The most recommended World War 2 books

Who picked these books? Meet our 671 experts.

We asked 9,000+ authors for their favorite books. 671 authors picked a book connected to World War 2, here are their favorites and why. Also, check out the best WW2 fiction and nonfiction

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Book cover of Memories of War: Micronesians in the Pacific War

Lin Poyer Author Of The Typhoon of War: Micronesian Experiences of the Pacific War

From my list on the indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands.

Who are we?

We are three anthropologists who have focused decades of research on the cultures and histories of the beautiful part of the world known as Micronesia. We wrote this book when we realized that the many volumes of history on War in the Pacific focused on the combatants, and told us little of the experiences of the Islanders across whose lands, seas, and airspace the war was fought. Kwajalein, Enewetak, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Peleliu, Saipan, Guam, Tinian—these were not just battlegrounds, but also precious homelands. Our goal was to combine documentary history with interviews of more than 300 elders to tell the story of the war in Micronesia as it was experienced by Islanders who lived through it.

Lin's book list on the indigenous experiences of WW2 in the Pacific Islands

Lin Poyer Why did Lin love this book?

In this follow-up to Typhoon Of War, we focus on Micronesians’ memories of World War II—the stories they tell, the songs they sing, and their recollections of those years of trauma and excitement. The book includes many personal stories and describes how Islanders think about the way years, and how they pass on those memories to the next generation. The book reveals much about how Islanders lived through bombing, forced labor, family separation, displacement, invasion, and other stresses of war. The poignant and evocative stories and songs showcase Micronesian cultural themes and verbal artistry.

By Lin Poyer, Laurence Marshall Carucci, Suzanne Falgout

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Micronesians often liken the Pacific War to a typhoon, one that swept away their former lives and brought dramatic changes to their understandings of the world and their places in it. Yet Pacific War histories scarcely mention the Islanders across whose lands and seas the fighting waged.""Memories of War"" sets out to fill that historical gap by presenting the missing voices of Micronesians and by viewing those years from their perspectives. The focus is on Micronesian remembrances - the ritual commemorations, features of the landscape, stories, dances, and songs that keep their memories of the conflict alive. The inclusion of…

Book cover of Edson's Raiders: The 1st Marine Raider Battalion in World War II

Johnnie M. Clark Author Of Guns Up!: A Firsthand Account of the Vietnam War

From my list on war and the Marines.

Who am I?

As a combat Marine, I believe these books honor the brave men who served and died for America. I joined the Marine Corps at 17 years of age after graduating from St. Petersburg High School. I served as a machine gunner with the famed 5th Marine Regiment during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. I was wounded 3 times by mortar round, grenade, and gunshot. I've written nine books around these subjects as well as an off-Broadway stage play titled The Battle For Nong Son. Many of my books are recommended reading for all newly commissioned officers at The Basic School. I am the recipient of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association Brigadier General Robert L. Denig Memorial Distinguished Service Award for writing, as well as the Silver Star, 3 Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, the Civil Action Combat Medal, and the Marine Combat Ribbon among other decorations.

Johnnie's book list on war and the Marines

Johnnie M. Clark Why did Johnnie love this book?

When I was writing Gunner’s Glory and needed to know real details about Edson’s Raiders on Guadalcanal, an old Raider named Cpl. Ted Eleston told me to read this book. Mr. Alexander is a retired Marine Colonel, and his research in writing this book is fabulous. Old Ted wanted it made clear that for the record, our first so-called “Special Forces” were just a bunch of very hard men taken from the 5th Marine Regiment and named Raiders.

By Col. Joseph H. Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The men of 1st U.S. Marine Raider Battalion, known by the name of its legendary commander Merritt Edson, provided the vanguard of an experiment with special lightly armed commando units in the Pacific.

On August 7, 1942, together with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, they landed on Tulagi, British Solomon Islands. Two days of severe fighting secured this strategic island in the Battle of Tulagi. After relocating to Guadalcanal they conducted raids on Savo Island and at Tasimboko, on Guadalcanal.

