The most recommended French Resistance books

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to the French Resistance, and here are their favorite French Resistance books.
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Book cover of A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

Susan Tate Ankeny Author Of The Girl and the Bombardier: A True Story of Resistance and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied France

From my list on women during WW2.

Who am I?

Susan Tate Ankeny left a career in teaching to write the story of her father’s escape from Nazi-occupied France. In 2011, after being led on his path through France by the same Resistance fighters who guided him in 1944, she felt inspired to tell the story of these brave French patriots, especially the 17-year-old- girl who risked her own life to save her father’s. Susan is a member of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, the Air Force Escape and Evasion Society, and the Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés. 

Susan's book list on women during WW2

Susan Tate Ankeny Why did Susan love this book?

This fascinating book follows 230 women, some more in-depth than others, who were imprisoned outside Paris for crimes of resistance activities. I began reading it as research and became captivated by the stories, especially the devotion the women developed for one another. I felt a deep connection to each of the prisoners as I climbed into their shoes, cheering for them to survive while fearing they would not. (The Appendix lists the 49 who survived if you want to know in advance. I didn’t.) It’s difficult to grasp what they endured over an unimaginable period of time. Just the sheer depth of their hunger is something I’ve never come close to experiencing. Moorehead keeps the tone intimate and compassionate. Yes, their suffering could be hard to read, but at the same time, I found inspiration as if they spoke to me from the past of the power of mutual dependency-…

By Caroline Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A moving and extraordinary book about courage and survival, friendship and endurance - a portrait of ordinary women who faced the horror of the holocaust together.

On an icy morning in Paris in January 1943, a group of 230 French women resisters were rounded up from the Gestapo detention camps and sent on a train to Auschwitz - the only train, in the four years of German occupation, to take women of the resistance to a death camp. Of the group, only 49 survivors would return to France.

Here is the story of these women - told for the first…


Book cover of Bruno, Chief of Police

Mary Miley Author Of Murder Off Stage

From Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Writer Traveler Reader Mother

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Mary Miley Why did Mary love this book?

I went to school in France twice and have visited that country ten times, I think, so reading the first of this series was like being back in the Dordogne region that I love so much.

The pace is gentle, the characters glow, the story transports to one of the most beautiful and historic parts of France... After reading Bruno, Chief of Police, I plowed on through all the subsequent novels in this series—I think there are 17 last time I checked. All fun, relaxing reads with good police plots.

It’s fun to compare French policing with what we know of American cops and courts—a very different system, sometimes better than ours, sometimes not. I recommend this book because, if you enjoy it, you’ll have lots more pleasure ahead with the whole series!! 

By Martin Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first Dordogne Mystery starring Bruno, Chief of Police, France's favourite cop. EU inspectors are causing havoc in the little town of St Denis and local tempers are running high, but is it really cause for murder?

Market day in the ancient town of St Denis in south-west France. EU hygiene inspectors have been swooping on France's markets, while the locals hide contraband cheese in their houses and call the Brussels bureaucrats 'Gestapo'. Local police chief Bruno supports their resistance. Although, here in what was once Vichy France, words like 'Gestapo' and 'resistance' still carry a profound resonance.

When an…


Book cover of The Black Terrorist

Christophe Corbin Author Of Revisiting the French Resistance in Cinema, Literature, Bande Dessinée, and Television (1942–2012)

From my list on the French Resistance.

Who am I?

My grandfather joined the French Resistance in his early twenties in 1942. He told me his story when I was a teenager, which has had a lasting effect on me. I have since taught college students about the French Resistance and published on the way it has been depicted in films, TV series, novels, and comics since 1942. My book Revisiting the French Resistance will appeal to those interested in the relationship between history and fiction, and/or who enjoy stories of ordinary, yet exemplary individuals who at some point of history have felt compelled to say “no” to a situation deemed unacceptable.  

Christophe's book list on the French Resistance

Christophe Corbin Why did Christophe love this book?

