Culture

The Best Novels About World War 2  

Ranker Books
10.1k votes 2.2k voters 145.6k views 100 items

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. 
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list ordered by
1
The Winds of War is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk
Herman Wouk
2
War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk
3
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Markus Zusak
4
The Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
carlybobarly added Kristin Hannah
5
All the Light We Cannot See is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
6
Night is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Elie Wiesel
7
The Bridge over the River Kwai is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Pierre Boulle
8
The Eagle Has Landed is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Jack Higgins
9
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Joseph Heller
10
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Kurt Vonnegut
11
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
12
The Thin Red Line is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added James Jones
13
The Caine Mutiny is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Charles Hornaday added Herman Wouk
14
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
Battle Cry is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris
Leon Uris
16
Empire of the Sun is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added J. G. Ballard
17
The Cypher Bureau Eilidh McGin... is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
Sarah's Key is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Tatiana De Rosnay
19
Eye of the Needle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
slaft added Ken Follett
20
Mila 18 is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris
21
Atonement is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ian McEwan
22
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Arthur Golden
23
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
Winter of the World is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Clark Benson added Ken Follett
25
One Clear Call is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Jim_In_Texas added Paul Urquhart, Upton Sinclair, Jr.