The most recommended books about concentration camps

Who picked these books? Meet our 83 experts.

83 authors created a book list connected to concentration camps, and here are their favorite concentration camp books.
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The Boy on the Wooden Box

By Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran, Elisabeth B. Leyson

Book cover of The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible....on Schindler's List

Elaine Orr Author Of Falling Into Place

From the list on World War II for teens who love a good story.

Who am I?

I’m the U.S. author of more than thirty books, many of them traditional or cozy mysteries. As the daughter and niece of several World War II veterans, I grew up hearing some of their experiences – they left out the horror. But I did see the impact those travesties had on gentle people. I often marveled at the courage of those who fought without weapons to survive the deprivation and loss of many loved ones. And I’m glad I had opportunities to visit Germany and Japan as an adult, to see the friendships our nations foster today.

Elaine's book list on World War II for teens who love a good story

Why did Elaine love this book?

As a child, Leon Leyson (originally Lieb Lejzon) and his family of observant Jews moved from rural Poland to Krakow, where they became part of the Jewish ghetto and were eventually sent to Nazi concentration camps. Cruelty and near starvation would have led to death had not Oskar Schindler added them to his employees, first at an enamelware plant and later at an armaments factory.

Lieb had to stand on a box because he was so small. As Leon Leyson, he wrote the book as an older man, long a U.S. citizen, and educator. Through a child’s eyes, the horrors of the camps seem even more surreal. Lieb lost family members, but Schindler’s pragmatism and timely bribery of Nazi officials saved Lieb and many more from the Final Solution. 

By Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran, Elisabeth B. Leyson

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy on the Wooden Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson's life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers…

The Pink Triangle

By Richard Plant,

Book cover of The Pink Triangle: The Nazi War Against Homosexuals

Jeffrey H. Jackson Author Of Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis

From the list on challenge how your think about WWII in europe.

Who am I?

Jeffrey H. Jackson is a prolific author and award-winning Professor of History at Rhodes College. He has written several books about the history of Europe including Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis, Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910, and Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post,,,, and in numerous other publications.

Jeffrey's book list on challenge how your think about WWII in europe

Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Hitler had ambivalent feelings about gay men, but Heinrich Himmler did not. The SS leader spearheaded the Nazi persecution of homosexuality in an effort to root out a perceived corruption that he believed was incompatible with the hyper-masculine doctrine of Nazism. A direct response to a flourishing gay culture in the 1920s and the medical study of “sexology,” gay men were rounded up and forced to wear the pink triangle as a sign of what the Nazis called their “degeneracy.”

By Richard Plant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive book in English on the fate of the homosexuals in Nazi Germany. The author, a German refugee, examines the climate and conditions that gave rise to a vicious campaign against Germany's gays, as directed by Himmler and his SS--persecution that resulted in tens of thousands of arrests and thousands of deaths.

In this Nazi crusade, homosexual prisoners were confined to death camps where, forced to wear pink triangles, they constituted the lowest rung in the camp hierarchy. The horror of camp life is described through diaries, previously untranslated documents, and interviews with and letters from…

Book cover of This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Jack Gantos Author Of Hole in My Life

From the list on what drives us to survive and keeps souls alive.

Who am I?

I read a lot of first-person books because I write a lot of 1st person books. I was a creative writing teacher for twenty years and I wanted my students to ‘own’ their material—to write about what they saw and felt and empathized with and loved and feared. These book recommendations below are only a handful of immensely brilliant books that have strong character/narrator voices that put you inside the skin of the narrator. These are the books that are recklessly beautiful and ruthlessly genuine-- and by example teach you how to write honestly and how to capture your own readers.

Jack's book list on what drives us to survive and keeps souls alive

Why did Jack love this book?

The most engaging, genuine, soul-crushing, holocaust/concentration camp book I’ve ever read and I’ve read them all. And read his bio, too. Crisp, clear writing allows all the horror of the concentration camp to roll over your soul. You have nowhere to hide when you read this book—the honesty is pure and brutal. Yet, the soulful fallout never really leaves you fully crushed—otherwise, you would never feel the agony of humanity over and over again.

By Tadeusz Borowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tadeusz Borowski's concentration camp stories were based on his own experiences surviving Auschwitz and Dachau. In spare, brutal prose he describes a world where where the will to survive overrides compassion and prisoners eat, work and sleep a few yards from where others are murdered; where the difference between human beings is reduced to a second bowl of soup, an extra blanket or the luxury of a pair of shoes with thick soles; and where the line between normality and abnormality vanishes. Published in Poland after the Second World War, these stories constitute a masterwork of world literature.

