Good Minds Suggest: Michelle Moran's Favorite Books About WWI

Posted by Goodreads on July 4, 2016

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It is Paris 1917, and the infamous exotic dancer Mata Hari sits in a jail cell waiting to discover her fate. The once celebrated performer, whose risqué acts transfixed much of Europe, is accused of espionage and treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers. She would go on to be executed by a French firing squad that year. But was the intriguing Dutch-born dancer and courtesan really a criminal seductress and spy? Bestselling historical novelist Michelle Moran delves into this and other questions in Mata Hari's Last Dance, her latest book to revisit, and enliven, an enigmatic historical legend. Moran, whose previous books include Nerfetiti, Cleopatra's Daughter, and Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, pairs detailed research with richly imagined details to provide a riveting character study and unusual take on the First World War. She gives Goodreads her top five World War I books.

To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield
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"I'm not sure how many times I've read this book. Three? Four? It's set in a British boys' boarding school, and the young man at the center of the book returns from the First World War broken and shell-shocked. The next 22 years of his life—first as a teacher and finally as the headmaster of Bamfylde—capture both the profound hope and struggle that was the reality for many between the two world wars."

To the Last Man by Jeff Shaara
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"It's impossible not to recognize just how much research went into this novel, with its four protagonists, all of whom are fighting in the First World War. The fact that one of the protagonists is the Red Baron made this book a compelling read for me. The Red Baron was always one of those names I recognized but couldn't really place in history. I knew he was a pilot, I knew he flew in WW1, but that was really it. I can't say enough about this book or about Shaara as an author. He takes his readers from the air to the ground and covers what seems to be the entire war."

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
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"This book was assigned reading in high school, and it's stayed with me ever since. Hemingway's description of war is visceral—and no wonder, given that he was there to witness it all. The love story between the American ambulance driver on the Italian front and an English nurse is really only a very small part of the story. The really gripping reading happens when Hemingway describes the fallout of war and what happens to soldiers when they've seen battle."

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
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"Yes, this is a children's novel, but I'm a firm believer in historical fiction for children, and this is one of those books that's enjoyable for adults as well. Set in France during WW1, the novel follows the life of a war horse named Joey. His young owner, Albert, is desperate to bring Joey home after the army purchases him for the war effort. This is one of the books that, even though it's written for children, will stay with you awhile."

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
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"This epic novel begins in 1911 and follows the struggles of five different families through some of the great political upheaval of the 20th century. What makes this book stand out for me is how convincingly the author portrays his settings. Whether it's a light-filled palace or a dark coal mine, you feel like you're right there with the characters."

Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best World War I Books

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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message 1: by Holly (new)

Holly Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth is incredibly powerful.

message 2: by Angharad (new)

Angharad Holly, you beat me to it! "Testament of Youth" remains my favorite book re WWI.

I also liked Robert Graves' "Good-bye To All That" (similar to Brittain's book, but hers has an emotional quality that I think Graves' book lacks).

For fiction, despite the spate of books in print in recent years due to the 100th anniversary of the war and its battles, my favorite is the Flambards trilogy ("Flambards", "Edge of the Cloud", and "Flambards in Summer") by K.M. Peyton. Technically, they're classified as young adult/juvenile, but they're well-written and contain some very adult themes.

message 3: by Kate Schrire (new)

Kate Schrire There are some great books which start at the turn of the century and include World War One. A.S Byatt's The Children's Book comes to mind.

message 4: by Carol (new)

Carol Goonan Faulks' "Birdsong" is very good, as is Keneally's "Daughters of Mars". I thought Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy was over-rated.

message 5: by Birte (new)

Birte Lunau Nielsen Holly wrote: "Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth is incredibly powerful."

That is also one of my favourite books of the First World War

message 6: by Birte (new)

Birte Lunau Nielsen Angharad wrote: "Holly, you beat me to it! "Testament of Youth" remains my favorite book re WWI.

I also liked Robert Graves' "Good-bye To All That" (similar to Brittain's book, but hers has an emotional quality t...
I aslo like Robert Graves :Good Bye to all that and Wilfred Owen's War Poems

message 7: by Albert (new)

Albert Meyer I would recommend ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. Quite harrowing in its descriptions of combat.

message 8: by Carole (new)

Carole Bucy I enjoyed Chris Bojhalian's novel, THE SANDCASTLE GIRLS, which is about the 1915 Armenian genocide in Turkey during the Great World. It is a powerful story about a piece of World War I history that has been almost forgotten. It is a gripping story.

message 9: by John (new)

John House Three day road - Joseph Boyden

message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah The Fatal Englishman, also by Faulks. The Great War and Modern Memory, and Her Privates We. The last one can be a bit tricky to get a hold of, but worth it. Not to mention Seigfreid Sassoon's Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man trilogy.

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Interesting choices and convincing reasons to read them - my TBR list has grown again.

message 12: by Stefanie (new)

Stefanie All Quiet on the Western Front is incredible, and Five Children on the Western Front is a fabulous childrens' look at the horror of war.

message 13: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi or The Book Thief are my favorites.

message 14: by Rita (new)

Rita Parade's end series by ford madox ford are my favourites.

message 15: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Peter I want to translate some books in to swahili Language so to reach many people especially those who knows swahili

message 16: by ClaraBelle (new)

ClaraBelle Loved her recommendations! Will def be checking them out as well as her books on Mata Harai and Madame Tussaud!

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