So with it being Remembrance Day today I thought it would be cool to do a Masterlist of lots of quality war books, films and TV shows. War books and movies etc. often get a bad rep for being grim and boring. But I think it’s important, more now than ever, to remember the two huge wars that were fought and to understand why. And what better way to enrich than through reading and watching?! However, I’m ashamed to say my sister, the history nerd, is way more well-read when it comes to this topic so ta-da: a guest post seemed the perfect way to do this. So handing over to Anna…
Hii! I’m about to do the best WWI/WWII rec post you will ever experience! My biggest passion is history specifically the two World Wars, so all of these books and films that I am about to write about have been “vetted” by me and my obsession – take my word when I say that these books and films/TV shows/docus are absolutely amazing. This isn’t a masterlist in the strictest sense of the word – it’s not exhaustive, rather I’ve chosen a book/movie/TV show to recommend for different categories to suit all types of interest so I’m sure you’ll find something that you’ll enjoy! Please sit back, relax and let me scream about these works of art….
“At the Front Lines” – for keeping it real…
Summary: Valentine Joe explores a soldier’s point of view and the way life was in the trenches and on the front lines. It follows the true story of Joe Strudwick, who was the youngest soldier to die in WWI, and adapts the interesting technique of a time slip between 1914 and the modern day.
Recommend for: if you enjoy reading books from a first person POV you’ll love this one.
Why I love it: This book really tugged at my heartstrings and you will in love with Joe. It’s a super short read that you could probably finish on your commute to school/work and back!
Summary: Band of Brothers is a miniseries with only 10 episodes and follows Easy Company of the Airborne division through the most important events of the War such as the Battle of Normandy and Bastogne. In addition to that, the series also includes interviews from the soldiers themselves which provides an even better insight to what it was like.
Recommend for: if you prefer a more visual take on getting into soldiers’ heads during this period. This is immersive viewing at its finest.
Why I love it: this is one of the best war adaptations I have ever watched. S E R I O U S L Y! I will never ever stop singing/screaming/sobbing praise for the work of art that is Band of Brothers. It illustrates the brutality of WWII with amazing effects and makeup and doesn’t shy away from reality. The fact that it still remains the highest rated TV show on IMDB speaks volumes. It also follows the stories of individual soldiers whom you will become incredibly attached to. Trigger warning though: this series is not a glossed-over depiction of events, my friends it shows graphic war scenes. The Holocaust episode should be approached with care as it is very sensitive, I had to skip a few scenes due to the fact I was on the verge of tears. BUT DO NOT LET THAT PUT YOU OFF!!!
“On the Home Front” – for the ordinary people doing the extraordinary closer to home…
Summary: The Girl in the Blue Coat follows the story of a young Dutch girl, Hanneke, in occupied Holland. She keeps her family afloat by her illegal smuggling work, however, one day a client asks Hanneke to find a young Jewish girl who has gone missing from where she was being hidden.
Recommend for: If you want a different perspective on how ordinary folk survived these extraordinary times, especially through the eyes of a child.
Why I love it: I whizzed through this book as it was a mixture of war and mystery. It was a beautifully written, intriguing plot and it kept you on the edge of your seat. I adored the storyline and how everything was so intricately woven in to create a bigger picture of what the war was really like for citizens of occupied countries.
Summary: The film is narrated by Death who tells the story of Liesel Meminger who steals books that are burned by Nazis. She develops a heart warming relationship with the Jewish man her foster father is hiding.
Recommend for: if you’re a fan of quality adaptations this one’s for you
Why I love it: The book seriously tugs at your heart strings, as a girl who loves reading books Liesel was a character I totally related to and adored. Her personality and determination contrasted what the war made people feel. One quote that really sums up the book for me is “Words are life”.
“Refugee Story” – for the voices of those whose lives were totally displaced by war…
Summary: The book follows the story of a young Lithuanian girl, Lina, who is deported to Siberia during Stalin’s dismantling of the Baltic region.
Recommend for: if you’re interested in a story that isn’t just based in the usual countries associated with war and would prefer a more global and fresher perspective
Why I love it: The book really illustrates the brutality of being uprooted from everything you know and the difficult life of a refugee. It portrays the meaning of family and love and freedom beautifully. Lina is a character that is flawed and dealing with difficult circumstances and Ruta Sepetys did this so well. A film adaptation, renamed Ashes in the Snow is set to be released in 2017 so get reading!
“Autobiography” – for real and unforgettable stories of courage during war…
If you’re the type of person who prefers learning about history through people’s true experiences, you’re in luck because YES I do have recs for this genre too! (What can I say? I told you I had an obsession).
Summary: The Diary of a Young Girl really needs no introduction but it is the diary of a Jewish girl desperately hiding from the Nazi regime.
Recommended for: EVERYONE. Seriously this is one of those must-read in your lifetime books. If you’re looking for something that will give you a personal and heart-rending insight into what it was like to have to hide during the war because of your religion then this is the book for you.
Why I love it: See above lol. But also Anne Frank is a beautiful author, and she captures your heart from the very beginning. Though we all know the ending which is heartbreaking, please do yourself a favour and read this book if you haven’t already. It’s timeless and classic.
Summary: The Imitation Game follows the story of Alan Turing who is now considered the father of theoretical computer science. It is set in Bletchley Park where the nation’s best cryptanalysts are required to crack Enigma: the hardest code ever written.
