Literature The Best Novels About World War 2  

Ranker Books
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List Rules Fiction that uses WWII as a setting or major theme

This is a list about the best novels about World War 2 - basically a genre onto itself considering how extensively it has been covered in literature and art. But what are the best historical books about World War 2? Many you have probably heard of because they have won awards or have been turned into movies. Also known as the Second World War, this global war lasted from 1939 – 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world’s nations that eventually formed two opposing alliances, the Allies and the Axis. WW2 books can be novels that focus on the war itself as the central story, or they can feature the war tangentially, as a force that impacts the lives of its main characters.

World War 2 was the most widespread war in history and was marked by the deaths of millions of civilians due to the use of nuclear weapons and the Holocaust; it was the deadliest war in the history of the world. It ended May 8, 1945, and the world was left picking up the pieces from the battlefield. WWII was responsible for the formation of the United Nations, a program that fosters international co-operation to prevent future conflicts. Many biographies were birthed from this time period in history, including some of the world’s greatest novels like The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Thomas Keneally’s Schindler's Ark which later inspired the film Schindler’s List. Good WW2 lists continue to come out every year, with top novels like All the Light We Cannot See winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015.

While true stories emerged that would forever capture our hearts, this list features some noteworthy WW2 fictional stories that many times were based on true events that occurred. 
list ordered by

1
243 65
The Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
carlybobarly added Kristin Hannah

2
279 86
The Winds of War is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk - Herman Wouk

3
378 132
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Markus Zusak

4
208 57
War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk

5
244 81
All the Light We Cannot See is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2

6
185 57
Night is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Elie Wiesel

7
163 55
The Eagle Has Landed is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Jack Higgins

8
138 43
The Bridge over the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Pierre Boulle

9
188 73
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Kurt Vonnegut

10
212 87
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Joseph Heller

11
170 74
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2

12
134 60
The Thin Red Line is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added James Jones

13
99 46
Empire of the Sun is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added J. G. Ballard

14
59 17
The Caine Mutiny is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Charles Hornaday added Herman Wouk

15
99 49
The Naked and the Dead is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Norman Mailer

16
95 50
Battle Cry is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris - Leon Uris

17
104 61
Sarah's Key is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Tatiana De Rosnay

18
96 59
Atonement is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ian McEwan

19
76 43
Eye of the Needle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
slaft added Ken Follett

20
99 64
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Arthur Golden

21
86 57
Winter of the World is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Clark Benson added Ken Follett

22
74 47
Mila 18 is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris

23
82 55
The Guernsey Literary and Pota... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows

24
68 47
King Rat is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added James Clavell

25
33 18
The Unknown Soldier is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Väinö Linna

26
41 31
Grave of the Fireflies is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Akiyuki Nosaka

27
55 48
Winter: a Novel of a Berlin Fa... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2

28
11 1
The Cypher Bureau Eilidh McGin... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
immo added

A novel inspired by the life of Marian Rejewski, the Polish mathematician who first solved Enigma in 1932. The novel follows Marian's life and the adventures of the Polish codebreaking team as they flee  Poland after it's invasion in 1939

29
44 38
Suite Française is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Irène Némirovsky

30
29 24
The Forbidden Forest is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Mircea Eliade

31
24 20
Nord is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

32
23 20
Castle to Castle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

33
21 19
Rigadoon is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

34
41 48
Hornet Flight is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ken Follett

35
39 46
SS-GB is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Len Deighton

36
13 12
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu... is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
westcoastwayne added Eugene Sledge

37
16 16
Fable for Another Time is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added

38
18 19
Fragebogen: the Questionnaire is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Ernst von Salomon

39
27 31
Life and Fate is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Vasily Grossman

40
17 18
Under the North Star is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Väinö Linna

41
40 49
Jackdaws is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ken Follett

42
15 17
Blue Island is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Jean Raspail

43
30 38
Stones from the River is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ursula Hegi

44
11 12
Once We Were Brothers is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Marykins added Ronald H. Balson

45
13 17
Normance is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

46
25 34
Gravity's Rainbow is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Thomas Pynchon

47
15 20
Under the North Star 2: The Up... is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Väinö Linna

48
7 11
Behind the lines is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
yosoykarlos added W. E. B. Griffin -

All Griffin's books are good, but this one stands out because it tells the implausible story of Wendell Fertig, real person and Army engineer who refused to surrender to the Japanese in the Philippines after Pearl Harbor. Faced with MacArthur's refusal to countenance guerrilla operations in the Philippines, Fertig promoted himself to Brigadier General and organized a highly successful guerrilla army composed of fellow Americans of all services left behind by MacArthur and Filipinos, ultimately numbering some 20,000 effectives.

49
24 36
Resistance is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Owen Sheers

50
11 17
L'europe Buissonnière is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added