Remembering V-J Day at 75: New WWII Nonfiction and Historical Fiction

September 2, 2020 marks the 75th Commemoration of the End of World War II; a war that took the lives of over 405,000 U.S. military personnel.

World War II was the biggest and deadliest war in history, involving more than 30 countries. Sparked by the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland, the war dragged on for six bloody years until the Allies defeated Nazi Germany and Japan in 1945. The conflict would take more lives and destroy more land and property around the globe than any previous war. Among the estimated 60-80 million people killed were 6 million Jews murdered in Nazi concentration camps as part of Hitler’s diabolical “Final Solution,” known as the Holocaust. Civilians made up an estimated 50-55 million deaths from the war. Military comprised 21-25 million lives lost.

On September 2, 1945 , U.S. General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay and this is also called V-J Day (Victory over Japan )

To commemorate this historic event, here is a selection of new WWII related nonfiction books (and a DVD) and new historical fiction from the Library’s  collection.  They can help you rediscover the milestone events and battles of the war and reveal stories of unimaginable individual and team heroism.   The historical fiction titles bring to life stories of little known and unsung heroes and heroines, and reveal the grim hardships faced by ordinary citizens. 

New Nonfiction

New Historical fiction themed around WWII 

indexThe Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards

A celebrated singer in World War II occupied France joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.



index (1)Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero

Set against the heroism and heartbreak of World War II, former Army officer Ruggero brilliantly captures, with grace and authenticity, the evocative and timeless stories of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary times.


index (2)Code Name Hélène: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon

A novel based on the real life story of socialite spy Nancy Wake, the astonishing woman who killed a Nazi with her bare hands and went on to become one of the most decorated women in WWII.



index (3)The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot by Colin Cotterill

Laos, 1981: When an unofficial mailman drops off a strange bilingual diary, Dr. Siri is intrigued. Half is in Lao, but the other half is in Japanese, which no one Siri knows can read; it appears to have been written during the Second World War. Most mysterious of all, it comes with a note stapled to it: Dr. Siri, we need your help most urgently. But who is ‘we’, and why have they left no return address? To the chagrin of his wife and friends, who have to hear him read the diary out loud, Siri embarks on an investigation by examining the text.

index (4)Exile Music by Jennifer Steil

An atmospheric and meditative novel based on an unexplored slice of World War II history, following a young Jewish girl whose family flees refined and urbane Vienna for safe harbor in the mountains of Bolivia.


index (5)Hannah’s War: a novel by Jan Eliasberg

Based on the real woman who discovered nuclear fission,  Austrian physicist Hannah Weiss, it tells the story of what her life might have been, and moves effortlessly between Hannah’s past and present to deliver a historical love story full of intrigue and suspense. 


index (6)Keep Saying their Names by Simon Stranger; translated from the Norwegian by Matt Bagguley

An exquisitely crafted double portrait of a Nazi war criminal and a family savaged by World War II, conjoined by an actual house of horrors they both called home.


index (7)Liberation by Imogen Kealey

To the Allies, she was a fearless freedom fighter, a special operations legend, a woman ahead of her time. To the Gestapo, she was a ghost, a shadow, the most wanted person in the world. The novel brings to life one of World War II’s most fascinating unsung heroines in all her fierce power and complexity.


index (8)The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson

A heartbreaking and unforgettable WWII story of two orphaned young sisters.  Four-year-old Etty and eight-year-old Dorothy are abandoned at Blakely Hall orphanage by their mother, never to see her again. Finally released from the confines of Blakely Hall, t their freedom comes when the country is in the grip of World War II and its terrors. Amid a devastating backdrop of screaming air-raid sirens and cold nights huddled in shelters, the sisters are desperate to put their broken childhoods behind them. But trouble lies ahead–

index (9)The Secret Guests: a novel by B. W. Black

A multifaceted wartime thriller revolving around the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret who are secreted away to Ireland for protection, during the German bombing raids on London.



index (10)Silver Wings, Iron Cross by Tom Young

Lieutenant Karl Hagan, a U.S. Army Air Force pilot in WWII, is shot down in enemy territory. Oberleutnant Wilhelm Albrecht, executive officer on board a German U-boat, decides he’s had enough of war. Both men are fighting for their lives, and only by working together do Hagan and Albrecht have a chance of survival. 


index (11)Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black

The story of Kate Rees, the young American markswoman who has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris on the dangerous business of trying to assassinate the Fuhrer. Occupation-era Paris is brought to vivid life in this pulse-pounding, richly detailed story.


index (12)To Wake the Giant: a novel of Pearl Harbor by Jeff Shaara

In this dramatic historical novel, America sleeps while Japan carefully plans a vicious wake-up call. Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and seaman Tommy Biggs will never meet, but their stories weave together and culminate in the attack on Pearl Harbor.


-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian 

Livingston, NJ 07039, USA

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