7 Great Books about People Dealing with WWII




If you’re reading this when it’s posted, it’s D Day, the beginning of the end for WWII.  With that in mind, here’s a selection of 7 books relating to WWII, written from the perspective of civilians who also survived extraordinary horrors.

After Auschwitz: A story of heartbreak and survival by the stepsister of Anne Frank by Eva Schloss

I chose this over the better-known Diary of Anne Frank for two reasons, firstly Eva Schloss survived the war and I think the post-war part of her story is at least as interesting as the part relating to the war years and secondly, I object to the copyright battle over Anne Frank’s work.

Goodnight Mister Tom Michelle Magorian

This is billed as a children’s story but I enjoyed it as an adult.  The basic plot revolves around a boy sent to the countryside as an evacuee, who develops a close relationship with the man assigned to look after him.  Then the boy is summoned back to London but his return does not quite go as intended.

The Book Thief Markus Zusak

This is another children’s book adults seem to have adopted.  While it doesn’t shy away from portraying the horror war inflicts, it focuses on the smaller-scale horrors of everyday lives rather than the mass casualties of the battlefields.  Ultimately the message of the book is a hopeful one, the idea that, sooner or later, good can win out.

The House of Sixty Fathers Meindert Dejong

I had this read to me as a child and the reading age given is 10 to 14, but again, as an adult, I think there’s a lot to be said for it.  Most of the books I know about WWII were written from a European or U.S. perspective, perhaps that’s just a reflection of my reading, but I think it’s really interesting to have a WWII story told from the perspective of a Chinese boy, even though the author was actually born in the Netherlands and moved to the U.S.

The Puppet Boy of Warsaw: A compelling, epic journey of survival and hope by Eva Weaver

This is actually a book for adults, very much so, but the protagonist starts the story as a teenage boy in Warsaw, right before the German invasion.  At its heart, it’s a tale of friendship between the boy, who is Jewish, and an occupying German soldier and highlights, sometimes brutally, the difference between the interests of the elite, who make wars, and the ordinary people who have to survive them.

The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

This is another book I  had read to me as a child and still rate highly as an adult.  It’s a tale of how a family is forcibly separated by war and how the children fend for themselves as they try to make their way to where they hope they may find their parents.

The Sledge Patrol: A WWII Epic of Escape, Survival, and Victory by David Howarth

When I first saw the title of this book, I actually thought it was a novel, but it’s not.  It’s a true story and was originally written shortly after the war (in the 1950s) based on testimony from the people involved.  Without the historical context, this would still have been a great adventure story.

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