ilitary history is a fascinating field. It can teach you about the leadership, culture, weapons, and tactics of various different armies around the world. A lot of history books on military history are hard to read because they are so dry or are written at a high level. However, these books are exceptions that will serve as the perfect introduction to the field for beginners.
Best Books on Military History: THE LIST
1. The Art of War | By Sun Tzu
Regarded as the world’s oldest military treatise, this compact volume has instructed officers and tacticians for more than 2,000 years. From its origins in China, The Art of War traveled the world to inform the strategies of Napoleon and World War II generals. More recently, it has taken on a new life as a guide to competing successfully in business, law, and sports.
All of The Art of War‘s concepts retain their value to modern readers, from the prudence of circumventing a strong opponent and taking advantage of a weak one to the wisdom of preparedness and flexibility. Other topics include strategy, tactics, maneuvering, communications, the treatment of soldiers, and the worth of well-trained officers. History enthusiasts, business thought leaders, and anyone intrigued by competition and rivalry will appreciate this elegant edition of the classic work.
2. With the Old Breed | By Eugene Sledge
The celebrated 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific, winner of eight Emmy Awards, was based on two classic books about the War in the Pacific, Helmet for My Pillow and With The Old Breed. Audible Studios, in partnership with Playtone, the production company co-owned by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and creator of the award-winning HBO series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, as well as the HBO movie Game Change, has created new recordings of these memoirs, narrated by the stars of the miniseries. James Badge Dale (who portrayed Robert Leckie) and Joseph Mazello (who played Eugene Sledge) bring all the passion and emotion of their riveting television performances to these new audio productions.
With the Old Breed is a modern classic of military history AND has been called “one of the most important personal accounts of the war that I have ever read,” by distinguished historian John Keegan. Author E. B. Sledge served with the First Marine Division during World War II, and his first-hand narrative is unsurpassed in its sincerity. Sled’s experience shows in this fascinating account of two of the most harrowing and pivotal island battles of the Pacific theater.
On Peleliu and Okinawa, the action was extremely fierce. Amidst oppressive heat and overland obliterated by artillery shells, the combat raged ferociously. Casualties were extreme on both sides, and by the time the Americans had broken through at Okinawa, more than 62,000 Japanese soldiers were dead. Against military policy, Sledge scribbled notes and jammed them into his copy of the New Testament. Those notes form the backbone of what Navy Times said: “has been called the best World War II memoir of an enlisted man.”
3. The Spy and the Traitor | By Ben Macintyre
New York Times Best Seller
The celebrated author of Double Cross and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Americans-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the end of the Cold War.
“The best true spy story I have ever read.” (John Le Carré)
If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation’s communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union’s top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid at the United States’s nuclear first-strike capabilities and brought the world closer to the brink of war. Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky’s name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain’s obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets.
Unfolding the delicious three-way gamesmanship between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union, and culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky’s nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, Ben Macintyre’s latest may be his best yet. Like the greatest novels of John le Carré, it brings listeners deep into a world of treachery and betrayal, where the lines bleed between the personal and the professional, and one man’s hatred of communism had the power to change the future of nations.
4. Band of Brothers | By Stephen Ambrose
Stephen E. Ambrose’s classic New York Times bestseller and inspiration for the acclaimed HBO series about Easy Company, the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers at the frontlines of the war’s most critical moments. Featuring a foreword from Tom Hanks.
They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.
From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.
They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach; they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign; they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge; and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler’s Bavarian outpost, his Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden.
They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat, they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.
This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.
5. The Guns of August | By Barbara Tuchman
Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman here brought to life again the people and events that led up to World War I. With attention to fascinating detail, and intense knowledge of her subject and its characters, Ms. Tuchman reveals, for the first time, just how the war started, why, and why it could have been stopped but wasn’t. A classic historical survey of a time and a people we all need to know more about, The Guns of August will not be forgotten.
6. The Splendid and the Vile | Erick Larson
The number one New York Times best-selling author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz.
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020 BY The Washington Post HuffPost The Seattle Times Lit Hub The Week PopSugar
On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next 12 months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally – and willing to fight to the end.
In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and, of course, 10 Downing Street in London.
Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports – some released only recently – Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle”, to whom he turns in the hardest moments.
The Splendid and the Vile takes listeners out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.
7. Stalingrad | By Antony Beevor
In August 1942, an overconfident Adolf Hitler would attempt to invade Stalin’s namesake city on the Volga. The battle of Stalingrad is extraordinary in every way: the triumphant invader fought to a standstill; then the Soviet trap sprung, surrounding their attackers; and the terrible siege, with Germans starving and freezing, forced to fight on by a disbelieving Hitler. Now Antony Beevor tells the story as it has never been told before, recounting the strategic brilliance and fatal flaws of the notorious generals, while telling the incredible tale from a soldier’s-eye view. The author incorporates Russian reports on desertions and executions that have never been seen by Western scholars, German transcripts of prisoner interrogations, and private letters and diaries to re-create the human drama of the most terrible battle in modern warfare.
8. Battles That Changed History
Discover the stories behind more than 90 of the world’s most significant battles in this lavishly illustrated history book.
The most important battles ever to take place are brought to life in the most spectacular way. From the brutal battle of Gettysburg to the epic air-sea battle of Midway, find out how fateful decisions led to glorious victories and crushing defeats.
Journey through the battlefields of history and follow the key developments of World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and more in unprecedented visual detail. Using maps, paintings, artifacts, and photographs Battles That Changed History is a guided tour of every major conflict in history.
Explore the stories behind more than 90 important battles and discover how pivotal moments and tactical decisions have altered the course of history. From medieval clashes and great naval conflicts to the era of high-tech air battles, key campaigns are illustrated and analyzed in detail. Learn incredible facts about the weapons, armor, soldiers, and military strategies behind some of the greatest battles ever.
This reference book includes profiles of famous military leaders like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Rommel. See how kingdoms and empires have been won and lost on the battlefield. Go into the thick of combat at the Great Siege of Malta, the Battle of Stalingrad, and the icy waters of Dunkirk. It is the ultimate guide to the history of military conflict.
Relive 3,000 Years of World-Changing Combat
This stunning coffee table book from DK Books is a visual treat for history buffs, old and young. It includes a foreword from award-winning writer, TV presenter, and historian Sir Tony Robinson whose TV credits include Time Team, Blackadder, and The Worst Jobs in History.
From the ancient world to the nuclear war, each chapter of this military history book brings the key battles of the era to life:
• Before 1000CE: Includes Thermopylae and the Battle of Red Cliffs.
• 1000 – 1500: Includes the Battle of Agincourt and Fall of Constantinople.
• 1500 – 1700: Includes the Battle of Breitenfeld and Siege of Vienna.
• 1700 – 1900: Includes the Battle Waterloo and Gettysburg.
• 1900 – Present: Includes Dunkirk and Operation Desert Storm.
9. Extreme Ownership | By Leif Babin
“These guys are intense. And they bring that same fire to their narration in the audiobook. Listen to these insanely competent SEAL officers tell you exactly how to make a team successful through their firsthand experiences in business and combat.” (The Hustle)
An updated edition of the blockbuster best-selling leadership audiobook that took America and the world by storm, two U.S. Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.
Combat, the most intense and dynamic environment imaginable, teaches the toughest leadership lessons, with absolutely everything at stake. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin learned this reality first-hand on the most violent and dangerous battlefield in Iraq. As leaders of SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, their mission was one many thought impossible: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a violent, insurgent-held city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping, firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories, they learned that leadership – at every level – is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails. Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training to pass on their harsh lessons learned in combat to help forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After leaving the SEAL Teams, they launched a company, Echelon Front, to teach those same leadership principles to leaders in businesses, companies, and organizations across the civilian sector. Since that time, they have trained countless leaders and worked with hundreds of companies in virtually every industry across the U.S. and internationally, teaching them how to develop their own high-performance teams and most effectively lead those teams to dominate their battlefields.
