World War II Global Perspective

By Michelle HooSang

Explore these lesser-known stories and experiences of people in a number of different countries during World War II.

  • The Last Rose of Shanghai

    2021 by Randel, Weina Dai

    In 1940 Japanese-occupied Shanghai, two people from different cultures are drawn together by fate and the freedom of music. Unforeseen circumstances, the clashing of cultures, and the heaviness of war keep the reader guessing what will happen next and the ultimate fate of the lovers.

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  • Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served during World War II

    2021 by Alderson, Kaia

    Based on the true story of the first all-female African American 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. These women soldiers had to battle segregation and sexism before they finally joined the fight in England and France.

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  • How We Disappeared: A Novel

    2019 by Lee, Jing-Jing

    A haunting and profoundly moving novel about the brutalities of the war years in Japanese-occupied Singapore. A glimpse into the atrocities women faced during and after the war as they dealt with shame, trauma, and abuse.

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  • Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany

    2001 by Massaquoi, Hans J.

    Born in Germany during the rise of fascism, Hans J. Massaquoi, the son of an Aryan woman and African diplomat, develops an anti-Semitic outlook during his school years only to discover that he too is part of the non-Aryan group. Massaquoi explains the struggles of growing up Black in Nazi Germany with Nazi ideology and his slow recognition that he was seen as the enemy.

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  • Grave of the Fireflies


    This poignant animated movie from Studio Ghibli follows the lives of two orphans. Filmed from the perspective of a brother and sister orphaned after the bombing of Kobe, Japan, this film illustrates how the destruction of war affects everyday citizens, especially children.

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  • Ivan's childhood


    This heartrending debut by the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky follows Ivan, a young boy orphaned by the Nazi invasion, who now works for the Russian army on dangerous scouting missions. A poetic, harrowing film detailing the surreal and corrupting effects of being a child during a catastrophic war.

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  • When the Emperor Was Divine: A Novel

    2003 by Otsuka, Julie

    Spare and intimate, this debut novel illuminates the experience of a Japanese family enduring the U.S. internment of Japanese citizens during WWII.

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  • The Island of Sea Women: A Novel

    2019 by See, Lisa

    This novel explores the friendship of two women who become haenyeo, female divers of Jeju, an island off the coast of present-day South Korea. After WWII begins, the occupation of Korea strains their friendship. It's raw, emotional, and beautiful.

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  • The Book of Harlan

    2016 by McFadden, Bernice L.

    Harlan, a musician of the Harlem Renaissance, migrates to Paris to play his guitar and escape racism in America. When Germany invades Paris, Harlan is shipped off to Buchenwald, which alters the course of his life.

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