100 books like Unknown Valor

By Martha MacCallum,

Here are 100 books that Unknown Valor fans have personally recommended if you like Unknown Valor. 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 Enemy North, South, East, West

Robert W. Baumer Author Of The Journey of the Purple Heart: A First Infantry Division Soldier’s Story from Stateside to North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during World War II

From my list on war memoirs and what makes them special.

Who am I?

When I was in my early 40’s I walked into the hospital room of a 99-year-old near-death relative who mistook me for my father’s brother who had been killed on the beachhead in Normandy during World War II. I was always a history buff, but this moment changed my life. I directed my energies to military history, starting with memoirs and writing a column for Armchair General magazine when it was in circulation. Published official histories (American Iliad, Aachen, Old Hickory) followed that were reliant on well-expressed memoirs written by participants, so full circle I’ve come back to my passion for writing, and reading war memoirs.

Robert's book list on war memoirs and what makes them special

Robert W. Baumer Why did Robert love this book?

Imagine being 20 years old, and a freshly minted lieutenant with just two weeks in the line. You are a forward observer for a 105mm artillery battalion. Your first duty position is atop a 314-meter-high hill at Mortain France. It is early August 1944 and Adolf Hitler sends four panzer divisions to Mortain to stop the Allied breakout from Normandy. First they must take that hill.

Weiss’s stunning book details how he and 700 other men held Hill 314 for five long days. Chronicled more recently by an Aurora Award-winning documentary on PBS it is one of those World War II personal memoirs one never forgets.

By Robert Weiss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enemy North, South, East, West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Germans launched their biggest counter-attack in France during WWII, the elite troops of the 2nd SS Panzer Division surrounded a battalion of less than 700 US infantry on top of a key hill near Mortain in Normandy. The American "Lost Battalion", equipped with very little food, medical supplies, ammunition, or anti-tank weapons, held out for sixty days. At the end of the battle, 277 of the riflemen were dead, wounded, or missing. Author Robert Weiss experienced those harrowing days of the war, directing much of the fire as a field artillery forward observer on the hill. As the…


Book cover of Conquered, Not Defeated: Growing Up in Denmark During the German Occupation of World War II

Robert W. Baumer Author Of The Journey of the Purple Heart: A First Infantry Division Soldier’s Story from Stateside to North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during World War II

From my list on war memoirs and what makes them special.

Who am I?

When I was in my early 40’s I walked into the hospital room of a 99-year-old near-death relative who mistook me for my father’s brother who had been killed on the beachhead in Normandy during World War II. I was always a history buff, but this moment changed my life. I directed my energies to military history, starting with memoirs and writing a column for Armchair General magazine when it was in circulation. Published official histories (American Iliad, Aachen, Old Hickory) followed that were reliant on well-expressed memoirs written by participants, so full circle I’ve come back to my passion for writing, and reading war memoirs.

Robert's book list on war memoirs and what makes them special

Robert W. Baumer Why did Robert love this book?

In Europe it is a tradition to pass down from generation to generation the stories of survival during the German occupation of their countries. I have met some families that actually traveled to the United States to attend military reunions of the units who freed their homelands back in 1944-45. 

Tveskov takes you into the terrifying world of Copenhagen during the war and remembers it through the eyes and experiences of a young boy. His book makes one appreciate how G.I. Joe came to be loved by so many Europeans.

By Peter H. Tveskov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conquered, Not Defeated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the morning of April 9, 1940, Peter Tveskov awoke to the roar of airplanes flying low overhead—more airplanes than he’d ever heard or seen before. The invasion leading to the five-year German occupation of Denmark had begun. The Occupation was a dark and difficult time for the Danish people, but for five-year-old Peter, it was an exciting adventure that would in many ways shape both his future and that of his beloved country.

