The best books about the German occupation of Europe

Who picked these books? Meet our 95 experts.

95 authors created a book list connected to the German occupation of Europe, and here are their favorite German occupation of Europe books.
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The Betrayal of Anne Frank

By Rosemary Sullivan,

Book cover of The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation

Jo Horne Author Of Monica's War

From the list on unsung heroes of WWII.

Who am I?

I have had a lifelong passion for history—the choices and challenges faced by others in trying times. I find myself looking for connections and a visit to the Holocaust Museum in DC led me to just such a connection with the story of the White Rose Resistance group, sending me down a rabbit hole of research that has blossomed into years of looking for little known stories of WWII heroes and heroines. From there telling their stories through my stories has become my passion.

Jo's book list on unsung heroes of WWII

Discover why each book is one of Jo's favorite books.

Why did Jo love this book?

The Diary of Anne Frank may be the most well-known story of the Holocaust. Millions have read or seen the movie about the young girl and her family hiding in an attic room in Amsterdam until they were betrayed and taken to Auschwitz. Having visited the hiding place in Amsterdam that still holds the memory of that time, I found Sullivan’s work fascinating. She takes a familiar tale to the next level as she explores the cold case re-opened after decades by Vincent Pankoke, a retired FBI agent who painstakingly follows the trail to a startling conclusion.

By Rosemary Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'Hums with living history, human warmth and indignation' New York Times

Less a mystery unsolved than a secret well kept

The mystery has haunted generations since the Second World War: Who betrayed Anne Frank and her family? And why?

Now, thanks to radical new technology and the obsession of a retired FBI agent, this book offers an answer. Rosemary Sullivan unfolds the story in a gripping, moving narrative.

Over thirty million people have read The Diary of a Young Girl, the journal teenaged Anne Frank kept while living in an attic with her family and four other…

A Kiss from Maddalena

By Christopher Castellani,

Book cover of A Kiss from Maddalena

Elisa M. Speranza Author Of The Italian Prisoner

From the list on strong WWII female characters who aren’t spies.

Who am I?

I am the granddaughter of Irish and Italian immigrants, raised Catholic, and educated by nuns. Years ago, I heard a friend’s story about his parents: an Italian prisoner of war and a French Quarter Sicilian woman who met during World War II in New Orleans. I became determined to find out more, and connected with scholars, researchers, and families who’ve been piecing together the little-known stories of some of the 51,000 Italian POWs held in the US from 1943-1945. Their stories, and the plight of women working on the home front, inspired The Italian Prisoner.

Elisa's book list on strong WWII female characters who aren’t spies

Discover why each book is one of Elisa's favorite books.

Why did Elisa love this book?

Castellani’s warm and beautiful prose takes us on a journey with Maddelana, an innocent young woman in a tiny Italian village where everyone knows everyone. As she embarks on a journey that will change her life, we watch her future unfold across the ocean and through generations of the family she starts, immigrant descendants making a life in America. The best part is there are two more books following this one! 

By Christopher Castellani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is 1943, and Santa Cecilia has become a village of women. All the young men are away at war, except for Vito Leone, his best friend, and the shopkeeper's son. When Vito falls in love with Maddalena Picinelli, the shy and beautiful daughter of the town's most powerful family, a few obstacles appear in his path. Maddalena's sassy, iron-willed sister Carolina thinks he's a penniless fool. Her parents think his crazy mother has turned him into a mammoni, a mama's boy. But Maddalena sees another side of Vito. He's romantic. He builds a bicycle for the girls to ride.…

The Paris Architect

By Charles Belfoure,

Book cover of The Paris Architect

Victoria Arendt Author Of Broken Pencils

From the list on historical fiction set in the 1930s and 1940s.

Who am I?

Like most people, the carefree days of childhood are brought to a halt with the passage of time and the death of loved ones. As a wistful, dreamy, and introspective person, I wished to revisit the past, if only for a moment, to see what my grandparents experienced in their earlier lives. Currently, I’m under the spell of the 1930s and 1940s, and historical fiction books are an engaging way to learn about these marvelous decades.  