Since its release in October 2015, Extreme Ownership has revolutionized leadership development and set a new standard for literature on the subject. Required listening for many of the most successful organizations, has become an integral part of the official leadership training programs for scores of business teams, military units, and first responders. Detailing the mindset and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult combat missions, Extreme Ownership demonstrates how to apply them to any team or organization, in any leadership environment. A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.
10. The Bomber Mafia | By Malcolm Gladwell
In The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and The Longest Night of the Second World War, Malcolm Gladwell, author of New York Times bestsellers including Talking to Strangers and host of the podcast Revisionist History, uses original interviews, archival footage, and his trademark insight to weave together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in Central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard. As listeners hear these stories unfurl, Gladwell examines one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.
Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists had a different view. This “Bomber Mafia” asked: What if precision bombing could, just by taking out critical choke points – industrial or transportation hubs – cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?
In Revisionist History, Gladwell reexamines moments from the past and asks whether we got it right the first time. In The Bomber Mafia, he employs all the production techniques that make Revisionist History so engaging, stepping back from the bombing of Tokyo, the deadliest night of the war, and asking, “Was it worth it?” The attack was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives but may have spared more by averting a planned US invasion.
Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. As a key member of the Bomber Mafia, Hansell’s theories of precision bombing had been foiled by bad weather and human error. When he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II.
The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.
11. An Army at Dawn | By Rick Atkinson
The liberation of Europe and the destruction of the Third Reich is a story of courage and enduring triumph, of calamity and miscalculation. In this first volume of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkinson shows why no modern learner can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers without a grasp of the great drama that unfolded in North Africa in 1942 and 1943. That first year of the Allied war was a pivotal point in American history, the moment when the United States began to act like a great power.
Beginning with the daring amphibious invasion in November 1942, An Army at Dawn follows the American and British armies as they fight the French in Morocco and Algeria, and then take on the Germans and Italians in Tunisia. Battle by battle, an inexperienced and sometimes poorly led army gradually becomes a superb fighting force. Central to the tale is the extraordinary but fallible commanders who come to dominate the battlefield: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, Montgomery, and Rommel.
Brilliantly researched, rich with new material and vivid insights, Atkinson’s narrative provides the definitive history of the war in North Africa.
An Army at Dawn is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for History.
12. Black Hawk Down | By Mark Bowden
Ninety-nine elite American soldiers are trapped in the middle of a hostile city. As night falls, they are surrounded by thousands of enemy gunmen. Their wounded are bleeding to death. Their ammunition and supplies are dwindling. This is the story of how they got there – and how they fought their way out. This is the story of war.
Black Hawk Down drops you into a crowded marketplace in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia with the U.S. Special Forces and puts you in the middle of the most intense firelight American soldiers have fought since the Vietnam war.
Late in the afternoon of Sunday, October 3, 1993, the soldiers of Task Form Ranger were sent on a mission to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take them about an hour. Instead, they were pinned down through a long and terrible night, locked in a desperate struggle to kill or be killed.
When the unit was finally rescued the following morning, 18 American soldiers were dead and dozens more badly injured. The Somali toll was far worse; more than five hundred felled and over a thousand wounded. Award-winning literary journalist Mark Bowden’s dramatic narrative captures this harrowing ordeal through the eyes of the young men who fought that day. He draws on his extensive interviews of participants from both sides – as well as classified combat video and radio transcripts – to bring their stories to life.
Authoritative, gripping, and insightful, Black Hawk Down is a riveting look at the terror and exhilaration of combat destined to become a classic of war reporting.
