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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all.  I'm looking for good WWII fiction - by which I mean a preference for fiction about the combatants - on either a small or large scale.  I've read a surprising number of disappointing books in this genre and would love to hear what some of you really liked.

Thank you.
 

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I can recommend a lot of great WWII nonfiction, but the only two fictional things that come to mind are Catch 22 and The Eagle Has Landed, and I guess you could say Slaughterhouse Five is WWII fiction. But maybe you could give Cornelius Ryan's The Longest Day and/or A Bridge Too Far as shot, as nonfiction that is as readable as a novel -- and in some ways more amazing when you know it is, in fact, not fiction. And there are many personal memoirs out there you might enjoy, such as Hans von Luck's Panzer Commander or Under the Wire by William Ash (the inspiration for the Steve McQueen character in "The Great Escape") for two very different viewpoints.
 

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Try THE YOUNG LIONS, by Irwin Shaw and THE BEARDLESS WARRIORS, by Richard Matheson.  The Matheson's available on Kindle if memory serves, but the Shaw is print only.  You might also try Norman Mailer's THE NAKED AND THE DEAD.
 

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Given the insane popularity of WW2, I think the FICTION aspect is horribly underserved. But seeing the flack "Inglorious Basterds" got for their history distortion, I suppose books would get the same treatment. Seems to me that most of the fiction stuff is OSS/spy related, not combat focused.

Anyway, "Once an Eagle" has a substantial WW2 element. Of course there is Steven Pressfield and Jeff Shaara, who do sorta history/fiction (hisfic?).
 

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Off topic, but it came to mind: This is WWI and not WWII, but if you like stories told from the perspective of combatants, one of the best is a Canadian novel by Charles Yale Harrison, Generals Die in Bed.

For WWII, I second The Naked and the Dead and A Bridge Too Far. I also agree that Slaughterhouse-Five is certainly worth a read. I'd recommend the whole James Jones WWII trilogy, including Whistle, which is often the lesser known one.
 

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I found Herman Wouk's The Winds of War and War and Remembrance to be extremely good.  Fictional main characters based around actual events.  I'm a lover of history and could hardly put these books down.

Edit:  Oh, sorry, I just noticed you want something on the combatant's point of view.  Of that, I know not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all for your feedback. I'm compiling a list for my next library trip. And yes, I realize the irony of writing that here. ;D

RhondaRN said:
I found Herman Wouk's The Winds of War and War and Remembrance to be extremely good. Fictional main characters based around actual events. I'm a lover of history and could hardly put these books down.

Edit: Oh, sorry, I just noticed you want something on the combatant's point of view. Of that, I know not.
I should've been more clear. The combatants' view per se isn't necessary but I would like the perspectives of those actively involved - from generals and admirals to privates and able seamen, whether on the front lines or well back of them. I'm beginning to sketch a series spanning the war and I'd like to know how other authors have treated it. Thank you for your feedback.

EGranfors said:
Jeff Shaara's series
Anton Meyer
Leon Uris
Not at all a Jeff Shaara fan. But I like Anton Meyer and I'll give Leon Uris a look. Thank you.
 

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Band of Brothers (Stephen Ambrose) is non-fiction, but it reads very well (particularly if you have seen or are going to see the HBO mini-series), and the leading character, Dick Winters, also wrote a book about his experiences in WWII.  I read both after I started watching the mini-series.
 

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The reason I bring up non-fiction is because there are some good ones from the WWII combatant(s)' point of view. A good one about combat in the Pacific is With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge.

 

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Other non-fiction:

To Hell and Back, by Audie Murphy
Those Devils in Baggy Pants, by Ross Carter
Company Commander, by Charles MacDonald
Ed Ruggero and Philip Nordyke have each done titles on WWII, and Nordyke's excellent on the 82d Airborne.
 

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Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach. The best submarine warfare novel ever. Much better than the awful Clark Gable movie.

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. Everybody remembers the famous court-martial scene but the book covers a lot more than that. Very good picture of the decidedly unglamorous life aboard a support ship.

Neither is currently available for the Kindle.
 

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The Second Objective by Mark Frost

and then there are the books by Hans Hellmut Kirst, which are sadly hard to find in the US. His book Soldier's Revolt (Aufstand der Soldaten) is absolutely mesmerizing as it details the story of Claus Von Stauffenberg and his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
 
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