From The Beacon: Sneak behind enemy lines with great stories about World War II

In September 1939, Germany began its invasion of Poland, plunging the world into World War II. From the Big One came many great stories of all genres, featuring unforgettable heroes and villains, and characters who might be both or neither. Here are a few WWII stories you don't want to miss.


"The Keep" by F. Paul Wilson: You won't feel bad rooting for the bad guy in this WWII-era tale. In the Transylvanian Alps, Nazi soldiers stumble across a mysterious empty keep, whose purpose is a mystery. After they move in, something hungry begins attacking them. An elite SS extermination squad set to deal with the unseen threat is also dispatched, and the Nazis are forced to call in a Jewish professor of folklore to find out what is happening to the men.

"The Caine Mutiny" by Herman Wouk: This is a war story for people who don't like war stories. Fresh out of midshipman school, young Willie Keith is assigned to the derelict minesweeper the Caine. While Willie ponders how he will proceed in relationships with his family and girlfriend back home, personality clashes erupt among the eccentric Capt. Queeg and his despondent crew. The discord culminates in a shocking mid-typhoon mutiny and a fascinating court martial.

"The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick: It is 1962, and the Allies have lost the war. America is occupied by Japan and Nazi Germany, slavery is legal, and the few remaining Jewish people are hiding under assumed names. Multiple characters and story lines provide a broad, haunting picture of life in the Axis-occupied United States.

"Catch-22" by Joseph Heller: Here's an excerpt from the novel: "Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions." With its events recounted out of sequence, "Catch-22" is an unsettling, darkly funny satire of a dispassionate bureaucracy, drawn from Heller's own experience in the Air Force.


"Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose: A group of young men volunteer to be part of a unique but hazardous unit who work together to stay alive and safe. This gripping true story follows Easy Company from their training camp in Georgia to their capture of Hitler's luxurious "Eagle's Nest" in the mountains of Austria. Also be sure to check out HBO's fantastic series of the same name.

"The Longest Day" by Cornelius Ryan: Using war documents, diaries and interviews with hundreds of soldiers and civilians on both sides, Ryan offers an authentic, engrossing account of the events preceding and following June 6, 1944 -- D-Day. Personal narratives make this military history anything but dry.