Lancaster, John. Fragnant Harbor (Penguin Group, 2003).
It is 1935, and Tom Stewart, a young Englishman with a longing for adventure, buys himself a cheap ticket aboard the SS Darjeeling-en route to the complex and corrupt world of Hong Kong. A shipboard wager leads to an unlikely friendship that spans seven decades as Hong Kong endures the savagery of the Japanese occupation, emerging as a crossroads of international finance and the nexus of a world of warlords, drug runners, and Chinese triads.
Lawton, John. Bluffing Mr. Churchill (Penguin Group, 2004).
With his Frederick Troy series, John Lawton has been compared to such tophistorical espionage writers as John le Carré and Len Deighton. Now, in this prequel to Black Out, Lawton transports readers to 1941 London during the German Blitz, brilliantly re-creating the era of ration tickets, air raids, and bomb shelters.
Wolfgang Stahl, an American spy operating undercover as an SS officer, has fled Germany with Hitler's secret blueprints for the invasion of Russia. As American, British, and German operatives race through war-torn London in search of the spy, bodies begin to pile up and the question arises: Are Stahl and his American contact being played by one of their own? In this game of spy vs. spy, only Sergeant Troy of Scotland Yard will be shrewd enough to uncover the truth.
Leffland, Ella. Rumors of Peace (Harper Perennial, 1985).
Perhaps no novel since A Seperate Peace has so superbly captured the impingement of a world at war upon a safe and sheltered environment. The place in Mendoza, a small oil-refining town thirty miles east of San Francisco. The time encompassed is World War II, from the bombing of Pearl Harbor until the bombing of Hiroshima. The narrator and heroine of the story is the fierce yet enchanting Suse Hansen. In the intervening four years, we watch with compassion as Suse evolves from a tomboy who wishes to be a trapeze artist to a young person whose moral growth has been as remarkable as her blossoming womanhood. In Suse's perceptions of the war, in her ability to reconcile her unfolding knowledge of human nature with the horrors of the news reports she so anxiously follows, we see a growth that is all the more dramatic for the subtlety and awe with which it is portrayed.
Lengyel, Olga. Five Chimneys (Academy Chicago Publishers, Second revised edition, 1995).
Having lost her husband, her parents, and her two young sons to the Nazi exterminators, Olga Lengyel had little to live for during her seven-month internment in Auschwitz. Only Lengyel's work in the prisoners' underground resistance and the need to tell this story kept her fighting for survival. She survived by her wit and incredible strength. Despite her horrifying closeness to the subject, Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor's True Story of Auschwitz does not retreat into self-pit or sensationalism. When Five Chimneys was first published (two years after World War II ended), Albert Einstein was so moved by her story that he wrote a personal letter to Lengyel, thanking her for her "very frank, very well written book". Today, with "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia, and neo-Nazis on the rise in western Europe, we cannot afford to forget the grisly lessons of the Holocaust. Five Chimneys is a stark reminder that the unspeakable can happen wherever and whenever ethnic hatreds, religious bigotries, and racial discriminations are permitted to exist. (Midwest Book Review)
Lehrer, James. Special Prisoner (Public Affairs, 2001).
Following the enormous success of his two bestselling previous novels, White Widow and Purple Dots, Jim Lehrer takes on a new and controversial subject in this ambitious story about an Ameri-can soldier who, many years after the fact, is forced to relive his harrowing experience in the Second World War.
Levi, Primo. The Drowned and the Saved (Simon and Shuster, 1988).
Primo Levi's last book is an anguished view of the persistent torment and shame he feels because he had the luck to survive the Holocaust in which so many others perished. In his opinion, the best were those who "drowned" because they refused to compromise in any way.
Levi, Primo. The Reawakening (Touchstone, 1995).
Levi writes about his liberation from Auschwitz, the long struggle to return to his home in Italy, and his painful disorientation from his old life.
Levi, Primo. If Not Now, When? (Penguin Modern Classic, New Edition, 2000).
Primo Levi was among the greatest witnesses to 20th-century atrocity. In this novel, based on a true story, he reveals the extraordinary lives of the Russian, Polish and Jewish partisans trapped behind enemy lines during World War II.
Levy, Andrea. Small Island (Picador, 2005).
Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve. Told in these four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers—in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant's life.
Liesche, Margit. Lipstick and Lies (Poisoned Pen Press, 2010).
Women Air Force Service Pilot and undercover agent Pucci Lewis did not want to go to jail. But how else could she unmask Grace Buchanan-Dineen, an imprisoned countess-counteragent suspected of triple-dealing and possibly putting our country’s future at risk? Buchanan-Dineen was a real-life figure who led a German spy ring that operated in Detroit during WWII. Confronted by the FBI, she agreed to act as a counteragent helping to nail the other ring members. Jailed along with her cohorts—“for her own protection”—her rancor ran deep.
