The most recommended POW books

Who picked these books? Meet our 89 experts.

89 authors created a book list connected to prisoner of war, and here are their favorite prisoner of war books.
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Book cover of Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WWII Prisoner of War Camps

Robert C. Daniels Author Of 1220 Days: The Story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and His Experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps During World War II

From my list on World War II POWs.

Why am I passionate about this?

History has always been a strong part of me since I can remember. My heart has always laid in reading, studying, researching, and writing about it, and World War II history is a large part of that. When writing about World War II, I like to visit topics that relate to the everyday person, not well-known generals and admirals. I like to interview people about their experiences and write their stories, what they saw, lived through, witnessed. Both of my books are based upon this concept, how everyday people lived their lives during World War II.

Robert's book list on World War II POWs

Robert C. Daniels Why did Robert love this book?

Stalag Wisconsin is an excellent account of World War II POWs housed in Wisconsin. Growing up in Wisconsin, including in a town that had actually contained one of these POW camps, I had never heard of such a thing happening. My parents, aunts, uncles, and even teachers never mentioned the subject. Most interesting, at least to me, is that, as the book states, the local peoples treated the POWs with respect and kindness. This, I found most interesting as a juxtaposition to how both the Japanese and to an extent the Germans were at that very same time treating U.S. POWs held in their ‘care’.

By Betty Cowley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

STALAG WISCONSIN: Inside WW II prisoner-of-war camps is a comprehensive look inside Wisconsin's 38 branch camps that held 20,000 Nazi and Japanese prisoners of war during World War II. Many of these prisoners blended with the local community, drinking at taverns and even dating local girls. Some returned and settled in Wisconsin after their release. Their familiarity with local residents caused resentment by returning soliders who had battled them in Europe and Asia.


Book cover of A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald: The Joe Moser Story

Kent Hinckley Author Of Second Chance Against the Third Reich: U.S. Colonel Rescues His Daughter From the Nazis

From my list on World War 2 through the eyes of an individual.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied World War 2 for thirty years not so much about the killing, but to see how the Allies developed strategies to win the battles. So many decisions and so many sacrifices were made which give me pause about how great our leaders were even with their mistakes. They orchestrated the war in a grand panorama as well as focused on tactics to take a key bridge. I served in Vietnam but WW2 was different in almost every way. Recently I have focused on the effects of shell shock (WW1) and battle fatigue (WW2) known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD remains in the forefront from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. I have even counseled soldiers and families about PTSD.

Kent's book list on World War 2 through the eyes of an individual

Kent Hinckley Why did Kent love this book?

During August 1944, Joe Mower’s P-38 was shot down, and Nazi forces sent him to Buchenwald—the infamous work camp where tens of thousands died of cruelty, medical experiments, and starvation. It’s a story of survival in the worst of situations.

By Joseph F. Moser, Gerald R. Baron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On August 13, 1944, during his 44th combat mission, Joe Moser's P-38 Lightning was shot down. Captured by Nazi forces, he and his fellow group of Allied fliers were scheduled for execution as “terrorfliegers” and shipped in overcrowded cattle cars to Buchenwald—the infamous work camp where tens of thousands died of cruelty, medical experiments, and starvation. Once a simple farm boy focused on sports and his dream to fly the fastest, meanest fighter plane, Moser now faced some of the worst of Hitler’s ghastly system. From the harrowing and sometimes hilarious experiences of flight training to the dehumanization at the…


Book cover of The Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness

Georgina Banks Author Of Back to Bangka: Searching For The Truth About A Wartime Massacre

From my list on truth-seeking post WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick – in their unseen inner world. In my twenties, I literally embodied others in my work as an actor. In my thirties, I studied applied psychology and sat alongside others and talked. In my forties, I started my consulting business Changeable, working with group and organizational dynamics. Now in my fifties, I am accessing inner worlds through writing, placing myself imaginatively into other people and places. I have merely scratched the surface. These post-WWII books give a gripping, personal, and scorching window into truth-seeking. 

Georgina's book list on truth-seeking post WWII

Georgina Banks Why did Georgina love this book?

This is a story about brutality, justice, and mercy, set amongst the aftermath of Lomax’s experiences as a POW in WWII. With a steady gaze he faces the depths of human barbarity and reckons with his own emotional responses.

Lomax confronts his previous captor wanting retribution, but instead makes an astonishing decision that changes the course of hatred for both him and his perpetrator. I also grappled with the shadows of dark acts committed against my family - even all these years later. 

By Eric Lomax,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING COLIN FIRTH, NICOLE KIDMAN AND JEREMY IRVINE

During the second world war Eric Lomax was forced to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway and was tortured by the Japanese for making a crude radio.

Left emotionally scarred and unable to form normal relationships Lomax suffered for years until, with the help of his wife Patti and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, he came to terms with what had happened and, fifty years after the terrible events, was able to meet one of his tormentors.

