What are the best books on the politics leading up to and during World War 2?


Edit: Just wanted to add that I just realized that reading biographies of the people involved with the politics at that time, for instance Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, etc. is an excellent way of gaining an in-depth perspective of the behind-the-scenes political machinations. Another book that came to my attention recently is "Yalta: The Price of Peace"

  • "Best books" is gonna really depend on who you are and what you're looking for. If you can describe in a bit more detail what sort of study you're engaged in, this could be considerably less subjective. See also: meta discussion
    – Shog9
    Nov 10, 2011 at 19:33

2 Answers 2


I recommend "The Origins of the Second World War" by AJP Taylor, http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Second-World-War/dp/0684829479/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320518200&sr=1-3 and "The Road to Pearl Harbor," by Herbert Feis http://www.amazon.com/Harbor-Coming-Between-United-States/dp/0691010617/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320518312&sr=1-1.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. The reviews for the first one however don't seem too good...
    – Opt
    Nov 5, 2011 at 23:31
  • AJP Taylor was definitely not in the mainstream of historical writing, but I haven't found anything factually wrong with it. You might want another book on the origins in Europe for balance. Nov 5, 2011 at 23:56

Just some books from an essay I'm writing. They are not directly on the topic, but do go into German internal and external politics.

  • Götz Aly, Hitler’s beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007)

  • Warren Bayard Morris Jr., The Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany (Nelson-Hall, 1982)

  • W. M. Knight-Patterson, Germany: from Defeat to Conquest: 1913-1933 (George Allen / Unwin Ltd., 1945)

  • Herbert Rosinski, The German Army (Frederick A. Praeger,1966) [Not exactly the topic at hand, but outlines the armies reasons for cooperating with the Nazis]

  • John Hiden, Germany and Europe, 1919–1939, Second Edition, Second (London: Longman, 1993)

Now, these books are not directly related to the politics of the time, but they do discuss it, particularly the relationships between Hitler, the Nazi party and the military. Aly in particular analyses the economic reasons that war had to come sooner, rather then latter.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.