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good titles for war books


Hi there! I do know it's hard to come up with a book title (I struggle too... A LOT) So I made this. Ordered by genre (Action, Romance, Comedy, Adventure, War, etc.), I hope this book will help you choose a title for your story! All I ask in return...

# book # bookhelp # booktitles # genres # help # helpful # idea # ideas # notastory # random # scenario # scenarios # useful

Writer: the_odyssey_

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The Third World War

No Escape 

No Survivors

Force Three

A War Because Of.... A Toaster

Comeback Of The Nazis (sorry if I just offended but tbh why would you even defend these monsters we can barely call human beings)

World At War

The Virtual War

Soldier Number 2847

Sergeant Trump At War (again, sorry if i offend but that guy is hardly better than the Nazis)

Enemies and Allies

On The Other Side Of Peace (my personal favorite)

Fighting For JUSTICE (no, that sounds corny)

30 of the best war novels of all time

Here we share a collection of some of the best war books ever written, spanning the world wars to the nigerian civil war and korean war. .

good titles for war books

Few events have such a profound and devastating impact on society and individuals as war. Authors have drawn inspiration from conflicts throughout history, using fiction as a powerful means to share, honour and learn from the experiences of those who were there. Here, we share our edit of the best war novels.

For more inspiration, discover our edit of the  best historical fiction books . 

The World and All That It Holds

By aleksandar hemon.

Book cover for The World and All That It Holds

Rafael Pinto's life hasn't quite turned out as he expected. But he is, on the whole, happy. He spends his time crushing herbs at a pharmacy, a far cry from his poetry-filled student days in libertine Vienna. And then the world explodes. In the trenches in Galicia, fantasies fall flat. War devours all that they have known, and the only thing Pinto has to live for are the attentions of fellow soldier, Osman. Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches and find themselves entangled with spies and Bolsheviks. As they travel all the way to Shanghai, it is Pinto’s love for Osman that will truly survive.

Now I Am Here

By chidi ebere.

Book cover for Now I Am Here

About to make his last stand, a soldier facing certain death at the hands of the enemy writes home to explain how he ended up there, a gentle man gradually transformed into a war criminal, committing acts he wouldn’t have thought himself capable of. However, this book goes beyond the individual story of our narrator, to explore the effects of war on societies as a whole. A profound reflection on how good people can do terrible things precipitated by circumstances and the violence of war, this is a brave, unflinching and thought-provoking debut. 

Yours Cheerfully

By aj pearce.

Book cover for Yours Cheerfully

Charming, feel-good and packed with 'Blitz-spirit', Yours Cheerfully transports us to Fleet Street in the Second World War and into the world of plucky journalist Emmeline Lake. While the war may be ever-present, for Emmy, things are looking up with a promotion at Women’s Friend and her best friend Bunty at her side. When the Ministry of Information asks her to help recruit female workers to support the war effort, Emmy is happy to oblige and do her bit. That is until a chance meeting with a stranger stops her in her tracks, and she’s faced with a dilemma only she can solve. 

The Librarian of Auschwitz

By antonio iturbe.

Book cover for The Librarian of Auschwitz

Based on a true story, The Librarian of Auschwitz is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel about fourteen-year-old Dita, the custodian of the world’s smallest and most powerful library. Entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the libraries’ eight tomes safe, Dita knows that she is putting herself in danger. But she also knows the power of books is essential to help her and her fellow prisoners maintain hope during the darkest of times. A story of courage and the will to survive, The Librarian of Auschwitz is the perfect next read for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Book Thief . 

The God of that Summer

By ralf rothmann.

Book cover for The God of that Summer

While Luisa, a young girl growing up in rural Germany during World War Two, has managed to escape the horrors of city bombing, the war has not left her unscathed. Unafraid of the realities of life and death, Luisa keeps her head down and supports her family until, one day, an incident changes her forever. A harrowing tale of the costs of war for those not on the front line, The God of that Summer is a masterful and poignant story set in Germany during the final throes of the Second World War. 

by Arno Geiger

Book cover for Hinterland

A poignant novel about the impact of war on everyday people and a bestseller in the author’s native Germany, Hinterland follows the story of Veit Kolbe, a young German soldier recovering from his war wounds amongst the residents of Mondsee, a village near Salzburg. Seemingly sheltered from the horrors of war, Veit enjoys an almost normal life in the town and even begins to fall in love. But everything changes once his injuries are healed, with his idyllic existence interrupted as he’s called up to serve his country and face his fate again. 

A Thousand Ships

By natalie haynes.