Recommend for: If you’re into films that are like trying to solve a puzzle then this one’s for you
Why I love it: This is one of my absolute favourite wartime films (I’ve seen an enigma machine in real life and I had a moment tbh) I enjoyed this film i m m e n s e l y and would insist for EVERYONE TO SEE. In my opinion, Alan Turing’s story is one that everyone should know because without him, the war would’ve gone on for much longer and many more lives would have been lost. He was truly a genius. The movie was so good that after I had viewed it, the first thing I did was go out and buy a crossword puzzle book. 10/10 would recommend.
“Alternative Universe” – for those who want to see things a little differently…
Sooo if you’re a sucker for alternate universes like me, get ready to have your minds blown away by these recs.
Summary: I can’t do it justice so an abridged version of the Goodreads summary: the Axis powers won the war and are hosting a cross-continental motorcycle race across to celebrate. Yael, a former death camp prisoner sets out to win the race and kill Hitler using her unique gifts of impersonation However, things get complicated when Yael finds her every move being watched.
Recommend for: this book has everything – a badass female heroine, a hilarious and handsome love interest, MOTORCYCLES!!!
Why I love it: Ok so you must be like: “Oh my ever living pineapples” because that’s what I was like when I read the blurb. As if the above wasn’t enough it has the most intriguing and uniquely amazing plot. What.More.Could.You.Want? Also a very quick kudos to Ryan Gruadin for being able to construct a world so brilliantly detailed using history and real events, amazing talent!
Summary: The Man in the High Castle is set in a United States where Nazis have won the war.
Recommend for: if you’re into dystopia this one’s for you
Why I love it: Seriously, Amazon Prime did an amazing job with this. It is amazing! I love the way they have built the world using scenery and characters. If you enjoy this, give the book a go!! (Or if you are like me, read the book first!) narrative of WWII.
“Non-Fiction” – for understanding the real background to the wars…
So it’s obvious that I like war books (I like war books) but the reason why I enjoy them so much is because I’ve learned about the history and trust me it makes the read so much more immersive. Keep an eye out for me: award winning professor in the history of the World Wars. 😉
Summary: This book tells the history of the WWII starting in the aftermath of WWI using over 350 stunning images and maps.
Recommended for: if you want something that explains the war but isn’t just pages and pages of prose this is the book for you
Why I love it: It is incredibly detailed with over 350 photographs! There is a complete timeline of the war with each important event explained wonderfully, also including military tactics! This book is perfect for just some reading or for research!
Summary: Countdown to Victory has episodes revolving around specific and important events that impacted the war, such as Normandy, Blitzkrieg and Pearl Harbour.
Recommended for: if you’re after a more immersive and visual experience, the countdown to victory uses original footage and accounts.
Why I love it: I like that it breaks down the war into manageable bitesize chunks, focussing on a particular event that drove the war. It’s also really good if you want to learn more about the war in the Pacific, oft-neglected in the narrative of WWII.
“Classics” – for those books that are just timeless and must-reads…
Lol did you think I was done? No. I’m not. We haven’t gotten to the best bit yet!
Summary: It follows the story of evacuee Willie and how he manages to soften the heart of grumpy Mister Tom. The book follows their story as it develops and flourishes. SO CUTE. I LOVE. MUST READ.
Recommend for: if you liked Disney’s Up and you’re after the ~feels~ you will adore this!
Why I love it: This book is honestly one of my favourite books e v e r! (Like it’s up there with Tolkien and JK) Seeing the relationship between Mister Tom and Willie evolve is honestly so heart-warming and the endings is just… just read it!
Summary: Saving Private Ryan follows US soldiers as they go behind enemy lines to retrieve a stranded soldier.
Recommended for: if you’re into Hollywood blockbusters this one’s for you – it is a truly visual feast of epic cinematic proportions
Why I love it: I especially love the works of Steven Spielberg and enjoy poignant storylines and a brutally real visual of war. The opening scene of what would be known as Normandy and D-Day is done incredibly well. Seriously would recommend.
“Graphic Novels” – for those of us who like to mix it up a bit…
Aaaaaaannd lastly graphic novels!!!! Yes I am finished with this masterpost and I’m finishing with one of my favourite genres! (I told u I had practically a genre for everyone.) If you like reading things like comic books e.g. V for Vendetta or Captain America then this is the section for you.
Summary: The Complete Maus is the complete story of Spiegelman’s experience living in Hitler’s Europe.
Recommend for: if you like graphic novels really, but also if you liked Persepolis this will be right up your alley.
Why I love it: Through its amazing cartoons, Spiegelman is able to beautifully portray the feelings of guilt and survival. It’s truly an amazing book that will capture all your emotions at the beginning.
Summary: The birth of Captain America after rejected military soldier, Steve Rogers, takes a special serum. He fiercely battles a shadowy organisation with links to Nazi Germany.
Recommend for: if you’re into something a little more light-hearted! War can be heavy and we all know a bit of light relief can go a long way
Why I love it: Ok so this isn’t strictly a graphic novel but an adaptation of one. So, this is the only film that isn’t the most accurate depiction of war BUT! it is a lot of fun to watch and is a classic marvel film. Steve Rogers is one of my favourite comic book characters; it’s a great film to watch during your downtime!
So that’s it! I am done with the World War Masterpost! YAY! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I hoped writing it. And I hope you manage to find something you might enjoy in this whirlpool of words and my favourite things ever! If you want to hear me screaming and rambling about more of my favourite things, follow me on twitter.com/THEKAMALAKHANS
It was great writing for you! BYEEEEE. 🙂