Victoria's book list on historical fiction set in the 1930s and 1940s

Discover why each book is one of Victoria's favorite books.

Why did Victoria love this book?

Set in Nazi-occupied Paris, The Paris Architect tells the most unusual story about an up-and-coming architect named Lucian who is offered a financially lucrative deal... but it’s a dangerous deal and one he doesn’t fully believe in. Forced to choose between safety or money, an envelope stuffed with his first payment emboldens his decision and creates a no-turning-back scenario.  

Set in the 1930s and 1940s, Charles Belfoure’s captivating writing will make you think about the past and wonder about other unsung heroes of that time.

By Charles Belfoure,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money - and maybe get him killed. But if he's clever enough, he'll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won't find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can't resist. But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to…

Snow Treasure

By Marie McSwigan,

Book cover of Snow Treasure

Sandy Brehl Author Of Odin's Promise

From the list on young characters with courage and resistance in WWII.

Who am I?

I am not Norwegian, or even Scandinavian. My interest in history came from my dad being a veteran after serving in Europe in WWII, even though he talked about it very little. I’ve always loved to read, write, and think, so I especially loved to read WWII stories and share them. After I met new friends on a trip to Norway, people who had lived through the five-year German occupation, I felt compelled to write about their experiences. Their stories, and ones like Snow Treasure, earned my deep respect, compelling me to research, and eventually to write, a novel that might capture the spirit and stories I had heard and loved.

Sandy's book list on young characters with courage and resistance in WWII

Discover why each book is one of Sandy's favorite books.

Why did Sandy love this book?

If you’ve read this, you’ll nod your head in agreement. If not, what are you waiting for? This novel was first published in 1942 and has remained in print ever since. Germany invaded neutral Norway on April 9, 1940, with massive, overwhelming forces, but was resisted from the start. I often read Snow Treasure aloud to students, hanging on every page-turn just as my students do. I always make it clear that this is a fictionalized account of the daring (and true) escape of Norway’s king and cabinet, along with their national treasure, which allowed them to continue the fight from England. When I speak about my own books, I am often asked about Snow Treasure—by adults! It’s the unforgettable book of their youth that they still believe to be entirely true. That’s a testament to terrific writing and reading!

By Marie McSwigan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An actual incident in which Norwegian children smuggled gold past the Nazis is the basis for this story of courage and patriotism

RAF On the Offensive

By Greg Baughen,

Book cover of RAF On the Offensive: The Rebirth of Tactical Air Power 1940-1941

Vic Flintham Author Of Close Call: RAF Close Air Support in the Mediterranean Volume II Sicily to Victory in Italy 1943-1945

From the list on modern military aviation.

Who am I?

Born in London at the height of the Blitz I am a retired NHS Director with a lifelong interest in military aviation. My first journal article, on the Suez Campaign, was published in 1965 since when I have written some 90 articles and eight books and have contributed chapters to several more. Most of my books are triggered by a challenge and I always try to cover ground hitherto ignored so that my books become a unique reference. Works in progress include a history of the RAF involvement in Greece from 1940 to 1950 and the work of the RAF between the wars. I live in Sherborne, Dorset, England.

Vic's book list on modern military aviation

Discover why each book is one of Vic's favorite books.

Why did Vic love this book?

Greg Baughen had written over a million words on the evolving role and functions of the Royal Air Force from its foundation in 1918 to the post-second world war period, then decided to find a publisher!

The work is thus published in a number of volumes this being the fourth. Never frightened to challenge conventional wisdom the author deals with the RAF and British Government’s preoccupation with strategic bombing at the cost of developing effective tactical air power. As he notes German occupation of much of Europe was accomplished on the ground with effective air support.

By Greg Baughen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Long before the start of the Second World War it had been believed that strategic bombing would be the deciding factor in any future conflict. Then Hitler launched the Blitzkrieg upon France and the Low Countries in 1940, and the much-vaunted French Army and the British Expeditionary Force were swept away in just six weeks.

