Fiction in WWII
The Second World War inspired a lot of classic literature. At Nomad, we’ve curated books from quite a few of the authors who lived through that conflict: from Arthur Koestler‘s fiction to Alan Moorehead’s journalism (especially his classic account of the Desert War), and Art Spiegelman’s graphic novels, like My Father Bleeds History.
And the 1939-1945 war is still a source of inspiration for authors today. Any single day in the seven-year conflict created a seemingly endless number of stories. Tales of naval assaults, tank battles in the North African desert, aerial bombardment of ancient cities. Stories of guerilla fighting among the ruins, daring civilian escapes. Stories of resistance, of exhaustion, of barbarity, love, and murder.
My favorites are those of civilians escaping occupied Europe via the last remaining port outside of German control – the port of Lisbon. Portugal, while a fascist dictatorship, was neutral throughout WWII. And so those escaping the Nazis would have to first get to France. From there, guides took them south over the Pyrenees, across northern Spain and finally into Portugal.
As the last remaining neutral port in Europe, Lisbon was a hotbed of spies – both German and Allied. So it’s not surprising there are so many thrillers set in Lisbon during this time. Like Eric Maria Remarque’s The Night in Lisbon and Robert Wilson’s A Small Death in Lisbon among others.
Wikipedia defines thrillers by “the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation, and anxiety”. And because the war was fought in the 1940s, novels set in WWII are historical novels, which are currently very popular, so they reach even wider audiences.
At Nomad Reader, we love historical thrillers. We’ve curated some of the most highly acclaimed thrillers set during the war in locations such as Cairo, Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Madrid and Warsaw. See the list below to dive into another time and place.