The best books on the Battle of France (WW2) 📚

Browse the best books on the Battle of France as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Fall of Paris: June 1940

The Fall of Paris: June 1940

By Herbert R. Lottman

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on the refugee crisis precipitated by Germany's attack on Western Europe in WW2

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

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

By Peter Sis

Why 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,…
From the list:

The best picture book biographies

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Book cover of Strange Defeat

Strange Defeat

By Marc Bloch

Why this book?

An extraordinary account of the fall of France by a leading historian of the time, written in its aftermath. Both a first-person account of the debacle and a profound meditation on the structural problems of French state, army and society that led to defeat. All the more moving because Bloch was removed from his academic post as a Jew by Vichy and shot by the Germans as a resister in 1944.

From the list:

The best book about France in the Second World War

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

The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940

By Julian Jackson

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on the refugee crisis precipitated by Germany's attack on Western Europe in WW2

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Book cover of The House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France

The House of Fragile Things: Jewish Art Collectors and the Fall of France

By James McAuley

Why this book?

This is a book about a group of fabulously wealthy Jewish families (the Cahen D’Anvers, the Reinachs, the Rothschilds, and others) who amassed first-class art collections and left them to the French state only to see the state turn on them during the German Occupation. With great sensitivity, McAuley explores the lives of these very elite Jews, many of whom were related through ties of friendship and marriage, painting a rich portrait of their gilded but “fragile” world. He shows the complicated motivations behind their collections—the drive to belong and to express that belonging through art. This is certainly a…
From the list:

The best books on Jews in modern France

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

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

By Don Kladstrup, Petie Kladstrup

Why 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.
From the list:

The best storytelling books about how history has influenced wines

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