History has been written by men and has mostly recognized the accomplishments of men, but this is changing in both fiction and nonfiction. While there have been many books published recently covering a variety of historical periods, there have really been some great books covering World War II. Here are some you may want to check out.
The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line by Mari K. Eder
Who better to narrate the lives of women who helped win WWII than a retired major general of the United States Army? When Mari K. Eder realized she had never heard of many of the women in this book, she made it her mission to tell their stories. From a woman who escaped the Nazis twice and went on to fight with the Polish resistance, to a pair of sisters who smuggled Jews out of Germany, to the first Native American pilot to fly for the WASPS, we meet some really extraordinary women who had no expectation for recognition but still served their countries with valor.
The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly
Put this on hold as it doesn’t come out until April, but this new title from the author of The Lilac Girls should be on your TBR pile. Inspired by true events, this title introduces us to American Josie Anderson and Parisian Arlette LaRue who were so good at stealing Nazi secrets they were referred to as “The Golden Doves.” When their families were finally caught and sent to Ravensbrück, horrible things befell them. Years later they are called back into action — Josie to locate the missing doctor who tortured her mother, and Arlette to locate her son she believed dead. This search will take them places they never expected to learn deadly secrets all in the hope of protecting their families.
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
While this story is not based on an actual person, the forging of documents during WWII to help Jewish children and resistance fighters to escape certainly is true. One day while shelving, librarian Eva Traube Abrams sees a picture in a magazine of a book she hasn’t seen in decades. The ‘Book of Lost Names’ has been written in code and up to that point was indecipherable. When Eva realizes she may be the only person alive who can decipher the book, she must decide if she is strong enough to revisit her past and give these lost people back their names.
The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany by Gwen Strauss
Ok, there really isn’t much more to say after that subtitle, but this true story focuses on nine young women who may not have known each other when they all joined the resistance, but after they fought, were imprisoned, and sent to Ravensbrück, they came together and formed a close bond. During the final days of the war, they managed to escape a forced death march. Freedom is not always freedom, and even though they had escaped the Nazis, they were still in danger as they tried to travel to friendlier lands.
If you enjoy historical fiction centering on women, you may also like:
- Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini
- Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff
- The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
Sarah Johnson is a collection librarian at Mid-Columbia Libraries. She reads more than 120 books a year. In her free time, she teaches fitness classes, gardens, and brews kombucha.