The Railway Man is an…


Book cover of Biggles of 266

Iain Stewart Author Of Knights of the Air, Book 1: Rage

From my list on WW1 flying that takes you into the skies.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was a pilot in WW2 and I learned to fly in Africa when I was 17. Subsequently I flew biplanes, some of them like the ones in these books, made of wood, glue, and fabric. Since childhood, I've been fascinated by flying in WW1. It was a time of incredible change. The dawn of aviation, when designers and pilots barely understood what they were doing. Biographies written at the time are typically laconic, “emotionally repressed” might be modern. So these novels help us understand today some of those stresses and joys of these remarkable adventurers who dared to undertake what mankind had never done before; fight in the heavens.

Iain's book list on WW1 flying that takes you into the skies

Iain Stewart Why did Iain love this book?

Johns wrote nearly 100 Biggles books, with this one published amongst the first in 1932. He actually fought in WW1 as a pilot, then was shot down, and became a prisoner of war. So he certainly knows whereof he speaks, and this carries through in his descriptions of fighting in the air and the loss of friends. Nevertheless, this book is essentially light-hearted despite its moments of pathos, being aimed primarily at what would be called today “young adults.” I loved them as a boy and love them today as an adult. The plot and characters are not complex, but if you want to be entertained while finding out how a pilot who fought in the conflict approached WW1 flying, this is an excellent and enjoyable read by someone who was there.

By Captain W.E. Johns,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Biggles of 266 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Longest Echo

JuliAnne Sisung Author Of Curse of the Damselfly

From my list on unconventional, courageous women.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, my mother and I shared and discussed Zane Grey books. I loved his portrayal of the past and read every one. My obsession with historical fiction grew, and I wrote my first draft of Elephant in the Room at age sixteen. I’m stuck in the period between 1875 and 1940 because of the simplicity driving life as well as the complexity of larger events changing the world. Wilder, Steinbeck, Twain, all picked me off my feet and set me down in their shoes. I’m not able to remove them. I write about courageous women because we are, whether it’s expressed or is in waiting.  

JuliAnne's book list on unconventional, courageous women

JuliAnne Sisung Why did JuliAnne love this book?

Set in Italy during WWII, Liliana Nicoletti becomes involved in the partisan cause to save her country from the Germans. When her family encounters an escaped POW, she learns what it means to fight the Fascists who are destroying her community and joins the resistance.  

Her mother and sisters shot, mud and blood streaming over her face, she picks up the rifle she hadn’t used in years and vows to find her father. Realistic and horrific, the first half of the tale paints a picture of courage beyond what we imagine possible and of relationships formed from the tangled threads of love and need. After the war, angst mixes with hope as Liliana and James search for the men who slaughtered innocent people. Is justice or revenge driving her?

The author drew me into the story with vivid details and kept me on the edge of my seat with twists and turns. I cared…

By Eoin Dempsey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Against the backdrop of WWII-ravaged Italy comes a powerful and emotional novel of love, survival, justice, and second chances by the bestselling author of White Rose, Black Forest.

Occupied Italy, 1944. In the mountain regions south of Bologna, Liliana Nicoletti's family finds escaped POW James Foley behind German lines. Committed to the anti-Fascist cause, they deliver him to a powerful band of local partisans. But when the SS launches a brutal attack against the Resistance, Liliana's peaceful community is destroyed. Alone and thrown together by tragedy, James and Liliana fight together as Monte Sole burns. Forging an unbreakable bond, they…


Book cover of P.O.W.: A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-Of-War Experience in Vietnam, 1964-1973

Thomas R. Yarborough Author Of A Shau Valor: American Combat Operations in the Valley of Death, 1963-1971

From my list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot).

Why am I passionate about this?

A decorated Air Force combat pilot, Tom Yarborough served two tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. After leaving the Air Force he was a professor and department chair at Indiana University and history professor at Northern Virginia Community College. His writing background includes the books Da Nang Diary, winner of the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for the best memoir of 2014, and A Shau Valor, a finalist for the 2016 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award.

Thomas' book list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot)

Thomas R. Yarborough Why did Thomas love this book?

No person who had any feelings about the Vietnam War, pro or con, can in good conscience not read John Hubbell’s P.O.W., a powerful and intense account of American prisoners of war in Vietnam. Hubbell does a masterful job of detailing the incredible courage, heroism, and sacrifice in the face of terrifying torture, starvation, and incredible loneliness. For the POWs, mental and physical pain existed not for hours or days but for months and years; the pain was induced by inept and ignorant captors whose brutality was their government's policy. Above all, P.O.W. is a testament to these American heroes’ bedrock belief in God, self, comrade, and country.

By Andrew Jones, Kenneth Y Tomlinson, John G Hubbell

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"With the first page the book explodes ... a story of fortitude and patriotism to inspire generations of Americans to come." Philadelphia Evening Bulletin "It's to our experience as Blackstone is to the law." Col. George E. "Bud" Day, USAF (Ret.), attorney, former POW and Medal of Honor winner


Book cover of The Garden of Evening Mists

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

From my list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto.

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

David Joiner Why did David love this book?