The Black Terrorist recounts the singular trajectory of Addi Bâ from French Guinea who arrived in France in 1938, enlisted in 1939, was taken prisoner almost immediately, escaped in 1940 and joined the Resistance in the Vosges mountains. One of the very few books or films to focus on the role played by a colonized person fighting for the colonizing power that had subjugated his people. A journey between the small-mindedness and cowardice of some and the humanity and courage of others. 

By Tierno Monénembo, C. Dickson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Black Terrorist is a fictional account built around the true, extraordinary, but little-known story of Addi Bâ. Addi Bâ was born in Guinea about 1916, brought to France in the late 1930s, and became a riflemen in the Twelfth Regiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (African soldiers from French colonies) fighting for France during World War II. Captured after the Battle of the Meuse, Addi escapes from German forces, wanders in the forests, before finding refuge in a village in the Vosges, where he encounters the French Resistance and becomes a leader of a Resistance network. However, Addi is captured, tortured,…


Book cover of Army of Shadows

Christophe Corbin Author Of Revisiting the French Resistance in Cinema, Literature, Bande Dessinée, and Television (1942–2012)

From my list on the French Resistance.

Who am I?

My grandfather joined the French Resistance in his early twenties in 1942. He told me his story when I was a teenager, which has had a lasting effect on me. I have since taught college students about the French Resistance and published on the way it has been depicted in films, TV series, novels, and comics since 1942. My book Revisiting the French Resistance will appeal to those interested in the relationship between history and fiction, and/or who enjoy stories of ordinary, yet exemplary individuals who at some point of history have felt compelled to say “no” to a situation deemed unacceptable.  

Christophe's book list on the French Resistance

Christophe Corbin Why did Christophe love this book?

Usually known in its film adaptation, Army of Shadows is certainly the most comprehensive novel about the French Resistance. Written in 1943 by one of the best novelists and journalists of the twentieth century, based on facts, it offers a kaleidoscopic view of the diverse participants of a movement sometimes considered as a monolithic entity. All of the veteran Resistance fighters I have had the chance to meet agreed that it was their favorite novel about the Resistance.   

By Joseph Kessel, Rainer J. Hanshe (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THIS IS THE TRUTH, THOUGH THE FORM IS FICTION…

The terrible and inspiring truth about the French underground, the way it’s men and women operate, fight, die, a story full of nobility, heroism, and brutal violence.

First published in its English translation in 1944, this is the fictionalized account of French writer Joseph Kessel’s own experiences as a member of the French Resistance in World War II.


Book cover of Paris

Margaret Rodenberg Author Of Finding Napoleon: A Novel

From Margaret's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author History buff Storyteller Cultural enthusiast Passionate researcher Traveler

Margaret's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Margaret Rodenberg Why did Margaret love this book?

This novel sweeps through centuries, pausing to relate interwoven stories of love, courage, and betrayal, all set on the hallowed ground that is Paris, a city I love. 

The book’s strength is that succeeding generations of several fictional families trod the same Parisian streets, chapter after chapter, through seven hundred years of history. Before long, the city feels as familiar as your hometown. 

Those families became my ancestors, their struggles my own. The long chapter on World War II brought me to tears. The whole book’s an intimate experience that leaves you homesick for the City of Lights, whether you’re a frequent visitor or an armchair tourist.

By Edward Rutherfurd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the grand master of the historical novel comes a dazzling, epic portrait of the City of Light

Internationally bestselling author Edward Rutherfurd has enchanted millions of readers with his sweeping, multigenerational dramas that illuminate the great achievements and travails throughout history. In this breathtaking saga of love, war, art, and intrigue, Rutherfurd has set his sights on the most magnificent city in the world: Paris.

Moving back and forth in time across centuries, the story unfolds through intimate and vivid tales of self-discovery, divided loyalties , passion, and long-kept secrets of characters both fictional and real, all set against…


Book cover of The Soldier's Girl

Lisbeth Eng Author Of In the Arms of the Enemy

From Lisbeth's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Amateur historian Volunteer Hopeful romantic Deep thinker Blogger

Lisbeth's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Lisbeth Eng Why did Lisbeth love this book?

