13 Best WW2 Fiction Books Update 05/2022

Best WW2 Fiction Books

When people read historical fiction, World War 2 is one of the most popular and important topics. Authors have looked at it from many different perspectives, which has led to a wide range of critically acclaimed novels. Here, we’ve shared 13 of the best books about World War II that are also good stories. This list isn’t complete, but it’s one way to learn about this important and dramatic time in recent history through the imaginations and research of some of today’s best writers, who write about it in their books.

The Night Watch (2006) by Sarah Waters

The Night Watch (2006) by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters’ moving and intimate novel is set in the dark streets of the blackout. It tells the stories of a few people who each have their own secrets and desires, their own reasons for being brave, and their own understanding of how fragile life is. The stories of the characters are broken up and painful, and the setting of wartime London and its night watches is both a setting and a metaphor for their lives. The Night Watch was nominated for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize, and both of these awards are given to books.

Half Blood Blues (2011) by Esi Edugyan

Canada’s Esi Edugyan wrote an award-winning book that covers a lot of time in the 20th century, but it focuses on the months before Paris was taken over by Nazis in WWII. During World War II, an interracial jazz band in Berlin was under more and more pressure, including the deportation of their Jewish piano player. They fled to Paris, where their Afro-German trumpet player was then arrested by the occupying forces. The language and rhythms of 1940s jazz are used in the narrative voice of this book, which deals with issues of nationality and race.

All the Light We Cannot See (2014) by Anthony Doerr

When Marie-Laure and Werner met, their stories seemed to be on opposite sides of the world. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story has been called one of the best WW2 historical fiction books of the recent years. Her father takes her out of Paris and drives her to the coastal town of St Malo. Werner, who was left orphaned, escapes a life in the mines by listening to broadcasts on the radios he fixes. Throughout the book, their lives become more and more intertwined as they both try to get away from the war’s damage.

Hitler’s Canary (2005) by Sandi Toksvig

At 12, Bamse and his friend Anton have a hard time avoiding trouble with the German troops that are coming to Denmark. Hitler’s Canary is set in 1940 and tells their story. Because he and his family are so different from the rest of the country, they help their neighbors and help plan how to get Denmark’s Jewish families out of the country and to Sweden. As a children’s book, this is a great way for both kids and adults to learn about a little-known part of WWII history.

The English Patient (1992) by Michael Ondaatje

The English Patient (1992) by Michael Ondaatje

The film adaptation by Anthony Minghella of The English Patient made the book famous all over the world. The book by Sri Lankan-born Canadian author Michael Ondaatje is beautiful and heartfelt. It tells the story of four people who find themselves in a deserted Italian villa: the “English patient” of the title, a Canadian nurse, a Sikh sapper, and a Canadian thief. It’s painful to see how war affects people’s emotions and bodies as the patient’s experiences in the North African campaign are slowly revealed.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2006) by John Boyne

John Boyne, an Irish author, wrote a heartbreaking book called “Out-With.” It’s told from the point of view of Bruno, the 9-year-old son of the commandant of “Out-With.” Bruno misunderstands the name “Auschwitz.” His friendship with Shmuel, an inmate at the camp, reveals to the reader, but not to Bruno, what is going on there. At the same time, their connection grows. With its innocent narrator, the book has been criticized for being inaccurate about history and lacking in detail. But the title, “A Fable,” shows that the book is more about a human relationship than a straight-forward historical novel.

A Midnight Clear (1982) by William Wharton

A book by an American author called William Wharton is set in the Ardennes Forest on Christmas Eve in 1944. It tells the story of six GIs who are sent to set up an observation post at a deserted chateau near the border. They meet the German soldiers they learn are nearby. Several critics have already given this book the title “classic,” and it was made into a movie in 1992. In his memoirs, Wharton talked about his time in the military, and he called it a “soul-shaking trauma.”

When the Emperor was Divine (2002) by Julie Otsaka

Julie Otsaka, a Japanese American author, wrote her first book about her mother’s family’s time in American internment camps in the 1940s. The experiences of the four characters, an unnamed mother, father, son, and daughter, are broken up into separate sections. They talk about the preparations and journey from their home in California to the camp in Utah, as well as the family’s internment and how they tried to build a new life in a post-war environment of racism and recrimination. The book shows how war can change people’s lives even if they live far away from the fighting itself.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013) by Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013) by Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan’s book tells the story of an Australian doctor who is imprisoned in Burma. The story is based on Flanagan’s own father’s time as a Japanese prisoner of war. The book’s climax is a day on the notorious Burma Railway. It then talks about how guilt and trauma affect people’s lives after the war, as well as what it means to be called a “war hero.” Flanagan’s book won the 2014 Man Booker Prize and was widely praised when it came out.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018) by Heather Morris

Heather Morris’s book about Lali Solokov, a Slovakian who tattooed numbers on Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz, was a best-seller when it was first published. It is based on the true story of Solokov and Gina Furman, the prisoner he tattooed and who later became his wife. The book has been criticized by historians for not being true to the facts, but it also tells a moving and hopeful story about a relationship that started in a concentration camp and lasted long after.

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Baumgartner’s Bombay (1989) by Anita Desai

When the Nazi government starts to persecute Hugo Baumgartner because he is Jewish, he flees to India in order to avoid being killed. However, in India, he is held as a “enemy alien” because of his German nationality. Using the story of Hugo, Desai’s novel looks at the many ways that people can be different from each other, both in the internment camp and in the city of Bombay after the Second World War. After the war, Hugo has to start a new life in a country that is moving toward independence from Britain. There are many things that make this book unique and complex, but it also draws on Desai’s own background as a German-Indian.

Under Occupation (2019) by Alan Furst

Under Occupation (2019) by Alan Furst

They are spy novels by American author Alan Furst that take place in Europe during the build-up to war, as well as during WW2. They are all connected. Furst says that writers like Graham Greene and Joseph Roth have had an impact on him. He is known for writing thrillers that are very well written and for his evocative pictures of Eastern Europe. Set in Paris, Under Occupation is the story of a novelist who gets caught up in a fight between the Resistance and the French government. He goes further into the underground’s fight against the occupying forces than he thought he would.

A Thread of Grace (2005) by Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell is an American author of sci-fi books. Her first historical novel is set in Italy after the country had made its own peace with the Allies, who were still at war with Germany at the time. Thousands of refugees are fleeing over the Alps, and the 14-year-old protagonist and her father are one of them. The book tells the story of a little-known group of Italians who helped save more than 43,000 Jewish lives in Europe at the end of the war. The story of Jewish refugees and Italian Catholics, as well as the story of a Nazi deserter who confesses to his involvement in the horrors of Auschwitz, are all told in different parts of the book.

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