The Best Novels About World War 2

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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  • War and Remembrance
    1
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    • First Published: 1978
    • Subjects: Classics, Military
    • Genres (Book): War novel, Children's literature, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
  • Night
    2
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    Elie Wiesel
    • First Published: 1955
    • Subjects: Literary, Entertainment, Poland, Modern history, World War II
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Biography, Fiction, Autobiography, Novel
    • Original Language: Yiddish Language
  • The Winds of War
    3
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    Herman Wouk
    • First Published: 1971-11-15
    • Subjects: Classics, Military
    • Genres (Book): War novel, Children's literature, Fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    Herman Wouk
  • The Nightingale
    4
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    Kristin Hannah
    • First Published: 1843
    • Subjects: Mythology, Classics, Folklore, Asia, Places
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Fairy tale, Short story
    • Original Language: Danish Language
  • All the Light We Cannot See
    5
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      • First Published: 1952
      • Subjects: World War II
      • Genres (Book): War novel
      • Original Language: French Language
    • The Caine Mutiny
      7
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      Herman Wouk
      • First Published: 1951
      • Subjects: Literature, Classics, Military, United States of America, World War II
      • Genres (Book): Novel
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Eagle Has Landed
      8
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      • First Published: 1975-09-08
      • Subjects: Espionage, Adventure, Military, British Isles, Germany
      • Genres (Book): War novel, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Book Thief
      9
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      Markus Zusak
      • First Published: 2006-03
      • Subjects: Storytelling, Death, History, Germany
      • Genres (Book): Historical fiction, Fiction, Young adult literature, Novel
      • Original Language: English Language, German Language
    • Catch-22
      10
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      Joseph Heller
      • First Published: 1961-11-11
      • Subjects: Drama, World War II
      • Genres (Book): War novel, Black comedy, Satire, Historical fiction, Absurdist fiction
      • Original Language: American English, English Language
    • Slaughterhouse-Five
      11
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      Kurt Vonnegut
      • First Published: 1969
      • Subjects: Literary, American science fiction, Classics, Prisoner of war, World War II
      • Genres (Book): Philosophy, Speculative fiction, War novel, Black comedy, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Thin Red Line
      12
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      • First Published: 1962
      • Subjects: Literature, Classics, Military, World War II
      • Genres (Book): War novel, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Battle Cry
      13
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      Leon Uris
      • Subjects: Adventure, Military
      • Genres (Book): Fiction
      Leon Uris
      • First Published: 2006-01-05
      • Subjects: Music, Poland, Friendship
      • Genres (Book): Tragicomedy, Children's literature, Fable, Historical novel
      • Original Language: English Language
    • The Naked and the Dead
      15
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      • First Published: 1948
      • Subjects: Literary, Philippines Campaign, Military, World War II, 112th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
      • Genres (Book): Fiction
    • Eye of the Needle
      16
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      • Subjects: Espionage, Suspense, Scotland, History, Germany
      • Genres (Book): Suspense, Fiction
    • Empire of the Sun
      17
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      J. G. Ballard
      • First Published: 1984-09-13
      • Subjects: China, J. G. Ballard, World War II, History
      • Genres (Book): War novel, Historical fiction, Autobiographical novel, Fiction
      • Original Language: English Language
      • First Published: 1981
      • Subjects: Battle of Okinawa, Eugene Sledge, Battle of Peleliu, Military, History
      • Genres (Book): Memoir
      • Original Language: English Language
    • Sarah's Key
      19
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      Tatiana De Rosnay
      • First Published: Sep 01 2006
      • Genres (Book): Fiction
      • Original Language: French Language, English Language
    • Winter of the World
      20
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      • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
        21
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        • First Published: 2008-07
        • Subjects: Literary, England
        • Genres (Book): Fiction
      • Atonement
        22
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        Ian McEwan
        • First Published: 2001
        • Subjects: Literary, English Language, British Isles, History, England
        • Genres (Book): Suspense, Mystery, Fiction
        • Original Language: English Language
      • Memoirs of a Geisha
        23
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        Arthur Golden
        • First Published: 1997-09-23
        • Subjects: Women, Japan, 20th century, History, Geisha
        • Genres (Book): Historical novel
        • Original Language: English Language
      • 24
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        James Clavell
        • First Published: 1962
        • Subjects: Prisoner of war, Military, Singapore
        • Genres (Book): War novel, Historical fiction, Fiction, Historical novel
        • Original Language: English Language
      • Mila 18
        25
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        Leon Uris
        • Subjects: Literature, Classics, History
        • Genres (Book): Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy