The best biographies, memoirs, and historical fiction for adults about heroic women of World War II.
Women have always served their countries in many ways during wartime, but the sheer scope of World War II demanded more of them than ever — and they answered the call. Around the world, women served as military nurses, pilots, resistance fighters, codebreakers, spies, and in other roles. For decades, their stories were little known. Sometimes, details were classified so women couldn't tell anyone, even their families, about the work they had done during the war. Other times, they hesitated to share their experiences, often because they humbly believed that their contributions were "ordinary." And, in some cases, their work was left out of histories because society did not recognize that women could be veterans, and that an Army nurse or a WASP pilot or an SOE spy deserved just as much celebration for her heroism as any soldier.
To give these heroic women the recognition they deserve, we're sharing books for adult readers that bring these untold stories of women's courage and patriotism to light! We've selected well-researched and absorbingly written biographies, which show that truth is sometimes just as exciting as fiction, as well as some of our favorite historical fiction novels that incorporate characters inspired by these daring women. Thrilling and inspiring, these books will bring an important new dimension to your understanding of World War II and the critical and myriad roles that women played in it.
Biographies and Memoirs About Women of World War II
During World War II, women around the world stood up to protect those they could, doing everything from transmitting radio messages from occupied France, to hiding Jewish families or smuggling them out of dangerous territory, to conducting sabotage missions throughout Europe. Kathryn J. Atwood tells some of their stories in this book, showing how these women, from many nations and backgrounds, each took tremendous risks to fight the battles that they were not permitted to fight on the front. A companion book, Women Heroes of World War II: The Pacific Theater, tells the stories of women's contributions in China, Japan, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.
When Hitler's Nazis threatened the world, every person was needed to help the war effort — and the women stepped up! In this fascinating book, U.S. Army Major General Mari K. Eder tells the story of fifteen little-known heroes of the Greatest Generation: resistance fighters, pioneering pilots, rescuers, and spies. Each of them defied expectation in service of their country and people in need, not because they would be acclaimed for it but because it was the right thing to do. From Ola Mildred Rexroat, the only Native American pilot in the WASP, to sisters Ida and Louise Cook who smuggled Jews out of Germany while wearing jewelry and furs, to Hilda Eisen who was captured by the Nazis and escaped — twice — these are stories to inspire future generations with the courage of women who step out of line.
By the beginning of World War II, Corrie ten Boom was already a trailblazer: the first female licensed watchmaker in Holland, who spent her off hours running a youth club for girls and helping children with disabilities. But after the Nazis invaded, she and her family made the dangerous decision to defy the Nazis: they transformed their home into the Hiding Place, with a secret room that could conceal Jews and other refugees. Their "watches" all made it out safely — an estimated 800 people — but the ten Booms weren't so lucky: the family was arrested, and everyone but Corrie died in prison or in a concentration camp. Corrie survived, though, and not only told her story, but began an astonishing new mission: teaching people around the world about the power of forgiveness. Bestselling author Larry Loftis has written the first major biography of ten Boom, capturing her inspiring story for a new generation.
In the midst of the Polish ghettos of World War II, a Jewish resistance movement was growing — and it was led by women. Pushed to their limits by the destruction of their homes and the violence against their families, the "ghetto girls" united Jewish youth groups as resistance cells, paid off (or killed) Gestapo guards, transported weapons hidden in loaves of bread, and much more. In this searing account, Judy Batalion, the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors, tells the story of these courageous women for the first time, from their determination to fight the Nazis to their capture and internment in prisons or concentration camps. This dramatic account, which has also been adapted into a Young Readers Edition, chronicles their courage and cleverness for the first time, celebrating the women who survived to tell the story — and those who gave their lives.
Across World War II France, nine women — all under 30 — had joined the resistance against the Nazis. Each of them helped however they could, whether they were smuggling weapons, harboring spies and Jewish fugitives, or coordinating communication. And each of them was caught by French police and interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo before being deported to Germany for imprisonment. Along the way, these nine women met, becoming close friends, even as they faced the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp and forced labor. And when they were forced onto a death march in the final days of the war, one of the women, Hélène Podliasky, led the nine in a daring and heart-stopping escape. Told by Podliasky's grandniece, author Gwen Strauss, this is a stunning story of resistance, friendship, and the will to survive.
