The most recommended books on Nazi occupied France during World War II

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to Nazi occupied France, and here are their favorite Nazi occupied France 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 Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

Larry Enmon Author Of Class III Threat

From my list on spies from a retired secret service agent.

Who am I?

As a kid, I always wanted to be a Secret Service agent. As an adult, I became one. The job introduced me to the classified and shadowy world of national security. I traveled the globe, working in places I'd only read about in novels and meeting people who seemed like well-written characters from a book. When I was assigned as a liaison agent to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I attended numerous FBI and CIA schools—even the facility known as The Farm. But through it all, I read! When I retired and had time to think about what I did, I figured I'd try writing.

Larry's book list on spies from a retired secret service agent

Larry Enmon Why did Larry love this book?

I have always been fascinated with WWII war stories, especially those involving intelligence operations.

Double Cross is one of the most unbelievable stories I've ever read. It's a nonfiction book that's so incredible it almost sounds like fiction. The British scored success after success against all the German intelligence services to keep the Germans guessing about dozens of Allied military activities, including the actual site of the D-Day landings.

MI6 might get all the cool James Bond movies made about it, but MI5 was the real star of this book.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Double Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

D-Day, 6 June 1944, the turning point of the Second World War, was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the 150,000-strong invasion force.

The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence - the Bletchley Park code-breakers, MI5, MI6, SOE, Scientific Intelligence, the FBI and the French Resistance. But at its heart was the 'Double Cross System', a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee, so named because twenty…

Book cover of Occupation: The Ordeal of France 1940-1944

Ruth Druart Author Of While Paris Slept

From my list on living with the enemy.

Who am I?

I became intrigued by the German occupation of Paris when I moved here in 1993. I began to imagine how the French citizens would have lived alongside the enemy; housing them, serving them, working for them, feeding them, and even entertaining them, while hiding what was really in their hearts. This duplicity fascinated me, and I read all the books I could on the subject. Living in Paris, I also had the opportunity to talk to French people who had lived through the occupation. Putting all the pieces together, I did my best to recreate the atmosphere in my two novels.

Ruth's book list on living with the enemy

Ruth Druart Why did Ruth love this book?

This was my go-to book when I researched the occupation. Well-written and thorough, it is sensitive, well-balanced, and insightful, neither seeking to blame nor to praise, but to understand a nation in trauma. The photos and personal quotes brought it to life, and it is one of those non-fiction books that the fiction lover can appreciate. It reads seamlessly.

By Ian Ousby,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

France was slow and somewhat ineffectual in organizing resistance movement. In Occupation Ian Ousby challenges the myth that France was liberated " by the whole of France." The author explores the Nazi occupation of France with superb detail and eyewitness accounts that range from famous figures like Simone de Beauvoir, Charles de Gaulle, Andre Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre and Gertrude Stein to ordinary citizens, forgotten heroes and traitors.

Book cover of Code Name Camille: A story of trust, love and betrayal

Beth Haslam Author Of Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 1

From my list on set in France to inspire and excite the imagination.

Who am I?

My love affair with France began years ago with a holiday to St Malo. Since then, it’s been hard to stay away. Luckily, my husband felt the same way and eventually, we decided to buy a country estate in the rural southwest. Today, I write about our wacky lives here, how we refurbished our home and came to live with so many animals. We’re immersed in a quirky farming community that lives in harmony with the seasons. Honestly? Nothing much has altered for the past thirty years. It’s magical. Oh, and when we have time, we’ll explore our locality. We still have so much here to discover.

Beth's book list on set in France to inspire and excite the imagination

Beth Haslam Why did Beth love this book?

A novel set in Nazi-occupied France during World War 2? It promised to be gripping. It was.

I was quickly immersed in an oppressive environment where French citizens’ lives are strictly controlled. For many, it is a living nightmare. Failure to toe the line leads to often harrowing consequences.

This is the story of a courageous young woman who refuses to give in. She moves to Paris, where she joins the Resistance movement. Here, she is pushed to the limits of her resolve as she faces extreme danger.

