued by Virginia Woolf for their "candour…


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 Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Harold J. Goldberg Author Of D-Day in the Pacific: The Battle of Saipan

From my list on on World War II according to my students.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1974 I started my full-time teaching career at a small liberal arts college and realized how much I love teaching and discussing historical events with students. With Russian and Soviet history as my areas of specialization, expanding my course offerings to include World War II was a natural addition. My World War II class became extremely popular and led to demands that I take students to Europe to visit many of the places we discussed in class. Every summer for about ten years I led study-abroad trips to England, France, and Germany. Watching student reactions to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery made every trip worthwhile.

Harold's book list on on World War II according to my students

Harold J. Goldberg Why did Harold love this book?

Merridale uses archival material and interviews with Soviet war veterans to personalize the war on the Eastern Front. This work moves beyond the number of combatants and tanks to focus on real life at the frontlines. She talks about issues that help the reader “feel” the war: what did soldiers eat given the well-known shortages and privations throughout the USSR; how did soldiers get warm clothes and boots; how did they obtain ammunition and artillery shells and new guns despite the long supply lines; was stealing accepted in the army; what behaviors were tolerated and which ones were punished; how did hierarchy allow officers to get first choice of captured enemy equipment. She reveals how officers might not report all the dead in their unit so they would not lose the lost soldier’s food ration. While Alexander Werth’s Russia at War provides a sweeping view of Soviet organization, suffering, and…

By Catherine Merridale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ivan's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources.

Of the thirty million who fought in the eastern front of World War II, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan -- as the ordinary Russian soldier was called…


Book cover of The Stuff of Soldiers: A History of the Red Army in World War II Through Objects

Francine Hirsch Author Of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

From my list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet History, Modern European History, and the History of Human Rights. She spent fifteen years researching and writing about the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II and the role that it played in the Nuremberg Trials. Her recently published Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg was awarded the 2021 Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship from the American Society of International Law.

Francine's book list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2

Francine Hirsch Why did Francine love this book?

This fascinating history of the Red Army in World War II examines the material objects—the overcoat, the boots, the “thing bag,” the spade, the spoon, the bayonet, and other items—that helped turn civilians into Soviet soldiers. By focusing in on “the quotidian details of provisioning,” Schechter provides a unique view of the Red Army and of soldiers’ everyday lives.

By Brandon M. Schechter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Stuff of Soldiers uses everyday objects to tell the story of the Great Patriotic War as never before. Brandon Schechter attends to a diverse array of things-from spoons to tanks-to show how a wide array of citizens became soldiers, and how the provisioning of material goods separated soldiers from civilians.

Through a fascinating examination of leaflets, proclamations, newspapers, manuals, letters to and from the front, diaries, and interviews, The Stuff of Soldiers reveals how the use of everyday items made it possible to wage war. The dazzling range of documents showcases ethnic diversity, women's particular problems at the front,…


Book cover of Russia at War, 1941-1945: A History

Francine Hirsch Author Of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

From my list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet History, Modern European History, and the History of Human Rights. She spent fifteen years researching and writing about the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II and the role that it played in the Nuremberg Trials. Her recently published Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg was awarded the 2021 Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship from the American Society of International Law.

Francine's book list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2

Francine Hirsch Why did Francine love this book?

This vivid history of the Soviet Union at war by BBC journalist Alexander Werth is worth picking up for the Stalingrad chapters alone. In January 1943, Werth set out by train from Moscow to Stalingrad with a small group of correspondents. His conversations with Russian soldiers, officers, nurses, and railwaymen about the fighting, the Germans, and the Soviet defense of the city are woven into these chapters and make for extremely engaging reading.

By Alexander Werth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia at War, 1941-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Russian-born British journalist Alexander Werth observed the unfolding of the Soviet-German conflict with his own eyes. What followed was the widely acclaimed book, Russia at War, first printed in 1964. At once a history of facts, a collection of interviews, and a document of the human condition, Russia at War is a stunning, modern classic that chronicles the savagery and struggles on Russian soil during the most incredible military conflict in modern history.

As a behind-the-scenes eyewitness to the pivotal, shattering events as they occurred, Werth chronicles with vivid detail the hardships of everyday citizens, massive military operations,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, women in war, and women?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Soviet Union, women in war, and women.

The Soviet Union Explore 327 books about the Soviet Union
Women In War Explore 15 books about women in war
Women Explore 590 books about women