Book cover of A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz: A Memoir

Marta Fuchs Author Of Legacy of Rescue: A Daughter's Tribute

From the list on with impact on the daughter of Holocaust Survivors.

Who am I?

I am a member of a generation that wasn’t supposed to be born. My parents were Hungarian Holocaust survivors and I was born amidst the fragments of European Jewry that remained. As a psychotherapist, I have specialized in helping people navigate the multigenerational reverberations of the Holocaust. Having a witness to your own experience, in therapy and through books, provides comfort, understanding, and hope.

Marta's book list on with impact on the daughter of Holocaust Survivors

Why did Marta love this book?

I have read many moving memoirs by survivors and members of the second generation like myself. This one by the Swedish journalist son of a Polish survivor is like no other. I could hardly breathe while reading it, or after I finished it. Gripping, poetic, and calmly devastating, the author recreates his father’s Holocaust journey through family documents and historical research, trying to imagine what exactly his father experienced. And then the devastating aftermath, as his father attempts to rebuild his shattered life. “Luck, chance, and freak are the stones with which every road from Auschwitz are paved,” the author tells us.

By Göran Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the 2nd of August 1947 a young man gets off a train in a small Swedish town. He has survived the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz, and the harrowing slave camps and transports during the final months of Nazi Germany. Now he has to learn to live with his memories.

In this intelligent and deeply moving book, Goeran Rosenberg returns to his own childhood in order to tell his father's story. It is also the story of the chasm that soon opens between the world of the child, suffused with the optimism, progress and collective oblivion of post-war Sweden, and the…


By Affinity Konar,

Book cover of Mischling

Donna Jo Napoli Author Of As Night Falls: Creatures That Go Wild After Dark

From Donna's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Linguist Social advocate Gardener Dancer

Donna's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Donna love this book?

I had heard of Dr. Mengele’s experiments in genetics in WWII, but nothing specific. I didn’t know, for example, that he looked at twins and that he tortured children.

In this book, we follow twin girls, where chapters go back and forth between their points of view. The author does a stunning job of helping us see how a given situation can be interpreted differently by different characters and how the bravura of a character might be camouflage for tremendous fear.

Here, the children are resilient and extraordinarily decent in the face of hideous choices. It is far too easy to underestimate children’s understanding of morality. I was grateful for every page of this book.

By Affinity Konar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.

That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but…


By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Book cover of Night

James Taing Author Of Under the Naga Tail: A True Story of Survival, Bravery, and Escape from the Cambodian Genocide

From the list on surviving impossible odds.

Who am I?

Since arriving as a refugee in America, my father, Mae Bunseng has always wanted to tell his story. It would take many decades later for me, as I was coming of age, to consider what exactly my father had lived through. I was shocked at what he told me and knew his story had to be told. Thus over a decade ago I worked with my him to what eventually became Under the Naga Tail. In addition to this book, along the way, a short documentary called Ghost Mountain was created and released on PBS, which is accessible for streaming here. The film would win the best documentary at the HAAPI Film Festival.

James' book list on surviving impossible odds

Why did James love this book?

The masterpiece memoir by Elie Wiesel is an astonishingly short autobiographical of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. His account of surviving a concentration camp is important as any other, a narrative that is chilling, yet with compassion put into each word. Night is a book that has to be read. Elie would become an important human rights activist and this continued beyond the subject matter of the Holocaust. During the refugee crisis on the Thai-Cambodia border in 1980, he and several other notables (such as Joan Baez, Liv Ullman, and Bayard Rustin), mobilized to bring relief assistance for Cambodians fleeing the dangerous borders of their country. When asked by a journalist why help Cambodia, he replied, “When I needed people to come, they didn't. That's why I am here.” It demonstrated Elie’s resolve and will to prevent the next genocide from happening somewhere else.

By Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (translator),

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born into a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, as a child, Elie Wiesel was sent to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. This is his account of that atrocity: the ever-increasing horrors he endured, the loss of his family and his struggle to survive in a world that stripped him of humanity, dignity and faith. Describing in simple terms the tragic murder of a people from a survivor's perspective, Night is among the most personal, intimate and poignant of all accounts of the Holocaust. A compelling consideration of the darkest side of human nature and the enduring power of…

Book cover of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Taryn R. Hutchison Author Of One Degree of Freedom

From the list on teens in Eastern Europe during WWII or the Cold War.