Throughout, the author paints a superb picture of the period. Balanced by historical facts, the plot unfolds with vivid imagery. It is a compelling adventure with a catch that grabs the reader’s imagination. 

By Kathryn Gauci,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the USA Today runaway bestseller, The Darkest Hour Anthology: WWII Tales of Resistance.
Code Name Camille, now a standalone book.

1940: Paris under Nazi occupation. A gripping tale of resistance, suspense and love.

When the Germans invade France, twenty-one-year-old Nathalie Fontaine is living a quiet life in rural South-West France. Within months, she heads for Paris and joins the Resistance as a courier helping to organise escape routes. But Paris is fraught with danger. When several escapes are foiled by the Gestapo, the network suspects they are compromised.

Nathalie suspects one person, but after a chance encounter with a…

Book cover of The Tower's Alchemist

Devorah Fox Author Of Lady Blackwing Earns Her Mask

From my list on stories featuring a strong female character.

Who am I?

Raised on Nancy Drew who was herself outspoken and independent, I’m attracted to stories about barrier-breaking determined women who don’t back down from a fight. While many of the heroines of fantasy fiction have special abilities or can work magic, being able to stand up for oneself and speak one’s mind in the face of opposition is itself a superpower. I enjoy seeing how other authors portray it, what wrongs the heroines aim to put right, and how they do it.

Devorah's book list on stories featuring a strong female character

Devorah Fox Why did Devorah love this book?

I was fascinated with the heroine Isabella and enjoyed watching her grow throughout this series. In Book 1, The Tower's Alchemist, she is like most young women her age. She could be content to spend her time having fun with friends, reading brides' magazines, and planning a future with the man she loves. But the world is at war and the good guys need her for her unique and particular talents. She accepts what she thinks will be her last mission. It’s no small task; she aims to stop the Nazis from deploying a monstrously deadly bio-weapon. The secret service she works for and the bio-warfare were inspired by actual WWII events which made the story even more believable. By Book Three she has embraced her special powers without losing her humanity. I liked her persistence and dedication.

By Alesha Escobar, Amanda Lyons (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

British intelligence wants her spying skills. A vampiric warlock wants to steal her powers. The Master Wizards who trained her want her dead...

Nazis have unleashed occult forces throughout Europe, and the Allies are forced to recruit wizards to counter their attacks. Among them is battle weary spy, Isabella George, a Gray Tower dropout trained in Alchemy. Longing for retirement and a life of peace, she accepts one final job...extract a deadly warlock from Nazi-occupied France and prevent him from unleashing an alchemical weapon that will devour the continent.

But France is crawling with the Cruenti, vampiric warlocks who feed…

Book cover of Ticket to Freedom

Anne-Marie Walters Author Of Moondrop to Gascony

From my list on escaping from occupied France during WW2.

Who am I?

Anne-Marie Walters was born in 1923 in Geneva to a British father and French mother. At the outbreak of war in 1940, the family escaped to Britain, where Anne-Marie volunteered for the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). Having been approached by SOE in 1943, she was accepted for training and in January the following year dropped into France by parachute to work as a courier with George Starr, head of the Wheelwright circuit of the SOE in SW France. This she did until August 1944, when Starr sent her back to Britain under somewhat controversial  circumstances. Anne-Marrie was awarded the OBE in 1945 in recognition of her “personal courage and willingness to undergo danger.” 

Anne-Marie's book list on escaping from occupied France during WW2

Anne-Marie Walters Why did Anne-Marie love this book?

A gripping personal account of an airman’s adventurous escape through France and over the Pyrenees. After Herbert Spiller’s Halifax bomber crash-landed to the east of Paris in October 1942, he had the good luck to be helped by the priest and abbot of St-Dizier. They saw him safely on to a train to Paris, where he was taken under the wing of the Comet escape line and then passed south down the line and eventually over the Pyrenees … sometimes at a high cost. Several of the French people who assisted him later died either by execution or in the concentration camps. “You can imagine ... the sense of debt that hangs over me when I ponder on the fact that nine people died through helping me to live and return to duty,” Spiller writes, dedicating his book to all those who risked their lives to help him.

