Type in the phrase “French Resistance books” in Amazon, and you’ll learn that more than 4,000 titles have been published. Naturally, some of these are translations into languages other than English. Many are memoirs, often blatantly self-serving. (There was a lot of that in the years after World War II.) And many are, simply, not very well written. I don’t claim to have read anything approaching a comprehensive list of books about the topic. But I can say that every one of the books listed here, both fiction and nonfiction, is both well written and, as best I can tell, firmly grounded in the historical record. I’ve awarded each one a grade of @@@@ or @@@@@ (4 or 5 out of 5). They’re all listed within each category in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names.
This post was updated on February 4, 2021.
Good books about the French Resistance: nonfiction
Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Europe by Alex Kershaw—A revealing account of life under the Nazis in occupied Europe
The Saboteur: The Aristocrat Who Became France’s Most Daring Anti-Nazi Commando by Paul Kix—A story of an anti-Nazi commando worthy of Hollywood
Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became World War II’s Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis—A woman was World War II’s most highly decorated spy
Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler by Lynne Olson—The truth about the French Resistance, dug out of old records
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell—The WWII American woman spy who kept the French Resistance alive
D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose—The women who parachuted behind German lines and helped secure the Normandy landing
Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit that Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben MacIntyre—The story of the original special forces
Good books about the French Resistance: novels
Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin—Resistance, and collaboration, among the rich and famous of Paris
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah—A deeply affecting novel of the French Resistance
Red Gold (Night Soldiers #5) by Alan Furst—A brilliant novel of the French Resistance)
A Hero of France (Night Soldiers #16) by Alan Furst—Vive la Resistance!
Tightrope by Simon Mawer—A well-written novel about World War II British espionage
For additional reading
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- 5 top nonfiction books about World War II (plus many runners-up).
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