This new form of warfare shook the Air Ministry, but the expected invasion never came and the Battle of Britain was fought in the air. It seemed that air forces operating independently could determine the course of the war. An Army scarcely seemed necessary for…

The World at Night

By Alan Furst,

Book cover of The World at Night

Victoria Weisfeld Author Of Architect of Courage

From the list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

When I say I enjoy stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, I’m talking about characters who don’t have law enforcement or Special Forces training, who aren’t martial arts experts, KGB agents, or CIA officers. I like those characters too, but they typically engage my head, not my heart. Thrown into dangerous situations, “ordinary” individuals can show tremendous courage and quick-wittedness. I can easily put myself in their shoes and empathize with their plight, which gives me a real stake in the story’s outcome. If a story is well-written, the creative ways characters respond and the strengths they discover within themselves make them true heroes to me.

Victoria's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Discover why each book is one of Victoria's favorite books.

Why did Victoria love this book?

In the early days of World War II, a Paris-based film producer tries to carry on working as usual and ignore the Nazi occupiers. Given the chance to give some minor aid to the British secret service, he agrees, and with each step, he’s drawn deeper and deeper into danger. His best–and only—weapon is his wits. Maybe at first he doesn’t think he’s taking much of a risk. But, with hindsight, I know how precarious his situation is, and I’m silently begging him not to do it! Furst’s riveting spy tales are what first attracted me to stories about ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

By Alan Furst,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The World at Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paris 1940. The civilised, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson ends with the German occupation of the city. Out of money and almost out of luck, Casson attempts to work with a German film company but finds himself drawn into the dark world of espionage and double agents. More used to evading jealous husbands than the secret police, Casson becomes a reluctant spy, torn between honour, patriotism, love and survival.

The Diary of Anne Frank

By Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett,

Book cover of The Diary of Anne Frank

Teena Raffa-Mulligan Author Of Just Write: An easy guide to story writing

From the list on books that helped shape me as a writer.

Who am I?

I can’t remember a time in my life without stories in it. I grew up in an English/Italian family where everyone’s tales about their lives captured my imagination. Books also opened a window into the wonderful world of stories and my ambition to be a writer was born. I decided to write for children in 1971 after our son was born. Ten years of rejections later, my author dream came true and my first picture book was published. It was a stranger danger story that attracted some publicity, which led to invitations to speak at schools. Inspiring children to go on their own story writing adventure has become one of my greatest joys.

Teena's book list on books that helped shape me as a writer

Discover why each book is one of Teena's favorite books.

Why did Teena love this book?

I came across Anne Frank’s diary when I was a little younger than she was when she began writing it. It had a powerful impact on me because it was a true story that offered an insight into the heart and mind of a girl close to my own age who had not survived the Holocaust. It showed me that personal experiences written in an authentic voice are an important part of our storytelling culture. They have the power to change readers’ thinking and develop empathy. Like Anne, I wanted to become a published author, but at the time I had no idea so much of my writing life would be spent focusing on fact rather than fiction.

By Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

"This Drama Play is a wonderful addition to anyone who has a passion for Anne Frank related reading. A dramatization for the stage and ready for anyone, including schools, to use."


By Stephen G. Fritz,

Book cover of Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East

Richard Overy Author Of Blood and Ruins: The Great Imperial War 1931-1945

From the list on key moments in World War II and the soldiers who fought in them.

Who am I?

I am a professional historian who has been writing books for more than forty years. Most of the books have been about war and dictatorship in the first half of the twentieth century. My last book, The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945, developed my long interest in air war history, which goes back to my first major book written in 1980 on air warfare in World War II.

Richard's book list on key moments in World War II and the soldiers who fought in them

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books.

Why did Richard love this book?