At 26, Mildred Harnack went to Germany to enroll in a PhD program — and got a front seat to the rise of the Nazi party. By 1932, she started holding secret meetings for anti-Hitler activists in her apartment; by 1940, her cadre was the largest underground resistance group in Berlin. She recruited, sabotaged, helped Jewish refugees escape, and when the war began, spied for the Allies. When she was caught by the Gestapo the night before she was due to flee the country, German military judges sentenced her to six years in prison camp; Hitler overruled them and ordered her executed. Now, Harnack's great-great-niece Rebecca Donner draws on archival research and family documents to create a narrative non-fiction account of the only American in the leadership of the German resistance — a woman who was almost forgotten.
In 1942, a young social worker named Irena Sendler received permission to access the Warsaw Ghetto as a public health specialist, arguing that it was critical to prevent diseases from spreading to the rest of the city. Her real purpose there, though, was very different: Sendler wanted to smuggle as many children as she could out of the walled ghetto, and place them with families and orphanages who would conceal their true identities. Sendler would rescue over 2,500 children and save their names on secret lists, buried in jars, in hopes of reuniting them with their families after the war. Author Tilar Mazzeo tells Sendler's compelling story in this adult biography; this title is also available in a Young Readers edition that is suitable for age 10 to 14.
In 1942 France, a mysterious spy known as the "Limping Lady" was a linchpin for the French Resistance – the Gestapo called her "the most dangerous of all Allied spies." Her name, unknown to the Germans, was Virginia Hall. She was the daughter of a well-off Baltimore family turned Special Operations Executive agent, and her distinctive limp was from a prosthetic leg that most people believed would trap her behind a secretary's desk. Author Sonia Purnell explores the full story behind Hall's life, illuminating her determination and her wartime heroism. Fast-paced, thrilling, and meticulously researched, this biography of Hall is better than any fictional spy story. For two more fascinating biographies of Hall, check out The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy and Hall of Mirrors: Virginia Hall: America's Greatest Spy of World War II.
When the Nazis invade The Netherlands, most people hope that they can keep their heads down and stay safe... but by the winter of 1943, the brutality of the occupying soldiers has prompted resistance. In Amsterdam, Jewish sisters Janny and Lien Brilleslijper create a safehouse in the woods they call "The High Nest" as a hiding place for refugees, a center for partisan fighters, and even a place for artists condemned by Hitler to live — and spread messages of hope. When the High Nest is betrayed, the sisters are forced onto the last train to Auschwitz alongside another now-famous pair, Anne and Margot Frank. But in the end, the sisters will have only their own courage and their love for one another to see them through the trials to come. Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, this is a tribute to the bravery of these two sisters and all those who fought for what they knew was right.
As a 7-year-old mestiza — the multiracial daughter of an American serviceman and a Filipina woman — Florence Finch had to rely on her own wits and courage to survive alone. She would depend on them again in the midst of World War II, when the man she loved, American naval intelligence agent Charles "Bing" Smith, was killed in battle — and she joined the resistance against the Japanese occupiers. Finch's plan was as dangerous as it was bold: divert fuel from the Japanese military, sell it on the black market, and use the money to provide food and medicine for hundreds of American POWs. And yet, when she died in Ithaca, New York at the age of 101, only her children knew her story. In this action-packed account by award-winning military historian Robert J. Mrazek, Florence Finch's heroism gets lifted from obscurity so she can take her rightful place as one of America's wartime heroes.
In the midst of World War II, a little over 1,100 women made their way through the U.S. Army's selection process — and became part of a landmark in aviation history. The Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, program drew female pilots from across the country, eager to prove their mettle. Led by trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, these women were never authorized to serve in combat, but they performed other critical (and dangerous) missions, from delivering planes to training male pilots. And then, just as quickly, the program was disbanded, leaving the women fighting for recognition for their military service. Author Katherine Sharp Landdeck's soaring account of the WASP program is a fitting tribute to these bold women, their dedication to their country, and their determination to make their place in history.
In the midst of World War II, over a million Soviet women stepped up to serve their country, but after the war, their contributions were deliberately pushed aside, since they didn't fit the narrative of what a proper Soviet woman ought to be. To capture their side of history, Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich conducted dozens of interviews, speaking to women who had been nurses and doctors, pilots and tank drivers, and even snipers and machine-gunners on the front lines. Poignant and powerful, this much-anticipated English translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is a heartfelt tribute to the strength and courage of women who were willing to give everything for their nation.
