The most recommended WW2 nonfiction books

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461 authors created a book list connected to WW2 nonfiction, and here are their favorite WW2 nonfiction books.
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Book cover of Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II

James Lindholm Author Of Calypso Down

From my list on ocean adventures, both real and imagined.

Why am I passionate about this?

The two constants in my life to date have been ocean exploration by day and reading epic adventures by night. As a Ph.D. marine scientist, I’ve had the incredible good fortune to travel the world conducting marine science research, work which to date has resulted in forty-two research articles and a textbook. But as much as I’ve enjoyed conducting the research, communicating about the sea has been even more engaging, taking me to the White House, both houses of Congress, and many countries around the world. And perhaps best of all, I’ve been able to couple my love of stories with my own research experience to produce four adventure novels. 

James' book list on ocean adventures, both real and imagined

James Lindholm Why did James love this book?

I love this book despite the incredible discomfort I experience every time I read it.

Diving in the cold waters of the North Atlantic on a good day is no picnic. But diving deep into the wreck of a mystery U-boat, not knowing if you are going to come out? Epic.

I just recently listened to the Audible book while driving back from an undersea research project in a van filled with young scientific divers. The climax had us all squirming in our seats!

By Robert Kurson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Shadow Divers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller 

In the tradition of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm comes a true tale of riveting adventure in which two weekend scuba divers risk everything to solve a great historical mystery–and make history themselves.

For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.
But in the…


Book cover of On the Swing Shift: Building Liberty Ships in Savannah

Merrill J. Davies Author Of Becoming Jestina

From my list on how women helped win World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

After teaching high school English for thirty-one years, I retired and began my second career in writing. I have published five novels and one collection of poetry. When I met Jane Tucker in 1974, she became a good friend, fellow church member, and my dental hygienist. I had no idea she had worked as a welder on Liberty Ships during World War II when she was only sixteen years old. After I learned this in 2012, I began my journey into learning all about the Rosies during World War II and writing my fourth novel Becoming Jestina. Jane’s story is an amazing one, and I still talk to her regularly.

Merrill's book list on how women helped win World War II

Merrill J. Davies Why did Merrill love this book?

I recommend this book because it not only helped me understand the role of women during the war, but also the whole culture of Savannah, Georgia, during that time. Tony Cope was a young child in Savannah during World War II and was very familiar with the Southeastern Shipyards. When he returned as an adult and realized that most people in the city did not even know the shipyards had existed, he was determined to make sure that part of Savannah’s history wasn’t lost. His interviews with those who had worked in the shipyards are fascinating and enlightening.

By Tony Cope,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During World War II eighty-eight of the almost three thousand Liberty ships built in America were launched in Savannah, Georgia. Without Liberty ships, the Battle of the Atlantic might have been lost.

Few remember the Liberty ships today; fewer remember the shipyard or that the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation was the largest industry ever located there. The land on which this shipyard stood is now derelict. Thousands drive by it every day and have no idea of the great contribution to the war effort that was made on that site.

This social history tells the story of the men and women…


Book cover of The Oster Conspiracy of 1938: The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert World War II

Greg Lewis Author Of Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule

From my list on the Germans who stood up to the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and television producer who researches and writes in an attic surrounded by tumbling bookshelves. When I was young I watched a BBC series called Secret Army which got me hooked on the people who stood up to the Nazis when their country was occupied. Over the years I’ve travelled around Europe to interview many of WW2’s resisters and veterans, and I became interested in the people inside Germany who defied the Nazis. Trying to tell the stories of the people who dared to oppose Hitler became something of an obsession.

Greg's book list on the Germans who stood up to the Nazis

Greg Lewis Why did Greg love this book?

For me, Hans Oster is one of the most noble and courageous of the military resisters to the Nazis.

Unlike many in uniform, Oster’s opposition did not waver during Hitler’s military successes or begin with Germany’s defeats: he always hated them. Terry Parssinen’s book centres on Oster’s pre-war plot to kill Hitler, which failed after Britain signed the Munich peace treaty with Germany.

It inspired me to research Oster’s continuing resistance throughout the war and even his efforts to help Jews. As Oster said later, after being captured by the Nazis, it is “my duty to free Germany and the world of this plague”.

By Terry Parssinen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oster Conspiracy of 1938 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

September 1938. In power more than five years, Hitler unilaterally dismantled the Treaty of Versailles, provision by provision, daring Britain and France to stand up to him. Earlier that year, he forced Austria into his Third Reich without firing a single shot. Now his sights were set on Czechoslovakia.

It was in this dangerous climate that the first anti-Nazi coup was born. The plot was spearheaded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hans Oster, and its members included top German military leaders, the Berlin police, local troop commanders, civil authorities, religious leaders, and a group of resisters whose names have been wiped from the…


Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

Book cover of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

Gabrielle Robinson Author Of Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired english professor

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Gabrielle found her grandfather’s diaries after her mother’s death, only to discover that he had been a Nazi. Born in Berlin in 1942, she and her mother fled the city in 1945, but Api, the one surviving male member of her family, stayed behind to work as a doctor in a city 90% destroyed.