Who am I?

I lived in Eastern Europe for the decade immediately after the Communist regimes collapsed. It was the most exhilarating time of my life. Originally, I titled my book list “The best teen novels set in Romania during the Cold War.” But I could only come up with three (including my own). So, I expanded my search to include Eastern Europe starting in WWII. I’m the author of three books: two nonfiction and one young adult historical fiction. I now live in western North Carolina with my husband, hold an MA in Writing, and teach at the Writing Center at a small local university. 

Taryn's book list on teens in Eastern Europe during WWII or the Cold War

Why did Taryn love this book?

This middle grade book takes place during WWII. The story takes the reader from Berlin to Poland, told through the eyes of a young German boy who encounters a Jewish boy on the other side of a tall fence. I loved this book because we who know about the depravity and horror of Auschwitz can see the bleak reality from a perspective of an innocent child: a boy who thinks his thin Jewish friend is dressed in pajamas.

By John Boyne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.

If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

We hope you never have to cross such a fence.

Backing Hitler

By Robert Gellately,

Book cover of Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany

Jay Geller Author Of The Scholems: A Story of the German-Jewish Bourgeoisie from Emancipation to Destruction

From the list on Nazi German and the Holocaust.

Who am I?

Jay Geller is a professor of history and Judaic studies and has published five books on the experience of the Jews in twentieth-century Germany. He has worked with secondary school teachers, religious communities, and museums to develop programs on the Holocaust, Nazism, and dangers of intolerance and radicalism. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale University.

Jay's book list on Nazi German and the Holocaust

Why did Jay love this book?

Contrary to popular belief, the Nazis did not rely on an omnipresent secret police force to win Germans’ cooperation. A skilled combination of fear, propaganda, and self-promotion alternatively cowed Germans and manufactured their consent for this regime. In the 1930s, ordinary Germans regarded the Nazis as restoring order to a chaotic society, and a flood of denunciations helped the Gestapo with its work. At the same time, the existence of the concentration camps was no secret to ordinary Germans.

By Robert Gellately,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Nazis never won a majority in free elections, but soon after Hitler took power most people turned away from democracy and backed the Nazi regime. Hitler won growing support even as he established the secret police (Gestapo) and concentration camps. What has been in dispute for over fifty years is what the Germans knew about these camps, and in what ways were they involved in the persecution of 'race enemies', slave workers, and
social outsiders.

To answer these questions, and to explore the public sides of Nazi persecution, Robert Gellately has consulted an array of primary documents. He argues…

Book cover of The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor

Clayton Graham Author Of Saving Paludis

From Clayton's 15-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Universal explorer Multi-dimensionalist Soul searcher Animal lover

Clayton's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Clayton's 15-year-old's favorite books.

Why did Clayton's 15-year-old love this book?

My grandson loved this book because of the messages it portrayed.

The pages emphasized virtues such as love and do not take life for granted. Victory over great suffering is key to the book's story, and the fact that it was written by a centenarian extremely impressive to a teenager.   

Perhaps the greatest message, portrayed by the title, was be grateful.

By Eddie Jaku,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Happiest Man on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Eddie looked evil in the eye and met it with joy and kindness . . . [his] philosophy is life-affirming' - Daily Express

Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku made a vow to smile every day and now believes he is the 'happiest man on earth'. In his inspirational memoir, he pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story and sharing his wisdom.

Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.

Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed…

Book cover of The Devil's Arithmetic

Charlotte Herman Author Of My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes

From the list on for children on WW2 at home and across the ocean.

Who am I?

I grew up on Chicago’s home front during WW2. President Roosevelt wanted everyone—adults and children—to do their part for the war effort. So we neighborhood kids formed a Victory club, where we marched around singing, “Let’s Remember Pearl Harbor,” and other patriotic songs. And though we had fun, we understood the meaning of the gold stars in the windows, and knew that terrible things were happening on the other side of the world. There are so many wonderful books set during this time period, and I can never read enough of them. These books, along with my memories, are what inspire me to write historical fiction of my own.

Charlotte's book list on for children on WW2 at home and across the ocean

Why did Charlotte love this book?