In her stirring World War II novel Sharon Maas weaves an exhilarating adventure with a deeply moving personal journey.

The perilous exploits of the protagonist, Sibyl Lake, a spy for the French Resistance, will keep the pages flying by; the deftly drawn characters will remain with you long after the final page.

Sibyl, her comrades, and even her adversaries come alive as multidimensional human beings and not as the stereotypical, cartoonish figures sometimes seen in World War II fiction.

If you’re ready to be jarred by shocking plot twists or to have your heart melted by tender love scenes, then this is the book for you.

By Sharon Maas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

France 1944 and the streets are filled with swastikas. The story of a brave English girl behind enemy lines, a German soldier, and a terrible sacrifice…

When young English nurse Sibyl Lake is recruited as a spy to support the French resistance, she doesn’t realise the ultimate price she will end up paying. She arrives in Colmar, a French town surrounded by vineyards and swarming with German soldiers, but her fear is dampened by the joy of being reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jacques.

Sibyl’s arrival has not gone unnoticed by Commander Wolfgang von Haagan and she realises that letting…


Book cover of Outwitting the Gestapo

Christophe Corbin Author Of Revisiting the French Resistance in Cinema, Literature, Bande Dessinée, and Television (1942–2012)

From my list on the French Resistance.

Who am I?

My grandfather joined the French Resistance in his early twenties in 1942. He told me his story when I was a teenager, which has had a lasting effect on me. I have since taught college students about the French Resistance and published on the way it has been depicted in films, TV series, novels, and comics since 1942. My book Revisiting the French Resistance will appeal to those interested in the relationship between history and fiction, and/or who enjoy stories of ordinary, yet exemplary individuals who at some point of history have felt compelled to say “no” to a situation deemed unacceptable.  

Christophe's book list on the French Resistance

Christophe Corbin Why did Christophe love this book?

The memoirs of freedom fighter Lucie Aubrac were written in a form of a diary kept during the nine months of her pregnancy during which, in addition to teaching history and raising her first child, the Resistance heroine managed to free her husband from the hands of the “Butcher of Lyons,” Gestapo officer Klaus Barbie, before flying to London to join the French Free Forces. A beautiful love story of a couple caught in the meshes of history and one of the very few personal accounts by and about a woman to shed light on a blind spot of history

By Lucie Aubrac, Konrad Bieber (translator), Betsy Wing (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lucie Aubrac (1912-2007), of Catholic and peasant background, was teaching history in a Lyon girls' school and newly married to Raymond, a Jewish engineer, when World War II broke out and divided France. The couple, living in the Vichy zone, soon joined the Resistance movement in opposition to the Nazis and their collaborators. Outwitting the Gestapo is Lucie's harrowing account of her participation in the Resistance: of the months when, though pregnant, she planned and took part in raids to free comrades-including her husband, under Nazi death sentence-from the prisons of Klaus Barbie, the infamous Butcher of Lyon. Her book…


Book cover of The Historian’s Craft

Rannfrid Thelle Author Of Discovering Babylon

From my list on history about how we know the past.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved stories about people, places, and times other than those I can know myself. As a child, I was fascinated by a book of stories from “the steppes” of Central Asia. My drive to know more has taken me (through books or physically) along the Silk Road, given me tales from ancient Mesopotamia, shown me glimpses into the lives of Orthodox Jewish women, European immigrants to the “New World,” survivors of the transatlantic slave trade or the Korean War, and many other cultures and experiences. I am basically awe-struck by what humans have thought, created, suffered, and sung about throughout times and places. 

Rannfrid's book list on history about how we know the past

Rannfrid Thelle Why did Rannfrid love this book?

I read this book as a college student while on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Athens, Greece. As I sat reading while intermittently gazing at the view of the Acropolis from my hotel balcony, a frappe at my side, the book captivated me.

Written by a world-renowned historian in response to his son’s question, “What is history?”, this book opened vistas of reflection about our connections with past cultures and why we do history.