Book cover for A Thousand Ships

Often missing from history’s greatest war stories, in A Thousand Ships Natalie Haynes trains her lens on the women at the heart of the story of the Trojan War. As women wake to find their city aflame as Troy falls to the Greeks, their fates lie in the hands of men they do not know. Starring goddesses and princesses whose tales have never been told, A Thousand Ships breathes new life into a pinnacle moment in classical history and is perfect for readers who loved Madeline Miller’s Circe . 

Under a Wartime Sky

By liz trenow.

Book cover for Under a Wartime Sky

Based on the stories of the actual war heroes of England’s Bawdsey Manor, Under a Wartime Sky follows the brightest minds in Britain as they work on top-secret inventions that will help Britain and the Allies win the war. A tale of hope, courage and the ordinary people that did their bit for the war effort, this is the perfect poignant and hopeful story for fans of Kate Furnivall and historical fiction . 

The Key to Rebecca

By ken follett.

Book cover for The Key to Rebecca

When Alex Wolff, a ruthless Nazi spy obsessed with success, arrives in Cairo in 1942, he has one focus––to intercept the Allies’ plans and relay them to his bosses in Berlin. With the fate of North Africa handing in the balance, British intelligence officer Major William Vandam must hunt down the spy and stop Britain from losing valuable ground. A wartime tale from one of the world’s greatest storytellers, The Key to Rebecca is a cat-and-mouse story of espionage, strategy and secrets set in North Africa during the Second World War.  

A Jewish Girl in Paris

By melanie levensohn.

Book cover for A Jewish Girl in Paris

When Judith, a young Jewish girl, meets the wealthy son of a Nazi sympathiser, they know that they can never be together – so the young couple hatches a plan to leave occupied Paris. That is until Judith disappears without a trace. A tale of forbidden love set against the backdrop of the Second World War, A Jewish Girl in Paris is a story of romance and of the life-changing impact of family secrets.

The Prince of the Skies

Book cover for The Prince of the Skies

From the bestselling author of The Librarian of Auschwitz , Antonio Iturbe, comes an incredible novel based on the real life of Anthoine de Saint Exupéry and his mysterious death. Together with friends Jean and Henri, Anthoine pioneered new mail routes across the globe and changed aviation forever. At the same time, Anthoine began work on The Little Prince , a children's story that would go on to reach millions of readers around the world – despite the looming shadow of the Second World War. The Prince of the Skies is a tale of love and companionship, war and heroism, and the power of the written word. 

The Most Precious of Cargoes

By jean-claude grumberg.

Book cover for The Most Precious of Cargoes

Told with a fairytale-like lyricism, this is a moving fable of family and redemption set against the horrors of the Holocaust. A poor woodcutter and his wife living in a forest pray they will be blessed with a child. Meanwhile, Jewish man rides on a train with his wife and twin babies. When his wife no longer has enough milk to feed them both, in desperation he throws his daughter into the forest, hoping that she’ll be saved. Luckily, the woodcutter’s wife finds the baby she takes her home, though she knows this act of kindness may lead to her death. This moving tale is a testament to our capacity for kindness in even the darkest times. 

The Nightingale

By kristin hannah.

Book cover for The Nightingale

Set in France during the Second World War, Kristin Hannah’s  The Nightingale  is a story of two sisters, Viann and Isabelle. The pair are reunited after Viann’s husband is sent to fight, with Isabelle travelling from Paris to rural France to support her sister. Together, they face extraordinary hardships and heartbreak. 

This gripping account of the real horrors of war has now been adapted for the silver screen. Starring real-life sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning, the highly anticipated film adaptation of The Nightingale is set to be released in 2022.

Pippo and Clara

By diana rosie.

Book cover for Pippo and Clara

It’s 1938, Mussolini is in power in Italy and war is on the horizon. Pippo and Clara are brother and sister, newly arrived in an unspecified city with their family. When their mother goes missing one morning they both go in search of her, with Clara turning right and Pippo left. As a result of their choices, the children’s lives will be changed forever. This is a moving war novel about a country torn apart and two siblings divided by fate.

The Yellow Bird Sings

By jennifer rosner.

Book cover for The Yellow Bird Sings

In Poland, 1941, Róza and her five-year-old daughter, Shira, spend their days and nights hiding in a farmer's barn after escaping being rounded up with the other Jews in their town. Róza tells her daughter stories of a yellow bird, the only one who can sing the melodies Shira composes in her head. Róza would do anything to keep her daughter safe, but eventualy she is faced with an impossible choice  –  keep her close, or let her go and give her a chance to survive. 

The Winter Soldier

By daniel mason.

