World War II was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Even though we come across dozens of new conflicts emerging but there is nothing outmatching World War II. Over the years, many authors have expressed their viewpoints on the incident and each has managed to catch the attention of the world. However, if you want a detailed insight from every angle, we have compiled a list of some of the best World War II books that you should consider.
Factors to Consider When Buying World War II Book
The first and the most important factor to consider is in-depth research. The reason is that events like World War II spanned for months if not years and the after-effects were even more severe. This means that every inch of the event needs to be covered from every angle possible.
Some of the best world war ii books cover every aspect of the event in such a detailed manner that the reader feels as if he/she has gone through the same experience or has been a part of it. Furthermore, the timing and dates need to be perfect as well. If the chronological order happens to be wrong or incomplete, the reader will soon lose interest.
This is why some of the best books on World War II include witnesses, victims, and survivors. This is the only way to inform the reader of the intensity of the event. It also makes it easier for the readers to understand what happened, where, and when.
Characters You Can imagine
You might have seen Hitler or other war leaders in the books and movies but imagining them is something else. Imagination brings you a little closer to reality. It makes you believe that things actually did take place. This is why, when it comes to buying the best World War II book, you should opt for something that stimulates your imagination and allows you to see the characters.
Even though some authors will not go into the detail of each character but will give you sufficient information to develop an idea about a particular individual. Apart from the imagination factor, some books on World War II also include images if users find it hard to develop an image.
This provides precise detail into the event and what transpired as a result. A World War II book that does not allow you to build up characters mentally is bound to be a failure.
Characters You Can Identify With
While imagining characters is one thing, identifying with them is another. This factor alone turns an ordinary book into a good book. Then again, good World War II books will give you ample opportunity to identify yourself and become familiar with the characters. To understand what a character might have thought or felt at that time, you need to step into their shoes for a moment.
On the other hand, you will come across many examples of great literature that lack characters for the readers to identify with. However, these examples explain the events in such a way that the reader puts him/herself in place and imagines the extent of atrocities and violence they would have witnessed and experienced at the time.
This, as a result, allows them to understand the author’s vision along with the angle being used to describe the overall event.
The Language Style
Typically, war books tend to be relatively different from other types. A book based on World War II will not meet the criteria of a good book if it is badly written, irrespective of how fascinating the plot or engaging the characters. However, the language style is a personal preference.
However, the majority of the readers prefer short sentences that are easier to read and understand. If a reader has to look up a word on the internet after every few seconds, the irritation factor will take place. At the same time, if the book is well-written, a reader can indulge in sentences ten times as long and not even slightly budge.
Recommended Products for You
Quick Pick Section
|Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France (Best-Overall)
|The Miracle of Dunkirk By Walter Lord (Best-Budget)
1. Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France
Normandy invasion was one of the most highlighting events of World War II and no one could have done it better than James Holland, who happens to be a renowned historian, author, and Royal Historical Society fellow. In this book, he brilliantly explains the defining battles of World War II.
Pushing through the established D-Day narrative, Holland makes use of archived material and first-hand accounts to illuminate the Operation Overlord drama, the fascinating concentrated planning, and the splendid victory that helped the Allied forces achieve victory. The result is a book with a thorough and newly established narrative, which is a must-read for all.
- In-depth detail
- New narrative
- First-hand accounts
2. 1942 By Winston Groom
The year 1941 saw the American territory experiencing an unexpected attack. As the unprepared country prepared to defend and attack its homeland, a worldwide war broke out. For those who have lived through the event, the Second World War was undoubtedly a defining event of the 20th century.
The next year experienced the defining moments of that war as the Allies faced several defeats. However, soon the tides turned and the United States went on full attack mode. As the year ended, the victory could be felt and Groom’s accomplished storyteller eye made it possible to explain all that with remarkable details today.
- Provides a complete picture
- Easy read
- Accurate information
3. The Good War By Studs Terkel
You might have come across several best world war ii books to read but The Good War by Studs Terkel definitely stands out. The primary reason being that the author is known for being an extraordinary oral historian and interviewer.