Gabrielle retraces Api’s steps in the Berlin of the 21st century, torn between her love for the man who gave her the happiest years of her childhood and trying to come to terms with his Nazi membership, German guilt, and political responsibility.

Api's Berlin Diaries: My Quest to Understand My Grandfather's Nazi Past

By Gabrielle Robinson,

What is this book about?

"This is not a book I will forget any time soon."
Story Circle Book Reviews

Moving and provocative, Api's Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich.

After her mother's death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather's war diaries-only to discover that he had been a Nazi.

The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api's…


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 Diary of Bergen-Belsen: 1944-1945

Joshua M. Greene Author Of Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend

From my list on Holocaust testimony.

Why am I passionate about this?

Joshua M. Greene is the author of a dozen Holocaust biographies that have sold more than a half-million copies worldwide. He sits on the board of Yale University Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and has spoken on issues of Holocaust memory for such outlets as NPR and Fox News. His editorials on Holocaust history have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.

Joshua's book list on Holocaust testimony

Joshua M. Greene Why did Joshua love this book?

The world knows about Anne Frank through her diary. Yet Anne Frank knew nothing about the Holocaust apart from reports on radio and glimpses of roundups through the window of her attic hideaway. She never lived long enough to write a second volume, which would have included her experiences in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen (where she died of typhus). In her diary, Hanna Levy-Hass provides us with a more realistic, first-hand account of the Holocaust as experienced by a young woman inside Hitler’s camps.

By Hanna Lavy-Hass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A unique, deeply political survivor's diary of the author's final year inside the notorious concentra camp of Bergen Belsen. Levy-Hass, a Yugoslavian socialist and Jew, emerged a defiant survivor of the Holocaust. Her observations shed new light on the lived experiences of Bergen Belsen, and hers is the only diary of a socialist within the camps. Contains a lengthy introduction by Levy-Hass' daughter Amira Hass, journalist and award-winning author, which addresses the meaning of the Holocaust for Israelis and Palestinians today.


Book cover of Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge

John C. McManus Author Of Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

From my list on understanding the Battle of the Bulge.

Why am I passionate about this?

John C. McManus, Ph.D., is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of U.S. Military History at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and a recipient of the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Prize for Military History. He is the author of 14 books, including Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible.

John's book list on understanding the Battle of the Bulge

John C. McManus Why did John love this book?

What happens when an author with a remarkable knack for insightful research and a gift for brilliant narrative prose takes on the task of telling a story of such epochal importance? A wonderful book that conveys the desperation of the moment and weaves this together with latter-year perspective. Among Beevor’s many insights, my favorite is his assertion that “the German leadership’s greatest mistake in the Ardennes offensive was to have misjudged the soldiers of an army they had affected to despise.” So very true! The Germans badly underestimated the U.S. Army and they paid the price for their dismissive chauvinism.

By Antony Beevor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ardennes 1944 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The prizewinning historian and bestselling author of D-Day, Stalingrad, and The Battle of Arnhem reconstructs the Battle of the Bulge in this riveting new account

On December 16, 1944, Hitler launched his 'last gamble' in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes in Belgium, believing he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp and forcing the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the…


Book cover of The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

Eileen A. Bjorkman Author Of The Fly Girls Revolt: The Story of the Women Who Kicked Open the Door to Fly in Combat

From my list on hidden histories of women in the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I work in aviation, so it was natural to write about it when I started as a freelance writer. But I quickly realized that writing about aviation people is much more interesting than writing about airplanes. Because of my military background I found myself writing veterans’ stories. I’ve uncovered many stories that have never been told or have been forgotten over the years. And because I was in the Air Force in the 1980s and 1990s, I knew the events in my new book had never been told. During my research, I found more books with hidden histories and rediscovered some I read decades ago. This list is my favorites.

Eileen's book list on hidden histories of women in the military

Eileen A. Bjorkman Why did Eileen love this book?

The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) were more than 1,000 women who ferried aircraft around the U.S. and flew other support missions during World War II.

They were technically civilian government employees, but for all practical purposes were in the U.S. Army and later earned veteran’s status, which is why I include them here.

The military women of my generation in the 1970s and 1980s (especially aviators) stood on the shoulders of what the WASP accomplished. 

Quite a few books have been written about the WASP, but this is the best one in my opinion. It’s extremely well researched, highly readable, and does an excellent job of portraying the two main characters, the media-savvy Jacqueline Cochran and her less flashy counterpart Nancy Love.

