Get ready for some great reads! Our book theme for the month of June is D-Day and World War II. June 6 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and it seems appropriate to commemmorate this landmark event of the war with both fiction and non-fiction books.
On the non-fiction front a must read is D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose. This is THE definitive history of World War II’s most pivotal battle — certainly a day that changed the course of history. Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, Ambrose’s D-Day relies on more than 1,400 interviews with veterans, as well as prodigious research in military archives. Ambrose brings the excitement, confusion, and terror of D-Day alive on the page.
A second non-fiction read is The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer, a unique perspective from a teenaged German footsolder sent to fight on the eastern front. Sajer served in Germany’s Gross Deutschland Division and fought in all the great battles from Kursk to Kharkov. A review from the New York Times says “…I don’t think that anyone who reads [it] to the end will ever forget it.” This war memoir is a classic.
And the last recommendation for non-fiction is Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts. Not only is it a New York Times Bestseller, it was named one of the best books of 2018 by The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. This is a landmark, compulsively readable biography based on extensive new material, and readers get the full and definitive Churchill. The Wall Street Journal calls this “Unarguably the best single-volume biography of Churchill…A brilliant feat of storytelling, monumental in scope…”
For historical fiction we suggest Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini. This saga brings to life one courageous, passionate American, Mildred Fish Harnack, and her circle of women friends who waged a clandestine battle against Hitler in Nazi Berlin. After Wisconsin graduate student Mildred Fish marries a German, she goes with him to Berlin and witnesses the rise of the Nazis. Her resistance cell is ultimately exposed, with fatal consequences.
Another great new novel about World War II is The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff. Vividly rendered, meticulously researched, and inspired by true events, author Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strenth of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.
And our final fiction recommendation is Winter of the World by Ken Follett. Granted, this is the second book of his triolgy but Winter of the World stands on its own as it follows five interrelated families — American, German, Russina, English, and Welsh — from the rise of the Third Reich, through the great dramas of World War II, and into the beginning of the long Cold War. Follett has a unique ability to bring history to life and is one of the world’s best-loved authors. The Washington Post calls it “…A consistently compelling portrait of a world in crisis.”
Space doesn’t allow us to review all the excellent offerings so here’s a partial list of some additional books that are well worth your attention.
Madame Fourcade’s Secret War by Lynne Olson
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski
Solemn Graves by James Benn
The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan
War in Val d’Orcia: An Italian War Diary by Iris Origo