When you open a door, you might find something unexpected on the other side. And that’s what happens to Hannah Stern when she opens the door to welcome Elijah the prophet to her family’s Passover seder, and finds herself back in time to Nazi-occupied Poland. Hannah has heard the stories of her relatives’ lives during the Holocaust, so now, as she and the other Jews of the town are being rounded up and sent away, she knows where they’re going and what awaits them.

In the camp, Hannah experiences the horrors her relatives lived through. And the next door that opens to her brings her back to the present time, with a greater appreciation and understanding of her Jewish heritage, her family, and the importance of remembering.

By Jane Yolen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

30th Anniversary edition with a new introduction from the author 

Hannah is tired of holiday gatherings−all her family ever talks about is the past. In fact, it seems to her that's what they do every Jewish holiday. But this year's Passover Seder will be different−Hannah will be mysteriously transported into the past . . . and only she knows the unspeakable horrors that await.

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award

"A triumphantly moving book." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review


By Anne Applebaum,

Book cover of Gulag: A History

Jane Rogoyska Author Of Surviving Katyn: Stalin's Polish Massacre and the Search for Truth

From the list on the recent history of Russia and Ukraine.

Who am I?

I’ve spent the past few years writing about the 1940 Katyń Massacre of 22,000 Polish prisoners of war by Stalin’s NKVD and the decades-long cover-up of their crime. My research has taken me far and wide across the recent history of eastern Europe but until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 I was convinced the events I was studying belonged firmly in the past. Now, more than ever, we need to make an effort to understand the ways in which history informs the present. I most admire writers who combine a forensic attention to detail with a deep compassion for the individuals at the heart of every story.

Jane's book list on the recent history of Russia and Ukraine

Why did Jane love this book?

A magisterial account of the brutal system of labour camps to which hundreds of thousands of people were consigned as criminals by the Soviet state. Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Varlam Shalamov offer us vivid first-hand accounts of the experience of being a prisoner in the gulag, but what Applebaum has achieved is to tell the history of an entire system without ever losing sight of the individuals who were its victims.

By Anne Applebaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • This magisterial and acclaimed history offers the first fully documented portrait of the Gulag, from its origins in the Russian Revolution, through its expansion under Stalin, to its collapse in the era of glasnost.

“A tragic testimony to how evil ideologically inspired dictatorships can be.” –The New York Times

The Gulag—a vast array of Soviet concentration camps that held millions of political and criminal prisoners—was a system of repression and punishment that terrorized the entire society, embodying the worst tendencies of Soviet communism. Applebaum intimately re-creates what life was like in the camps and links them…

The Train to Crystal City

By Jan Jarboe Russell,

Book cover of The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II

Stephanie Hinnershitz Author Of Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II

From the list on Japanese American incarceration.

Who am I?

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I learned little about Japanese American incarceration beyond the brief mention in textbooks. It wasn’t until I came across documents about incarceration camps in Arkansas that I wanted to learn more and spent the next five years exploring this subject. What I took away from my research is that even though confinement in camps only directly affected Japanese Americans, understanding how this tragedy happened is important for all Americans who value democracy. I’m a Senior Historian at the National WWII Museum and work hard to make sure that Japanese American incarceration is included in the larger history of the American home front during the war.

Stephanie's book list on Japanese American incarceration

Why did Stephanie love this book?

Was it just Japanese Americans who were detained during the war? I found myself asking this question before I started researching this topic. Sadly for me, Russell’s book was not yet published. While there are many books that detail the experiences of Germans and Italians (citizen and nationals) with internment, this book focuses on two young, American-born women—one German American, the other Japanese American—and the trials and tragedy they faced when they were detained and deported to Germany and Japan because their parents were foreign-born and eventually returned to the United States. I normally am skeptical of books described as telling “little-known” or “unknown” stories, but this book truly is an examination of an understudied event in the larger story of wartime panic, prejudice, and discrimination.

By Jan Jarboe Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Train to Crystal City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II: “A must-read….The Train to Crystal City is compelling, thought-provoking, and impossible to put down” (Star-Tribune, Minneapolis).

During World War II, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during the war, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called “quiet passage.” Hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City were exchanged…

Into That Darkness

By Gitta Sereny,

Book cover of Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience

Michael S. Bryant Author Of Confronting the "Good Death": Nazi Euthanasia on Trial, 1945-1953

From the list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes.