By Katherine Sharp Landdeck,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Women with Silver Wings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“With the fate of the free world hanging in the balance, women pilots went aloft to serve their nation. . . . A soaring tale in which, at long last, these daring World War II pilots gain the credit they deserve.”—Liza Mundy, New York Times bestselling author of Code Girls

“A powerful story of reinvention, community and ingenuity born out of global upheaval.”—Newsday

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her…


Book cover of The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis

Catherine Ryan Hyde Author Of Seven Perfect Things

From my list on animals by people who actually understand them.

Why am I passionate about this?

In addition to being the author of lots of books, I am a wrangler of lots of pets. I live with a dog, two cats, a Belgian warmblood horse who I rode in dressage for many years, and his pasture pal who is a miniature horse. I’m known for writing books with animals in which the animal is a character, not a caricature. So many authors don’t seem to know animals deeply, and so just insert them in a scene like a placeholder. But every animal is an individual, and I try to reflect that in my work.

Catherine Ryan's book list on animals by people who actually understand them

Catherine Ryan Hyde Why did Catherine Ryan love this book?

This is quite possibly the best nonfiction book I’ve read. I loved it so much that I traveled to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna to see the Lipizzaner horses in person, and listened to the audiobook for a second time while traveling. This one has it all: History, suspense, people who care about horses, horses. As a plus, if you’re into audiobooks, the narrator of The Perfect Horse, Paul Boehmer, is the perfect voice. I would listen to this guy read a laundry list all day long. Put him to the task of reading a truly important story like this one and you will be educated and entertained. I can’t say enough good things about this book.

By Elizabeth Letts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion, the remarkable story of the heroic rescue of priceless horses in the closing days of World War II

WINNER OF THE PEN AWARD FOR RESEARCH NONFICTION

In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find—his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine—an…


Book cover of The Forgotten Soldier

George Bearfield Author Of Foursquare: The Last Parachutist

From my list on real, epic journeys of survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

After my Grandfather died in 2000 I set myself the challenge of building as complete a picture as I could of his incredible life story. He had travelled by foot across occupied Europe and the Middle East in 1940, before fighting on the front line in France, and ultimately behind enemy lines in Czechoslovakia. I envied his life experience and the high stakes he was required to live his life by, whilst also being grateful for the peace that he and others like him had delivered to my generation. Whether reading or writing I’m captivated by true stories of courage and fortitude aiming to immerse myself in them. 

George's book list on real, epic journeys of survival

George Bearfield Why did George love this book?

When I was researching my grandfather’s actions fighting for Czechoslovakia in World War Two, for my own book, including his time of the front line in France in 1940, I grew tired of academic history books and sought out a firsthand account of the realities of combat. Guy Sajer’s story of his experiences as a German soldier on the Eastern Front provided exactly what I was looking for: As I read it, I could feel the mud caked on my fingers, the shrapnel wound stinging my arm, and the trench foot creeping up my leg. The fact that Sajer was fighting, somewhat unwillingly, with the Nazis gives a whole extra layer of interest too.

By Guy Sajer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An international bestseller, this is a German soldier's first-hand account of life on Russian front during the second half of the Second World War.

When Guy Sajer joins the infantry full of ideals in the summer of 1942, the German army is enjoying unparalleled success in Russia. However, he quickly finds that for the foot soldier the glory of military success hides a much harsher reality of hunger, fatigue and constant deprivation. Posted to the crack Grosse Deutschland division, with its sadistic instructors who shoot down those who fail to make the grade, he enters a violent and remorseless world…


Book cover of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945

Iwan W. Morgan Author Of FDR: Transforming the Presidency and Renewing America

From my list on why FDR was the greatest American president.

Why am I passionate about this?

I consider FDR the greatest of all presidents for leading America with distinction in the domestic crisis of the Great Depression and the foreign crisis of World War 2 and creating the modern presidency that survives today in the essential form he established. I have written books on Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan during fifty years as a US history professor in UK universities. I always intended to write a book about how FDR reinvented the presidency that these Republicans inherited, something I finally did in ‘retirement’. My five chosen books explain the challenging times he faced and the leadership skills he displayed in meeting them.     

Iwan's book list on why FDR was the greatest American president

Iwan W. Morgan Why did Iwan love this book?

This Pulitzer Prize-winning study is the best single-volume history of America in the Age of FDR.  Meticulously researched, ambitiously conceived, and vividly written, it crafts superb portraits of the presidencies of Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Kennedy offers a balanced assessment of FDR’s New Deal, concluding that his reforms enhanced the socio-economic security of millions of Americans despite their overall failure in the 1930s to achieve economic recovery, which would only come about through the crucible of war in the early 1940s. However, the real heroes of the book are the American people for their resilience and resolve in the face of the Great Depression and World War 2, the two greatest challenges the United States faced in the twentieth century.  

By David M. Kennedy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. Freedom from Fear tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities.

The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s. For more than a century before 1929, America's unbridled industrial revolution had gyrated through repeated boom and bust cycles, wastefullly consuming capital and inflicting untold misery…