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
247 69
The Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
carlybobarly added Kristin Hannah

2
386 134
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Markus Zusak

3
285 89
The Winds of War is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk - Herman Wouk

4
212 59
War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk

5
248 83
All the Light We Cannot See is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2

6
189 59
Night is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Elie Wiesel

7
167 57
The Eagle Has Landed is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Jack Higgins

8
142 45
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
189 75
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Kurt Vonnegut

10
214 91
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Joseph Heller

11
176 75
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2

12
134 63
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 48
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
99 51
The Naked and the Dead is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Norman Mailer

15
59 20
The Caine Mutiny is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Charles Hornaday added Herman Wouk

16
97 53
Battle Cry is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris - Leon Uris

17
106 63
Sarah's Key is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Tatiana De Rosnay

18
98 62
Atonement is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ian McEwan

19
77 45
Eye of the Needle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
slaft added Ken Follett

20
100 66
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Arthur Golden

21
86 59
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 49
Mila 18 is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris

23
83 58
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
14 1
The Cypher Bureau Eilidh McGin... is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
68 49
King Rat is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added James Clavell

26
34 21
The Unknown Soldier is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Väinö Linna

27
41 33
Grave of the Fireflies is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Akiyuki Nosaka

28
55 50
Winter: a Novel of a Berlin Fa... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2

29
45 40
Suite Française is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Irène Némirovsky

30
29 26
The Forbidden Forest is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Mircea Eliade

31
24 22
Nord is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

32
23 22
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 21
Rigadoon is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

34
41 50
Hornet Flight is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ken Follett

35
14 14
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
westcoastwayne added Eugene Sledge

36
39 49
SS-GB is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Len Deighton

37
40 51
Jackdaws is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ken Follett

38
27 33
Life and Fate is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Vasily Grossman

39
16 18
Fable for Another Time is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added

40
18 21
Fragebogen: the Questionnaire is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Ernst von Salomon

41
17 20
Under the North Star is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Väinö Linna

42
30 40
Stones from the River is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ursula Hegi

43
15 19
Blue Island is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Jean Raspail

44
11 14
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
25 36
Gravity's Rainbow is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Thomas Pynchon

46
13 19
Normance is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added Louis-Ferdinand Céline

47
15 22
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
8 13
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 38
Resistance is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Owen Sheers

50
11 19
L'europe Buissonnière is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mollevangsvagen added