10 Best Books About Ww2 Update 05/2022

Here is a list of the best non-fiction books ever written on WWII, ranging from biographies to bird’s-eye views, memoirs to timeless reporting. It’s almost a misnomer to describe the Second World War merely a war; it was never just one war, but many. It was unquestionably too enormous, too vast, and too varied to be remembered as a single event. The sheer number of novels written about it attests to this.

There has been no war in history that has inspired more literature than the one that ended 20 years ago. WWII has been continuously researched, written about, interpreted, and re-interpreted. Which can make choose what to read on the subject difficult. Books must be picked with the same care as a sniper’s targets. Thankfully, we have the resources to assist– and have compiled a list of the best nonfiction books about the conflict ever written.

Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis by Ian Kershaw (1991)

Reading this book is like riding shotgun through a maniac’s wrecked mind — a mind so twisted, dark, and terrifyingly sad that it necessitates a guide. Ian Kershaw, fortunately, has spent a lot of time there and is familiar with the scenic path.

Kershaw creates a portrayal of an indolent, tasteless, disillusioned loafer who got lucky, far from the puffed-up political strongman that history remembers. Kershaw’s investigation of how a “spoiled youngster” became a “would-be macho man” is unparalleled, not only in scope and depth, but also in character complexity. This was a man with schizophrenia, Parkinson’s Disease, and arteriosclerosis who had no clear ideas other than a great loathing for the Bolsheviks, terrible social skills, and a persistent case of donkey breath. Despite this, he managed to persuade a nation that a cruel genocidal war was a good idea and that he was capable of taking on the globe. This is a hefty biography written by a world-class historian. It is still undefeated in its class.

Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts (2018)

Winston Churchill famously told a buddy, “We are all worms.” “However, I suppose I am a glow worm.” And he did sparkle. We’ve all heard the headlines — his rousing speeches are perpetually replayed in the back of Britain’s national mind – but Andrew Roberts’ outstanding biography goes deeper under the skin of the old bruiser than anybody before – bar, maybe, the man himself.

The most difficult aspect of writing a biography of Churchill is that he has already done it flawlessly (My Early Life,The World Crisis,The Second World War). However, Roberts avoids the pitfall of trying to out-Churchill Churchill. From his birth in 1874 to his death ninety years later, he writes with great authority, brio, and no small degree of panache about Churchill’s enthralling life. He also doesn’t hold back when it comes to Churchill’s numerous errors. As a result, Roberts’ book has been dubbed “the best single-volume biography of Churchill ever published.”

If This Is a Man by Primo Levi (1947)

If you only read one Holocaust book in your lifetime, make it this one. It is the most profound, heartbreaking, and soul-churningly beautiful novel on the horror that I have ever read. I try not to put myself into these suggestions, but I can’t help myself this time: my copy had me in tears. Take it from Phillip Roth, who dubbed it “one of the truly necessary books of the century.”

When Primo Levi was imprisoned and deported to Auschwitz in 1944, he was a Jewish-Italian chemist and member of Italy’s anti-fascist resistance. If This Is a Man retells the terrifying events of his life.

Look elsewhere if you’re seeking for a historical research into Nazism’s emergence and appeal, or an exploration into the origins and essence of evil. This is a Hell handbook. It’s a tale of collective craziness, pure evil, unbelievable stupidity, and cruelty, as well as humanity, spirit, tenacity, and luck. Purchase two copies in case you require a backup.

X Troop by Leah Garrett (2021)

It could make you think of Inglorious Basterds, but this isn’t a movie. Author Leah Garrett’s in-depth original research and interviews with surviving members bring to life the true story of Jewish refugees from Britain tasked to infiltrate and sabotage the Nazi war effort at every turn. These survivors – who had lost their families and homes to the Third Reich – formed a unit known as X Troop, and their unrecorded exploits are finally published in full, illuminating a previously undiscovered story from an endlessly documented age.

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich (1985)

The story of war is rarely presented from the perspective of a woman. Despite this, a million women fought for the Red Army throughout WWII. In their own words, The Unwomanly Face of War relates their stories. Over the course of several years in the 1970s and 1980s, Alexievich spoke with hundreds of former Soviet female warriors, including snipers, pilots, gunners, mothers, and wives.

Her purpose was to give a voice to an ageing generation of women who’d been disregarded as storytellers and veterans, breaking the assumption that war had to be a ‘unwomanly’ event, after decades of the conflict being recalled by’men writing about men.’

“Women’s” conflict, in the author’s words, has its own colors, odors, lights, and range of emotions. It uses its own terminology. There are no heroes or extraordinary exploits; instead, there are people doing inhumanely human things.’ It’s a difficult book to read in one sitting because it’s so dense, but it’s hard to think of anything that seems as significant, engaging, and unique. It was also a piece of work that earned its author the Nobel Prize in 2015.

Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness by Sinclair McKay (2020)

At 10:03 a.m. on February 13th, 1945, British aircraft dropped a firestorm on Dresden. 25,000 people were killed or injured by falling buildings, the majority of whom were civilians. The fires drew so much oxygen from the air that individuals choked to death in several parts of the city.

Dresden has now become a symbol for war’s unfathomable horror. Was it, however, a genuine military objective or a last, punishing act of mass murder in a war that had already been won? McKay’s depiction of that terrible day — and many more on both sides – is by far the most engrossing and depressing of all. It is, without a doubt, the most thorough.

He recounts the human stories of survivors on the ground as well as the moral disputes between the British and American assailants in the air. McKay, on the other hand, is not fooled: Dresden was a heinous crime. This drama of a once-great metropolis pulverized to ash is filled with passion, anger, and brooding intensity. It is unrivaled by any other Dresden novel.

First Light: The Story of the Boy Who Became a Man in the War-Torn Skies Above Britain by Geoffrey Wellum (2002)

Geoffrey Wellum spent 35 years compiling his notebooks into a story. And then there was the quarter-century wait for them to be released. The end result is one of the most gripping personal narratives of aerial combat ever published.

Wellum entered the RAF at the age of 17 in 1939 and was assigned to 92 Squadron at the age of 18. It was there that he first saw a Spitfire. He was first oblivious to the techniques of combat, plagued by anxiety and self-doubt. He was soon flying many missions every day. During the Blitz, he battled against German bombers and fought in the Battle of Britain. From the skies above Kent to those above France, he fought at all hours of the day and night. He was a battle-hardened flying ace by the age of 21, having shot down as many opponents as he had lost buddies. He eventually succumbed to battle exhaustion as the life-or-death stress of lethal warfare began to take its toll.

It’s a brilliantly written story about fear and camaraderie, bravery, gunshots, and burnout. In the ink, you can almost smell the grease and rifle smoke.

Stalingrad by Antony Beevor (1998)

During WWII, many awful battles were fought, but none compare to the brutal four-month German-Soviet struggle of Stalingrad. It was dreadful in every way. To put things in perspective, the Allied death toll in Normandy topped 10,000. It was closer to a million at Stalingrad. In Beevor’s comprehensive narrative of the catastrophe, the breathtaking magnitude, megalomania, depravity, crushing folly, and unimaginable bloodshed that went place across Stalingrad from August 1942 to February 1943 are exquisitely conveyed.

As he portrays the war in all its wretched awfulness, he brilliantly mixes the flair of a novelist with the discipline of an academic. Beevor has constructed an evocative tableau of one of history’s most terrible battlegrounds, one of wholesale slaughter, humiliation, and waste.

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan (1959)

We’ve all heard of D-Day, and many of us can credit Spielberg for that. But few people truly understand D-Day until they’ve read Cornelius Ryan’s (no relation to Private) gripping narrative non-fiction masterpiece. It set the benchmark for how war books should be written when it was published in 1959.

This is not a dry military history, but rather a human drama that reads like a book at moments. “I don’t write about war; I write about man’s courage,” a war correspondent once declared. From privates to generals, he questioned everyone: infantrymen, sailors, airmen, doctors, drivers, paratroopers, glider crews, and passengers. He takes the reader into the German Field Marshal Rommel’s offices, where he is tasked with repelling the invasion, and Dwight Eisenhauer’s war room, where he is debating whether to give the go-ahead despite the bad weather. As a result, one of history’s finest war correspondents weaves a breathtaking tapestry of emotion and fear, bravery and doubt.

Eagle Against the Sun by Ronald H Spector (1985)

There are numerous excellent works about the Pacific War, but memoirs (EB Sledge’s With The Old Breed is particularly moving) are the most visceral. Eagle Against the Sun, on the other hand, is a stone-cold classic for a bomber’s eye view of that intricate struggle.

Eagle Against the Sun is one of those works that no subsequent journey into the subject will be published without paying proper homage to. It is a far more spectacular accomplishment than can be stated in this space.

Spector eloquently recreates the main battles, little-known campaigns, and unfamiliar incidents of that horrific 44-month conflict, combining forensic-level research with startling realism. He does not portray himself as a cheerleader for American greatness, as many other works on the subject do. He also examines aspects of the struggle that have been largely overlooked by previous historians, such as the involvement of women in the conflict and the contributions of the many African American troops who took part. And he’s not hesitant to talk about Japan’s objectives for participating in the theater, as well as the US military’s numerous failures. You won’t find a more well-oiled dive into the cogs and sprockets of this merciless war anywhere else.

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