On the front lines of World War II, women journalists had their own battle to fight — and they were determined to win. Women journalists were not allowed to report from the war zone, while male journalists were given press credentials... but six women refused to give up. These daring pioneers — Martha Gellhorn, Lee Miller, Sigrid Schultz, Virginia Cowles, Clare Hollingworth, and Helen Kirkpatrick — faced all the dangers of the war zone so that they could track down sources and scoop breaking news, and by the end of the war, they had even ensured women reporters could receive equal privileges to men. At the same time, their convention-defying ways led to complex and tumultuous personal lives. Author Judith Mackrell has created an intriguing portrait of all six women, capturing the courage and grit it took for these women to risk everything to report from the front lines of one of the most significant conflicts in human history.
Audrey Hepburn is known as both a glamorous movie star and a compassionate humanitarian — and according to her son, Luca Dotti, "The war made my mother who she was." In this fascinating book, author Robert Matzen draws on interviews, personal reminiscences, wartime diaries, and more to capture Hepburn's life-changing experiences during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The war brought violence, including the execution of her uncle, near starvation during the infamous Hunger Winter, and dangerous roles working with the Dutch Resistance. But there were triumphs as well, including newfound fame as a ballerina. Intimate and intense, this powerful story illuminates the childhood that drove Hepburn's incredible contributions to the world.
A position in the Philippines was a chance for adventure and excitement for most Army and Navy nurses: easy duties, a beautiful setting, and a whirl of social engagements with attentive soldiers. But on December 8, 1941, with America and Japan now at war, everything changed. The nurses were caught, first in a raging battle that brought waves of brutal casualties to their wards, and then in internment camps where they were forced to survive on as little as 700 calories a day. When they returned home, they were celebrated — but denied veterans benefits and recognition that they deserved. This riveting story about the Angels of Bataan is a moving tale of women in war, and and afterwards.
Aline Griffith was a young college graduate when the US entered World War II, and she was eager to help the war effort. By chance, she met Frank Ryan at a dinner party, who saw her potential and helped her join the Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner to today's CIA. Griffith was sent to Spain to be a coder, but as her talents became obvious, she was given an additional task: infiltrate high society — officials, diplomats, and nobles — to track down enemy agents, recruit intelligence assets, and counter Nazi tactics. She even married the Count of Romanones, one of Spain's richest men, and still continued her espionage work. This real-life spy story, better than any Hollywood film, chronicles the dazzling glamor and risky maneuvers of this incredible American spy.
In 1944, three women in Eastern Europe were transported to Auschwitz — while in the early stages of pregnancy. Rachel, Priska, and Anka found themselves in one of the most notorious concentration camps of World War II with their families dead except for their unborn children. To keep these precious children, the women would have to hide the evidence of their pregnancies from the SS and infamous Nazi medical experimenter Dr. Josef Mengele; keep themselves alive despite brutal work and starvation; and then, once they had birthed the children, hope for a miracle to see them all out of captivity. This remarkable story about love in the midst of horror and misery captures the incredible power of the human spirit.
In the midst of occupied Paris during World War II, two women took a bold step: creating their own subversive anti-Nazi campaign. Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe — better known by their artist names, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore — were lesbian partners; Lucy was half-Jewish, and they had communist affiliations. In other words, they were everything the Nazis labeled "degenerate." They created "paper bullets": insults against Hitler, calls to rebel, and demoralizing fiction, which they quietly slipped into the pockets of soldiers and hid inside magazines in newsstands. Even when they were imprisoned by the German police, they continued to spread a message of hope to their fellow prisoners. This remarkable, previously untold World War II story is a celebration of the power of art and the importance of resistance.
After Odette Sansom decides to become an SOE agent in the midst of World War II, she parachutes into occupied France and meets her commanding officer, Captain Peter Churchill. The indomitable pair discover soul mates in one another, falling in love as they race to evade Hugo Bleicher, the German secret police sergeant who pursues them at every turn. When Bleicher finally captures them, they face prison in Paris, then torture in concentration camps in Germany, but their courage — and love — sustains them through seemingly unbeatable horror. Full of thrilling twists and turns and a heart-pounding romance, Sansom's true story is a tribute to the human capacity to overcome.
In 1943, Italy was fracturing. Catastrophic military losses — and two decades of brutal Fascist rule under Mussolini — had battered the country, and a Partisan resistance began to emerge.... one which included many Italian women. Told through the eyes of four Piedmontese women, Ada, Frida, Silvia and Bianca, who lived in secret in the mountains near Turin as they risked their lives for the Partisan, this powerful account explores Italy's civil war and the part that women played in it. Historian Caroline Moorehead, the acclaimed author of A Train in Winter, drew on previously untranslated sources to create this stunning account of this little-known story of women resisters in the midst of the war.
