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Reading the War: The People's War 100

Updated Friday, 11th February 2005

We have a comprehensive reading list for anybody interested in the Second World War

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Squadron Leader LW Feltham DFC

The Second World War was unquestionably one of the defining events of the Twentieth Century; a conflict which spread across the planet and reached into people's homes and lives to a degree never witnessed before. Much of the history of the last sixty years has its roots in that war. It's unsurprising that it should have proved to be such a source of inspiration for artists and writers, from those seeking to try and capture the horror of the slaughter they witnessed first hand, to the writers churning out comic strips for the thriving "Achtung! Englander!" market of boys' comics like Battle and Victor - titles which continued to thrive long after the children of the war generation had grown and had children, even grandchildren, of their own.

What follows is a list of one hundred books that were inspired by, written during, or focused on the Second World War. We've arranged them according to theme, and under each theme you'll find a variety - memoirs, literary novels, popular titles; even books for children and a little poetry. There's love stories, tales of extraordinary bravery and eyewitnesses to terrible horror.

War Graves in France


Non Fiction

Diana Mosley - a Life by Jan Dalley
Published by Faber ISBN: 0571203515

What Did You Do in the War, Mummy? By Mavis Nicholson
Published by Pimlico ISBN: 0712674640
Also published by Ulverscroft ISBN: 0708936385

The Women Who Lived for Danger by Marcus Binney
Published by Coronet ISBN: 0340818409

They Fought in the Fields by Nicola Tyrer
Published by Sinclair Stevenson ISBN: 1856195546

Corsets to Camoflage – Women and War by Kate Adie
Published by Hodder ISBN: 0340820594

Popular Fiction

When One Door Closes by Joan Jonker
Published by Headline ISBN: 0750510250

The Chestnut Tree by Charlotte Bingham
Published by Bantam ISBN: 0552767018

Rising Summer by Jane Staples
Published by Corgi ISBN: 0552152064

Fur Coat, No Knickers by Anna King
Published by Warner ISBN: 0751529656
Audio book published by Soundings Audio ISBN: 1860428010

Literary Fiction

Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099394316

Land Girls by Angela Huth
Published by Abacus ISBN: 0349109931
Audio book published by RH Audio ISBN: 1860219276

War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen
Published by Bloomsbury ISBN: 074756146X

The Girls They Left Behind by Lillian Harry
Published by Orion ISBN: 0752803336

Short Stories

Wave Me Goodbye/Hearts Undefeated Edited by Anne Boston
Published by Virago ISBN: 1844080315


Kate Adie, author of 'Women and War' Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Popular Fiction


The Lover by Laura Wilson
Published by Orion ISBN: 0752859803

Collected Stories by Elizabeth Bowen
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099287730

Tuppence to Tooley Street by Harry Bowling
Published by Headline ISBN: 074723194X
Also published by Magna Large Print ISBN: 1850578362

A Field of Bright Laughter by Connie Monk
Published by Fontana ISBN: 0006472435

Nellie’s War by Victor Pemberton
Published by Headline ISBN: 0755305566

The Avenue Goes to War by R F Delderfield
Published by Hodder ISBN: 0340150939

For the Love of a Soldier by June Tate
Published by Headline ISBN: 0755306570
Also published by Magna large print ISBN: 07505 1681X

Literary Fiction

The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099276461

That’s How It Was by Maureen Duffy
Published by Virago ISBN: 0860682919

Atonement by Ian McEwan
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099429799

The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley
Published by Black Swan ISBN: 0552991260

Spies by Michael Frayn
Published by Faber ISBN: 0571212964

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Published by Penguin ISBN: 0140184953


Doodlebug Alley by Robert Swindells
Published by Mammoth ISBN: 074973860X

Non Fiction

The 1940s House by Juliet Gardiner
Published by Channel 4 ISBN: 0752272535

The Village That Died for England by Patrick Wright
Published by Faber ISBN: 057121441X

Bombers & Mash by Raynes Minns
Published by Virago ISBN: 1860497942

Betty’s Wartime Diaries 1939-1945 by Betty Armitage
Published by Thorogood ISBN: 1854182218



Graeme Greene, author of The End of the Affair Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Non Fiction


Pegasus Bridge by Stephen E Ambrose
Published by Pocket Books ISBN: 074345068X

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
Published by Pocket Books ISBN: 0671890913

The D-Day Experience by Richard Holmes
Published by Carlton Books ISBN: 1844428052

Remembering D Day – Personal Histories of Everyday Heroes
by Martin Bowman
Published by Collins ISBN: 0007175663

D Day Ships by Yves Buffetaut
Published by Conway Maritime ISBN: 0851776396

Voices of D-Day by Jonathon Bastable
Published by David & Charles ISBN: 0715317903

D Day Bombers by Steve Darlow
Published by Grub Street ISBN: 1904010792

The D Day Companion edited by J Penrose
Published by Osprey ISBN: 1841767794

The Bedford Boys by Alex Kershaw
Published by Pocket Books ISBN: 074347791X

The D-Day Atlas: Anatomy of the Norman Campaign by Charles Messanger
Published by Thames & Hudson ISBN: 050025523