From 1942 to 1943, they fought seven critical battles in the Solomon Islands against some of Japan's most experienced jungle…

Book cover of Andy Catlett: Early Travels

Susan M Soesbe Author Of Bringing Mom Home: How Two Sisters Moved Their Mother Out of Assisted Living to Care For Her Under One Amazingly Large Roof

From Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Bible nerd Fiction book coach Organizer of stuff History buff English language acquisition facilitator

Susan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Susan M Soesbe Why did Susan love this book?

I savored this account of a boy’s Christmas visit to his two sets of grandparents. The key to the exquisiteness of this book is its point of view. The narrator is nobody special.

Yet he, like all of us past a certain age, brings the perspective of maturity. He pulls back the curtain and shows readers the quiet love in an ordinary family.

Andy Catlett showed me that wisdom is a treasure painfully earned, which can be shared with those willing to receive it. Berry’s narrative is slow, rich, and beautiful.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Andy Catlett as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A young boy takes a trip on his own to visit his grandparents in Kentucky in this luminous entry in the acclaimed Port William series.

In this “eloquent distillation of Berry’s favorite themes: the importance of family, community and respect for the land” (Kirkus Reviews), nine-year-old Andy Catlett embarks on a solo trip by bus to visit his grandparents in Port William, Kentucky, during the Christmas of 1943. Full of “nostalgic, admiring detail” (Publishers Weekly), Andy observes the modern world crowding out the old ways, and the people he encounters become touchstones for his understanding of a precious and imperiled…

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

Book cover of Dinner with Churchill

Robin Hawdon Author Of Number Ten

New book alert!

Who am I?

My writing is eclectic and covers many topics. However, all my books tend to have a thriller element to them. Perhaps it's my career as an actor and playwright which has instilled the need to create suspense in all my writings. I sometimes feel that distinguished authors can get so carried away with their literary descriptions and philosophical insights that they forget to keep the story going! It is the need to know what happens next that keeps the reader turning the pages. Perhaps in achieving that some subtlety has to be sacrificed, but, hey, you don't read a political thriller to study the philosophical problems of governing nations!

Robin's book list on lone heroes and threats to national security

What is my book about?

This is a new novel by one of the UK's most prolific writers. It is based around an extraordinary true incident at the start of World War II when fierce political opponents Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain encountered each other at a famous dinner party. Seen from the perspective of Lucy Armitage, a young girl suddenly conscripted by a strange stroke of fate into Churchill's overworked but adoring team of secretaries.

As Churchill prepares to take over the leadership of the nation, Lucy finds herself increasingly involved in her famous employer's phenomenal work output and eccentric habits. When romance and the world of espionage impinge on her life, she becomes a vital part of the eternal struggle between good and evil regimes that still exists today.

Dinner with Churchill

By Robin Hawdon,

What is this book about?

It is on historical record that, on the evening of October 13th 1939, six weeks after war had been declared on Hitler's Germany, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, fierce and implacable opponents for years over the appeasement issue, met together with their two wives, Clementine and Anne, for a private dinner at Admiralty House, and event which caused ripples throughout Westminster.

Chamberlain was still Prime Minister, but had seen all his efforts to negotiate peace with Hitler shattered. Churchill had been recalled to the cabinet after ten years 'in the wilderness', his dire warnings of the Nazi threat vindicated.


Book cover of Hornet Flight

Cristina Loggia Author Of Lucifer's Game: An Emotional and Gut-Wrenching World War II Spy Thriller

From my list on World War 2 for people who love history and fiction.

Who am I?

I am a former journalist and corporate public relations expert with a Ph.D. in Foreign Languages, I’ve always been passionate about World War 2 history and truly fascinated by the deceptions put in place by both the Allies and the Axis. I believe that a story that mixes fiction with history is highly powerful and evocative. I set my debut novel in the Rome in 1942 because I was inspired by the numerous stories heard from both my grandfathers who fought in the war and because Fascist Italy is not as well-known as it should be. As one of the very few female thriller writers in this genre, I wanted to celebrate the contribution of women in World War 2!