The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins and WWII Heroes
The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins and WWII Heroes
When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940, three teenage girls were determined to resist. Hannie Schaft, and sisters Truus and Freddie Oversteegen, formed their own, all-female underground squad in Haarlem, and they resolved to fight the occupying forces in any way they could. They sheltered fugitives; sabotaged bridges; secretly transported weapons; and lured both German soldiers and Dutch sympathizers and traitors, then assassinated them. Historian Tim Brady captures the stunning story of these three girls who fought and spied like seasoned agents, no matter the risks — and no matter the cost.
The Philippines weren't the only place that women risked their lives as Army nurses. In this thoroughly researched book, readers learn the stories of some of the 59,000 women who served in the Western Front of Europe and North Africa. When they signed up to serve, they had no idea what to expect; some of them even packed party dresses. But when the demands of the front lines came up, they faced them with courage, as well as a dash of good humor. Drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews, And If I Perish is a powerful tribute to these courageous women whose stories rarely appear in history books.
In the midst of World War II, a young Filipina woman used a disease that was destroying her to become one of America's top spies. Josefina Guerrero had leprosy, a condition so horrifying to Japanese sentries that they would let her pass without searching her. As a result, she was able to spy and sabotage across enemy lines. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom, but after the war found herself consigned to a miserable leper colony, where she protested the unsanitary and cruel conditions. Yet even after she was successfully treated in America, she found her notoriety hard to manage, and eventually changed her name so she could live without scrutiny. This intriguing portrait of a little-known hero celebrates her courage while acknowledging the complexity of her feelings about her past.
From the moment the German army invaded France in World War II, Nancy Wake was part of the resistance movement. By 1943, she was on the Gestapo’s most wanted list, nicknamed the White Mouse for how easily she evaded their traps. And when she was forced to flee France for safety in Britain, she immediately joined the British Special Operations Executive’s elite group of female agents, soon to be parachuted back into France to lead a 7,000 member branch of the Maquis fighting force. This thrilling true story of one of World War II’s most remarkable heroines will top any fictional spy story!
Noor Inayat Khan was raised by pacifists and devoted herself to music and writing — but when the Nazis invaded France, her childhood home, she was determined to act. She joined the British Special Operations Executive and trained as a wireless operator, but her instructors doubted if she had the mettle for the job. She proved them wrong, not only communicating critical information that set the stage for D-Day, but also fighting heroically when she was finally captured, attempting escape twice and enduring torture without revealing her secrets. This stunning, deeply researched tribute to an unlikely World War II hero celebrates the courage and faith that drove her to give her life for peace.
In the midst of World War II, over ten thousand women were recruited for an important but secret mission: being trained as codebreakers. In Washington, they learned to decipher messages that would shorten the war and save the lives of countless people. They also gained access to a new realm of career advancement that had previously been closed to women. But after the war, with their vow of secrecy still in place, their stories were nearly lost. Author Liza Mundy dug deep into newly released files and interviewed surviving "code girls" to create this fascinating history of the women whose work made a significant but hidden contribution to America's war effort. This book is also available in a Young Readers edition for ages 10 to 14.
In 1941, 31-year-old Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, a young, privileged mother of two, was also the head of a critical French spy network, Alliance. It seemed like a role she was born to play: she was notoriously strong-willed and rebellious, willing to defy her country's patriarchal rules before the war — and the Nazi occupiers during it. Fourcade would be the war's only female chef de résistance; she held together thousands of agents despite relentless pursuit by the Gestapo. Thanks to her ferocious conviction, Alliance became the longest-lasting resistance network in France, supplying key information, including an enormous map of the beaches where the Allies landed on D-Day. This tale of a courageous woman who refused to give in is suspenseful and thrilling.
In the midst of World War II, it appeared that the Nazis were unstoppable — especially with almost every man in England already fighting on the front. So the Special Operations Executive took a bold step and recruited women as spies. Thirty-nine women answered their call, including Andrée Borrel, Odette Sansom, and Lise de Baissac. In D-Day Girls author Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified documents, diaries, and more to create a compelling portrait of these three women and their motivations for risking everything in order to make the D-Day invasion possible — and pave the way for the Allied victory.
As the Nazi regime rose — and people began to suspect its aims — one program, the Kindertransport, brought 10,000 children into the United Kingdom for safety. Lisa Jura was a 14-year-old musical prodigy whose parents were offered the chance to send one of their three children to safety; they chose her. In a home for refugee children, she yearned for her family and dreaded what news might come. At the same time, her music offered hope to both her and many around her in the midst of the war. This book captures the pain caused by the war — even for those who didn't live through its horrors directly — and the power of music to grant peace. This book is also available in a Young Readers edition for ages 8 to 12.