By H.J. Spiller,

Why should I read it?

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

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…

Book cover of Flames in the Field: The Story of Four SOE Agents in Occupied France

Shrabani Basu Author Of Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan

From my list on secret agents and espionage in WW2.

Who am I?

I am a writer of Indian origin and have always been passionate about telling the story of the involvement of Indians in both World Wars. Very few people know that 2.5 million Indian volunteered for the Second World War, the largest volunteer force in history. I have always enjoyed reading stories of intelligence operations in wartime, the role of the Resistance in occupied countries and particularly the role of women in the Second World War. I was drawn to the story of Noor Inayat Khan from all these perspectives.

Shrabani's book list on secret agents and espionage in WW2

Shrabani Basu Why did Shrabani love this book?

The story of four women agents from the SOE’s French section and their journey to a death camp in France is movingly told. They travel from different directions and come from different backgrounds but meet their tragic fate together. The book captures the spirit of resistance and their heroism.

By Rita Kramer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the true story of four women, members of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), who were sent into Nazi-occupied France during World War II, and then caught up in a web of deception which resulted in their deaths at the hands of the Gestapo. In this book, Rita Kramer pieces together the women's stories, how they came to be involved in such a dangerous operation as well as their experiences in France, and also analyzes the controversial methods of SOE at a crucial period in the war.

Book cover of The Gestapo: A History of Horror

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 my 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

Stew Ross Why did Stew love this book?

Studying the history of the German occupation of France must include a knowledge of Gestapo history and its crimes against humanity. This book is an introductory overview of the German security forces (RSHA) and in particular, Amt IV, or the Gestapo. The book focuses on the Gestapo forces in Paris and how they interacted with other security units including the Sicherheitdienst (SD), or Nazi political intelligence agency (Amt VI).

The author was imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944 after he was caught as a saboteur in the Combat resistance movement. During his post-war career, Delarue was called as a prosecution witness at Klaus Barbie’s trial, and he was assigned to investigate the French war criminal, Paul Touvier. I recommend this book to anyone who needs an overview of the Gestapo from Berlin to Paris.

By Jacques Delarue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From 1933 to 1945, the Gestapo was Nazi Germany's chief instrument of counter-espionage, political suppression, and terror. Jacques Delarue, a saboteur arrested by the Nazis in occupied France, chronicles how the land of Beethoven elevated sadism to a fine art. The Gestapo: A History of Horror draws upon Delarue's interviews with ex-Gestapo agents to deliver a multi-layered history of the force whose work included killing student resisters, establishing Aryan eugenic unions, and implementing the Final Solution. This is a probing look at the Gestapo and the fanatics and megalomaniacs who made it such a successful and heinous organization-Barbie, Eichmann, Himmler,…

Book cover of Three Hours in Paris

Rhys Bowen Author Of The Paris Assignment

From my list on brave women in WWII.

Who am I?

I am Rhys Bowen, New York Times best selling author of two historical mystery series and several Internationally best selling historical novels. Many of these take place in and around World War II. I have particularly focused on the bravery of ordinary women, the unsung heroines who risked their lives against impossible odds. My stories take place in France, Italy, as well as, England so these books resonated with me.

Rhys' book list on brave women in WWII

Rhys Bowen Why did Rhys love this book?

I’m not normally a thriller reader, but I’ve loved Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc mystery series, so I tried this. Oh, my goodness. You will hold your breath from page one until the climax.

A young woman suffers unbearable loss and then trains as a sharpshooter, sent to Paris with the goal of assassinating Hitler.

Based on the knowledge that Hitler only came to Paris for three hours and left abruptly, Cara fills in the why for us.

By Cara Black,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Three Hours in Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

Kate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Führer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of…