The most recommended books on the Battle of France (WW2)

Who picked these books? Meet our 5 experts.

5 authors created a book list connected to the Battle of France, and here are their favorite Battle of France books.
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Book cover of The Fall of Paris: June 1940

Austin Denis Johnston Author Of 33 Days: A Memoir

From my list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2.

Who am I?

Twenty years ago I nearly married a French woman and emigrated. I prepared vigorously to become an honorary Frenchman, cramming French history, language, and culture. Ultimately, I neither married nor emigrated, but the passion for that cultural acquisition project never left me, meaning many years of trips, reading, and language study. For the last decade, I've supplemented that interest by looking for historically significant French texts to translate (primarily contemporaneous texts about the World Wars and the interwar period). I have degrees in history and international affairs, plus professional experience in military affairs (including the Office of Secretary of Defense) and editing magazines (for Time, Inc.).

Austin's book list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2

Austin Denis Johnston Why did Austin love this book?

The fall of France is essential historical context for the refugee crisis, and this book is "history with a flair." Focused on Paris—through which millions of refugees were routed and from which two million embarked—Lottman weaves micro-histories (think Eduardo Galeano), culled from an encyclopedic range of accounts, into a panoramic, propulsive day-by-day narrative that prominently features the refugee crisis. A compelling read.

By Herbert R. Lottman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A dramatic chronicle of the fall of one of the world's great cities covers the five weeks leading up to the German capture of Paris in 1940


Book cover of The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940

Austin Denis Johnston Author Of 33 Days: A Memoir

From my list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2.

Who am I?

Twenty years ago I nearly married a French woman and emigrated. I prepared vigorously to become an honorary Frenchman, cramming French history, language, and culture. Ultimately, I neither married nor emigrated, but the passion for that cultural acquisition project never left me, meaning many years of trips, reading, and language study. For the last decade, I've supplemented that interest by looking for historically significant French texts to translate (primarily contemporaneous texts about the World Wars and the interwar period). I have degrees in history and international affairs, plus professional experience in military affairs (including the Office of Secretary of Defense) and editing magazines (for Time, Inc.).

Austin's book list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2

Austin Denis Johnston Why did Austin love this book?

Also for historical context, this is a more traditionally constructed history—though also a masterful synthesis of sources—and among those that view the refugee crisis as having a role in France's defeat. Clear, concise and comprehensive; if you read one book about the fall of France, read this.

By Julian Jackson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 16 May 1940 an emergency meeting of the French High Command was called at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The German army had broken through the French lines on the River Meuse at Sedan and elsewhere, only five days after launching their attack. Churchill, who had been telephoned by Prime Minister Reynaud the previous evening to be told that the French were beaten, rushed to Paris to meet the French leaders. The mood in the meeting was one of panic and despair; there
was talk of evacuating Paris. Churchill asked Gamelin, the French Commander in Chief, 'Where is the…


Book cover of The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Diane Stanley Author Of Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer

From my list on picture book biographies.

Who am I?

I have always loved history—not so much the politics, the kings and wars and battles, but the remarkable, often eccentric people who stood out in the age in which they lived. When I started writing books for children, I fell naturally into writing biographies. Each book I’ve written has been an adventure, with research that took me into vanished worlds and introduced me to remarkable people, from Shakespeare and Joan of Arc to Peter the Great, Michelangelo, Cleopatra, and Leonardo da Vinci. I got to read their letters, learn little personal details about their lives, and live vicariously in their worlds. It’s been my life’s joyful work, and I appreciate the brilliant work of other authors who write biography too.

Diane's book list on picture book biographies

Diane Stanley Why did Diane love this book?

Let me start by saying that Peter Sís is a genius and his books are like no one else’s. This story about Antoine Saint-Exupéry, the author of the beloved classic, The Little Prince, is original in every possible way. Maps and mountains are transformed into creatures smiling at each other. In a scene describing the German invasion of France in 1940, his careful tiny crosshatching gives way to loose watercolor, red paint that spreads across the page like fire or blood. At the end, where Saint-Exupéry dreams of the Little Prince, is a stunning double-page spread with no words, just an expanse of blue with prince-like golden stars on the far horizon. The book is sheer perfection.

By Peter Sis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pilot and the Little Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Peter Sís's remarkable biography The Pilot and the Little Prince celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot―and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He…


Book cover of France Under Fire: German Invasion, Civilian Flight and Family Survival During World War II

Austin Denis Johnston Author Of 33 Days: A Memoir

From my list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2.

Who am I?

Twenty years ago I nearly married a French woman and emigrated. I prepared vigorously to become an honorary Frenchman, cramming French history, language, and culture. Ultimately, I neither married nor emigrated, but the passion for that cultural acquisition project never left me, meaning many years of trips, reading, and language study. For the last decade, I've supplemented that interest by looking for historically significant French texts to translate (primarily contemporaneous texts about the World Wars and the interwar period). I have degrees in history and international affairs, plus professional experience in military affairs (including the Office of Secretary of Defense) and editing magazines (for Time, Inc.).

Austin's book list on the refugee crisis in Western Europe in WW2

Austin Denis Johnston Why did Austin love this book?

A more specialized account focused on the role of women, who made up the vast majority of refugees, in petitioning government for civilian protection and assistance before and after the crisis, and their unique experiences on the road. Dombrowski Risser finds that women initiated an expansion of universal human rights in wartime to include refugees' rights. Her insightful and masterfully informed analysis of primary source materials—women's letters to government officials—brings them to life, adding illuminating, and heartrending, substance and texture.

