Culture

The Best Novels About World War 2 

Ranker Books
Updated December 13, 2019 10.9k votes 2.3k voters 149.5k views 101 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. 
list ordered by
1
The Book Thief is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Markus Zusak
2
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
The Nightingale is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
carlybobarly added Kristin Hannah
4
All the Light We Cannot ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
5
War and Remembrance is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Herman Wouk
6
Night is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Elie Wiesel
7
Catch-22 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Joseph Heller
8
Slaughterhouse-Five is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Kurt Vonnegut
9
The Eagle Has Landed is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Jack Higgins
10
The Boy in the Striped P... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
11
The Bridge over the Rive... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
sebbzor added Pierre Boulle
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
Battle Cry is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris
Leon Uris
14
The Caine Mutiny is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Charles Hornaday added Herman Wouk
15
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
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
Sarah's Key is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Tatiana De Rosnay
18
Atonement is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Ian McEwan
19
Memoirs of a Geisha is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Arthur Golden
20
The Guernsey Literary an... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
21
Eye of the Needle is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
slaft added Ken Follett
22
Winter of the World is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
Clark Benson added Ken Follett
23
Mila 18 is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added Leon Uris
24
King Rat is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novels About World War 2
oldrocker added James Clavell
25
The Cypher Bureau Eilidh... is listed (or ranked) 25 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