In Conquered, Not Defeated, Peter Tveskov blends vivid childhood memories with historical fact to tell the story of how the occupying army of the Third Reich…


Book cover of One More Hill

Robert W. Baumer Author Of The Journey of the Purple Heart: A First Infantry Division Soldier’s Story from Stateside to North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during World War II

From my list on war memoirs and what makes them special.

Who am I?

When I was in my early 40’s I walked into the hospital room of a 99-year-old near-death relative who mistook me for my father’s brother who had been killed on the beachhead in Normandy during World War II. I was always a history buff, but this moment changed my life. I directed my energies to military history, starting with memoirs and writing a column for Armchair General magazine when it was in circulation. Published official histories (American Iliad, Aachen, Old Hickory) followed that were reliant on well-expressed memoirs written by participants, so full circle I’ve come back to my passion for writing, and reading war memoirs.

Robert's book list on war memoirs and what makes them special

Robert W. Baumer Why did Robert love this book?

I found this original edition, published in 1949, in a used bookstore back in the early 1990s. It was the first memoir I read about a soldier and the higher-up officers he reported to who fought in the same regiment as my late uncle. 

Johnson contributed to two books I wrote on the official history of the 18th Infantry Regiment in World War II. His was a personal memoir up to the time his war was cut short after the Normandy Invasion. The writing style is sweeping and one of the better memoirs I’ve read about an anti-tank battalion during the big war.

By Franklin A. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The author describes his experiences as a lieutenant in the First Infantry Division during its actions in Africa, Sicily and the Normandy invasion


Book cover of A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered

Robert W. Baumer Author Of The Journey of the Purple Heart: A First Infantry Division Soldier’s Story from Stateside to North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during World War II

From my list on war memoirs and what makes them special.

Who am I?

When I was in my early 40’s I walked into the hospital room of a 99-year-old near-death relative who mistook me for my father’s brother who had been killed on the beachhead in Normandy during World War II. I was always a history buff, but this moment changed my life. I directed my energies to military history, starting with memoirs and writing a column for Armchair General magazine when it was in circulation. Published official histories (American Iliad, Aachen, Old Hickory) followed that were reliant on well-expressed memoirs written by participants, so full circle I’ve come back to my passion for writing, and reading war memoirs.

Robert's book list on war memoirs and what makes them special

Robert W. Baumer Why did Robert love this book?

This is one of the best military memoirs I’ve gotten into. Why? Because it’s about a different war. Not World War II, my passion. It’s Viet Nam this time, an experience too many in my generation didn’t come home from. Archer was a Marine during the pivotal battle of Khe Sahn, and he retells his experiences and that of his buddies in a heartfelt, necessarily graphic, and sometimes humorous way—the latter so often used to mask the horrors of war and losing close friends.

By Michael Archer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A poignant, often humorous, recollection of the siege of Khe Sanh--a pivotal turning point in the American war in Vietnam. Under constant bombardment from the enemy, Michael Archer and his cadre of young Marines--Orr, Pig, Old Woman and Savage, just to name a few--managed to survive and, in the process, learn about manhood, sacrifice and the darkest recesses of fear and loneliness.


Book cover of Typhoon of Steel: The Battle for Okinawa

Philip Sherman Mygatt Author Of Innocence Lost – A Childhood Stolen

From my list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of.

Who am I?

Having been born two months before Pearl Harbor, as I grew older, I vaguely remember hearing my parents talking about the war. When I was able, I used to pull my little red wagon around the neighborhood to collect bacon grease I donated to the local butcher shop to support the war. After retiring from the technology industry, I tried my hand at writing books. After a few futile attempts, I finally started writing novels about WWII. I first wrote Return to La Roche-en-Ardenne, then Innocence Lost - A Childhood Stolen, and finally Thou Shall Do No Harm – Diary of an Auschwitz Physician which will be re-released in early 2023.

Philip's book list on WWII stories you have probably never heard of

Philip Sherman Mygatt Why did Philip love this book?