The D Day Invasion by Alex Kershaw
Published by Time Life Books ISBN: 1844471918

D-Day by Dan Parry
BBC 0563521163

Overlord D Day and the Battle for Normandy by Max Hastings
Published by Pan ISBN: 0330390120

D Day by Winston Churchill
Published by Salamander ISBN: 1840650958

Remembering D-Day by Martin Bowman
Published by Collins ISBN: 0007175663

Ten Days to D-Day by David Stafford
Published by Abacus ISBN: 0349115974

Popular Fiction

Dance Little Lady by Lillian Harry
Published by Orion ISBN: 0752851284

The Dirty Dozen by E M Nathanson
Published by Cassell ISBN: 0304359289


The Omaha Beach graves Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

For children:


Good Night Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
Published by Harper Collins ISBN: 006440174X
Audio tape by Penguin Audio ISBN: 0140866914

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Published by Harper Collins ISBN: 000713763X

Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan and Robert Innocenti
Published by Red Fox ISBN: 0099439506

Crowstarver by Dick King-Smith
Published by Doubleday ISBN: 0385410085

Billy the Kid by Michael Morpurgo
Published by Collins ISBN: 0007105479

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
Published by MacMillan ISBN: 0330397850

Children of Primrose Lane by Noel Streatfield
Published by Collins ISBN: 0001642146

I am David by Anne Holm
Published by Harcourt Paperbacks ISBN: 0152051600

Silver Sword by Ian Serrallier
Published by Red Fox ISBN: 0099439492
Audio tape by Penguin Audio ISBN: 0141802545

Literary Adult Fiction

Five Boys by Mick Jackson
Published by Faber ISBN: 0571206131

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
Published by Bloomsbury ISBN: 0747534969

Non Fiction

The Boy in the Blitz by Colin Perry
Published by Sutton ISBN: 075092604X

Blitz: The Diary of Eddie Benson 1940-1941
Published by Scholastic ISBN: 0439997410

The Diaries of Anne Frank
Published by Puffin ISBN: 0141315180
Audio tape by Penguin Audio ISBN: 0141801956


Evacuues from the BBC Cazalets adaptation Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Literary Fiction


The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
Published by Flamingo ISBN: 0586091157

The Thin Red Line by James Jones
Published by Sceptre ISBN: 0340728108

Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard
Published byFlamingo ISBN: 0006547001

The Soldier’s Return by Melvyn Bragg
Published by Hodder ISBN: 0340767278

An Act of Treachery by Ann Widdicombe
Published by Orion ISBN: 0752848860

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
Published by Minerva ISBN: 0749397543

The Siege by Helen Dunmore
Published by Penguin ISBN: 0141000732

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
Published by Picador ISBN: 0330349937

The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning
Published by Arrow ISBN: 0099427486

The World at Night by Alan Furst
Published by Harper Collins ISBN: 0006510973

The Great World by David Malouf
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099273861

Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott
Published by Arrow ISBN: 0099439964

A Woman of Cairo by Noel Barber
Published by Coronet ISBN: 0340377720

Popular Fiction

The Forger by Paul Watkins
Published by Faber ISBN: 0571206395

City of Gold by Len Deighton
Published by Arrow ISBN: 0099233916


Alamein to Zem Zem by Keith Douglas
Published by Penguin ISBN: 0140029370


The Railway Man by Eric Lomax
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099582317


The Last Escape by John Nichol and Tony Rendell
Published by Penguin ISBN: 014100388X


Charles Kay in BBC TV's Fortunes of War, an adaptation of the Balkans Trilogy Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Non Fiction

Alamein by John Bierman and Colin Smith
Published by Penguin ISBN: 0141004673

Band of Brothers by Stephen E Ambrose
Published by Pocket ISBN: 0743429907

Battlefields of the Second World War by Richard Holmes
Published by BBC ISBN: 0563488123

The Dambusters Raid by John Sweetman
Published by Cassell ISBN: 0304351733

Run Silent Run Deep by Eddie Beach
Published by Cassell ISBN: 0304364657

Fighter Boys by Billy Bishop
Published by Perennial ISBN: 0006532047

Second World War by Winston Churchill
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0712667024


Reach for the Sky - the Story of Douglas Bader by Paul Brickhill
Published by Cassell ISBN: 0304356743

First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
Published by Penguin ISBN: 0141008148
Audio tape by Penguin Audio ISBN: 014180484X

Literary Fiction

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Published by Vintage ISBN: 0099470462

The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh
Published by Penguin ISBN: 014018967X

That Summer by Andrew Grieg
Published by Faber ISBN: 0571204732

Popular Fiction

Bomber by Len Deighton
Published by Arrow ISBN: 0099985004

The Guns of Navarone by Alaistair Maclean
Published by Fontana ISBN: 0006125077

The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
Published by Penguin ISBN: 014100732X


Complete Poems by Keith Douglas
Published by Faber ISBN: 0571202586







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