In February 1945, the Yalta Conference was perhaps the last hope for the strained alliance between America, England, and the USSR. Politicians and world leaders hoped to save the alliance and the victory in World War II that it promised — and three of them brought their daughters. Kathleen Harriman, daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, was a champion skier and war correspondent; Sarah Churchill, daughter of Winston Churchill, was an RAF officer and a savvy politician in her own right; and Franklin Roosevelt controversially chose to bring his daughter Anna Roosevelt instead of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, trusting her to keep political secrets as she'd kept his personal ones. Author Catherine Grace Katz explores the story of these three remarkable young woman, their relationships with their fathers, and how this historic gathering resonated through the 20th century.
Corrie ten Boom was an ordinary person — a Dutch watchmaker — from an ordinary family when their values and courage were tested by the Nazi invasion. As Christians, they were safe, but around them, they could see their Jewish neighbors and friends were at tremendous risk. So together, the family risked their own lives in an effort to save as many people as they could. In this riveting account, ten Boom tells the story of how she and her family became heroes of the Resistance — and then faced their own horrors in the Nazi death camps. The sole survivor of her family, ten Boom has ensured that her book is a powerful testimonial to the power of faith and compassion. Ten Boom's story is also told in the documentary Corrie ten Boom: A Faith Undefeated.
Elizebeth Smith was an expert in Shakespeare when a 1916 job changed the course of her life — and American intelligence history. Smith's boss, a tycoon with connections to the US government, turned her language skills to code cracking. Along the way, she would meet groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman, her future husband, and the couple would be critical to the development of the NSA. Smith would help catch gangsters during Prohibition, expose Nazi spy rings in South America, and help crack multiple versions of the German Enigma machine. This intriguing story explores the development of modern intelligence through the life of one unforgettable woman.
At first, Navy nurse Dorothy Still's posting in the Philippines seemed like a fun romp: tropical weather, dates with sailors, and fun. Then Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the Japanese military assaulted the Philippines. By early January, 1942, Dorothy found herself captive in a civilian prison camp, where Chief Nurse Laura Cobb led her and ten other nurses in caring for the other prisoners. In May 1943, they were asked to transfer to another prison camp; they feared the unknown, but knew they were needed. In their honor, the inmates played the Navy fight song, "Anchors Aweigh," when they departed. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi captures Dorothy's story through detailed research and vivid narrative that celebrates the compassion and determination of these courageous women.
Svenja O'Donnell knew her grandmother Inge as a distant figure — until she visited Kaliningrad, where Inge lived as a child, and suddenly her story spilled out. Living in what was then Königsberg, Germany, Inge and her parents looked the other way during Hitler's rise to power. As Inge tells her about the horrors of war, fleeing the invading Russian army, struggling through the post-war years, and more, O'Donnell wrestles with how Inge's trauma has affected her family, and the intermingled pride and guilt of her German identity. Unlike most war books, which focus on heroic defiance, this book tackles the reality of those who chose careful ignorance and protective inaction. Stunning and raw, this is a unique look at the aftermath of the war and how we steer ourselves towards the future.
In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the height of World War II, nearly 75,000 people had no idea that their real purpose there was to create an atomic bomb. These people, many of them women from small towns, were recruited with promises of excellent wages and came to do everything from janitorial work to engineering. With the project shrouded in secrecy, though, it wasn’t until years later that they understood the part they had played in history. Author Denise Kiernan talks to 10 different women who worked in Oak Ridge to capture the strange contrast of the city: dances and rations side by side with uranium and fission.
In January of 1943, 230 women of the French Resistance were sent to concentration camps by the occupying German authorities. Author Caroline Moorehead tells the story of how these women, unknown to each other before their capture and ranging from a 16-year-old schoolgirl to a farmer’s wife in her sixties, developed an unexpected bond in the midst of horror. Only 49 of the women would return home after the war, but the story of those who survived — and those who didn’t — is an inspiring look at the power of courage, defiance, and friendship.
Sophie Scholl was a model member of the girls' wing of the Hitler Youth as a teen, but as a college student, she began to see through Nazi propaganda. With her brother, Hans, and her friends, she founded the White Rose, a student resistance movement that published anonymous letters and pamphlets urging people to stand up against the regime. But publishing and distributing such materials was treason, and when Scholl was caught, she was interrogated, tried, and executed — all within a few days. This carefully researched book is written in a tense narrative that makes it feel like a suspenseful novel. It serves as a unique look at one group's response to life in tyranny, and a celebration of resilience and courage. To learn more about Scholl's life and to discover books about her for readers of all ages, visit our blog post Sophie Scholl: The German Student Activist Executed at 21 For Her Anti-Nazi Resistance.