13. The History of the Peloponnesian War | By Thucydides
Written four hundred years before the birth of Christ, this detailed contemporary account of the struggle between Athens and Sparta stands an excellent chance of fulfilling the author’s ambitious claim that the work “was done to last forever.” The conflicts between the two empires over shipping, trade, and colonial expansion came to a head in 431 b.c. in Northern Greece, and the entire Greek world was plunged into 27 years of war. Thucydides applied a passion for accuracy and a contempt for myth and romance in compiling this exhaustively factual record of the disastrous conflict that eventually ended the Athenian empire.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
14.The Face of Battle | By John Keegan
ohn Keegan’s groundbreaking portrayal of the common soldier in the heat of battle — a masterpiece that explores the physical and mental aspects of warfare
The Face of Battle is military history from the battlefield: a look at the direct experience of individuals at the “point of maximum danger.” Without the myth-making elements of rhetoric and xenophobia, and breaking away from the stylized format of battle descriptions, John Keegan has written what is probably the definitive model for military historians. And in his scrupulous reassessment of three battles representative of three different time periods, he manages to convey what the experience of combat meant for the participants, whether they were facing the arrow cloud at the battle of Agincourt, the musket balls at Waterloo, or the steel rain of the Somme.
The Face of Battle is a companion volume to John Keegan’s classic study of the individual soldier, The Mask of Command: together they form a masterpiece of military and human history.
15. Powers and Thrones | By Dan Jones
“An audacious, entertaining page-turner. Dan Jones covers a thousand years of history with elegance and panache.” (Dan Carlin, host of Hardcore History)
“Simply the best popular history of the Middle Ages there is.” (The Sunday Times, UK)
The New York Times best-selling author returns with an epic history of the medieval world – a rich and complicated reappraisal of an era whose legacy and lessons we are still living with today.
When the once-mighty city of Rome was sacked by barbarians in 410 and lay in ruins, it signaled the end of an era – and the beginning of a thousand years of profound transformation. In a gripping narrative bursting with big names – from St. Augustine and Attila the Hun to the Prophet Muhammad and Eleanor of Aquitaine – Dan Jones charges through the history of the Middle Ages. Powers and Thrones take listeners on a journey through an emerging Europe, the great capitals of late Antiquity, as well as the influential cities of the Islamic West, and culminates in the first European voyages to the Americas.
The medieval world was forged by the big forces that still occupy us today: climate change, pandemic disease, mass migration, and technological revolutions. This was the time when the great European nationalities were formed; when the basic Western systems of law and governance were codified; when the Christian Churches matured as both powerful institutions and the regulators of Western public morality; and when art, architecture, philosophical inquiry, and scientific invention went through periods of massive, revolutionary change.
The West was rebuilt on the ruins of an empire and emerged from a state of crisis and collapse to dominate the world. Every sphere of human life and activity was transformed in the thousand years covered by Powers and Thrones. As we face a critical turning point in our own millennium, Dan Jones shows that how we got here matters more than ever.
16. Facing the Mountains | By Daniel James Brown
A New York Times Best Seller
One of NPR‘s “Books We Love” of 2021
“Masterly. An epic story of four Japanese-American families and their sons who volunteered for military service and displayed uncommon heroism… Propulsive and gripping, in part because of Mr. Brown’s ability to make us care deeply about the fates of these individual soldiers…a page-turner.” (Wall Street Journal)
From the number one New York Times best-selling author of The Boys in the Boat, a gripping World War II saga of patriotism and resistance, focusing on four Japanese American men and their families, and the contributions and sacrifices that they made for the sake of the nation.
In the days and months after Pearl Harbor, the lives of Japanese Americans across the continent and Hawaii were changed forever. In this unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe, Daniel James Brown portrays the journey of Rudy Tokiwa, Fred Shiosaki, and Kats Miho, who volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers’ parents, immigrants who were forced to submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of Gordon Hirabayashi, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best – striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.
17. World War II Map by Map
Take a journey back to one of the world’s deadliest wars in history through this compelling geographical guide!
