The War in fiction, part 1: Europe

A War is not one story, but many.

Here is the first of three lists of fiction that views the war through many eyes, reflecting the diverse experiences of civilians and soldiers around the world whose lives were drawn into the Second World War.

  • Articles of War by Nick Arvin. Sent to Normandy in 1944, Iowa farm boy George ‘Heck’ Tilson’s all-too-human response to the war’s perilous chaos – to run away – will lead him through the fire towards an unforeseen and terrible duty.
  • Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris. Now sixty and a widow, Framboise Dartigen returns to her childhood village in France, to uncover painful secrets in her family’s past, and her mother’s curious relationship with the town’s German occupiers.
  • The Stalin Front by Gert Ledig. Eastern front veteran Ledig fully conveys the nightmarish enormity of total war in this gut-wrenching novel of the hell unleashed on earth when Hitler foolishly threw his troops against Russia’s vast defenses.
  • The Beardless Warriors by Richard Matheson. During his first two weeks on the front, rough-edged young Everett Hackermeyer finds he feels right at home killing Germans, but is less at ease among the desperate, battle-forged brotherhood of Company C.
  • The Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride. Four black soldiers caught behind enemy lines in the Italian Alps fight both the German enemy and the racial prejudice of their own side, as they try to save a mute Italian boy and stumble towards a miracle.
  • Liberation Road by David L. Robbins. Kept from front line combat because of his race, Joe Amos Biggs finds plenty of danger but precious little glory driving the supply trucks with the Red Ball Express.
  • A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell. In this unforgettable story of the war experienced by the villagers and townspeople of northern Italy, kindness and succor extended to Jewish refugees from France comes at a high price.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Billy Pilgrim recalls the bumbling innocents sent to battle, the horrific allied bombing of Dresden which he witnessed during his time as a prisoner of war, and his journeys to the peaceful planet Tralfamadore.

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