World War II impacted countless lives around the globe, bringing to the surface incredible stories of human courage, strength and resilience. We've put together a list of compelling fiction and nonfiction books about the war, featuring a mix of new and classic titles.
Reading is a great way to balance your day after taking part in some of the enriching activities and outings offered at The Gardens. Reach for one of these books while relaxing in your assisted living apartment. Local bookstores near our senior community in Springfield, such as BookMarx or Barnes & Nobles, can help you find the titles you're interested in.
By Sonia Purnell (Nonfiction)
Virginia Hall was a Baltimore socialite turned American spy. She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines, establishing spy networks throughout France and emerging as a pivotal figure in the French Resistance. This is the true story of her refusal to give up until France was liberated from the Nazis.
By Alex Kershaw (Nonfiction)
This book spotlights the heroism behind some of the perilous missions of June 6, 1944. This includes the first American paratrooper to land in Normandy, the Canadian brothers who led their troops onto Juno Beach, and the pilot who landed his glider mere yards from Pegasus Bridge so British soldiers could capture it.
By Robert Matzen (Nonfiction)
Audrey Hepburn may be remembered as a Hollywood star, but she also lived through the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands for five years. Through wartime diaries and interviews, this book documents Hepburn's experiences, including her participation in the Dutch Resistance, the winter famine of 1944, her uncle's execution and her father's work as a Nazi agent.
By Svetlana Alexievich (Nonfiction)
The children who grew up in Russia during World War II were a generation deeply affected by the trauma of war. Nobel Prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich spent a quarter of a century interviewing some of the survivors of the war, bringing their powerful stories to life in this collection of oral histories.
by Monica Hesse (Fiction)
This historical novel follows the story of 18-year-old Zofia, who is the only one of her family to survive Auschwitz besides her brother, Abek. She searches for him on a journey that takes her from Poland to a refugee camp in Germany, meeting other people struggling to rebuild their lives after the Holocaust.
by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (Fiction)
Pulitzer-winning journalist Leonard Pitts, Jr. weaves a compelling novel about racial conflict during World War II, both in the United States and on the front lines. It follows three characters from the southern United States: an affluent white marine who survives Pearl Harbor, a young black woman who loses her husband, and a man serving in the all-Black 761st Tank Battalion.
by Frances Liardet (Fiction)
As her English village is evacuated in 1940, Ellen Parr finds a young child alone on a bus. She takes the abandoned girl in, intending to care for her until her family can be found. As the war drags on, Ellen discovers an incredible ability to love that she didn't know she had. This sweeping novel spans nearly 70 years.
By Kate Quinn (Fiction)
This novel about the aftermath of war unfolds from three different points of view. There's a Russian bomber pilot named Nina who is stranded behind enemy lines, a British war correspondent who tracks a Nazi war criminal to the United States and an American teenager who suspects his German stepmother is hiding something.
By Herman Wouk (Classic fiction)
Written in 1951, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is about life on the USS Caine, a rundown Navy warship that sweeps for mines. Drawing on the author's own experiences in the Pacific Theater, this story explores some of the moral decisions that must be made during war.
By Anthony Doerr (Classic fiction)
This New York Times bestseller from 2014 intertwines the stories of two characters: Marie-Laure, a blind French girl in Paris, and Werner, an orphan in a German mining town. Their stories collide as Marie-Laure's great-uncle begins transmitting radio messages to help the Resistance, and Werner is tasked to monitor radio transmissions and track those opposing Nazi rule.
By Michael Ondaatje (Classic fiction)
This Booker Prize-winning novel is set in an Italian villa at the end of World War II, bringing together four characters who have been devastated by the war: Hana, a nurse; Caravaggio, a thief; Kip, a Sikh British Army sapper; and the unnamed patient who's been badly burned.
By William Wharton (Classic fiction)
On Christmas Eve in 1944, six American GIs are posted in an old chateau near the German border. They're to keep their eyes on the enemy, but with many soldiers weary of combat, this mission has unexpected results.