Dita Kraus grew up in Prague in a middle class Jewish family, where she felt like any other Czech — until the Holocaust began. Forcibly marched out of the only home she had ever known, she and her family were sent first to the Terezín ghetto, then to Auschwitz. Within the camp, Dita was selected for a dangerous but important responsibility: guarding the few precious books that had been smuggled into the camp by prisoners. It was a task that would give her the hope and purpose she needed to survive. This unflinching memoir by the woman who inspired the best-selling book The Librarian of Auschwitz is a powerful story of hope, determination, and a life delayed by hate.
For more than two years, Miep Gies and her husband risked their own lives to hide Otto Frank and his family — including Frank's daughter, the intelligent and optimistic Anne. Every day became a risk as they smuggled in food and news, and perhaps most importantly, provided friendship to the people concealed in the Secret Annex. And when the Franks were betrayed, discovered, and arrested, it was Gies who found and kept the pages of Anne's diary. After the war's end, Gies gave the diary to Otto Frank, who had it published as The Diary of a Young Girl. In this story of courage, a humble Gies tells Anne's story — and her own — with honesty, emotion, and love.
From the moment that Nazi Germany invaded Poland, people — including many young women — found ways to resist. Those of them who survived the horrors of the Holocaust have much to teach us about the importance of fighting for human rights. Author Joanne D. Gilbert collected the stories of four Polish women — both Jewish and Gentile — to create this compelling story about courage and resistance. An in-depth introduction, both to the years leading up to the invasion and war and to the roots of Polish resistance, provides key historical background and impresses on the reader just what these women risked in standing up for justice.
In the late 1930s, Suzanne Spaak, a child of Belgium's leading political family, discovered a new purpose: helping people escape from the Nazi regime. When Paris fell, she used her wealth and connections for the Resistance, arranging for thousands of children to be "kidnapped" out from under the Gestapo's nose. As liberating armies approached Paris, Spaak was caught in a Gestapo dragnet... and executed for her "crimes" against the Nazi regime, shortly before Paris was freed. This meticulously researched biography reads like a thriller, full of suspenseful twists — and starring a daring woman who gave her life to protect World War II Europe's most vulnerable people.
Alice Zwicker grew up in a small Maine town, and dreamed of becoming a nurse. After achieving her dream, she enlisted in the Army and received what most Army nurses considered a plum assignment: the hospital in Manila. She had no idea that the attack on Pearl Harbor would turn that assignment into a years-long ordeal. in battle zones and a prisoner of war camp. When she finally returned home, she had to recover in a country that celebrated her service — and then forgot it just as quickly. Full of historical detail and capturing the spirit of Zwicker herself, this immersive book will open your eyes to the experiences of the Angels of Bataan both during and after the war.
Pearl Witherington's story seems like it leaped out of a war movie: forced to leave her beloved country but never abandoning it, Witherington returned to France and became one of the greatest maquisard commanders of the war, whose troops regularly called her "Ma Mère" — Mother. From her courageous service during the war to her refusal to accept a civil award for her wartime service, this book captures Witherington's remarkable determination and grit in the face of all obstacles. By the time you're done reading, you'll not only agree with the author's assessment that Witherington deserved more recognition for her service... you'll also wonder why spy movies aren't as exciting as her real-life tale.
In 1941 Berlin, Jews were being faced with deportation, forced labor, and worse — and 19-year-old Marie Jalowicz Simon made a daring choice. She removed the yellow star from her jacket, walked away from the Jewish community, and began a new life under an assumed name in the heart of the Nazi regime. She had to conceal her true identity from everyone, even as she moved between safe-houses and other places of refuge. She even lived with committed Nazis, depending on good fortune to prevent her secret from being revealed. This pulse-pounding story of life underground during World War II shares a previously undiscovered story of the will to survive.
Marthe Cohn's French Jewish family sheltered those who were fleeing the rise of the Nazis, including children sent away by their parents. And then suddenly, they too were at risk: Germany invaded, her sister was arrested and sent to Auschwitz, and the rest of her family was forced to flee. Marthe, however, used her perfect German accent and blonde hair to serve the intelligence service of the French First Army, playing the role of a German nurse looking for her fiance — and funneling what sympathetic soldiers told her back to Allied commanders. This remarkable memoir details her story — which not even her children knew until she was awarded the Médaille Militaire at the age of 80 — and how an ordinary young woman became a hero.
