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Secrets, Spies, and Sacrifice: 11 Captivating Novels About World War II

Chris Delaney is the Advertising and Promotions Coordinator at Simon & Schuster and had the pleasure of naming OfftheShelf. He loves books with humor—the darker the better. You can follow him on Twitter as long as you don’t follow him in person. @_Chris_Delaney

There are many sides in a war—and many stories to tell. From the French countryside to Leningrad, from Tokyo to the home front, these novels provide a kaleidoscopic view of World War II. As we remember the terrible events of December 7, 1941, these eleven novels remind us that the war affected so many people in so many different ways.


City of Thieves
by David Benioff

During the Nazi siege of Leningrad, two convicted prisoners set out to collect a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake—or face the firing squad. This smart, intimate story about courage and survival is compelling and full of heart.

City of Thieves
David Benioff

During the Nazi siege of Leningrad, two convicted prisoners set out to collect a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake—or face the firing squad. This smart, intimate story about courage and survival is compelling and full of heart.

MENTIONED IN:

Secrets, Spies, and Sacrifice: 11 Captivating Novels About World War II

By Chris Delaney | December 3, 2015

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The Street of a Thousand Blossoms
by Gail Tsukiyama

Tokyo, 1939. Two orphaned brothers have dreams rooted in Japanese tradition but live in a world on the brink of war. This tale of ritual and change, loss and renewal, and love and family is a powerfully moving work of historical fiction.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms
Gail Tsukiyama

Tokyo, 1939. Two orphaned brothers have dreams rooted in Japanese tradition but live in a world on the brink of war. This tale of ritual and change, loss and renewal, and love and family is a powerfully moving work of historical fiction.

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Midnight in Europe
by Alan Furst

A romantic, suspenseful, and harrowing adventure of spies and their secret operations in Europe as World War II breaks out. A taut, spellbinding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare—and the heroes and heroines who fought back against the darkness.

Midnight in Europe
Alan Furst

A romantic, suspenseful, and harrowing adventure of spies and their secret operations in Europe as World War II breaks out. A taut, spellbinding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare—and the heroes and heroines who fought back against the darkness.

MENTIONED IN:

Secrets, Spies, and Sacrifice: 11 Captivating Novels About World War II

By Chris Delaney | December 3, 2015

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The Winds of War
by Herman Wouk
One of the most prodigious novels written about World War II, this epic follows the story of Navy commander Victor “Pug” Henry and his family as they are pulled into the chaos and frenzy of the war leading up to and immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Winds of War
Herman Wouk

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and 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.

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War and Remembrance
by Herman Wouk

The sequel to The Winds of War continues the story of the Henry family as they and America become deeply entrenched in the war, all the while capturing the passion, courage, and tribulations of World War II.

War and Remembrance
Herman Wouk

The sequel to The Winds of War continues the story of the Henry family as they and America become deeply entrenched in the war, all the while capturing the passion, courage, and tribulations of World War II.

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Charlotte Gray
by Sebastian Faulks

In this vividly rendered and remarkably moving novel, a young Scottish woman joins the Resistance while searching for her lover, an RAF airman who failed to return from a daring mission into Occupied France.

Charlotte Gray
Sebastian Faulks

In this vividly rendered and remarkably moving novel, a young Scottish woman joins the Resistance while searching for her lover, an RAF airman who failed to return from a daring mission into Occupied France.

MENTIONED IN:

Secrets, Spies, and Sacrifice: 11 Captivating Novels About World War II

By Chris Delaney | December 3, 2015

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Youth Without God
by Odon Von Horvath

A schoolteacher in an unnamed country—all too similar to Nazi Germany—challenges authority and inspires his students by holding to his convictions despite the repercussions that follow. This dark fable is all the more powerful because the author himself had to flee the Third Reich.

Youth Without God
Odon Von Horvath

A schoolteacher in an unnamed country—all too similar to Nazi Germany—challenges authority and inspires his students by holding to his convictions despite the repercussions that follow. This dark fable is all the more powerful because the author himself had to flee the Third Reich.

MENTIONED IN:

Secrets, Spies, and Sacrifice: 11 Captivating Novels About World War II

By Chris Delaney | December 3, 2015

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The Secret Keeper
by Kate Morton
A gripping mystery about family secrets, murder, and enduring love. Three strangers in war-torn London find their lives forever entwined in this novel of passion and deception.
The Secret Keeper
Kate Morton

Sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnessed a shocking crime that challenged everything she knows about her adored mother. Now reunited on their mother’s ninetieth birthday, Laurel and her sisters search for clues to illuminate the truth about that long-ago day. It is a mesmerizing novel of family secrets, murder, and enduring love.

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Gone to Soldiers
by Marge Piercy
Sweeping from North Africa to New Zealand, and from Palestine to Japan, this epic captures images of deprivation, terror, and excitement during WWII, from the front lines to the home front, through the eyes of ten distinct characters. Each fights their own private and public battles, while their lives intertwine and diverge and the world burns around them.
Gone to Soldiers
Marge Piercy

“More than 750 pages long, GONE TO SOLDIERS can definitely be intimidating, and I knew when I picked up this novel that it would need to be extraordinary in order to hold my attention for a few weeks. Thankfully, I was not disappointed.”

Read Erin Flaaen’s review here.

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The Time In Between
by Maria Duenas
A desperate and talented young Spanish woman transforms herself into a prestigious couturier in Morocco for Nazi officers’ wives—which gives her the perfect cover to spy for the Allies.
The Time In Between
Maria Duenas

An outstanding success around the world, The Time in Between has sold more than two million copies and inspired the Spanish television series based on the book, dubbed by the media as the “Spanish Downton Abbey.” In the US it was a critical and commercial hit, and a New York Times bestseller in paperback. It is one of those rare, richly textured novels that enthrall down to the last page. María Dueñas reminds us how it feels to be swept away by a masterful storyteller.

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The Secret of Raven Point
by Jennifer Vanderbes

When seventeen-year-old Juliet Dufresne receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted brother and then discovers that he’s been reported missing in action on the Italian front, she lies about her age and travels to the front lines as an army nurse, determined to find him.

The Secret of Raven Point
Jennifer Vanderbes

When seventeen-year-old Juliet Dufresne receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted brother and then discovers that he’s been reported missing in action on the Italian front, she lies about her age and travels to the front lines as an army nurse, determined to find him.

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