This is a novel whose beautiful writing adds layers to this highly engaging story told from multiple time periods in a Malaysian woman’s life. Although the novel mostly plays out in Malaysia, it involves a Japanese character of great significance to the story and explores in engaging detail the art of Japanese gardening and the Malay experience of Japanese wartime colonialism. This is an important book, and while it won many awards, including the 2012 Man Booker Prize, I hope the book remains in the reading public’s eye for a long time. I greatly envy writing that can carry emotion this weighty while exhibiting such beauty and depth both in its character development and description of time and place.

By Tan Twan Eng,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon comes." Then she can design a garden for herself.…


Book cover of Evidence Not Seen: A Woman's Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II

Carole McDonnell Author Of Wind Follower

From Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Armchair anthropologist Asian drama addict Christian Perseverer

Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Carole's 10, and 12-year-old's favorite books.

Carole McDonnell Why did Carole love this book?

I’ve been going through a spiritual crisis for a while because of my son’s health and my own health. I decided to read religious books published before the 1950s, books whose theologies were free from American priorities. I wanted to understand suffering and endurance and read many books by Asian Christians, imprisoned martyrs, and missionaries.

Evidence Not Seen has tons of suffering and perseverance. The human soul needs books about heroes or people who triumph – especially for a spiritual, personal, or religious cause.

I knew little about the war’s effects on people in New Guinea and next to nothing about how the Japanese mistreated the white, native, and foreign communities on the island. Darlene Deibler Rose was a young missionary there, and her account is just plain harrowing. 

I kept thinking, “I could not endure any of this. Wow, some folks definitely have it worse than I do.”

By Darlene Deibler Rose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evidence Not Seen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The True Story of One Woman's Triumph of Faith

Newlywed American missionary Darlene Deibler Rose survived four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp set deep in the jungles of New Guinea. Thinking she was never to see her husband again, Darlene Rose was forced to sign a false confession and face the executioner's sword, only to be miraculously spared.


Book cover of Echoes of Captivity 2020: In 1945, Far East Prisoners of War returned to their families. But their war was not over ....

Cecil Lowry Author Of Frank Pantridge MC: Japanese Prisoner of War and Inventor of the Portable Defibrillator

From my list on prisoners of war held by the Japanese during WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father was taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February 1942. He spent three and a half years slaving on the Thai Burma railway. During my early years growing up, my father rarely talked about his experiences, and it wasn't until after he died in 1990 that I became interested in what he went through as a prisoner of war. Since then, I've spent my time researching the Japanese prisoner of war experiences and have read countless books on the subject. I myself have published four books and I consider myself one of the leading experts on the Japanese prisoner of war experience.

Cecil's book list on prisoners of war held by the Japanese during WW2

Cecil Lowry Why did Cecil love this book?

In 1941/2 the Japanese took more than 100,000 allied prisoners of war in the Far East. These prisoners were used as slave labour on the death railway and across the region. More than 1/4 of all prisoners died from starvation, overwork, torture, or tropical disease. These harrowing experiences in captivity have been chronicled in detail, but the story of what happened after they returned home has rarely been told. For many the war did not end in 1945 and for decades to come, former prisoners had nightmares and flashbacks. Their wives and families struggled to cope with damaged men who couldn't find the words to talk about their experiences. The echoes of captivity carried on right to the end of the survivors' lives and continue today in the lives of their children.

Book cover of The Long Road Home: An account of the author's experiences as a prisoner-of-war in the hands of the Germans during the Second World War

Ken Scott Author Of Do the Birds Still Sing in Hell?

From my list on WWII prisoner of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied WW2 and prisoners of war during that period for more than 20 years. They're very much the forgotten soldiers of war in my opinion. Few spoke of their treatment and brutality at the hands of the enemy, starvation, and the psychological effects that they lived with for many years afterward. Marriages fell apart, alcoholism was commonplace and many committed suicide, during a time where the term PTSD hadn't been invented. I've selected books that tell the story from several different perspectives. There were good and bad on all sides and for every ten stories of brutality and murder, there were another ten stories of good men and women who did their best to help the POWs survive.

Ken's book list on WWII prisoner of war

Ken Scott Why did Ken love this book?

Another prisoner who lost five years of his life to Nazi tyranny. A real honest and at times, brutal account of what it was like in a German POW camp during WWII. It begins with the soldier's capture in Northern France, and the horrendous journey just to get to the camp in Germany. A story that captures the hopes and the hopelessness of these young men, who at first believed it, 'would be all over by Christmas' and endured year after year staring down the barrel of a gun behind barbed wire, wondering where the next meal would come from. 
A very well-written, emotional journey, not for the faint-hearted.

By Adrian Vincent,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The honest account of one prisoner-of-war’s struggle to survive through five years of Nazi imprisonment. An essential book for readers of Horace Greasley, Alistair Urquhart and Heather Morris.

On a cold May morning in 1940, Adrian Vincent arrived in France with his battalion.

His war didn’t last long.

Within five days the Siege of Calais was over and nearly all his comrades were killed, wounded or, like him, taken prisoner.

After a brutal journey across the breadth of Germany, Vincent and his fellow survivors began their life in Stalag VIIIB, set to work in terrible conditions down a Polish mine.…