There are a great many books written on the Soviet-German conflict. In this volume, Fritz makes the most of all the recent research and his familiarity with Hitler’s military career, to create a vibrant narrative of the largest conflict in World War II. What makes this account different is Fritz’s ability to weave together the story of the campaigns and the murderous, genocidal strategies pursued by the German invader. Hitler waged two wars, against the Red Army and against the Jews. Fritz charts their twin course, making greater sense of the nature of a savage and merciless war.

By Stephen G. Fritz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On June 22, 1941, Germany launched the greatest land assault in history on the Soviet Union, an attack that Adolf Hitler deemed crucial to ensure German economic and political survival. As the key theater of the war for the Germans, the eastern front consumed enormous levels of resources and accounted for 75 percent of all German casualties. Despite the significance of this campaign to Germany and to the war as a whole, few English-language publications of the last thirty-five years have addressed these pivotal events. In Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East, Stephen G. Fritz bridges the gap…

War in Val d'Orcia

By Iris Origo,

Book cover of War in Val d'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944

Dominic Smith Author Of Return to Valetto

From the list on armchair travel through Italy and Italian history.

Who am I?

I’ve just spent the last few years writing Return to Valetto, about a nearly abandoned village in Umbria and the last ten people who live there. In 2018, I received an NEA grant to conduct research in Italy and I visited about a dozen abandoned and nearly abandoned towns all across Italy. While I was traveling, I immersed myself in books about Italy—from history and biography to memoir and fiction. The books on my list were stepping stones in my education about all things Italian and I hope you find them as transporting as I did!

Dominic's book list on armchair travel through Italy and Italian history

Discover why each book is one of Dominic's favorite books.

Why did Dominic love this book?

Reading this book was like a lightbulb going off!

Iris Origo and her husband provided refuge in their Tuscan villa during WWII for children who were fleeing the bombing up north. With incredible wit, insight, and empathy, she recounts the turmoil and the bravery of everyday Italians as they resist the fascists and the Germans.

This was an essential book as I was researching my book, acting as a window into the past and bringing sounds, sights, smells, and heartfelt emotions to life.

By Iris Origo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked War in Val d'Orcia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling diaries of WWII in Tuscany, with a new introduction by writer and social historian Virginia Nicholson, and stunning rediscovered photographsAt the height of the Second World War, Italy was being torn apart by German armies, civil war, and the eventual Allied invasion. In a corner of Tuscany, one woman - born in England, married to an Italian - kept a record of daily life in a country at war. Iris Origo's compellingly powerful diary, War in Val d'Orcia, is the spare and vivid account of what happened when a peaceful farming valley became a battleground.

At great personal…

The Paris Library

By Janet Skeslien Charles,

Book cover of The Paris Library

L.L. Abbott Author Of Our Forgotten Year

From the list on WWII historical fiction that will touch your heart.

Who am I?

I am a multi-genre-inspired reader and writer. The story is what motivates my interest and captivates my attention. The connection I have to my love of WWII-inspired Historical Fiction is drawn from the sheer strength and perseverance that millions of people had to pull from in order to survive one of the darkest moments in humanity. As a writer, I wanted to bring stories to life – to entertain and inform.

L.L.'s book list on WWII historical fiction that will touch your heart

Discover why each book is one of L.L.'s favorite books.

Why did L.L. love this book?

Books, Paris and WWII. Three things I love and Janet Skeslien Charles creates an intriguing and emotional story based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during the Second World War. Joining the resistance and fighting the enemy are themes present in The Paris Library; however, through the young Odile Souchet, the author brings to life the importance of books and libraries at the very core of our culture. Layered with betrayal, suspense, and emotion, The Paris Library is a must-read.

By Janet Skeslien Charles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



'A wonderful novel celebrating the power of books and libraries to change people's lives' JILL MANSELL

'Heart-breaking and heart-lifting and always enchanting' RUTH HOGAN

'An irresistible and utterly compelling novel that will appeal to bibliophiles and historical fiction fans alike' SUNDAY EXPRESS

'I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp . . . charming and moving' TATIANA DE ROSNAY

'An irresistible, compelling read' FIONA DAVIS

'Paris and libraries. What's not to love?!' NATASHA LESTER

'Compelling' WOMAN & HOME


The Painted Bird

By Jerzy Kosinksi,

Book cover of The Painted Bird

Timothy P. Munkeby Author Of The Advocate

From the list on transporting you to a new place in your life.