By Nicole Dombrowski Risser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'We request an immediate favour of you, to build a shelter for us women and small children, because we have absolutely no place to take refuge and we are terrified!' This French mother's petition sent to her mayor on the eve of Germany's 1940 invasion of France reveals civilians' security concerns unleashed by the Blitzkrieg fighting tactics of World War II. Unprepared for air warfare's assault on civilian psyches, French planners were among the first in history to respond to civilian security challenges posed by aerial bombardment. France under Fire offers a social, political and military examination of the origins…


Book cover of Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure

Sarah Rowlands Author Of The Periodic Table of Wine

From my list on how history has influenced wines.

Who am I?

I became intensely interested in wine while working in a Michelin Star kitchen where understanding how flavours work together, developing nuances in my palate, and an interesting wine list combine. Enthusiasm and passion led to success in wine examinations at the highest levels, working in wine retail, travelling the globe visiting amazing vineyards, and wineries, meeting iconic winemakers, influential vineyards managers, as well as other luminaries in the world of wine. The greatest benefit being many new friends and lifelong special memories. Along with the wine tastings I give, The Periodic Table of Wine is a way to share discovering wine and the joy it brings to new audiences.

Sarah's book list on how history has influenced wines

Sarah Rowlands Why did Sarah love this book?

You don’t need to know about wine or WWII to enjoy the story of how French wine was ingeniously protected from pillaging Germans during the Occupation. It reads like a war movie, about wine. Some anecdotes with a touch of James Bond about them, with others more Allo Allo. Sadly, the heroism involved continues to this day, but now with Lebanese wine producers. Indeed, there is another more recent book covering this very topic too.

By Don Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the vineyards, wine caves, and cellars of France as war and occupation came to the country winemakers acted heroically not only to save the best wines but to defend their way of life.

These are the true stories of vignerons who sheltered Jewish refugees in their cellars and of winemakers who risked their lives to aid the resistance. They made chemicals in secret laboratories to fuel the resistance and fled from the Gestapo when arrests became imminent.

There were treacheries too, as some of the nation's winemakers supported the Vichy regime or the Germans themselves and collaborated.

Donald Kladstrup…


Book cover of Blue Man Falling

Patrick Larsimont Author Of The Lightning and the Few

From my list on WW2 brought to life through brilliant storytelling.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated with military history, added to which my interest in aviation after serving in Military Intelligence with the Air Force. After a career in advertising, I took to writing during lockdown. My novels uncover forgotten facts and histories, using real characters and their exploits and providing an interpretation of world war events from different perspectives, not just the victors. My recommendations bring the past to life, unpalatable as it might be, with vibrant characters, rich set-building, and beautiful period language, sentiments, and held beliefs. History and conflict, love, loss, tragedy, and forgotten memory are brought to life, full of visceral colour, but importantly always truthfully.

Patrick's book list on WW2 brought to life through brilliant storytelling

Patrick Larsimont Why did Patrick love this book?

One of the books that got my writing about WW2 aviation.

Set during the Battle for France in 1939 it is the story of two very different RAF pilots, one a precise and reserved Englishman, the other an aggressive, volatile, and passionate American. Their methods and motivations for fighting the war couldn’t be more different but they develop an unlikely partnership and mutual respect during the chaos of France’s collapse and the Allies’ humiliation and defeat.

A work of dazzling action, humour, and historical accuracy, with vividly drawn wartime settings and well-developed, sometimes larger-than-life characters who are times endearing, frustrating, hugely funny, bleakly dark, and always well observed. A benchmark for me for everything that I’d want my own novels to be.

By Frank Barnard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In September 1939, World War Two is declared and Europe holds its breath. When will the Third Reich strike west across France and the Low Countries? For RAF fighter pilots patrolling the Franco-German border it is a bizarre time: one moment they are chasing an elusive Luftwaffe, the next ordering champagne in Paris. Then, in May 1940, Hitler launches Blitzkrieg and the Hurricane squadrons find themselves engulfed in battle. From the cockpit of a Hurricane fighter plane to the louche salons of Parisian society, Blue Man Falling follows the fortunes of two RAF pilots, an Englishman, Kit Curtis, and an…


Book cover of The British Way of War: Julian Corbett and the Battle for a National Strategy

Steve Dunn Author Of The Petrol Navy: British, American and Other Naval Motor Boats at War 1914 - 1920

From my list on how the Royal Navy won the First World War.

Who am I?

I’m Steve R Dunn, a naval historian and author of twelve books of naval history, with two more commissioned for 2024 and 2025. As a child I used to invent naval fleets and have always loved the water.  Now, I write about little-known aspects of the First World War at sea, and try to demonstrate that, despite the mass slaughter and ultimate victory on the Western Front, if Britain had lost command of the sea, the war would have been lost. The combination of recognisably modern weapons with Nelsonian command and control systems renders the naval side of WW1 endlessly fascinating to me.

Steve's book list on how the Royal Navy won the First World War

Steve Dunn Why did Steve love this book?

Professor Lambert is the doyen of present-day naval historians.

In this book he tells the story of an incomparably great strategist and historian, Julian Corbett, whose pre-war views on naval strategy were well constructed and sought by men such as Admiral Jacky Fisher, the founder of the modern navy. Unfortunately, Corbett’s ideas were catastrophically ignored in 1914 but shaped Britain’s success in the Second World War and beyond.

By Andrew Lambert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How a strategist's ideas were catastrophically ignored in 1914-but shaped Britain's success in the Second World War and beyond

Leading historian Andrew Lambert shows how, as a lawyer, civilian, and Liberal, Julian Corbett (1854-1922) brought a new level of logic, advocacy, and intellectual precision to the development of strategy.

Corbett skillfully integrated classical strategic theory, British history, and emerging trends in technology, geopolitics, and conflict to prepare the British state for war. He emphasized that strategy is a unique national construct, rather than a set of universal principles, and recognized the importance of domestic social reform and the evolving British…