Author's Recommendations

Additional Reading

The following are brief reviews on some of the author’s favorite books on Germany during and between the two World Wars

A Concise History of Nazi Germany, Fifth Edition by Joseph W. Bendersky – “an authoritative survey of the major political, economic, and social factors that powered the rise and fall of the Third Reich. … Bendersky paints a fascinating picture of how average citizens negotiated their way through both the threatening power behind certain Nazi policies and the strong enticements to acquiesce or collaborate.” (Rowman & Littlefield)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – “a story of morality, science and Nazi occupation … a page-turner, entirely absorbing … gently probes the question of how ordinary German people could have done what they did … his attention to detail is magnificent. Always you want to know what happens next.” (The Guardian)

Hitler Youth by Michael H. Kater -“traces the history of the Hitler Youth, examining the means, degree, and impact of conversion, and the subsequent fate of young recruits.” (Harvard University Press)

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson – “A popular chronicler of life and lore vividly charts a particularly pivotal season in American history … [that] reanimates the events and principal players across five key months in 1927.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – “her extraordinary depth and fine literary ability, combined with her optimism in the face of such adversity made her account a literary and historical treasure.” (Smithsonian Magazine)

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:  A History of Nazi Germany by William Shirer – “the National Book Award–winning bestseller that is the definitive study of Adolf Hitler, the rise of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and World War II.” (Simon & Shuster)

The Third Reich Trilogy by Richard J. Evans – “Drawing on years of experience as a leading scholar of German history, Evans produced what some historians call the most extensive and comprehensive history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s regime ever produced by a single scholar.” (Wikipedia)

Wolfhilde’s Hitler Youth Diary 1939-1946 by Wolfhilde von König, translated by Hedwig Hamer and Monika Turjillo – “the chronicle of a girl growing up in Munich during the most volatile time in world history.” (Amazon)

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell – “the story of how one woman stood up to be counted and made a difference to the history of the world.” (Amazon)

Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the 20th Century by Konrad H. Jarausch – “a gripping account of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of ordinary Germans who came of age under Hitler and whose lives were scarred and sometimes destroyed by what they saw and did. (Princeton University Press)

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti“offers a unique and riveting perspective on WWII by focusing on the young people who followed Hitler from 1933–1945. The narrative primarily focuses on members of the Hitler Youth, but also profiles some of the group’s dissidents and its Jewish targets.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – “A challenging book in both length and subject … The narrator is Death himself, a companionable if sarcastic fellow, who travels the globe “handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity.” Death keeps plenty busy during the course of this WWII tale, even though Zusak … works in miniature, focusing on the lives of ordinary Germans in a small town outside Munich.” (Publishers Weekly)

The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer –“We are transported to Berlin during World War II in this poignant tale about two women who lead divergent lives and beliefs yet prove to be alike in many aspects … Hair-raising and heartbreaking, [it] depicts the cruelty of a madman who brainwashed his followers into believing he was right in his actions while destroying the lives of countless innocent people.” (New York Review of Books)

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson – “Through the remarkably skillful use of intimate diaries as well as public documents, some newly released, Larson has transformed the well-known record of 12 turbulent months, stretching from May of 1940 through May of 1941, into a book that is fresh, fast and deeply moving.” (New York Times)

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk – “Like no other masterpiece of historical fiction … Wouk’s spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events, as well as all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II, as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war’s maelstrom.” (Hachette Book Group)

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque – “the most famous anti-war novel ever written, now a major Netflix film adaptation. … the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches [of World War I]. (Penguin Books)

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – “the first part of the Century Trilogy which follows five interrelated families throughout the course of the 20th century. The first book covers notable events such as World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage. The sequel Winter of the World covers World War II and … the third book, Edge of Eternity, covers the Cold War” (Wikipedia)

Holocaust and Human Behavior by Facing History and Ourselves – “uses readings, primary source material, and short documentary films to examine the challenging history of the Holocaust and prompt reflection on our world today. This website is designed to let you skip around or read the book from cover to cover.” (

The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic by Benjamin Carter Hett – “How a hypernationalist, crafty liar exploited political divisions in 1930s Germany.” (

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – “this unforgettable novel of love and strength in the face of war … captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. (Macmillan Publishers)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – “Yes, this book is about the horrors of the Holocaust, but more than this, it’s a book about love and the limits of human endurance. There is violence and loss, but at the same time, the reader is also a witness to bravery and determination.” (Princeton Book Review)

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

While not based in Germany, this is still a novel that’s “extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic.” (Wall Street Journal)