The two world wars left behind their impeccably disastrous marks globally. Almost every country faced the consequences, either directly or indirectly. Some places are still not completely recovered from the horrors of the war. Families, homes, and people were wiped from the face of the earth. But their stories remain. Books play an influential role in keeping legends alive.
Best World War Books To Read!
They record history so we learn our lessons and never repeat them. Sadly, we are only taught surface-level information about the World Wars in schools and colleges. But, beyond the dates and names lay stories that are worth visiting. So, if you have a curious soul who loves to dive into books to drink from the elixir of knowledge, here are the best books to read and learn about World War I & II.
1. The Guns Of August by Barbara Tuchman
Barbara Tuchman’s book The Guns Of August is a Pulitzer award-winning history book that will become your best friend if you want to learn about the first year of World War I. This book will educate you about the opening conflicts and what events led to the decision to go to war. The author discusses the strategies and military plans before and during the war. After its publication in 1962, the book became an instant bestseller. The book’s traditional writing style will require you to grasp the meaning slowly. You can get the book here! 📖
2. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank is one of the most heartbreaking books you will ever read. This is one of the first books I read when I started my reading journey, and I keep revisiting it occasionally. During the period of Nazi-occupied Netherlands, Anne Frank, along with her family, was in hiding. She used to write about her experiences and feelings in her diary.
Unfortunately, she died because of typhus. Her diary was later retrieved, and her writings were published. The Diary Of a Young Girl has been translated into over seventy languages. Keep your tissues ready while reading this book because Anne’s words will make you cry. You can get the book here! 📖
3. The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris follows the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew. He was sent to the concentration camp of Auschwitz in the year 1942. There he was given the duty of tattooing new prisoners with their numbers. While tattooing this woman, Gita Furman, he fell in love with her. This book will show you what life was like inside the concentration camp. The author’s writing style is impeccably fluid which will grab your attention from the first sentence. I highly recommend this book to beginners. You can get the book here! 📖
4. Hitler by Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw’s Hitler is a two-volume biography. The first book is called ‘Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris’, and the second volume is ‘Hitler: 1936-1945: Nemesis’. A lot of people look at Adolf Hitler as an interesting character. After all, the damage he caused to the world must have some bizarre element, right? Well, Ian Kershaw didn’t think so.
The author called Hitler an uninteresting character who didn’t have a life outside politics. However, he was remarkable because he had the power to bring out the worst in the people around him genuinely. This one is a time-consuming read, but for the knowledge you will gain, it’s completely worth it. You can get the book here! 📖
5. Bloodlands by Timothy D. Snyder
The Central and Eastern European regions are termed Bloodlands by the Yale historian Timothy Snyder, which explains the book’s name. Bloodlands was published in the year 2010 and won several awards. This book is about the mass murders committed in the regions controlled by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during the second World War.
Nearly fourteen million noncombatants lost their lives in the mass murders between the years 1933 and 1945. This is a must-read for those who want to expand and deepen their knowledge about the different aspects of World Wars. You can get the book here! 📖
6. Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts
British historian and journalist Andrew Roberts’ book Chruchill is a chunky documentary with over a thousand pages. The author breaks down Churchill’s background, personality, and strategies in this book. Reading about Churchill as a child who grew up in a lonely environment is fascinating. His uncompassionate mother and father ignored him even though he tried to contact them through letters. This book will help you learn about Churchill’s character microscopically. Things like Churchill’s photographic memory are discussed, which will pique your interest further. You can get the book here! 📖
7. If This Is a Man by Primo Levi
Published in the year 1947, If this is a Man is Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi’s memoir. He was a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during World War II. His imprisonment in the concentration camp of Auschwitz started in February 1944, and he was freed in January 1945. Levi’s writing will give microscopic details about the prisoner’s life in Auschwitz.
The prisoners were stripped, showered, and given tattered clothes on arrival at the camp. They would have to carry the clothes and run while they were naked to reach the barrack. The author then writes about the communal washroom, food, and other aspects of the camp, which were way below human conditions. Reading this book is like getting a sneak peek into Levi’s life in Auschwitz which was truly horrific. You can get the book here! 📖
8. Stalingrad by Antony Beevor
Antony Beevor’s book Stalingrad was published in 1999. It’s a book about the battle fought around Stalingrad during World War II. The author starts the book by talking about the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. He talks about the events that led up to the battle and subsequent operations. This book highlights the war crimes committed by both parties during that period, which gives you a macro-level perspective on the whole crisis. Antony Beevor also won prestigious awards like the Wolfson History Prize. You can get the book here! 📖
9. The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark
Christopher Clark, an Australian historian, wrote the monumental book The Sleepwalkers. This book will educate you about the key historical events and moments that triggered the first World War. He talks about the complex relationship between leaders during that time who got into conflict with one another and were inspired to go to war. The Sleepwalkers is well-researched and written stylishly with a hint of drama that will evoke your emotions too. This is one of those rare history books that will keep pulling you until you finish, which is excellent for beginners. You can get the book here! 📖
10. The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan is a masterfully written book about the story of D-Day, the day of the invasion of Normandy. The book is divided into three parts – The Wait, The Night, and The Day. Each part will give you detailed knowledge about the Normandy landings. There was also a Hollywood adaption of the book in 1962, named after it. The writing style of this book is sophisticated, and one must read it with lots of patience. You can get the book here! 📖
Whether you are a student or just a curious soul, these books will help you understand the two World Wars from different perspectives. Let us know which books you will pick from this list for your next historical read.
Sneha Banerjee has been writing for half a decade now. She is also a professional copywriter and has worked for many businesses. She is a voracious reader, and her ultimate dream is to turn everyone into a reader.