Who am I?

I spent most of my youth playing sports, and so was forced into being a closet reader, only sissies read books. I never watched TV as a kid. I was always buried in a book that transported me somewhere. These were the days when I had to read with a flashlight under the covers until I was caught and told to shut my darn book and go to sleep. This led to a degree in creative writing and a first career stint teaching the subject. Then, after retiring from founding a financial planning company, I started writing and hope I can transport others.

Timothy's book list on transporting you to a new place in your life

Discover why each book is one of Timothy's favorite books.

Why did Timothy love this book?

A comment in The Washington Star reads: “No one who reads it will forget it.” That is true. I went through every emotion imaginable from stark horror to utter innocence. The boy, escaping the Holocaust, travels on his own through the Slavic countryside where he discovers the best in people and the horrifying worst. I traveled with him. 

By Jerzy Kosinksi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jerzy Kosinski's mythic, master-work of a shattered post-War Europe.

Originally published in 1965, The Painted Bird established Jerzy Kosinski as a major literary figure. Kosinski's story follows a dark-haired, olive-skinned boy, abandoned by his parents during World War II, as he wanders alone from one village to another, sometimes hounded and tortured, only rarely sheltered and cared for. Through the juxtaposition of adolescence and the most brutal of adult experiences, Kosinski sums up a Bosch-like world of harrowing excess where senseless violence and untempered hatred are the norm. Through sparse prose and vivid imagery, Kosinski's novel is a story of…

The Book of Lost Names

By Kristin Harmel,

Book cover of The Book of Lost Names

Linda Kass Author Of A Ritchie Boy

From the list on World War II that bring history to life.

Who am I?

I am a first-generation American. My parents grew up in Eastern Europe, both experiencing Nazi persecution. They escaped to America from their respective countries, my mother from eastern Poland, my father from Austria. As such, the stories of World War II have fascinated me since childhood. I began my career as a journalist and took it upon myself to be the family historian, documenting my parents’ unique experiences. I believe in the importance of speaking out against injustice, and of bearing witness so our history of this consequential time and place is never lost. The novels I recommend take pieces of this history and bring them to life!

Linda's book list on World War II that bring history to life

Discover why each book is one of Linda's favorite books.

Why did Linda love this book?

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. Author Kristin Harmel includes meticulous research to spotlight the French Resistance figures whose bravery and immeasurable sacrifices must not be lost to history. The act of what the forger needed to turn out identity documents like birth certificates to library cards to ration cards—and the process itself—is fascinating! This is a heartrending page-turner! 

By Kristin Harmel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Book of Lost Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout the 1940s, forgers helped thousands of children escape Nazi France. In this instant New York Times bestseller, Kristin Harmel reimagines their story...

Perfect for readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Librarian of Auschwitz and The Book Thief.

In 1942, Eva is forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children escaping to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Remy, Eva realises she must find a way to preserve…

Fleeing Hitler

By Hanna Diamond,

Book cover of Fleeing Hitler: France 1940

Austin Denis Johnston Author Of 33 Days: A Memoir

From the 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

Discover why each book is one of Austin's favorite books.

Why did Austin love this book?

The first book to read on this subject. An accessible, expert synthesis of refugee experiences based on many accounts, including interviews, but focused on eight that contain extensive, significant detail (all by Paris residents, Léon Werth among them). Diamond concludes that Philippe Pétain leveraged refugees' suffering to propagandize for military capitulation and the legitimacy of his regime.

By Hanna Diamond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Wednesday 12th June 1940. The Times reported 'thousands upon thousands of Parisians leaving the capital by every possible means, preferring to abandon home and property rather than risk even temporary Nazi domination'.