Cristina's book list on World War 2 for people who love history and fiction

Cristina Loggia Why did Cristina love this book?

Another great thriller by Follett, what I found different and interesting for this book was the setting, Nazi-occupied Denmark during World War 2. The mixing of fictional and historical events is well accomplished. Typical of Follett, the novel presents intertwining stories in an adept way that builds tension throughout. It is very well researched and the places really come to life. I loved the abundance of technical details that don’t feel overwhelming, though. With memorable, strong characters, all determined to reach their goals, the writer did a great job in placing them into a well portrayed, true-life context. I loved the spinning swirl of actions that accompany the reader until the very end.

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ken Follett and the intrigue of World War II-"a winning formula" (Entertainment Weekly) if ever there was one. With his riveting prose and unerring instinct for suspense, the #1 New York Times bestselling author takes to the skies over Europe during the early days of the war in a most extraordinary novel. . . .

It is June 1941, and the war is not going well for England. Somehow, the Germans are anticipating the RAF's flight paths and shooting down British bombers with impunity. Meanwhile, across the North Sea, eighteen-year-old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut on the German-occupied Danish island…

Book cover of The Sand Pounder: Love and Drama on Horseback in WWII

Marsha Hubler Author Of A Horse to Love

From my list on horses for tweens, teens, and young adults.

Who am I?

I have horse blood in my veins. I’ve loved horses ever since I knew what amazing animals they are. I grew up in a town where no one could house a horse. As I read about horses and learned more about them, I dreamed about the day I could have my very own. As a married adult with 4 acres of property and a little barn, I finally had my own horses over a 20-year period. The knowledge I gained by having my own beloved animals and caring for 12 foster children prepared me to write the Keystone Stables series about foster girl, Skye Nicholson, and her quarter horse, Champ. 

Marsha's book list on horses for tweens, teens, and young adults

Marsha Hubler Why did Marsha love this book?

I found this recent release a fascinating historical fiction for teens and older based on actual events of horses and their riders during World War II. 

Fearing an invasion by German and Japanese forces, the U.S. Coast Guard enlisted horsemen to patrol the beaches along the east and west coasts of our country from 1942 to 1944. The unit was called The Sand Pounders.

M.J. Evans wrote the book in a personal way, introducing In Tillamook, Oregon, a young equestrian, 17-year-old Jane, who decided to join the Sand Pounders. However, Sand Pounders were only accepting men. But that didn’t slow the main character and her horse down. The pair do ride successfully and serve their country well. 

This book is a good read for any horse lover of any age!

By M.J. Evans,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world is at war. A teenage equestrian takes on a man's world to make a difference...and finds love along the way.

Fearing an invasion by German and Japanese forces during World War II, the U.S. Coast Guard enlisted horsemen to patrol the beaches along the east and west coasts. The unit was called “The Sand Pounders” and they rode their horses up and down the beaches from 1942 to 1944.

In Tillamook, Oregon, a young equestrian decided to join them. There was only one problem…they were only accepting men. That didn’t slow her down.

The Sand Pounder is a…

Book cover of Typhoon: The Other Enemy: The Third Fleet and the Pacific Storm of December 1944

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

From my list on surprising and compelling WWII stories.

Who am I?

I am the author of two books (the second is Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression), a blogger, Iowa historian, and a regular contributor to Our American Stories. I’ve woven WII letters and newspaper clippings, along with memoirs and family stories, into the narrative. As Clabe and Leora Wilson’s oldest granddaughter, I also enjoy giving programs about the Wilson family, as well as TV and radio interviews.

Joy's book list on surprising and compelling WWII stories

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

My uncle, a survivor of the sinking of the USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the Battle of Midway and months of combat (including kamikazes) as CEM of the USS Hancock (CV-19), referred me to this book about another terror they encountered while in combat aboard the Hancock. Strikes were canceled due to the severe typhoon. At the height of the storm, waves broke over the carrier’s flight deck, fifty-five feet above the waterline.

