World War II

Subject Guides Books Reading Lists World War II

World War II was waged from 1939 to 1945, and involved most of the world's nations.

Historical fiction set during the Second World War, selected by Forbes Library Staff. Summaries from ContentCafe, NoveList, Wikipedia, Amazon.com. March 2011.

  • Unbroken : A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
    On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared--Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor.
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
    In 1935 England, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses an event involving her sister Cecilia and her childhood friend Robbie Turner, and she becomes the victim of her own imagination, which leads her on a lifelong search for truth and absolution.
  • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
    In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.
  • Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
    The decade following World War II becomes one of tragedy, excitement, and unexpected change for the five Novak children and the residents of their western Pennsylvania community of company houses, church festivals, and union squabbles.
  • Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
    Following orders from the United States Army, several young Japanese American men train K-9 units to hunt Asians during World War II by being the dogs' bait.
  • The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II by Jeff Shaara
    As the forces of Nazi Germany overrun the nations of Europe and America is drawn into the war by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American troops and their British allies launch a desperate campaign to stop Hitler.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
    When artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II are uncovered during renovations at a Seattle hotel, Henry Lee embarks on a quest that leads to memories of growing up Chinese in a city rife with anti-Japanese sentiment.
  • The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
    The stories of a small Cape Cod postmistress and an American radio reporter stationed in London collide on the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II, a meeting that is shaped by a broken promise to deliver a letter.
  • The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
    A historical novel set in 1937 Europe tells the story of three Hungarian Jewish brothers bound by history and love, of a marriage tested by disaster, of a Jewish family's struggle against annihilation by the Nazis and of the dangerous power of art in the time of war.
  • The World at Night by Alan Furst
    In 1940 Paris, film producer and bon vivant Jean Casson undertakes a dangerous mission against Germany in the world of espionage, an assignment that could cost him everything--even his life.
  • Nemesis by Philip Roth
    In a book set in 1944 Newark, devoted playground director Bucky Cantor, sidelined from the war due to his poor eyesight, watches in horror as the city's polio epidemic begins to ravage the children on his playground.
  • When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka
    A story told from five different points of view, chronicles the experiences of Japanese Americans caught up in the nightmare of the World War II internment camps.
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
    In a novel that moves back and forth between the Soviet Union during World War II and modern-day America, Marina, an elderly Russian woman, recalls vivid images of her youth during the height of the siege of Leningrad.
  • The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
    In the aftermath of World War II, young men and women living in Europe and Asia reconstruct their lives, including a soldier who learns that material goods and success are not enough, and a woman in Japan who tends to her dying brother.

Category: Reading Lists, Historical Fiction

Page last changed: September 19, 2012, at 01:32 PM EST.