The best Jewish history books 📚

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

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind

By Sarah Wildman

Why this book?

A poignant, well-written and deeply researched non-fiction story of the author’s search for the girlfriend her grandfather had left behind in Vienna. As my family left Vienna because of the Nazi regime, and my own novel takes place in Vienna, I found Ms. Wildman’s book especially meaningful, raising the question not only of what had happened to the woman but also of how much guilt and responsibility the grandfather carried?

From the list:

The best books about hard times and resilience in the World War II era

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin

By Peter Gay

Why this book?

One of the foremost historians of his generation who taught for many years at Yale, Peter Gay writes with both the immediacy of a memoirist and the critical distance of a scholar looking back on his boyhood before his family escaped the Third Reich. The book is a slow burn, showing how even those not directly caught up in Nazi violence still experienced the constant lurking specter of anti-Semitism and exclusion. Gay and his family escaped (barely), but he refused to call himself a “survivor,” instead working through his own painful memories of his early years that haunted him for…

From the list:

The best books that will challenge how your think about WWII in Europe

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood

Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood

By Kate Simon

Why this book?

In this evocative memoir, the first in a series of three and a New York Times 1982 best book of the year, Simon, a travel writer, captures the world of an immigrant child growing up in the Bronx in the 1920s. Their fathers were harsh disciplinarians; mothers knew abortion to be the most effective birth control; and daughters saw poor scores in math crush their dreams. A story of triumph over the odds, of female rebellion, and of the many ways of learning, this memoir evokes a bygone world that also feels very contemporary.

From the list:

The best memoirs through the voices of women

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of All-Of-A-Kind Family

All-Of-A-Kind Family

By Sydney Taylor

Why this book?

In 1951, Sydney Taylor invented the memorable Brenners—papa, mama, five sisters, and baby brother—a Jewish family on the Lower East Side in turn-of-the-century New York. Taylor’s words and Helen John’s illustrations in this book, the first in a series, set the scene. A calendar in the parlor announced that it was 1912. Tenements lined city streets. When I read these novels as a child, I did not yet know that they were closely based on Taylor’s own life. When the entire series was republished in 2014, I quipped: I became a Jewish historian because of these books. 

From the list:

The best memoirs through the voices of women

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military

Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military

By Bryan Mark Rigg

Why this book?

Bryan has been a long-time friend and an academic colleague. His research unearthed material that was virtually unknown. The Holocaust could never be studied and presented in the same way after his book was published, and I had a small part in his research.

From the list:

The best books about military history and true stories of survival

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

By Mira Jacob

Why this book?

This graphic memoir is one of most brilliant books I’ve had the pleasure to read. In some ways, it’s a modern version of my own parents’ story. To be very clear, it isn’t actually a children’s book, but I see it as both a YA and an adult book (probably from age twelve on up because of some mature content) that could open up important “good talks” between parents and kids. It tells the real story of author Mira Jacob as she navigates her Indian American identity, her marriage to a Jewish man, her difficult in-laws, and how she tries…

From the list:

The best children’s books with both Jewish and South Asian representation

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 206 books about Jewish history

New book lists about Jewish history

All book lists about Jewish history

Bookshelves related to Jewish history

Browse books by…