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12 Best World War 2 Books

Don’t miss any of the best World War 2 books in my list below! 

World War 2 books are a trendy topic for historical fiction recently. There are a slew of World War 2 books from which to choose. So, that can make finding the best World War 2 books very difficult. I’ve set out to find the best of the best for you!

You’ll find a mix of these new releases and older books that cover a wide range of specific topics and perspectives. Most of this list of the best World War 2 books are historical fiction, but I also included two biographies that read like novels.

I’ve read all but two of the books below, so I can personally guarantee they’re hits! The two others (The Alice Network and Everyone Brave is Forgiven) have amazing reviews and I’m hoping to read them soon.

If there are any of the best World War 2 books I should add, let me know in the comments!

*Disclosure – I receive a tiny commission if you purchase any items through the links included in this post. The price to you remains the same, so thank you for supporting my blog!

 

Best World War 2 Books

 

our darkest night

Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson

A young Jewish women poses as an Italian farmers wife to hide from the Germans. As she learns to love her new family, the novel switches from an amusing glance into learning about farm life to understanding the true horrors of WWII. A unique and incredible World War 2 book. 

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I’m kicking of this list with my absolute favorite of the bunch. Two sisters living in France during the German occupation each find their own means of resisting the Nazis. The descriptions of life in a war torn country are fascinating and heart-breaking. I literally couldn’t put this down. Be forewarned, I shed many tears by the time I closed its pages.

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Although this novel takes place after the war, there are flashbacks to the previous years. The two main characters are a female spy and an American socialite searching for her cousin. This was one of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks and made it on to numerous Best Books of 2017 lists.

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Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

A war-time love story inspired by Cleave’s own grandparents. Mary, Alistair, and Tom’s lives are entangled in love, war, deception, and passion. It’s set during the first three years of World War 2 in both London and Malta. This is high on my TBR list! It has also received rave reviews from pretty much everyone that reads it.

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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

A young adult / children’s novel about the Danish Resistance’s campaign to smuggle the Jewish population to safety in Sweden. This story is told through the eyes of a young Danish girl who’s family hides a Jewish girl in their home. It’s a quick read, but a unique and powerful story.

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Winter of the World by Ken Follett

If you have time, you’ll want to read this whole trilogy. The first book, Fall of Giants, starts in World War 1 and introduces a number of families from various countries involved in the war. Winter of the World follows those families through the next generation into World War 2.

A sweeping tale told from multiple perspectives that shows all aspects of war. I loved that this one cover politics, relationships, resistance, and the actual fighting. If you’re looking for a comprehensive novel about the war, this is it.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This novel competes for my absolute favorite on this list. It’s the perfect fit for book lovers and World War 2 historical fiction fanatics. When a writer connects with a book club on the island of Guernsey, she is swept into their lives. They write letters back and forth sharing stories about the Nazi occupation during the war.

The quirky characters are simply delightful and lifelong relationships are formed. I enjoyed reading about the effects of occupation on a territory that didn’t see direct action. It also appeared on my Best Books Of The Decade list!

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The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I’ll read pretty much anything Kate Morton writes, but this is one of her best. When Laurel witnesses a shocking crime as a young girl, it challenges everything she knows about her mother. Fifty years later, she has the chance to uncover the truth about that day. Told in a mix of present day revelations and flashbacks to the years of World War 2, this story tells the tale of three strangers who meet by chance during the war. Their relationships change their lives forever.

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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Set in America, this offers a lesser known viewpoint of how the war affected Japanese Americans. Henry and Keiko are young friends living on the West Coast when America joins the war.

When Keiko and her family are rounded up and sent to internment camps due to their Japanese heritage, the two can only hope for the end of the war. Forty years later, Henry is reminded of his childhood friend and searches for a long-lost connection to Keiko. This is a tug-at-the-heartstrings tale of hope and forgiveness.

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Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

The Vel D’Hiv roundup in Paris during 1942 is a little known or talked about episode in French history. The French police brutally arrested Jewish families and kept them in horrendous conditions in a cycling arena before sending them off to concentration camps. This novel jumps back and forth between a journalist investigating the events on their 60th anniversary and a little girl who lived through it.

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Best World War 2 Books – Nonfiction

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

A rare glimpse into the life of a prisoner of war based on a true story. This biography of Louis Zamperini covers his life as an athlete before the war and his experience as an Air Force pilot. He is ultimately captured by Japanese soldiers and sent to various POW camps. The brutality is sometimes extremely hard to read. But if you want an unflinching tale about what happened in WW2 outside of Europe, this is it.

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The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

A heartfelt view into the life of a faithful Dutch woman and her family who saved the lives of Jews during the war. This is Corrie Ten Boom’s memoir about her experience hiding Jewish families in her home. When she was eventually discovered, she just barely survived the concentration camp where she was sent. An inspiring read about how God works through ordinary individuals.

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Are there any other novels you would add to this list of the best World War 2 books?

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22 Comments

  1. WWII is a particular favorite of mine when it comes to historical fiction. I’ve read a couple of these. Kate Morton is absolutely one of my favorite authors, so I’m glad to see one of hers up there! P.S. she revealed the cover today for her new book coming out in October!

    1. I did not realize she has a new book coming out!! Googling now to find that cover. So exciting!

  2. Great list! I’m working on a historical fiction list and had to cut a few out because there are SO many World War II novels–but it makes sense because it was such a fraught time, all around the world. I’ve read about half of these and they’re all pretty amazing; I’d like to read the others as well.

    1. That’s too funny because I actually started that one and abandoned it! I just couldn’t get into the story, but I’m pretty sure I’m the exception to the rule because I’ve mainly read glowing reviews : )

  3. I’ve come to realize that the only book I’ve read that was set in WWII that I can recall off the top of my head is THE BOOK THIEF. I feel like I should pick up EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN soon because that’s the one that caught my eye right off the bat!

    1. The Book Thief is actually one I still need to read. I started it, but never got around to finishing it ha.

  4. I can vouch that The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is very good!! I am reading it right now and definitely agree that it deserves a spot on this list!
    Another novel that is great for this genre is Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.

  5. This is a great list. I second Winds of War and War and Remembrance mentioned above and I would also add Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher and the series of books about the Cazelet Family by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

  6. I am thrilled to see Sarah’s Key on here! I discovered this novel in High School and personally has become an all time favorite.

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