As Hitler's victorious armies approached Paris, the French government abandoned the city and its people, leaving behind them an atmosphere of panic. Roads heading south filled with ordinary people fleeing for their lives with whatever personal possessions they could carry, often with no particular destination in mind. During the long, hard journey, this mass exodus of predominantly women, children, and the elderly, would face constant bombings, machine gun…

The Drama of Fallen France

By Kenneth Krauss,

Book cover of The Drama of Fallen France: Reading la Comedie sans Tickets

Yehuda Moraly Author Of Revolution in Paradise: Veiled Representations of Jewish Characters in the Cinema of Occupied France

From the list on French theater and film during German occupation.

Who am I?

I am teaching Theater studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among my courses, “The World of Theater in the Reflection of Cinema" was a notable one. My favorite film was Children of Paradise. However, I was taken aback when a friend questioned the film's alleged anti-Semitic elements. I scrutinized the character of the Old-Clothes Man, Josué, noticing his stereotypical Jewish traits. As my research went further, I discovered the original 1942 script, where Josué played a more significant role as an overt Jewish traitor, ultimately slain by the film's hero, Deburau. This revelation prompted extensive research in Paris and Jerusalem, uncovering veiled Jewish portrayals in other French films made during the German occupation.

Yehuda's book list on French theater and film during German occupation

Discover why each book is one of Yehuda's favorite books.

Why did Yehuda love this book?

This book doesn’t deal with veiled representations of Jewish Characters in French theater during German Occupation, but it decrypts subtle political messages in French Drama during this period.

It takes you on a journey into the world of dramatic works produced in Nazi-occupied Paris. It's fascinating how financial support from Vichy led to a revival of theater during that challenging time. You'll find within it well-known classics like Anouilh's Antigone but also hidden gems like Cocteau's The Typewriter.

The book doesn't stop at the past, it concludes with a look at Truffaut's The Last Métro, showing us how the present can reinterpret history. Krauss's meticulous research, including insights from archival materials, gives you a deeper understanding of the intricacies of staging and design. This work isn't just important for scholars; it's a captivating exploration that breathes life into French drama and offers unique insights into the Occupation era.

By Kenneth Krauss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Drama of Fallen France examines various dramatic works written and/or produced in Paris during the four years of Nazi occupation and explains what they may have meant to their original audiences. Because of widespread financial support from the new French government at Vichy, the former French capital underwent a renaissance of theatre during this period, and both the public playhouses and the private theatres provided an amazing array of new productions and revivals. Some of the plays considered here are well known: Anouilh's Antigone, Sartre's The Flies, Claudel's The Satin Slipper. Others have remained obscure, such as Cocteau's The…

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Dora Levy Mossanen Author Of Love and War in the Jewish Quarter

From the list on captivating World War II love stories.

Who am I?

I am a novelist, whose Persian family is comprised of a colorful cast of characters, who supply me with invaluable fodder for my historical novels. Years ago, my grandfather, Dr. Habib Levy, recounted how, when he was the dentist of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the King of Iran, the king commanded him to convert to Islam. Aware he might be uttering his last words, my grandfather had replied, Your Majesty, a man who turns his back to his faith is a traitor, and his Majesty will not want a traitor for a dentist. Now, after decades, this long past scene became the inspiration for my fifth historical novel, Love and War in the Jewish Quarter.

Dora's book list on captivating World War II love stories

Discover why each book is one of Dora's favorite books.

Why did Dora love this book?

This is a beautiful novel, and I fell in love with Marie-Laure, the twelve-year-old girl who, despite being blind, manages, with the help of her father, to learn how to navigate her way around the dangerous neighborhood of Saint-Malo as the war gets closer and closer.

Eventually, so close that the echo of German boots can be heard in the house where she is alone and hiding. I was especially in awe of Anthony Doerrs magical storytelling and his ability to seamlessly converge the stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, a German orphan and an expert in fixing radios. This is the story of a different kind of loveinnocent, selfless, and heartwarming amidst the horrors of war. 