Who am I?

I’ve had a life-long interest in genocide dating back to my teenage years, when I read Simon Wiesenthal’s book The Murderers Among Us. Wiesenthal introduced me to the idea that governments sometimes murdered innocent people and could elude justice for their crimes. The question of human evil interacted with my theological interest in the problem of evil generally. Both genocide scholars and theologians were posing similar questions: how could people or God permit the occurrence of wanton evil when it was in their power to avoid it? And what should we do about genocide after it has happened? These questions launched my research into genocide and continue to fuel my study of this topic.

Michael's book list on pondering the worst of the Nazis’ crimes

Why did Michael love this book?

If I were asked to recommend one book on Nazi crimes, this would be it. Gitta Sereny was an Austro-British journalist who wrote history with a flair most historians can only dream of. Into that Darkness epitomizes her method of story-telling: to locate the principal actors in a historical episode and allow them to speak in their own voice. At the center is Franz Stangl, former commandant of the Treblinka and Sobibor death camps. Sereny conducted interviews with him in his jail cell, as well as with other perpetrators, death camp survivors, and witnesses.  

Sereny is too sophisticated to take the perpetrators’ words at their face. She notes Stangl’s tendencies to evade his own responsibility by insisting he didn’t act with criminal intent and hence should not have been convicted. This and similar dodges are typical of her subjects, demonstrating the very human penchant for self-justification.  

Sereny is a subtle…

By Gitta Sereny,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into That Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on 70 hours of interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka (the largest of the five Nazi extermination camps), this book bares the soul of a man who continually found ways to rationalize his role in Hitler's final solution.

The Long Night

By Ernst Israel Bornstein,

Book cover of The Long Night: A True Story

Derek Niemann Author Of A Nazi In The Family

From the list on the Holocaust from a variety of perspectives.

Who am I?

I am a Scottish writer who discovered at the age of 49 that my grandfather was an SS officer involved in the Holocaust. I wrote my book, A Nazi in the Family, to understand how a dark family secret could remain hidden for so long and I have spent the years since publication talking about my grandfather as an example of an ordinary man who turned to doing extraordinary evil.

Derek's book list on the Holocaust from a variety of perspectives

Why did Derek love this book?

The author, a keen observer of behaviour under appalling conditions, has an astonishingly wise and humane attitude that bears him through both internment and concentration camps. I have a personal interest in this book, and the writer, because I am the speaking partner of his daughter Noemie Lopian, and we talk at synagogues, schools, universities, and public events to ask for kindness, toleration, and understanding.

By Ernst Israel Bornstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Night lasted five years and eight days. Before the Night began, Ernst Bornstein was a precocious eighteen-year-old¬ who had an ordinary family with three siblings, two parents, and a large circle of friends and relatives. But in the autumn of 1939, decades of anti-Semitic propaganda turned into full-fledged violence. Bornstein's family was subsequently sent to Auschwitz where his parents and siblings were gassed to death. The Long Night is Bornstein's firsthand account of what he witnessed in seven concentration camps. Written with remarkable insight and raw emotion, The Long Night paints a portrait of human psychology in the darkest…

Book cover of The Butterfly and the Violin

Elizabeth Musser Author Of By Way of the Moonlight

From the list on time-slip with present day and WWII protagonists.

Who am I?

I’m a Southern girl from Atlanta who writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from my writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France where my husband and I have worked with a non-profit for over 30 years. I love to incorporate little-known historical facts into my award-winning and best-selling contemporary, historical, and time-slip fiction. I want my reader to find not only a good story and an interesting plot, but also the soul in my book and in my characters with themes of betrayal, regret, redemption, forgiveness, and faith that allow my reader to think, to ask questions, to laugh and cry and hope. To be entertained way down in her soul. 

Elizabeth's book list on time-slip with present day and WWII protagonists

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. Along with wealthy heir William Hanover, Sera unravels the story behind the painting’s subject, an Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron who smuggles Jews out of Vienna and finds herself in Auschwitz.

Evocative, haunting, soul searching, this debut by Cambron is time-slip historical fiction at its best: heartbreaking truth of the horrors of Auschwitz, romance with a musical refrain, art and faith. Just the kind of story I try to write. A delight.

By Kristy Cambron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the real orchestra composed of prisoners at Auschwitz, The Butterfly and the Violin shows how beauty and hope can penetrate even the darkest corners.