As commanding officer of a ship that came close to destruction in the typhoon of December 1944, the author of this book, Captain C. Raymond Calhoun, was in an unparalleled position to document a tragic ordeal that claimed 778 men, 3 destroyers, and more than 100 aircraft. This compelling account details for the first time the events surrounding the storm, as well as the controversial aftermath.

Divided into four parts--Prelude to a Typhoon, The Struggle for Survival,…

By Captain C. Raymond Calhoun,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by C. Raymond Calhoun

Book cover of Fighter Boys: The Battle of Britain, 1940

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Where Eagles Never Flew: A Battle of Britain Novel

From my list on the Battle of Britain.

Who am I?

I'm a retired diplomat and award-winning novelist with a PhD in history. I became fascinated by the Battle of Britain because of a visit to RAF Tangmere, a Battle of Britain airfield, when I was still a girl; that encounter captured my imagination for a lifetime. I read every book I could find, I spent hours in the Imperial War Museum gazing (and touching) the Spitfire. I purchased the memoirs of pilots, watched films, and interviews. I started writing a Battle of Britain novel while still at university, but it was 30 years before I released a book. Within weeks one of the few surviving aces, Wing Commander Bob Doe, wrote me that I had got it “smack on the way it was for us fighter pilots.” There can be no higher compliment to an author of historical fiction.  

Helena's book list on the Battle of Britain

Helena P. Schrader Why did Helena love this book?

With great skill and sensitivity, Bishop depicts the human drama of the Battle of Britain. Bishop allows the pilots to speak for themselves, collecting their thoughts from letters, diaries, speeches, and memoirs, and presenting these within a chronological framework reinforced with historical context provided by the author. The result is a wonderfully readable and moving book that embraces not just the Battle of Britain itself but also explains the society in which the heroes of the Battle were born, the institution (RAF) in which they served, and the world in which they died. It ends with a chapter telling what happened to the survivors after the war. Altogether a beautiful tribute to the “Few.”

By Patrick Bishop,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For 123 days in the summer of 1940, 3,000 youthful airmen in the Royal Air Force fought back against Hitler's advancing forces with a heroism that astonished the world. Drawing on interviews with scores of surviving pilots as well as diaries and letters never before seen, military historian and journalist Patrick Bishop re-creates with astonishing intimacy and clarity this excruciating, exhilarating war of nerves. In their own words, the pilots describe what it was like to bale out from a stricken plane, to go into battle in the face of overwhelming odds, to hear the screams of a comrade as…

Book cover of The Nazis Go Underground

Robert Temple Author Of Drunk on Power Vol 1: A Senior Defector's Inside Account of the Nazi Secret Police State

From my list on the inner workings of Nazi Germany.

Who am I?

When I find a big story that has not come out, which has massive relevance for history and for the entire world, I go all out to bring it to light, as I have done with this book. Most of the books I have written have been devoted to telling big, unknown stories that concern the world. (Examples: alien intelligence, the origins of ancient civilisations, the Chinese contribution to the history of inventions, the existence of optical technology in antiquity, who were the people who tried and executed King Charles I and why did they do it.) I simply had to expose this information to the public.

Robert's book list on the inner workings of Nazi Germany

Robert Temple Why did Robert love this book?

This book was originally published by Doubleday, New York, in 1944. This book also contains material obtained from Heinrich Pfeifer, not only from Pfeifer’s own experience but from Pfeifer’s secret network of sympathisers and informants deep within the Nazi Establishment.

It is alarming in the extreme, detailing as it does how the Nazis of the SS and SD had since 1943 started planning to metastasize their doctrines all round the world, and found a Nazi International organisation, with the eventual hope of creating a Fourth Reich which was not dependent upon the territory of Germany, but was spread across the world invisibly, so that no armies could ever conquer it.