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…

Avenue of Spies

By Alex Kershaw,

Book cover of Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters?-The False War & Vichy: Volume One A Walking Tour of Nazi-Occupied Paris, 1940−1944

From the list on the German occupation of France, 1940−1944.

Who am I?

I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking. How did I go from banking to becoming an author? I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days when the loan officer had to write their own credit memorandum. I enjoyed it so much I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Then I found a book called Walks Through Lost Paris by Leonard Pitt. As my wife and I walked through the streets of Paris, I said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did. We're about to publish our sixth book in an anticipated series of nine.

Stew's book list on the German occupation of France, 1940−1944

Discover why each book is one of Stew's favorite books.

Why did Stew love this book?

Dr. Sumner Jackson and his family lived at 11, avenue Foch, sandwiched between Gestapo interrogation offices. It is an extraordinary story of resistance by the head of the American Hospital and his family. They are caught, interrogated, and ultimately deported to various concentration camps.

The author does an excellent job of outlining the Gestapo hierarchy in Paris and describing the Nazis’ brutal methods. The family was classified as prisoners under the “Nacht und Nebel” program (“Night and Fog”) and Mr. Kershaw introduces you to Hitler’s infamous directive. The book also weaves various resistance icons into the story. These include the SOE agents, Violette Szabó, Noor Inayat Khan, and Francis Suttill.

By Alex Kershaw,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The best-selling author of The Liberator brings to life the incredible true story of an American doctor in Paris, and his heroic espionage efforts during World War II.

The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was…

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

By Mark Sullivan,

Book cover of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

A.L. Sowards Author Of A Waltz with Traitors

From the list on immersing you in the struggle for freedom.

Who am I?

I have always loved history—in both fiction and nonfiction forms. The events from history that tend to stick with me the most are stories of individuals or groups who face enormous odds in their quest to live a life of freedom. History is full of oppression, tyranny, and tragedy, but it’s also full of individuals and groups that have stood against evil, even when it’s dangerous or difficult or unlikely to succeed. Immersing myself in those stories is one of the ways I honor those who have struggled and sacrificed.

A.L.'s book list on immersing you in the struggle for freedom

Discover why each book is one of A.L.'s favorite books.

Why did A.L. love this book?

Humans are capable of such evil, and also of so much good, and it’s all there in this fictionalized account of Pino Lella’s WWII experiences.

I was captivated first by the grit and growth of this Italian teenager as he leads refugees over the mountains into Switzerland. Then I was fascinated by Pino’s enlistment and assignment to drive a car for one of the most powerful Nazis in Italy.

But Pino isn’t a Nazi, and he and his uncle see his new assignment as an opportunity to glean information for the Allies. His experiences are bittersweet—a poignant reminder that the struggle for freedom is often messy and imperfect.

By Mark Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Beneath a Scarlet Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager-obsessed with music, food, and girls-but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape…

Black Radishes

By Susan Lynn Meyer,

Book cover of Black Radishes

Sharon K. Mayhew Author Of Keep Calm and Carry On, Children

From the list on children persevering through WWII.

Who am I?

My life has been blessed by having British grandparents who lived very long lives. Grandad was in the RAF and Nanny sewed for the War Effort during WWII. They rarely spoke of their experiences until they reached their early 90s. Their memories, other family members, and friends inspired me to research the children who persevered through Operation Pied Piper. I also visited related locations in England gathering more information. The Greatest Generation had a huge impact on who I am as a person and how I treat others. My recommendation list is a sampling of some of my favorite books about perseverance. 

Sharon's book list on children persevering through WWII

Discover why each book is one of Sharon's favorite books.

Why did Sharon love this book?

After reading Susan Lynn Meyer’s book I sought her out. I didn’t expect a response, I needed to tell her how much I appreciated her book and how I adored the bond she had with her characters. It felt like she was sharing a family story. She validated my theory. Her book is based on her family’s history. Gustave is a French Jewish boy living in Paris at the beginning of the book. He watches and documents the Nazi party taking over Europe. She shares precise small details…you feel connected to what’s going on in Gustave’s life. You understand his fears as they move to a “safer” part of France. 