Historical Fiction About Women of World War II
In 1940, three women form an unlikely friendship when they work together at Bletchley Park, one of Britain's top code-breaking facilities. Osla is a high society girl who wants to prove that she's more than a debutante; Mab worked her way up from poverty in east-end London; and Beth is a shy local spinster with an incredible gift for puzzles. But their friendship has barely begun when it's torn apart by a betrayal. Seven years later, a mysterious encrypted letter brings the friends-turned-enemies back together. A traitor lurked in Bletchley Park, and they have to crack this new code if they have any hope of finding them — but every step they take brings them closer to dangerous territory... Kate Quinn, best-selling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network, crafts another pulse-pounding World War II tale in this powerful novel.
Virginia Hall left behind a privileged life of debutante balls and fancy dress in Baltimore to seek a life of adventure in Europe, but when World War II breaks out, her new home is thrown into turmoil. Undeterred, Hall joins the ranks of the Allies' spies, devoting herself to subverting the Nazis and aiding the resistance. Then someone betrays her organization, forcing her to flee — and costing the lives of brave people who worked beside her. Now she's determined to go back behind enemy lines, despite the risk, to avenge them — and continue to fight for freedom. Based on the true story of World War II spy Virginia Hall, this stunning historical fiction novel is suspenseful and inspiring.
When Vianne’s husband left for the front, she didn’t believe that the Nazis would invade, but when they do, she finds herself billeting a German officer against her will. Meanwhile, her sister, Isabelle, has gone from a wartime love affair to joining the French Resistance, where she risks her life time and again by helping downed Allied pilots escape occupied France by escorting them over the Pyrenees on foot to neutral Spain. Inspired in part by the story of 19-year-old Belgian Resistance heroine Andrée de Jongh, this work of historical fiction provides a powerful look at the strength of women in wartime.
In December 1941, Elspeth Kent is a teacher at the Chefoo School, a missionary school in northern China — but she's eager to return home to England to help with the war effort. 10-year-old Nancy Plummer, one of her students, is quite happy at the school, which is comfortable and safe — especially for a British citizen. But when Japan declares war on Britain and America, and Japanese forces take over the school, both their lives are turned upside down. Miss Kent's new Girl Guide patrol helps provide a sense of safety, but when they are all sent to an internment camp, it may not be enough... This stunning novel, inspired by true events, captures the bonds between students and teacher and the impossible choices we face in war.
Soviet Night Witch pilot Nina Markova is the only person ever to have escaped a vicious Nazi murderer known as the Huntress. British war correspondent Ian Graham is trying to track the Huntress down, with Nina's help. 17-year-old American would-be photographer Jordan McBride is delighted when her widowed father returns home with a new fiancée — but something seems off about this soft-spoken German woman. As multiple stories intertwine, and deep secrets are brought to light, Kate Quinn, author of the bestselling novel The Alice Network, reveals the marks war leaves on lives, and asks what we would give to know the truth.
Daisy Wilder's ordinary life in Hawaii is thrown into upheaval by the shocking Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and she's eager to contribute to the war effort. She quickly enlists in a new, top-secret program, the Women's Air Raid Defense, known as the WARDs, who are set to replace male soldiers in combat zones, monitoring radar to guide pilots or track unidentified aircraft. She rapidly bonds with the women on her team — but soon realizes that plenty of people expect them to fail. The WARDs will have to come together to protect American soldiers — including the man Daisy loves. Based on the true story of the WARD program and the bold women who served in it, this is an inspiring story of courage and sisterhood.
In World War II England, two young women become unlikely friends. One is a pilot, a new member of Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary; one is a spy, destined to assist the resistance in France. When one woman has to eject from their malfunctioning plane and is captured by the Gestapo, she steels herself for the brutality of an interrogation. But do they have the pilot, or the spy? And will Verity manage to keep Britain's secrets, or does her capture risk everything? Readers will devour this suspenseful and richly detailed book... and then go back to the beginning to look for the hints and clues they missed on the first read. Fans of this book will want to check out the companion novel, Rose Under Fire, and the prequel, The Pearl Thief.
