Last week I featured some of my favorite World War II fiction, so it’s only right that I follow it up with nonfiction this week! I’ve also noticed that all of my favorite WWII books, both fiction and nonfiction, are the stories of women during the war. It wasn’t intentional for me to formulate a catalog of feminist WWII books, but I’m not surprised that’s the outcome!
D-Day Girls by Sarah Rose
I’m about three-quarters of the way through D-Day Girls and I am absolutely loving it! It’s a fascinating story about the French-British women who were recruited in Britain to be spies in France leading up to the D-Day invasion. My full review for this one will be up sometime in the coming week!
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
I’m frequently asked at the store for books about the Nightwitches and I frequently direct them to this book. It’s one of my all time favorite works of nonfiction and Svetlana’s oral history includes women who served in all branches of the Soviet military, not just as pilots, or Nightwitches. And for customers who want more books on female aviators, I have about twenty that I can recommend and will feature those books next Tuesday!
Kick Kennedy by Barbara Leaming
I’ve been a bit obsessed with Kick Kennedy for quite some time and this book was the very first ARC that I read once I started at the bookstore. It will always hold a very special place in my heart. Kick is a vivacious and spunky young American socialite living in London while her father, the infamous Joe Sr., was America’s ambassador to the UK before WWII, and when she returns as a young woman in love during the war.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone
The story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman is an absolutely fascinating tale and spans the first half of the 20th century, from her start as a code-breaker looking for secret messages in the work of William Shakespeare to her work for the Coast Guard during Prohibition and finally her key role in American intelligence in breaking the German Engima machine code. Her husband was an equally interesting person and the story of their relationship is included as well.
Renia’s Diary by Renia Spiegel
Renia’s Diary is similar to that of Anne Frank’s in that it is the actual diary of a young Jewish woman living in Europe during World War II. Renia was a few years older than Anne and did not live for as long during the war. Her writing is lyrical and beautiful, and like Anne’s diary, the thread of hope that things will get better is a constant undercurrent.
Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent bookstore, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.