Little has been published about the Battle of Okinawa having been overshadowed by the recent victory on Iwo Jima the prior week, and yet the United States needed control of Okinawa to launch its upcoming invasion of Japan. Okinawa was considered part of the Japanese homeland and the Japanese were determined to fight to the end, and they had a new terror weapon; the Kamikaze. To be on board a Navy ship surrounded by a swarm of Kamikkazes must have been a terrifying experience. 

By James H. Belote, William M. Belote,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

HARDBACK BOOK


Book cover of Emperor Hirohito and the Pacific War

Gerhard Weinberg Author Of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II

From my list on World War 2.

Who am I?

Gerhard Weinberg fled Germany at the end of 1938 and experienced the first year of World War II – including the beginning of the Blitz – in England. He completed his PhD after serving in the US Army of Occupation in Japan, researched the captured German documents, established the program for microfilming them, and after writing an analysis of the origins of World War II decided to prepare a book covering the war as a whole.

Gerhard's book list on World War 2

Gerhard Weinberg Why did Gerhard love this book?

At last (2015) there is a balanced and carefully researched study of a central figure in the modern history of Japan and the war in the Pacific. The substantial utilization and integration of Japanese sources enhances the work but does not lead to any distortion of the real picture.

By Noriko Kawamura,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This reexamination of the controversial role Emperor Hirohito played during the Pacific War gives particular attention to the question: If the emperor could not stop Japan from going to war with the Allied Powers in 1941, why was he able to play a crucial role in ending the war in 1945? Drawing on previously unavailable primary sources, Noriko Kawamura traces Hirohito's actions from the late 1920s to the end of the war, analyzing the role Hirohito played in Japan's expansion. Emperor Hirohito emerges as a conflicted man who struggled throughout the war to deal with the undefined powers bestowed upon…


Book cover of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

Loren Stephens Author Of All Sorrows Can Be Borne

From my list on the traditional and modern Japanese mind.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by family histories, and am the self-selected historian in my family. I wrote my mother’s memoir, I Turned a Key and the Birds Began to Sing, put together a newsletter for aunts, uncles, and cousins near and far, and became a ghostwriter to help other people mine their personal and family stories. I’ve worked with company CEOs, survivors of the Holocaust; World War II U.S. veterans, and Hollywood celebrities. In the midst of writing books for other people I turned my sights on my husband who was born in Osaka, Japan and asked his permission to write his family’s story.  

Loren's book list on the traditional and modern Japanese mind

Loren Stephens Why did Loren love this book?

Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction, this book gives the reader an in-depth analysis of the effects of World War II on the political, economic, and social life of the Japanese people. It depicts the ways in which Japan moved into the twentieth century and gave up many of its feudalistic habits – some for the better and some for the worse. 

By John W. Dower,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on a vast range of Japanese sources and illustrated with dozens of astonishing documentary photographs, Embracing Defeat is the fullest and most important history of the more than six years of American occupation, which affected every level of Japanese society, often in ways neither side could anticipate. Dower, whom Stephen E. Ambrose has called "America's foremost historian of the Second World War in the Pacific," gives us the rich and turbulent interplay between West and East, the victor and the vanquished, in a way never before attempted, from top-level manipulations concerning the fate of Emperor Hirohito to the hopes…


Book cover of Tojo and the Coming of the War

Lew Paper Author Of In the Cauldron: Terror, Tension, and the American Ambassador's Struggle to Avoid Pearl Harbor

From my list on why America was unprepared for Pearl Harbor attack.

Who am I?

I'm a lawyer (Harvard Law School) who loves to write. My books reflect my eclectic interests. I've written nonfiction books about John Kennedy’s presidency, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, CBS Founder William S. Paley, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pearl Harbor. Each of my nonfiction books tries to focus on something with respect to a particular person or event that had not been addressed in detail in any other book. I've also written a thriller (Deadly Risks) which revolves around JFK’s assassination and can be likened to John Grisham’s book, The Pelican Brief.