Mila Pavlichenko wanted a quiet life in her Kiev home, working as a librarian and tending to her young son. But then, Hitler invades Ukraine and Russia, and everyone must join the fight. Mila discovers a gift for marksmanship and transforms into a deadly sniper known as Lady Death; her 300th kill turns her in to a national heroine, and top brass pull her from the battlefield and send her on a goodwill tour to America. Struggling with the physical and emotional wounds of war, Mila discovers unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt... and even the hope for happiness with a fellow sniper. But when an old enemy and a new threat join forces, Lady Death faces the most dangerous fight of her life. The bestselling author of The Huntress and The Rose Code has crafted a suspenseful novel, based on a true story, of a woman who, forced to become a hero, finds her place in history.
In 1492 Milan, 16-year-old Cecelia has become the mistress of the Duke of Milan — and finds herself not only embroiled in palace politics, but also named to sit for a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, who is planning one of his most ambitious paintings yet. Hundreds of years later, in World War II Munich, art restorer Edith Becker accidentally gives Lady with the Ermine to a high-ranking Nazi officer — and when she realizes what she's done, teams up with one of the Monuments Men in a quest to rescue this priceless work of art. In this stunning novel, told in dual timelines, one painting connects two women, each facing a chance to change their own destiny.
Caroline Ferriday is a New York socialite; Kasia Kuzmerick is teenage courier for the Polish resistance. The pair are oceans apart, and it seems unlikely they'll ever come together. When Kasia is sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, her life collides with the ambitions of young German doctor Herta Oberheuser, one of the notorious doctors conducting human experimentation at the camp. And when the war ends and Caroline learns about the Polish "Rabbits" of Ravensbrück, she may be able to help Kasia find peace with the horrors she suffered. The stories of three women intersect in a painful and shocking way in this novel about seeking justice for those forgotten from — or obliterated by — history.
In 1940, two very different women face the rise of the Nazis. Former American socialite Virginia d’Albert-Lake has been enjoying life in France with her French husband; although her parents try to convince her to leave Europe, she's planning to keep her head down.... until her conscience directs her otherwise. 19-year-old Violette Szabo knows full well just how vicious the Nazis can be, and after tragedy upon tragedy, she finds her way to the Special Operations Executive, where she finally gets the chance to fight back. Their acts of resistance land both women in Ravensbrück concentration camp — where the real battle for survival begins. This suspenseful novel by the author of The Invisible Woman draws on these incredible true stories to create a portrait of courage in the face of evil.
When Grace Healey finds a suitcase under a bench at Grand Central Terminal, she can't resist peeking inside — and discovers photographs of twelve women. She learns that the suitcase belonged to Eleanor Trigg, leader of a World War II spy network, and the pictures are some of her agents: women who went to Occupied Europe and disappeared. As Grace tries to find out the fates of each of the women depicted, she is particularly drawn to Marie, a young mother whose story captures the courage and sisterhood of these agents who were willing to do whatever it took to end the war. This compelling novel, inspired by many true tales of heroism, celebrates the strength and daring of these little-recognized female spies.
When German police arrive at Helene Hannemann's home in 1943, she knows the worst has happened: her children and husband, who have Romani heritage, are to be sent to Auschwitz. Although Helene is German and could stay behind, she refuses to leave her family. In the camp, she fights to protect her children, even once she is forced into service in the camp hospital. Helene detests the notorious Dr. Mengele, but when he invites her to organize a school for Romani children in the camp, she becomes determined to protect the children in her care, no matter the cost. This novelization of Hannemann's true story tells the painful story of how she tried to give children of Auschwitz hope in the darkest times.
When Mildred Fish marries German economist Arvid Harnack, their new life in Germany is supposed to be full of friendship and intellectual stimulation. But when Hitler and the Nazi Party rise, the couple and their friends are determined to resist. Together, they gather intelligence from journalists, officers, and officials, and Mildred funnels the information to her American contacts. But when the Harnack resistance cell is detected, the stakes they must pay are brutally high. This exciting novel brings Mildred Harnack, her husband, and their friends to vivid life, capturing the courage and passion that drove them.
It's 1936, and Nancy Wake is an intrepid young women who's determined to blaze her own trail. Her fairytale romance with French industrialist Henri Fiocca ends with a wedding — and the German invasion. To help the war effort, Wake becomes Lucienne Carlier, smuggling people and documents across the border and earning a 5 million franc bounty on her head from the Gestapo. When she's forced to leave France, Wake joins Britain's Special Operations Executives, then airdrops back into France to become a powerful French Resistance leader. But the Nazis are still in pursuit, threatening both Wake and everyone she loves... This gripping historical fiction novel tells the true story of Nancy Wake's heroic war service, capturing her devastating wit and ferocious courage.