Present day: Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl-a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover-the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul-who may be the key…

What World is Left

By Monique Polak,

Book cover of What World is Left

Kathy Kacer Author Of Under the Iron Bridge

From the list on the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Who am I?

I'm the child of Holocaust survivors. I grew up with parents willing to talk about their survival experiences and do so in a way that wouldn't terrify me. I asked a million questions that my parents willingly answered. I grew up passionate about this history and determined to write their stories and the stories of other survivors. I'm aware that this generation of survivors is aging and passing away. Their "voices" will soon be gone. I feel a responsibility to capture these stories and write them for the next generations. I'm about to have my thirtieth book about the Holocaust published! And I've got more book ideas on the go.

Kathy's book list on the Second World War and the Holocaust

Why did Kathy love this book?

I love stories that are inspired by real people, and this is one of them; based on a true story about the author's mother who was sent to a concentration camp with her family. Anneke, the young girl of the story, must grapple with the trauma of having left behind the life she once knew. She also faces a terrible choice; standing by her father who is forced to create propaganda that conditions in the camp are good, and her own desperate need to get the truth out. The voice of the young girl is so authentic.

By Monique Polak,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What World is Left as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A pampered child used to having her own way, Anneke Van Raalte lives outside Amsterdam, where her father is a cartoonist for the Amsterdam newspaper. Though Anneke's family is Jewish, her religion means little to her. Anneke's life changes in 1942 when the Nazis invade Holland, and she and her family are deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Not only are conditions in the camp appalling, but the camp is the site of an elaborate hoax: the Nazis are determined to convince the world that Theresienstadt is an idyllic place and that European Jews are thriving under the…

The Eagles of Heart Mountain

By Bradford Pearson,

Book cover of The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America

Jim Noles Author Of Undefeated: From Basketball to Battle: West Point's Perfect Season 1944

From the list on sports during World War II that inspire me.

Who am I?

I’m an “Army brat” who attended five different middle and high schools, graduated from West Point (where I majored in international history), and later attended law school. The law is my profession, but writing is my avocation, and I’ve been fortunate to have several military histories published. I reside in Birmingham, Alabama, with my wife, our youngest son, and two untrained, incorrigible dogs. As far as my latest book is concerned, they like to say at West Point that “the history that we teach was made by people we taught.” In my case, I guess it was “the history I wrote about was made by people wearing the same uniform that I wore.”

Jim's book list on sports during World War II that inspire me

Why did Jim love this book?

The Eagles were a collection of Japanese American youth interned, with their families, at a relocation camp at the base of Heart Mountain, outside of Cody, Wyoming. In the fall of 1943, they embarked upon an undefeated high school football season, although their triumphs were tempered by the injustice of their families’ incarceration and, ironically, the looming threat of the graduating seniors being drafted into the same military that guarded the perimeter of their camp.  Pearson’s is a disturbing, but ultimately uplifting, look at a dark chapter in America’s history.

By Bradford Pearson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“One of Ten Best History Books of 2021.” —Smithsonian Magazine

For fans of The Boys in the Boat and The Storm on Our Shores, this impeccably researched, deeply moving, never-before-told “tale that ultimately stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit” (Garrett M. Graff, New York Times bestselling author) about a World War II incarceration camp in Wyoming and its extraordinary high school football team.

In the spring of 1942, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona and sent them to incarceration camps across the West. Nearly…

The Harmonica

By Tony Johnston, Ron Mazellan (illustrator),

Book cover of The Harmonica

Karen Gray Ruelle Author Of The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

From the list on courage during the holocaust.

Who am I?

I’m the author/illustrator of over 20 books for children, ranging from whimsical fiction about anthropomorphic cats and rambunctious dogs to serious nonfiction about hidden children, unusual heroes and surprising spies of WWII and the Holocaust. Several of my nonfiction books, including The Grand Mosque of Paris, were created in collaboration.

Karen's book list on courage during the holocaust

Why did Karen love this book?

This picture book was inspired by a true story about Henryk, a Jewish boy in WWII Poland. Henryk’s family loved music and enjoyed singing together. They couldn’t afford a piano, so Henryk learned to play Schubert on the harmonica his father had given him. When his parents were arrested by the Nazis, Henryk was deported to Dyhernfurth concentration camp. A Nazi guard heard him playing the harmonica and ordered the boy to play for him. Henryk didn’t want to play for the guard, but he had no choice. Then he found out that he also had another, more important audience: his fellow inmates could hear him play. His music was a gift for them, providing tremendous comfort during a time of despair. 