At a time when the world was turned upside down, Terkel was a pipe fitter’s apprentice at Pearl Harbor who became a crew member of the flight crew that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. This is as close to the World War II accounts and experiences as you can get. Infact, prominent publishing houses including People magazine have termed the book “a splendid epic history”.
The book was published 40 years after the war and recalls the most important moments through the eyes of the author. His perspective, experience, and storytelling technique earned him a Pulitzer Prize.
- Won the Pulitzer Prize
- Personal experiences
- Dramatic and intimate
4. Auschwitz and the Allies By Martin Gilbert
Auschwitz and the Allies by Martin Gilbert is a thorough analysis of the actions of the allies upon learning the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. This book takes the readers on a ride to understanding what could the allies have done differently in World War II and why did it take them so long to react to the Nazi horrors.
Auschwitz is known to be one of the most violent and horrific accounts of human rights violations along with the series of decisions that lead to this course. With the war on one hand and the fate of millions on the other, Gilbert leaves no stones unturned when it comes to explaining the horrors of war.
A unique feature of this book is that it includes twenty maps specifically prepared to explain history in better detail in addition to thirty-four photographs and firsthand accounts of the escaped Auschwitz prisoners.
- Specifically prepared maps
- Extrinsic details of the Auschwitz horrors
- First-hand Auschwitz escaped prisoners accounts
5. The Miracle of Dunkirk By Walter Lord
Amongst the many events that took place between 1940 and 1941, Dunkirk was amongst the most important. Hitler’s blitzkrieg had broken the remnants of the French and British armies who were forced to retreat to Dunkirk. At the time, 338,000 soldiers stood against the overwhelming Nazi strength.
If Hitler was successful in crushing them, the path to Paris and London would have been clear. The soldiers were unable to retreat and set up defense positions, waiting for deliverance. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation on May 26 but Britain was not ready to disappoint its soldiers.
Soon, hundreds of pleasure yachts, fishing boats, and vessels backed up the Royal Navy and helped return the army home. This book by Walter Lord is a splendid recall of the World War II week that kept everything and everyone hanging in the middle.
- Details of unexpected heroism
- New York Times Bestseller
- Inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk
6. Hiroshima By John Hersey
Everyone is well-aware of the Hiroshima incident. The consequences of the event were so extreme that even today, the Japanese living around or near that particular area suffer from deformities. Hiroshima by John Hersey was originally published on August 31, 1946 issue of the New Yorker.
It is a sensational account of six survivors that experienced perhaps the biggest tragedy of its time. The hype surrounding the book was so intense that the newsstands sold out and regular programming was interrupted by radio stations to broadcast the entire reading.
The publishing of the book was the first time the Americans were reading about the horrors of nuclear warfare. From the vaporized people to the soldiers with melted eyes, the book became a healing process between American and Japan.
- Memoirs of survivors
- Explains Hiroshima day in detail
- Compelling journey
7. With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
With the Old Breed is a World War II book based on an Alabama boy who was considered a hero as he was thrown into the battle of Peleliu. Eugene B. Sledge remembers the battle as nothing more than a nightmare of explosions, flashes, and snapping bullets.
Sledge pens down the horrors of the front lines and acts of savagery committed by both sides, using the notes he kept secretly in his pocket. However, he also admires the courage of his fellow soldiers. If you want something that keeps you on your toes, this is it. A New York Times bestseller for a reason.
- One of the top five books on 20th-century battles
- New York Times bestseller
- An honest account of heroism and fear
Here is a quick comparison table to make your purchase decision easier
Even though decades have gone by since the occurrence of World War II but history still remembers the unfortunate events and the millions of lives affected. Each day was a tragedy, filled with fear, panic, savagery, and acts of heroism, courage, and bravery. If you wish to study the World War II events in detail and especially the events that changed the course of history, you should consider the above-mentioned books.
If you want an overall look at the Second World War, we suggest reading Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle for France, which helps establish a new narrative via the Normandy invasion.
On the other hand, if you wish to learn about the event that inspired one of the most acclaimed directors in the world, then we suggest reading The Miracle of Dunkirk By Walter Lord.