Happy Veterans Day!
In honor of all who have served or are serving, on this November 11 we rounded up eleven best book titles. They’re set during world wars. If you love to read gripping, engaging stories about people and events set within compelling historical settings, these are among the best. Both fiction and non-fiction are included. How many have you read? (Psssst! Be sure to catch our upcoming November 13 post. Set in Italy just after WWII.)
1. My Family for the War, by Anne Voorhoeve
Escaping Nazi Germany on the kindertransport changes one girl’s life forever
Ten-year-old Franziska Mangold is torn from her family in Berlin and taken out of Nazi territory aboard the kindertransport. The train secretly takes nearly 10,000 children to safety in England. Taken in by strangers who become like family, Frances (as she is now known) courageously pieces together a new life for herself because she doesn’t know when or if she’ll see her true family again. Frances struggles with questions of identity, family, and love ,against the backdrop of war-torn London.
Originally published in Germany, Anne Voorhoeve’s award-winning novel is filled with humor, danger, and romance. A captivating, compelling read.
2 & 3. The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie ten Boom and A Prisoner and Yet…, by Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom and her family became leaders in the Dutch Underground, hiding Jewish people in their home in a specially built room and aiding their escape from the Nazis. For their help, all but Corrie found death in a concentration camp. The Hiding Place is their story.
A Prisoner and Yet… When the Nazis overran Holland Corrie ten Boom, her father and sister, chose to risk death by making their quiet, respectable home a haven for refugees. Finally the Gestapo came and during the months in a concentration camp that followed, Corrie ten Boom shared suffering and torture, watched her father and sister die. Yet she survived, mind intact, soul still free.
Where did this gentle, undemanding woman find the courage to resist… to suffer… and to endure? This book contains the answer. It reveals a belief in Jesus Christ that carried an innocent woman through some of the worst agonies man can devise.
The Hiding Place is one of the most gripping, inspiring stories I’ve ever read. In fact, I’ve re-read it and its “companion volume,” A Prisoner and Yet, numerous times. Both titles get five stars!
4. The Wartime Sisters, by Lynda Cohen Loigman
Insightful, poignant and powerful in its subtlety, this novel is a deep dive into the unique sisterhood of unrelated women. Set during WWII.
Read my full review here.
5. Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika, by Maria Anne Hirschmann
“Don’t ever forget Jesus!” This tearful admonition of her foster mother followed the teen-aged orphan girl as she began her trip to Prague.
Maria (“Hansi”) was the envy of all in her little Czechoslovakian village. She won a scholarship to the Nazi school in the capital and would be able to serve the Fuhrer.
Thus Maria began a long journey into blind devotion to Hitler and the atheism of the Nazi system. The path led to a storybook romance…cruel disillusionment at Hitler’s suicide…a traumatic awakening to the swastika’s scourge across Europe and upon the Jews…a breathtaking escape from Communists… and a reemergence into the love and lordship of her mother’s Jesus.
6. All Ships Follow Me: A Family Memoir of War Across Three Continents, by Mieke Eerkens
An engrossing, epic saga of one family’s experiences on both sides of WWII. All Ships Follow Me questions our common narrative of the conflict and our stark notions of victim and perpetrator, while tracing the lasting effects of war through several generations.
Read my full review here.
7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
A shatteringly beautiful love story set amid the tragedy and horror of a Nazi death camp. This riveting, remarkable story of hope and courage is based on interviews were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.
Wait. Did I say “seven”? Okay. I fibbed.
Here are four more compelling stories that take place during world wars.
8. War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo
It’s 1914. Joey, a sturdy farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of World War I on the Western Front. When Joey is dragged away, his heart aches for Albert, the farmer’s son he’s forced to leave behind. In the army the beautiful red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off the battlefields.
Amongst the clamoring of guns, and while plodding through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. If it does, will he ever see Albert again?
Heart-rending and riveting. I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting.
10. An Eagle in the Snow, by Michael Morpurgo
Inspired by the true story of the man who might’ve stopped WWII. The Mother Lode of “What ifs?”
Read my full review here.
11. Making Bombs for Hitler, by Maria Forchuk Skrypuch
Lida thought she was safe. Her neighbors wearing the yellow star were all taken away. But Lida isn’t Jewish. She’ll be fine, right?
But Lida’s parents are ripped away from her and she’s separated from her beloved sister, Larissa. The Nazis take Lida to a brutal work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children are forced into backbreaking labor. Starving and terrified, Lida bonds with her fellow prisoners. But none of them know if they’ll live to see tomorrow.
When Lida and her friends are assigned to make bombs for the German army, Lida cannot stand the thought of helping the enemy. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs… and the Nazis? Can she do so without getting caught? Will Lida ever see her sister again?
I read this start to finish in one sitting. Couldn’t put it down!
November 11, 2020 at 7:15 am
I will have to embarrass myself. I haven’t read any of them. I’m interested it Corrie Ten Boom’s story. I have watched many of her lectures and interviews, but I have never read the books. I guess I’d add Anne Frank’s diary. I like “Where Eagles Dare” and “The Guns of Navarone” by Alistair MacLean. They don’t really belong on this list, though.
November 11, 2020 at 3:48 pm
Corrie ten Boom is a personal favorite. Her story was also made into a major motion picture, “The Hiding Place.”
November 11, 2020 at 9:51 am
I have watched some of “The Hiding Place” on YouTube, but it is so long and the events are so heartbreaking, that I’ve never finished it. I know I should. I respected her teachings so much. She always spoke with a lot of wisdom and love.
November 11, 2020 at 6:22 pm
Not an easy film to watch. But definitely worthwhile. Corrie appears at the end as herself. Getting it on disc might be better.