World War II was a deadly war that claimed millions of lives and spanned through many areas globally. Delve into this intricately detailed history book map by map to get a sense of the magnitude of the mobility and speed at which these armies swept through these vast landscapes.
Follow the key developments of World War II in unprecedented visual detail, with more than 100 specially created historical maps covering all major theatres of war. Here’s what you’ll find inside:
– Each of the main maps features information-rich graphics and integrated panels of text to guide the reader
– 11 narrative overviews at key points in the story provide a cohesive picture of events across all theatres of war
– 30 photo feature spreads explore topics beyond the battles, like “America at war” and “Code-breaking”
– 9 main contemporary maps, including battle maps from both Allies and Axis countries, explain key events
Discover how the conflict raged around the globe on land, air and sea, while timelines provide an in-depth chronology of events. Beautiful archival photographs, contemporary artifacts and profiles of famous leaders reveal the full story of the war that shaped the modern world.
World War II Map by Map is written by a team of historians headed by Richard Overy as a consultant. This war reference book examines in detail how the most destructive conflict in history changed the face of our world. It’s the perfect gift for students, general readers and military history enthusiasts.
18. The Afghanistan Papers | By Craig Whitlock
The number one New York Times best-selling investigative story of how three successive presidents and their military commanders deceived the public year after year about America’s longest war, foreshadowing the Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan, by Washington Post reporter and three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Craig Whitlock.
Unlike the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 had near-unanimous public support. At first, the goals were straightforward and clear: Defeat al-Qaeda and prevent a repeat of 9/11. Yet soon after the United States and its allies removed the Taliban from power, the mission veered off course and US officials lost sight of their original objectives.
Distracted by the war in Iraq, the US military become mired in an unwinnable guerrilla conflict in a country it did not understand. But no president wanted to admit failure, especially in a war that began as a just cause. Instead, the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations sent more and more troops to Afghanistan and repeatedly said they were making progress, even though they knew there was no realistic prospect for an outright victory.
Just as the Pentagon Papers changed the public’s understanding of Vietnam, The Afghanistan Papers contains “fast-paced and vivid” (The New York Times Book Review) revelation after revelation from people who played a direct role in the war from leaders in the White House and the Pentagon to soldiers and aid workers on the front lines. In unvarnished language, they admit that the US government’s strategies were a mess, that the nation-building project was a colossal failure, and that drugs and corruption gained a stranglehold over their allies in the Afghan government. All told, the account is based on interviews with more than 1,000 people who knew that the US government was presenting a distorted, and sometimes entirely fabricated, version of the facts on the ground.
Documents unearthed by The Washington Post reveal that President Bush didn’t know the name of his Afghanistan war commander — and didn’t want to meet with him. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that he had “no visibility into who the bad guys are.” His successor, Robert Gates, said: “We didn’t know jack shit about al-Qaeda.”
The Afghanistan Papers is a “searing indictment of the deceit, blunders, and hubris of senior military and civilian officials” (Tom Bowman, NRP Pentagon Correspondent) that will supercharge a long-overdue reckoning over what went wrong and forever change the way the conflict is remembered.
19. We Were Soldiers Once…and You | By Hal Moore
In November 1965, some 450 men of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small clearing in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Three days later, only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was chopped to pieces. Together, these actions at the landing zones X-Ray and Albany constituted one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War. How these men persevered – sacrificed themselves for their comrades and never gave up – makes a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating.
General Moore and Joseph Galloway, the only journalist on the ground throughout the fighting, have interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders. This devastating account rises above the specific ordeal it chronicles to present a picture of men facing the ultimate challenge, dealing with it in ways they would have found unimaginable only a few hours earlier. It reveals to us, as rarely before, man’s most heroic and horrendous endeavor.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Military History
Do you love learning about military history? Do you know of any books to recommend for military enthusiasts? Military history is a great genre to study the evolution of violence and warfare. History is often told from the perspective of the winners, but these books provide a better understanding of the perspective of those who faced defeat.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.