Lew's book list on why America was unprepared for Pearl Harbor attack

Lew Paper Why did Lew love this book?

Tojo Hideki, a general in Japan’s army, became the country’s Prime Minister in October 1941, was still at the helm when the Pearl Harbor attack occurred on December 7, 1941, and remained in power until 1944. Although Tojo was later vilified as a war criminal, he did take to heart Emperor Hirohito’s request in October 1941 that he explore ways to avoid war with the United States – but soon convinced the Emperor that there was no alternative to war. Butow, a professor of US-Japanese relations at the University of Washington, shows how Tojo rose to power in Japan’s convoluted system of government, how the decision to proceed with the Pearl Harbor attack unfolded, and how that decision affected Tojo.

Book cover of The Beantown Girls

Cathy Gohlke Author Of Ladies of the Lake

From my list on the wonder and complexity of friendships and love.

Who am I?

From the moment my grandmother told me that books were not created by magic, but that real people write books (I was five years old) I knew that I wanted to become a writer—as surely as did Anne in Anne of Green Gables. Themes of the joy, the complexity, and responsibility of friendship and family, of working together despite great challenges to overcome obstacles for purposes beyond ourselves, and of doing that while sometimes working through stages of grief all resonate with me, are all part of my life. The books I’ve recommended, as well as the books I’ve written, contain those themes.

Cathy's book list on the wonder and complexity of friendships and love

Cathy Gohlke Why did Cathy love this book?

Good friends stick together through thick and thin. That’s the premise I took away from The Beantown Girls. 

When one of three forever best friends from Boston learns that her fiancé is missing in WWII action, she determines to go to Europe and against all odds, find him. She convinces her two best friends—women with very different personalities, very different gifts, and skills—to join her as Red Cross Clubmobile girls in what could be a grand adventure or a terrible risk to their lives. 

They never expected to care so deeply for the soldiers they go to help, to encounter the horrors and deprivation of war they do, or that their friendship and camaraderie will be tested and yet become the thing that carries them through.

By Jane Healey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller.

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II's brightest heroines-the best of friends-take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She'll work in city hall, marry her fiance when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiance is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona's long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiance's fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to…


Book cover of Bailey's Cafe

Deborah L. King Author Of Glory Bishop

From my list on Black women by Black women.

Who am I?

I’ve been a Black woman for almost 40 years, and I’ve been writing about Black women almost as long. I grew up reading children’s books with brown faces and great stories, but the authors never interested me. Until I read Peaches, I had no idea that wholly relatable authors and stories existed. I began seeking them out. From authors like Virginia Hamilton and James Baldwin to Langston Hughes and even Donald Goines, I found stories of people with lives I recognized. I am far from an expert on Black literature. I am just grateful that during my formative years, I was exposed to some great Black authors. 

Deborah's book list on Black women by Black women

Deborah L. King Why did Deborah love this book?

An eclectic group of people regularly visit Bailey’s Cafe.

The owner believes the cafe is magical and he tells the stories of each of its patrons finding their way to a local boarding house and ultimately finding themselves. From the opening tale of the cafe owner to Sadie, and Eve, and Jessie Bell, and others, the stories are excellently told, each in a distinct voice.

Author Gloria Naylor has explained that the themes are relating to female sexuality and femaleness. I will note there are some pretty rough scenes, but the characters and their stories are unforgettable.

By Gloria Naylor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “moving and memorable” novel about a cafe where everyone has a story to tell from the award-winning author of The Women of Brewster Place (The Boston Globe).

In post–World War II Brooklyn, on a quiet backstreet, there’s a little place that draws people from all over—not for the food, and definitely not for the coffee. An in-between place that’s only there when you need it, Bailey’s Cafe is a crossroads where patrons stay for a while before making a choice: Move on or check out?
 
In this novel, National Book Award–winning author Gloria Naylor’s expertly crafted characters experience a…


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