Enter Pucci, landing in a B-24 bomber at the Willow Run aircraft factory. LLate for a meeting, she takes a shortcut and stumbles upon a corpse. Agent Dante appears and reveals the dead man to be a German spy. A fellow Willow Run employee, Otto Renner, had been under surveillance and the FBI suspects a link between Renner and the imprisoned countess. Dante convinces Pucci to become a sister inmate to see what she can learn. Then she infiltrates a posh women’s club where Buchanan-Dineen, billed as a “charm consultant,” once lectured. Could the club really be the center of a spy ring?
Linna, Vaino. The Unknown Soldier [Tuntematon sotilas] (Ace Books, 1957).
Published in 1954, it is a story about the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union as told from the viewpoint of ordinary Finnish soldiers. Gritty and realistic, it was partly intended to shatter the myth of the noble, obedient Finnish soldier, and in that it succeeded admirably. The novel is based on Linna's own experiences, but is more or less fictional. In its structure and style, it may be compared to the war novels of James Jones.
Lively, Penelope. Consequences (Viking, 2007).
A chance meeting in St. James’s Park begins young Lorna and Matt’s intense relationship. Wholly in love, they leave London for a cottage in a rural Somerset village. Their intimate life together—Matt’s woodcarving, Lorna’s self-discovery, their new baby, Molly—is shattered with the arrival of World War II. In 1960s London, Molly happens upon a forgotten newspaper—a seemingly small moment that leads to her first job and, eventually, a pregnancy by a wealthy man who wants to marry her but whom she does not love. Thirty years later, Ruth, who has always considered her existence a peculiar accident, questions her own marriage and begins a journey that takes her back to 1941—and a redefinition of herself and of love.
Lively, Penelope. Moon Tiger (Grove Press, 1997).
The elderly Claudia Hampton, a best-selling author of popular history; lies alone in a London hospital bed. Memories of her life still glow in her fading consciousness, but she imagines writing a history of the world. Instead, Moon Tiger is her own history, the life of a strong, independent woman, with its often contentious relations with family and friends. At its center — forever frozen in time, the still point of her turning world — is the cruelly truncated affair with Tom, a British tank commander whom Claudia knew as a reporter in Egypt during World War II.
Lourie, Richard. A Hatred for Tulips (St. Martin’s Press, 2007).
People who don’t have secrets imagine them as dark and hidden. It’s just the opposite. Secrets are bright. They light you up. Like the bare lightbulb left on in a cell day and night, they give you no rest." So thinks Joop, the narrator of this brief and bitter tale, whose secret is like no other. He has kept that secret for more than sixty years, but now his brother—whom he has not seen since the end of the war—has suddenly shown up at his door. Having grown up in North America with only the vaguest memories of World War II, Joop’s brother has returned to Amsterdam to find out what his childhood in Holland had been like. But what he discovers is much more than he bargained for—he is startled and dismayed to learn of his own role in the betrayal of Anne Frank. Transporting readers through the agonizing Nazi takeover of World War II, Joop recounts his role as a boy desiring to feed his starving family. He figures out a way to provide for them, but in doing so, he sets in motion a chain of events that will horrify the entire world.
Lucarelli, Carlo. Carte Blanche (Europa Editions, 2006).
"Carlo Lucarelli is the great promise of Italian crime writing."-La Stampa
April 1945, Italy. Commissario De Luca is heading up a dangerous investigation into the private lives of the rich and powerful during the frantic final days of the facist regime. The hierarchy has guaranteed De Luca their full cooperation, just so long as he arrests the "right" suspect. The house of cards built by Mussolini in the last months of WWII is collapsing and De Luca faces a world mired in sadistic sex, dirty money, drugs and murder.
Lucas, Michele Clarie. A High and Hidden Place (Harper San Francisco, 2006).
Christine Lenoir's early childhood memories are vague. Told that her family perished of influenza, she grows up in the aftermath of World War II believing herself fortunate that her parents at least did not die violently, as so many did, and because she found a good and loving home. But she witnesses the live telecast of Lee Harvey Oswald's murder, strange dreams and terrifying images begin to plague her. As her faint recollections of the horrors of her childhood become stronger, Christine embarks on a quest to discover what her visions mean. She ultimately unearths a history she never knew existed -- and one the world had largely forgotten. What follows is one woman's journey to the ruins of a small town called Oradour to find her truth and to reconcile her belief in God with the horrifying acts perpetrated against her family.
Ludlum, Robert. The Rhinemann Exchange (Orion, Re-issue, 2005).
Autumn 1943. Global espionage elite converge on Buenos Aires. Intense, high-level covert negotiations will soon bear dangerous fruit with the aid of expatriate German industrialist Erich Rhinemann. American agent David Spaulding will be there. His top-secret mission can bring the war to an explosive end. But what happens here in this city of assassins, double crosses, and erotic encounters is to be the most sinister and terrifying deal ever made between two nations at war. Quickly, the game changes, truths darken, hidden secrets emerge. And suddenly Spaulding is the man in between, the man furiously struggling for his sanity, the woman he loves, and his very life...the only man who can save the world from the horrible truth of The Rhinemann Exchange.