The Top World War I Books on Goodreads

Posted by Hayley on April 6, 2017
Before world wars needed to be numbered, World War I was known as the Great War or the War to End All Wars. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering that war.

While bookshelves and movie screens are filled with World War II stories, we thought it would be a good time to discover (or revisit) some of Goodreads members' favorite fiction and nonfiction narratives about World War I. From the fall of an empire to the rise of a homefront, from the eve of combat to the aftermath of destruction, these are books of devastation, redemption, and hope.


All Quiet on the Western Front
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Fall of Giants
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The Girl You Left Behind
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A Farewell to Arms
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Dead Wake
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Birdsong
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Maisie Dobbs
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War Horse
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The Summer Before the War
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Johnny Got His Gun
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The Guns of August
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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
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Regeneration
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Moon Over Manifest
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Nicholas and Alexandra
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Rilla of Ingleside
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Do you have a favorite WWI book? Share it with us in the comments.

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 101 (101 new)


message 1: by Courtney (new)

Courtney "Storm of Steel" by Ernst Jünger


message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara The Alice Network which should be published in June 2017.


message 6: by Barbara (new)

Barbara "johnny got his gun" by Dalton Trumbo


message 7: by Moira (new)

Moira Elise Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth

Sebastien Japrisot's A Very Long Engagement


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel A Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. Still one of the best books I've ever read.


message 10: by Lauretta (new)

Lauretta All Quiet on the Western Front


message 11: by Connie (new)

Connie Mary Borden was a nurse working in an evac hospital near the front lines during WWI. She captured her experiences in The Forbidden Zone: A Nurse's Impressions of the First World War


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Please do a WWII books as well!!


message 14: by Christine PNW (new)

Christine PNW One of Ours by Willa Cather, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain and, a bit lighter fare, The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn, are all worth reading.


message 16: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Alexander One of Ours by Willa Cather is, I think, the only pro-WWI book written after the war.


message 17: by Jill (new)

Jill Blouch A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin


message 18: by Matt (new)

Matt S Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves.
Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, or The War Poems by Siegfried Sassoon


message 19: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Letters from a lost Generation: First World War letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends.
I have yet to read Testament of Youth,though I have watched the film adaptation.


message 20: by Courtney (new)

Courtney I also just finished "No Man's Land" by Simon Tolkien. Appropriate timing it seems.


message 21: by ستایش (new)

ستایش  دشتی Any non-fiction quick read suggestion?

I'd also appreciate if you do a WWII as well.


message 22: by Gwen (new)

Gwen Loeffler Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull


message 23: by Nullifidian (last edited Apr 06, 2017 11:06AM) (new)

Nullifidian My three favorite WWI books are The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, the tetralogy Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford, and Under Fire by Henri Barbusse. The latter work is practically forgotten now, but it deserves attention not only for its literary merits (it won the Prix Goncourt in 1916) but also for the fact that it was the first example of WWI literature, published when the war was only in its second year.

If anyone is interested in reading the latter book in English, there's a public domain translation by Fitzwater Wray that is free at Project Gutenberg (it's also available at PG in the original French), but it's somewhat bowdlerized. Barbusse didn't hesitate to write his characters using realistic language, and Wray toned it down for his English-speaking audience. Robin Buss' translation for Penguin Classics renders all the language without a fig leaf.


message 24: by Smcs (new)

Smcs Reading The Cartographer of No Mans Land at the moment- would recommend it


message 25: by KOMET (last edited Apr 06, 2017 11:41AM) (new)

KOMET Today (April 6th, 2017) marks 100 YEARS since the U.S. declared war on Germany, thereby entering the First World War on the allied side.

Here are some books (fiction & non-fiction) I've read about the First World War that have had special resonance for me. (My maternal grandfather - born in 1895 - had served with the U.S. Army in France during 1918.)

1) The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin

The Last of the Doughboys The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War by Richard Rubin

2) Last Post: The Final Word from Our First World War Soldiers by Max Arthur

Last Post The Final Word from Our First World War Soldiers by Max Arthur

3) Intimate Voices from the First World War by
Sarah Wallis

Intimate Voices from the First World War by Sarah Wallis

4) All Quiet on the Home Front: An Oral History of Life in Britain During the First World War by Richard van Emden

All Quiet on the Home Front An Oral History of Life in Britain During the First World War by Richard van Emden

5) No Man's Land by John Toland

No Man's Land by John Willard Toland

6) The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne

The Price of Glory Verdun 1916 by Alistair Horne

7) The Great War in Africa: 1914-1918 by Byron Farwell

The Great War in Africa 1914-1918 by Byron Farwell

8) The World War I Memoirs of Don V. Paradis, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC by Don V. Paradis

The World War I Memoirs of Don V. Paradis, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC by Don V. Paradis

9) General Jack's Diary, 1914-18 by J.L. Jack

General Jack's Diary, 1914-18 (Cassell Military Paperbacks) by J.L. Jack

10) Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards

Richards served on the Western Front throughout the war without once being wounded.

Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards

11) 1914 Days Of Hope by Lyn Macdonald

1914 Days Of Hope by Lyn Macdonald

12) The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War by Samuel Hynes

The Unsubstantial Air American Fliers in the First World War by Samuel Hynes

13) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

14) The Fallen Kings by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Fallen Kings (The Morland Dynasty, #32) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

15) Flying Fury: Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps by James McCudden

Flying Fury Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps by James McCudden

++++++++++++++++
P.S. - Losing Julia is a fantastic, bittersweet novel. I read it about 15 years ago.

Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull


message 26: by Rick (new)

Rick Three Day Road
I can't believe that this book is not already on this list.


message 27: by Tom (new)

Tom The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell


message 28: by Jacob (last edited Apr 06, 2017 12:02PM) (new)


message 29: by Berit (new)

Berit War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. It's beautiful.


message 30: by Elena (new)

Elena How is Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain not on this list?


message 31: by Gerhard (new)

Gerhard The Patriot's Progress by Henry Williamson.


message 32: by Erin (last edited Apr 06, 2017 12:13PM) (new)

Erin St. James Connie wrote: "Mary Borden was a nurse working in an evac hospital near the front lines during WWI. She captured her experiences in The Forbidden Zone: A Nurse's Impressions of the First World War"

I'm glad someone mentioned this one. I don't know what it is about this book, but it's one of my favorite WWI books ever.


message 33: by KOMET (new)

KOMET Winged Victory by V.M. Yeates

A very powerful, poignant novel based on the author's experiences as a combat pilot on the Western Front during 1918. Since its original publication in 1934, 'Winged Victory' has never been out of print.

Winged Victory (Echoes of War) by V.M. Yeates


message 34: by Gerhard (new)

Gerhard Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb -- one of the great anti-war novels and the basis for the Stanley Kubrick film.


message 35: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Alexander I used to teach WWI lit. We'd cover the British poems, of course, and All Quiet.
I led with Vera Brittain, who reduced even the most blase students to tears.

Also did an online reading of Brittain's and Graves' WWI autobiographies, tracking them simultaneously.

Recently... oh, see my list.


message 36: by Jens (new)

Jens Lindblad Two of my favourites:

Bury Him Among Kings by Elleston Trevor is a fictionalized account describing very well I think the Zeitgeist and the horror, class issues, loyalties and how the war influenced everyone

Sagittarius Rising Celil Lewis was a true poet with words. Reading his account of his service with the RFC is a very special read and the language used acts as a real time machine.


message 37: by Emily (new)

Emily Testament of Youth


message 38: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Testament of Youth. Without a shadow of a doubt.


message 39: by Tomasz (last edited Apr 06, 2017 01:23PM) (new)

Tomasz 16 books and only one by non-English native speaker (Remarque is too famous to be omitted). Believe me, there is a world outside Anglo-America


message 40: by Romeo (new)

Romeo Jr. The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell


message 41: by CatBookMom (new)

CatBookMom Tomasz wrote: "16 books and only one by non-English native speaker (Remarque is too famous to be omitted). Believe me, there is a world outside Anglo-America"

Can you list some books by 'non-English native speakers' that are translated into English? I'd be interested in reading them, but I don't know any language except English.


message 42: by Jane (new)

Jane Rick wrote: "Three Day Road
I can't believe that this book is not already on this list."


My thought exactly. It belongs near the top.


message 43: by CatBookMom (new)

CatBookMom Kerry Greenwood has written Evan's Gallipoli, about the Australian experience at Gallipoli. I haven't yet read this, but it is very well reviewed. Australians celebrate AnZac Day on April 25, remembering the disastrous event in 1915.


message 44: by Louie (new)

Louie I read Johnny Got His Gun after watching the film that Dalton Trumbo wrote and directed from his novel. Totally wrecked me and left me in tears. Then I watched the video of my favorite Metallica song, "One,' which I learned was inspired by the film. Again, more tears. ;_;


L.  (Maybe you can have too many books) Not So Quiet... by Helen Zenna Smith. WWI from a female perspective of ambulance drivers in France.


message 46: by Christine PNW (new)

Christine PNW Tomasz wrote: "16 books and only one by non-English native speaker (Remarque is too famous to be omitted). Believe me, there is a world outside Anglo-America"

Good point, Tomasz. What are your top 3?


message 47: by Nocturnalux (new)

Nocturnalux Nullifidian wrote: "My three favorite WWI books are The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek, the tetralogy Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford, and [book:Under F..."

I was going to suggest Parade's End myself but I think most of the story takes place after WWI, so I did not. Unless there are some extended flashbacks further down the road, I cannot say as I am still reading it.


message 48: by Melody (new)

Melody Sebastian Barry's "A Long Long Way" is excellent.


message 49: by Tomasz (last edited Apr 06, 2017 02:43PM) (new)

Tomasz Can you list some books by 'non-Engli..."

Here is the exemplary list of books written in other languages. All of them were translated to English. (Some books are still on my to-read list, but I've heard good opinions about them)

German:
1. Ernst Jünger was mentioned before (Storm of Steel).
2. Arnold Zweig wrote a great cycle about the war from the perspective of german pacifist (start with The Case of Sergeant Grischa)
3. Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus

French:
4. 1914 by Jean Echenoz- this one is quite short, but don't be mistaken - it's a small jewel.
5. Lice by Blaise Cendrars

Polish
6. Austeria by Julian Stryjkowski- It's actually about the Galitzian jewish communities during the war
7. Salt of the Earth by Józef Wittlin

Russian:
8. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - The Red Wheel Cycle (start with August 1914) (*)

Czech:
9. The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel - it's about armenian genocide during the war
10. The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek - this is probably the best book missing from the original list.


message 50: by Maria (last edited Apr 06, 2017 03:03PM) (new)

Maria The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West


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