Book cover for The Winter Soldier

This war novel opens with the beginning of WWI. Readers follow Lucias, a medical student in Vienna, who enlists and finds himself stationed in a remote field-hospital ravaged by typhus. His dreams of saving lives are confronted with the stark reality of war, which is unlike anything he could ever have encountered in glamorous Vienna. With the help of a battle-hardened nurse he learns a brutal makeshift medicine, but when an unconscious soldier is brought to him for treatment, the decisions Lucias makes will change his life forever.

The Regeneration Trilogy

By pat barker.

Book cover for The Regeneration Trilogy

1917, Scotland. At Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland, army psychiatrist William Rivers treats shell-shocked soldiers before sending them back to the front. In his care are poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Regeneration ,  The Eye in the Door  and  The Ghost Road  follow the stories of these men until the last months of the war. Widely acclaimed and admired, Pat Barker's   Regeneration trilogy paints with moving detail the far-reaching consequences of a conflict which decimated a generation.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

By ernest hemingway.

Book cover for For Whom the Bell Tolls

Inspired by his experiences as a reporter during the Spanish Civil War,  For Whom the Bell Tolls  tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American volunteer in the International Brigades fighting to defend the Spanish Republic against Franco.

 After being ordered to work with guerrilla fighters to destroy a bridge, Jordan finds himself falling in love with a young Spanish woman and clashing with the guerrilla leader over the risks of their mission.

The Bastard Factory

By chris kraus.

Book cover for The Bastard Factory

In The Bastard Factory , Chris Kraus spins a tale spanning seven decades from 1905 to 1975. Following brothers Hubert and Konstantin Solm, and their adopted sister Ev, we witness changing epochs from Riga to Tel Aviv. As the brothers ascend to prominence amidst political chaos and become part of a love triangle, so does Germany morph from the shadowy past into a new future. This compelling narrative explores the depths of love, loyalty, and human nature amidst a country's revolution."

All the Light We Cannot See

By anthony doerr.

Book cover for All the Light We Cannot See

In Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See , the harsh realities of World War II serve as a backdrop for the intersecting lives of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a skilled German boy. Their worlds collide in unexpected ways, blurring the boundary between friend and foe, innocence and cruelty. The story illuminatingly portrays the human spirit's resilience and hope's enduring radiance in dark times. This poignant war narrative is about to take on a new life on your screens as it becomes a Netflix series. 

Half of a Yellow Sun

By chimamanda ngozi adichie.

Book cover for Half of a Yellow Sun

This heartbreaking and beautifully written book lays bare the horrors of the Nigerian Civil War. In the 1960s, Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, goes to work for a university professor.    When the professor's girlfriend, Olanna, moves in, Ugwu becomes close to the couple. But their lives will be upended and changed forever by the conflict to come. 

All Quiet on the Western Front

By erich maria remarque.

Book cover for All Quiet on the Western Front

This classic war novel of the First World War is written in the first person by a young German soldier. Paul Bauer is just eighteen when he’s pressured by his family, friends and society to enlist and fight at the front. He enters the army with six school friends, each filled with optimistic and patriotic thoughts. Within a few months, they are all old men, in mind if not completely in body. They witness such horrors and endure such severe hardship and suffering, that they are unable to even speak about it to anyone but each other.

Testament of Youth

By vera brittain.

Book cover for Testament of Youth

In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the life of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.

One of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world

by Joseph Heller

Book cover for Catch-22

A satirical indictment of military madness and stupidity, and the desire of the ordinary man to survive it. 

Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him.

Slaughterhouse 5

By kurt vonnegut.

Book cover for Slaughterhouse 5

Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller - these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse.

Slaughterhouse 5  is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

The Hunters

By james salter.

Book cover for The Hunters

Drawing upon his time as a fighter pilot in the Korean War, James Salter’s first novel is a landmark masterpiece in the literature of war.

Captain Cleve Connell arrives in Korea with a single goal: to become an ace pilot. But as his fellow airmen rack up kill after kill - sometimes under dubious circumstances - Cleve’s luck runs bad. Other pilots question his guts. Cleve comes to question himself. And then in one icy instant 40,000 feet above the Yalu River, his luck changes forever.

The Kite Runner

By khaled hosseini.

Book cover for The Kite Runner

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule.

Hosseini explores the nature of friendship, of forgiveness and of redemption, set against the turbulent background of his native Afghanistan.

The Story of a Brief Marriage

By anuk arudpragasam.