In a present where we are often being pushed to look forward, to innovate, and move on, The Historian’s Craft helped me to better articulate the value of understanding history. Surrounded by the rich cultural heritage of ancient Greece, this book just made perfect sense.

By Marc Bloch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Historian’s Craft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work, by the co-founder of the "Annales School" deals with the uses and methods of history. It is useful for students of history, teachers of historiography and all those interested in the writings of the Annales school.


Book cover of Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes

Samuel Woolley Author Of Manufacturing Consensus: Understanding Propaganda in the Era of Automation and Anonymity

From my list on helping you navigate the disinformation deluge.

Who am I?

I’ve always been intrigued by politics and the tools and tactics people use in attempts to gain and maintain power. Since 2010, I’ve been researching and writing about propaganda and digital media. With collaborators at the University of Washington, the University of Oxford, and—currently—the University of Texas at Austin, I’ve done groundbreaking work on computational propaganda: the use of algorithms and automation in attempts to control public opinion. I’ve also worked with numerous think tanks, news organizations, policymakers, and private firms in efforts to make sense of our current informational challenges. In the summer of 2022 I testified before the U.S. congress on election-oriented disinformation challenges faced by communities of color.   

Samuel's book list on helping you navigate the disinformation deluge

Samuel Woolley Why did Samuel love this book?

This is another classic work in the subfield of propaganda studies, and it’s pretty dense. That said, its arguments on how technology and propaganda come together to enable mediated control of our very thought are powerful. Ellul’s point that propaganda is a sociological phenomenon—something that surrounds us in everything we do, everything we watch, everything we listen to—have also aided me in understanding why experimental or lab-based attempts to understand the specific effects of disinformation and propaganda often come up short. It’s difficult to study these things in a vacuum because they are so contextual, so tied to who is spreading the message, how they are spreading it, what their intentions are, and who they are targeting etc.  

By Jacques Ellul,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This seminal study and critique of propaganda from one of the greatest French philosophers of the 20th century is as relevant today as when it was first published in 1962. Taking not only a psychological approach, but a sociological approach as well, Ellul’s book outlines the taxonomy for propaganda, and ultimately, it’s destructive nature towards democracy. Drawing from his own experiences fighting for the French resistance against the Vichy regime, Ellul offers a unique insight into the propaganda machine.


Book cover of Never Forget You

Sarah Steele Author Of The Schoolteacher of Saint-Michel

From my list on formidable females in Nazi-occupied France.

Who am I?

Having spent much time in France, I’ve been party to some incredible stories of the war years. The beautiful home owned by friends was once gifted by General De Gaulle to the village baker for his work hiding Resistance messages in loaves of bread; 90-year-old Jeanne remembers her father hiding Jewish families and helping them cross into free France; woodlands are punctuated by wooden crosses marking execution sites. For a writer, this is irresistible material, and it has been an honour to write The Schoolteacher of Saint-Michel and The Lost Song of Paris in tribute to the many acts of bravery and resistance over four long years of German occupation.

Sarah's book list on formidable females in Nazi-occupied France

Sarah Steele Why did Sarah love this book?

Jamila Gavin is best known for Coram Boy, which enjoyed huge success and went on to become a stage production. Her latest book is an incredibly moving story of four schoolfriends who go on to take very different and equally demanding roles during World War Two. The character of Noor is based on the real-life SOE agent Noor Inayat Khan, an Indian princess who served as a wireless operator in Nazi-occupied Paris. This is a beautifully written, emotionally engaging story of women barely in their twenties, and a harrowing insight into life in Paris for Jewish families and those working to help them. 

By Jamila Gavin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Never Forget You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A stunning and heartbreaking new novel from Jamila Gavin, the bestselling and award-winning author of Coram Boy and The Wheel of Surya.

England, 1937.

Gwen, Noor, Dodo and Vera are four very different teenage girls, with something in common. Their parents are all abroad, leaving them in their English boarding school, where they soon form an intense friendship. The four friends think that no matter what, they will always have each other. Then the war comes.

The girls find themselves flung to different corners of the war, from the flying planes in the Air Transport Auxiliary to going undercover in…