The text is poetic and powerful, and the illustrations, done in a dark palette, are haunting and exquisite.

By Tony Johnston, Ron Mazellan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This powerful story, inspired by the life of a Holocaust survivor, is a testament to the human spirit and the transcendent power of music.

When the Nazis invaded Poland, a family is split apart. The parents are sent to one concentration camp, their son to another. Only his father's gift, a harmonica, keeps the boy's hopes alive and, miraculously, ensures his survival. When an officer discovers his talent, he makes the boy play each night. Through music the boy invokes his parents and brings comfort to the other prisoners, lifting their spirits if only for a moment at time.


The Last Jew of Treblinka

By Chil Rajchman,

Book cover of The Last Jew of Treblinka

Patrick Hicks Author Of The Commandant of Lubizec: A Novel of the Holocaust and Operation Reinhard

From the list on the concentration camps of the Holocaust.

Who am I?

I’ve dedicated most of my writing career to the Holocaust, and in order to create novels that are historically accurate, I’ve interviewed survivors, as well as done research at many of the camps. It is one thing to study Auschwitz, but it’s an entirely different thing to walk its soil. I give lectures on the Holocaust and do readings from my novels all across the country, and I view my work as a way to open discussion about what happened in Europe between 1933-1945. As I often say, just because we live in a post-Holocaust world, does not mean we have come to understand the Holocaust.

Patrick's book list on the concentration camps of the Holocaust

Why did Patrick love this book?

When I first read this book, I didn’t know much about Treblinka, and in order to write my book I needed to read as much as I could about the extermination camps. I read Raichman’s memoir in one sitting because his account of surviving Treblinka is so immediate and visual. Whenever I’m asked about books on the Holocaust, I always recommend this one. He describes thousands of innocent people getting off trains, being separated, and then being forced to run naked up the “The Road to Heaven” and into the gas chambers. No other book captures Treblinka as well as this one does. Some 900,000 people died in Treblinka, and nearly all of them were Jewish. Raichman’s account is deeply moving, poignant, and heart-rending.

By Chil Rajchman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Quickly becoming a cornerstone of Holocaust historiography―a devastatingly stark memoir from one of the lone survivors of Treblinka.

Why do some live while so many others perish? Tiny children, old men, beautiful girls. In the gas chambers of Treblinka, all are equal. The Nazis kept the fires of Treblinka burning night and day, a central cog in the wheel of the Final Solution.

In the tradition of Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz and The Drowned and the Saved, Rajchman provides the only survivors’ record of Treblinka. Originally written in Yiddish in 1945, without hope or agenda…

Book cover of When the Emperor Was Divine

Ken Mochizuki Author Of Michi Challenges History: From Farm Girl to Costume Designer to Relentless Seeker of the Truth: The Life of Michi Nishiura Weglyn

From the list on the Japanese American World War II experience.

Who am I?

Although I was born in Seattle after the World War II years, my parents, grandparents, and aunts spent time confined at the Minidoka site, and they very rarely talked about “camp.” During the ‘80s and ‘90s, I worked as a newspaper journalist during the time of the movement to obtain redress, and I heard survivors of the camps talk about it for the first time. My acquired knowledge of the subject led to my first book in 1993, Baseball Saved Us. Since then, the camp experience has become like a longtime acquaintance with whom I remain in constant contact.

Ken's book list on the Japanese American World War II experience

Why did Ken love this book?

Among fictional versions of the World War II camp experience, this one has been cited as, thus far, “the great camp novel.”

I consider it the “Apocalypse Now” of camp novels──a hallucinatory, abstract but visceral take on one family’s Berkeley to Topaz camp journey. Early in the story, as the Japanese American mother prepares to leave her home, and with families not allowed to take their pets with them, she kills their dog with a shovel and buries it in the backyard.

Written in short, clipped sentences, the novel continues with its highly original approach to this period in history.

By Julie Otsuka,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When the Emperor Was Divine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling, award-winning author of The Buddha in the Attic and The Swimmers, this commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese American incarceration camps that is both a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and a resonant lesson for our times.

On a sunny day in Berkeley, California, in 1942, a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home…