They planned the ratlines and escape routes to all the friendly countries such as Argentina and Chile. Their ratline HQ was in Madrid, with the full cooperation of the Franco Government. One of the two chief organisers was SS Lieutenant…

By Curt Reiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Its existence is known only by the effects of its action.' Author Curt Riess on what happens when an organisation goes underground. Written in 1944, thus contemporary to the events of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, The Nazis Go Underground describes how the Nazis planned and organised their descent into the underground as early as 1943. At this stage of the war, the situation for the Third Reich looked grim. With Bormann and Himmler as its architects, the Nazi party would go underground and prepare for World War III from the shattered ruins of Berlin. German generals were…

Book cover of Fu-Go: The Curious History of Japan's Balloon Bomb Attack on America

David Andrew Westwood Author Of Kelsmeath, 1940

From my list on the weirder side of World War II.

Who am I?

I grew up in London, and while I was born sometime after WWII, its devastation was still clear in my bombed suburb and in the stories from my family. My father and his brother served in the Royal Air Force, and an Austrian aunt had managed to escape the rest of her family's fate in Auschwitz. I've had five nonfiction books published when I decided to write a biography of my uncle David Lloyd, an RAF Spitfire pilot killed in 1942. Sadly, little information was available from his military records. All I had was a photograph of him in his plane, looking young and confident. I went on to write nine books set during WWII, and five during WWI.

David's book list on the weirder side of World War II

David Andrew Westwood Why did David love this book?

It's probably good that we haven't heard more of Fu-Go, because if we had, it would mean the aerial bombs sent over from Japan succeeded in spreading fire and terror across North America. Near the end of World War II, Japan launched high-altitude hydrogen balloons armed with incendiary bombs. They were designed to fly westward on the winds of the upper atmosphere and burn both American forests and Americans. 

Made by Japanese schoolgirls who manufactured the balloons by the thousand, the exercise was ultimately a failure, causing only one reported incident. I suspect, though, that others were covered up to avoid panic, and this is a plot point in one of my own books.

By Ross Coen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Near the end of World War II, in an attempt to attack the United States mainland, Japan launched its fu-go campaign, deploying thousands of high-altitude hydrogen balloons armed with incendiary and high-explosive bombs designed to follow the westerly winds of the upper atmosphere and drift to the west coast of North America. After reaching the mainland, these fu-go, the Japanese hoped, would terrorize American citizens and ignite devastating forest fires across the western states, ultimately causing the United States to divert wartime resources to deal with the domestic crisis. While the fu-go offensive proved to be a complete tactical failure,…

Book cover of Shanghai 1937: Stalingrad on the Yangtze

Shouhua Qi Author Of Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking

From my list on the Pacific Theater in WW2.

Who am I?

A native of Nanjing (Nanking), China, Shouhua Qi has published extensively in both the United States and China on academic as well as transcultural issues. He is the author of more than twenty books, including fiction, nonfiction, literary translation, and scholarly monographs. Qi’s first novel, Purple Mountain, is about the Rape of Nanking, a horrendous tragic event that happened in his hometown in the winter of 1937-08. A screenplay Qi co-wrote based on the novel has been optioned for production.

Shouhua's book list on the Pacific Theater in WW2

Shouhua Qi Why did Shouhua love this book?

This was a major battle that happened in 1937, right before the Rape of Nanking. After the fall of Shanghai, the Japanese army would march toward, Nanking (Nanjing), the capital of China then. Although it was front page news throughout much of the world then, few people other than historians know it today. It is no hyperbole to call the battle Stalingrad on the Yangtze. The book reads like an engrossing historical novel.

By Peter Harmsen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shanghai 1937 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This deeply researched book describes one of the great forgotten battles of the 20th century. At its height it involved nearly a million Chinese and Japanese soldiers, while sucking in three million civilians as unwilling spectators and, often, victims. It turned what had been a Japanese adventure in China into a general war between the two oldest and proudest civilizations of the Far East. Ultimately, it led to Pearl Harbor and to seven decades of tumultuous history in Asia. The Battle of Shanghai was a pivotal event that helped define and shape the modern world.

In its sheer scale, the…