Book Recommendations


20 results

1941: The Year That Keeps Returning

Slavko Goldstein

Slavko Goldstein is a publisher, journalist and political activist in Croatia. The book has been hailed as one of the best Holocaust memoirs in recent years, and 1941 is a combination of family memoir and meticulous research.

All or Nothing

Jonathan Steinberg

A portrait that compares German with Italian troops in five common war zones, most of them in the Balkans. The summary at the end is devastating. A very important book.


Timothy Snyder

Snyder is one of the most important historians working today and this study is based on years of archival research in Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Germany and Ukraine. This book details how both Stalin and Hitler treated the lands between them--the Baltics, Poland and Ukraine, and how many people they shot, starved and gassed. A very powerful historical study. It is one of the most important books written on the Holocaust in the past decade.

Defying Hitler

Sebastian Haffner

When newspaper writer, editor and historian Sebastian Haffner died in 1999 at the age of 91, his son found a manuscript he had written in 1939, after he had fled Germany for England. Haffner, known for his best selling book, The Meaning of Hitler (English title) and other histories of Germany, had never thought to publish this very personal memoir. His son did publish it a few years later, and it soared to the top of the best-seller list, where it remained for 42 weeks.

Eichmann's Jews

Doron Rabinovici

Polity Press brought out a translation of Doron Rabinovici's excellent Eichmann's Jews, a study of the leadership of the Vienna Jewish community and how they were trapped into cooperating with Adolf Eichmann. A chilling, sober study and highly recommended. 

Goetz and Meyer

David Albahari

Turning our attention to Yugoslavia during the Second World War, we recommend David Albahari's brilliant novel, Goetz and Meyer. Written in stream-of-conscisouness and in a single paragraph, a teacher in Belgrade wonders just what the two men (and these are, in fact, their names) who drove the infamous gas van chatted about all day. There is truly nothing like it and we recommend it highly.

Last Waltz in Vienna

George Clare

George Clare, who died in 2009, wrote a memoir, Last Waltz in Vienna, a poignant family history. The book has been in and out of print for years, and you can find it on or The Independent in London published this obituary on Clare.

Logavina Street

Barbara Demick

Then a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Demick spent the better part of a year during the siege of Sarajevo getting to know the residents of one narrow street in the city center. By focusing on each household, Demick brings the horrors, the boredom and the pain of what it was like to live in a city surrounded by rockets, mortars and snipers.

Old Masters

Thomas Bernhard

This short novel is one long monologue, in which one elderly friend meets another friend each week in front of a Tintoretto in the Kunsthistorishes Museum in Vienna. His friend rails at what perfectly horrible people the Austrians are. Written by an author who makes all other misanthropes seem like St Thomas Aquinas, this is the funniest and most brilliant book one can find on postwar Austria.

Ordinary Men

Christopher Browning

Truly a landmark study. This short book details how a group of reservists from Hamburg, many of which had exhibited no hardline Nazi tendencies, turned themselves into brutal murderers. There are very difficult chapters to read regarding atrocities, but these are what Browning uses to set up his conclusion.

Sarajevo 1941-1945

Emily Greble

An outgrowth of her PhD thesis, Greble’s unique study delves deep into the archives to show us how Serbs, Bosniak Muslims, Jews, and local Croats all got along, and didn’t, during the Second World War. Her book shows us how little regard local Croats held for their fascist leaders in Zagreb, who, at the end of the war, turned their weapons on local citizenry. Greble spoke at our summer academy in Sarajevo in 2011.

The Gestapo and German Society

Robert Gellately

Only two cities did not have their SS records destroyed, and Gellately explores the relationship between the unpaid informers and the SS. Not a pretty conclusion.

The Hare with Amber Eyes

Edmund de Waal

We expect everyone to read The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal. When the author, a sculptor in London, inherits 264 small Japanese figures, he decides to take a journey through his family’s rise—and dramatic fall, which begins in Odessa, travels to Paris, and ends in Vienna. Watch an interview with the author.

The Holocaust

Wolfgang Benz

A German Historian Examines the Genocide. Concise and to the point. By one of Germany’s leading scholars.

The Lady in Gold

Anne-Marie O'Connor

We also recommend Anne-Marie O'Connor's The Lady in Gold, which tells the story of Gustav Klimt's painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Adele died in 1934 and in her will, she asked her husband to donate the portrait to an Austrian museum. Yet in 1938, her husband fled Vienna for his life and died in greatly reduced circumstances in Switzerland. He was the painting's owner and wanted to give it to his niece, Marie Altman. The Austrians would not budge. Into the picture walked a young, relatively untested lawyer, Randol Schoenberg. O'Connor, an investigative reporter for The Los Angeles Times, digs deep into turn-of-the-century Vienna, the Second World War, and Schoenberg's battle to get the painting back. The book was filmed in Vienna, with Helen Mirren playing Marie Altman.

The Lazarus Project

Aleksander Hemon

The second book we expect everyone to read is The Lazarus Project, by Aleksander Hemon. The latest novel by a writer now compared to Nabakov, this hysterical, poignant novel will bring you closer in touch with Sarajevo and its citizens than any other we know.

The Sleepwalkers

Christopher Clark

Over the past century, more than 25,000 books have been written on the origins of the First World War. It seems another 25,000 have been written this year alone. There are several important books to recommend, but we suggest this very well written history as a starting point.

The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War

Tim Butcher

A portrait of Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian Serb teenager whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand triggered The First World War. Butcher takes us, literally by foot, through Bosnia and Serbia, and his story interweaves the First World War, the Second World War, and the Bosnian War all in a breathless, confidently-told narrative.

The Vertigo Years. Change and culture in the west, 1900-1914

Philipp Blom

As The Guardian wrote, this assessment of the gravity-eroding, giddying sweep of European cultural, social, political and spiritual change that permeated the first 15 years of the 20th century is an ambitious book. But Philipp Blom has pulled it off triumphantly.”