Selected Bibliography of World War II Novels and Memoirs

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Anonymous. (1995). Reporting World War II. New York: Library of America.
Notes: Contents: 1. American journalism, 1938-1944 -- 2. American journalism, 1944-1945.
Abstract: From Booklist: "Back when literate people read instead of watched, their journalists filed riveting stories about the century's biggest news event. Reporters like Richard Tregaskis at Guadalcanal, Beirne Lay on a bombing raid over Germany, Martha Gellhorn at D-day in Normandy, or Tom Lea hitting the beach of Peleliu concretely record the fury and soul-shaking anxiety of fighting."
Beach, E.L. (1987). Run Silent, Run Deep. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press.
Abstract: "Predating the Tom Clancy novels and later offerings in this genre, Captain Beach fills each page with excitement, humanity and the apprehension of battle only a warrior can depict." (Review, This is a very accurate statement in my opinion, and reflects the author's credentials as a military man and his expertise as a writer. Many of the fictional events related in this novel are based on the author's actual experiences from Pearl Harbor and throughout the war as a submariner.
Bowman, P. (1946). Beach Red. London: Michael Joseph.
Abstract: History of a single hour in the life of a solider in the morning of a Pacific Island invasion. This is a novel in prose, each 60 line chapter is the equivalent of one minute of time.
Canin, E. (2001). Carry Me Across the Water: a novel. (1st ed.). New York: Random House.
Abstract: This novel follows a young Jewish German immigrant from Nazi Germany to America and on to the war in the Pacific. It paints a good picture of the transition from a "trust no one" culture to the seemingly unbounded freedom of America and how the events of war can shape our lives far into the future.
Cozzens, J.G. (1948). Guard of Honor. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.
Abstract: This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is set in an Air Force training base in Florida in 1942. It takes place over the course of three days and centers around the various character's responses to a racial incident. It gives a good depiction of the homefront military during wartime.
Dunning, J. (2001). Two O'clock, Eastern Wartime: a novel. New York: Scribner.
Abstract: This mystery takes place during 1942 at an eastern seaboard radio station. Not only is there a good murder to solve, but the book gives a great history of radio and the racial and gender biases of the time along with homefront issues like Japanese-American internment, war censorship, and German-American spies. Highly recommended.
Griffin, W.E.B. (1987). The Fighting Agent. New York: G.P. Putnam.
Notes: Originally published under the name Alex Baldwin. Other series: Brotherhood of War; The Corps; Badge of Honor.
Abstract: This is the fourth novel in the "Men at War" series about the OSS during World War II. This particular novel takes place in 1943 in the Philippines, centering on the American guerrilla army battling the Japanese after the fall of Bataan. These are rip-roaring accounts of espionage and combat with a cast of reappearing characters. People seem to eat these novels up and you are not going to run out of reading material anytime soon!
Jones, J. (1985). The Thin Red Line. (Laurel book ed.). New York: Dell.
Notes: Other war related books: From Here to Eternity.
Abstract: This is an account of the battle between American and Japanese troops on the island of Guadalcanal. We follow this invasion from multiple soldier's viewpoints in C-for-Charlie Company. The combat scenes are very powerfully written. But for me the real strength of this novel is in the descriptions of the individual human reactions to war. "Jones makes sure that we never forget that an army is first and foremost an organization of people, and that it is these human relationships that shape the war."
Kanon, J. (1997). Los Alamos: a novel. (1st ed.). New York: Broadway Books.
Notes: Awarded the 1998 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Other World War II related books: The Good German.
Abstract: This novel takes place in 1945 in the top secret New Mexico installation of Los Alamos, where J. Robert Oppenheimer and a team of scientists are rushing to finish their atomic bomb. An Army Intelligence officer tries to solve a murder, which is interesting but not as interesting as the view we get of the politics, science and moral agonizing surrounding the world shattering development of the A-bomb and the decision to use this weapon to end the war.
Norman, E.M. (May 2000). We Band of Angels : The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese. Pocket Books.
Abstract: From Kirkus Reviews: A gripping history of the Angels of Bataan, nurses who provided selfless care under conditions of extreme hardship on one of WWII's grimmest fronts.
Shaw, I. (1958). The Young Lions. New York: Modern Library.
Abstract: This novel shows us the life of ordinary soldiers from the viewpoints of a young Nazi, an American Jewish boy, and an American film producer. It covers the time period of 1937 to war's end from North Africa, Italy, France and Germany and stands the test of time as one of the great novels of World War II. A classic.
Stevens, M.E., Goldlust-Gingrich, E.D., & State Historical Society of Wisconsin. (1993). Women Remember the War, 1941-1945. Madison: Center for Documentary History, State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Abstract: This is a book from the "Voices of the Wisconsin Past" series and contains interviews, letters, newspaper accounts and diaries from Wisconsin women talking about how the war affected their everyday lives at home as well as on the warfront overseas in both the military and the Red Cross.
Tomblin, B. (1996). G.I. Nightingales: the Army Nurse Corps in World War II. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Abstract: This is a historical account through memoirs, personal interviews and official sources of the U.S. Army nurses of World War II from the jungles of the Pacific, the China-Burma-India theaters of war, and, Europe. It is valuable in including a different viewpoint from that of the traditional male officer. The homefront is also included in stories of the army hospitals at home and in particular of African American nurses, who suffered discrimination during the war and oblivion afterward.

Patricia Herrling for the WLA Readers Section
November 2002