All Quiet on the Western Front: Pretty much every well known, well-loved, book about a war is told from the point of view of the victors. This was one of the few books to successfully humanize the “bad guys”. The kids, the soldiers, portrayed in the book are shown as just that, boys who become soldiers, who become (or don’t) survivors. They aren’t bad, or different, or even wrong in their choices/motives. It also does a great job of debunking the old mystique that surrounds the glory of war: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”
A Death-Struck Year: reviewed here. It's a quick read and worth the time. Great story about the end of World War I and a terrifying pandemic that changed the world.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds: Books like this are wonderful examples of why historical fiction is awesome. Sure, we'd read about World War I and the 1918 pandemic but it so often gets overlooked by the more flashy 1920s and WWII that came after it and the exciting Victorian era and Gilded Age that came before. "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" really made us feel like we were in 1918. We got the sense of just how horrible it must have been to be alive back then. The world's burning down in war and then people are dropping dead of the flu. On top of that, an entire social and economic system is crumbling to the dust. No wonder people turned to the supernatural or just something to make sense of all this loss.
The Last Town on Earth: This book made us feel what it would be like to be isolated and quarantined during one of the biggest epidemics in the world. This came out a little before World War I and The Spanish Flu books became a popular topic again and we have often gone back to this one.