By Susan Lynn Meyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sydney Taylor Honor Award Winner Black Radishes is a suspenseful WWII/Holocaust story, in which one boy learns what it means to be Jewish and French at a time when everything is changing.

   Gustave doesn't want to move from the exciting city to the boring countryside, far from his cousin Jean-Paul and his best friend, the mischievous Marcel. But he has no choice. It is March of 1940, and Paris is not a safe place for Jews.
   When Paris is captured by the Nazis, Gustave knows that Marcel, Jean-Paul, and their families must make it out of the occupied zone. And…

The Postcard

By Anne Berest, Tina Kover (translator),

Book cover of The Postcard

Jayne Anne Phillips Author Of Night Watch

From the list on mothers and daughters and the trauma of war.

Who am I?

Born into a powerfully matrilineal family (my mother chose my name when she was twelve) in small town Appalachia, I believe that we inherit our parents’ unresolved emotional dilemmas as well as their physical characteristics, and that the sensual elements of places our families may have inhabited for generations are “bred in the bone.” I’ve always said that history tells us the facts, but literature tells us the story. I’m a language-conscious writer who began as a poet, so that each line has a beat and a rhythm. Words awaken our memories and the powerful unconscious knowledge we all possess. The reader meets the writer inside the story: it’s a connection of mind and heart. 

Jayne's book list on mothers and daughters and the trauma of war

Discover why each book is one of Jayne's favorite books.

Why did Jayne love this book?

An amazing imaginative blend of nonfiction and reportage, The Postcard sets a mystery in motion.

In 2003, with the rest of the Christmas holiday mail, a postcard arrives at the Paris home of Annie Berest. The card is blank but for the names of her maternal great-grandparents and their two children – all killed at Auschwitz. 

Fifteen years later, Annie and her chain-smoking mother embark on a journey: discovering the fates of the Rabinovitch family who flee the Russian revolution for Latvia, Palestine, and Paris. Annie and her mother discover secrets that shatter the present; mother and daughter question the past and accept a new reality in their own distinct ways. 

I loved both the mystery revealed and the unshakable resolve of these women, who spent years finding the truth.

By Anne Berest, Tina Kover (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Choix Goncourt Prize, Anne Berest’s The Postcard is a vivid portrait of twentieth-century Parisian intellectual and artistic life, an enthralling investigation into family secrets, and poignant tale of a Jewish family devastated by the Holocaust and partly restored through the power of storytelling.

January, 2003. Together with the usual holiday cards, an anonymous postcard is delivered to the Berest family home. On the front, a photo of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. On the back, the names of Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma, and their children, Noémie and Jacques—all killed at Auschwitz.

Fifteen years after…

Charlotte Gray

By Sebastian Faulks,

Book cover of Charlotte Gray

Sarah Steele Author Of The Schoolteacher of Saint-Michel

From the 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

Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.

Why did Sarah love this book?

There are few who have written about occupied France as transportingly and with the same level of carefully dripped research as has Sebastian Faulks. Charlotte Gray is arguably the textbook from which all other authors might learn. It is impossible to sit inside a French farmhouse kitchen alongside one of his characters and not believe you are there, nor to be drawn into the world of Charlotte as she completes her SOE training and is dropped in France to fight for her country and to discover the fate of her lover, missing RAF pilot Peter Gregory. Spies, collaborators, constant jeopardy and a cracking love story too—unmissable.

By Sebastian Faulks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A remarkable story of a Scottish woman in Occupied France pursuing a perilous mission of her own


In 1942, Charlotte Gray, a young Scottish woman, heads for Occupied France on a dual mission - officially, to run an apparently simple errand for a British special operations group and unofficially, to search for her lover, an English airman missing in action. She travels to the village of Lavaurette, dyeing her hair and changing her name to conceal her identity. As the people in the small town prepare to meet their terrible destiny, Charlotte…