I'm searching for great reads about the Great War.

Great Books about the Great War

Charles L. James

My great-grandfather, circa 1917

One thing I like to do when I’m not writing is poke around in my family’s history. Lately, I’ve been digging a lot into records about one of my great-grandfathers, Charles L. James, a veteran of World War I.

June 5, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of his enlistment to fight what was then called The Great War.

The centennial of the war – which began in Europe in 1914 – has brought us a PBS documentary and a raft of newspaper think pieces about what was also called the War to End All Wars.

The conflict inspired great fiction: All Quiet at the Western Front and A Farewell to Arms are perhaps the most famous. Certainly they were the most-assigned when I was in high school.

Recently, I’ve read and liked two contemporary novels about life during the war: My Dear I Wanted to Tell You, by Louisa Young, and The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson.

I’m inspired hunt down more novels about that period, and not necessarily just those set on the battlefield.

As I looked at lists from various sources, these titles popped up again and again:

Birdsong, by Sebastian Faulks

The Daughters of Mars, by Thomas Keneally

The First of July, by Elizabeth Speller

The Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear

So, readers, do you have suggestions? What novels set during World War I should I check out? Tell me in the comments.



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