On Books: A (Short) List of My Favorite Books About World War II

(C) 1974 Simon & Schuster Books

If you’re a Constant Visitor to this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a long-time history buff and bibliophile. I have been reading since I was little, and I became interested in military history – primarily World War II – in 1969 at the age of six.

Although I might be misremembering things, the first time I read anything about World War II was when a relative – I don’t recall who, but it could have been my maternal grandfather – gave me a couple of old issues of the Spanish edition of Reader’s Digest from either 1959 or 1960. At the end of these issues were long excerpts from Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day, which at the time was the best known (and bestselling) book about the events of June 6, 1944 – the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

(C) 1959. 1995 Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books

Of course, much of the stuff about strategy and tactics went over my six-year-old head, but even at that young age I had a good vocabulary and understood a lot of what I read. I quickly grasped that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were “the bad guys” and that the British, Canadians, French, and Americans were “the good guys.” And even though it wasn’t until later that I understood how evil the Nazis were, I was aware that even though war isn’t something to be glorified or wished for, some causes are worth fighting for.

Since 1969, I’ve read perhaps hundreds of books about World War II. Most of them, of course, I borrowed from the libraries of the schools I attended or from the Miami-Dade Public Library System. But I own a lot of non-fiction works by authors from various countries, mostly American or British, including:

  • Stephen E. Ambrose
  • John D. Hornfischer
  • Antony Beevor
  • Cornelius Ryan
  • James Holland
  • Rick Atkinson
  • Max Hastings

Here is a short list of my favorite books about the Second World War, in no particular order:

  • The Liberation Trilogy (An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943; The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944; The Guns at Last Light: The War in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945) – Rick Atkinson
  • Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal James D. Hornfischer
  • D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War IIStephen E. Ambrose
  • A Bridge Too Far Cornelius Ryan
  • Normandy ’44: D-Day and the Epic 77-Day Battle For France James Holland
  • Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 Antony Beevor
  • The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest HourJames D. Hornfischer
  • Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 – Max Hastings
  • The Fleet at High Tide: America at War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 James D. Hornfischer
  • The Battle of Britain: Five Months that Changed History, May-October 1940 – James Holland
(C) 2019 Griffon Merlin Limited/Grove Atlantic Press

As I said, this is a short list. I have many more favorite books about World War II in my library. This will do for now.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

6 thoughts on “On Books: A (Short) List of My Favorite Books About World War II

    1. As a WWII veteran who later became a college professor and critic of the Vietnam War, “There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ war. But there are sometimes ‘necessary’ wars.” I’m paraphrasing the quote, and I’m probably not doing it well, but Sam Hynes, who was a Marine Corps aviator during World War II, said this in an interview for Ken Burns’ 2007 documentary, “The War.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’d like to get around to reading these someday, especially the Atkinson trilogy. Months ago I picked up a copy of At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon Prange, I might start reading it with the 80th anniversary coming up.

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    1. I have “At Dawn We Slept,” too! It’s one of the biggest single volume works on WWII that I have in my library. I have not read it in a while. It’s time for a revisit?

      Regarding Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy, I highly recommend it. An “Army at Dawn” won the Pulitzer Prize for History back in 2001. (I’m currently reading his “The British Are Coming!” – the first volume of a trilogy about the American Revolution.)

      Liked by 2 people

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