Book cover for The Story of a Brief Marriage

Set during the closing days of the horrors of the Sri Lankan civil war in the north of the island, Anuk Arudpragasm’s beautiful debut,  The Story of Brief Marriage , tells the story of two young people thrown together by their perilous circumstances, learning to feel as people again as the fighting closes in around them. Hypnotic in its detail, this devastatingly moving war novel bears unflinching witness to the lives of those caught up in a conflict now much forgotten by the wider world.

by Sebastian Faulks

Book cover for Birdsong

Published to international critical and popular acclaim, this intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic novel spans three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the present. It is the story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who arrives in Amiens in 1910. Over the course of the novel he suffers a series of traumatic experiences, from the clandestine love affair that tears apart the family with whom he lives, to the unprecedented experiences of the war itself.

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Best War Novels

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good titles for war books

good titles for war books

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The Best Books With War in the Title

Ranker Books

It turns out that books with war in the title are way more common than you think. Here are 90+ good books with war in the title, including both fiction and non-fiction. It's safe to say that most of these titles are books about wars, but the core commonality between these books is that they have the word war in the title. Books with war in the title include War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, World War Z by Max Brooks, and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. If you have a favorite war book, vote it up below, or add it to the list if it's not already here. It doesn't matter if it's science fiction, fantasy, romance, or non-fiction - if the book has war in the name, it belongs on this list.

Wars don’t bring lasting peace, only lasting death.

Wars don’t bring lasting peace, only lasting death.

War and Peace

War and Peace

  • # 1 of 191 The 190+ Best War Novel Books To Read
  • # 158 of 271 The Top Must-Read Books of All Time

The Iraq War

The Iraq War

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow, When the War Began

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds

  • # 45 of 100 35+ Books Everybody Lies About Having Read
  • # 32 of 124 The Scariest Horror Books of All Time
  • # 64 of 437 The Best Novels Ever Written

Reporting the War

Reporting the War

The doctor in war

The doctor in war

War Is a Racket

War Is a Racket

Love and war

Love and war

Beyond the Chocolate War

Beyond the Chocolate War

Star wars

Old Man's War

War of Ages

War of Ages

The Forever War

The Forever War

The Art of War

The Art of War

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission

Kristy and the Sister War

Kristy and the Sister War

The Bomber War

The Bomber War

Give war a chance

Give war a chance


Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism

On War

The Frogs of War

The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900

The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900

Man O War

War With the Mutant Spider Ants #152

A Rumor of War

A Rumor of War

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War

Germany's Aims in the First World War

Germany's Aims in the First World War

A Soldier of the Great War

A Soldier of the Great War

Ranking the best novels and non-fiction books of every genre.

Novels to Change Your Whole Life

The best war novels: 30 greatest war novels of all time

War is hell, but also generally a hell of a read...

The best war novels: 30 greatest war novels of all time

Most reasonable people would probably concur with Edwin Starr’s bold statement that war was good for absolutely nothing.

Writers, while not disavowing the sentiment, might suggest otherwise. Wars, battles and struggles have provided with a cavalcade of inspiration for grand works as is showcased in our best war novels guide.

Some focus on the fighting and the treacherous conditions experienced by the soldiers; others examine how wars change people and society.

What follows is the 30 greatest war novels (ok, 29, one is an account of a writer’s direct experience of war) (hang on, 28, one is a play) (and a few of them are semi-autobiographical – do we knock half off the total for each of them?) ever penned.

And if you are in the mood for a good ol' fact-based World War II book, then we highly recommend Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macintyre . The book has been made into a fantastic film starring Colin Firth and is available to watch now.

Best war novels

Best war novels

1 . All Quiet On The Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

The definitive anti-war book. Written by a veteran of the First World War, it recounts in horrific and spellbinding detail the real life experience of war. The book’s central character, Paul Bäumer, is, like many in Germany and likewise in Britain, enthusiastic about his forthcoming adventure. The reality he encounters is somewhat different as Remarque describes a generation ‘destroyed by war’.

Best war novels

2 . Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

Such was the potency of Joseph Heller’s sparkling satirical novel about the 256th squadron in World War II that its title has passed over into common usage for a no-win situation. Again, Heller writes from a unique vantage point – he flew 60 missions during 1944. This results in a comical tour-de-force that upon publication in 1961 was quickly embraced by the burgeoning counterculture.

Best war novels

3 . War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace is inarguably one of the greatest books of all time – it also happens to be about war, conflict and its impact upon all involved. Set during the 1812 invasion of Russia by Napoleon’s forces, War and Peace demonstrates a rigorous historical approach to writing and is hailed as incredibly authentic – unsurprising given that Tolstoy served in the Crimean War. Just don’t expect to read it in one – or seven sittings: when first published it ran to 1,225 pages.

Best war novels

4 . For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

The Spanish Civil War entranced a generation of artists, writers and activists, all of whom recognised that what was being played out in the plains of Andalucía and the streets of Barcelona, was a portent for what was coming globally. Ernest Hemingway was one such writer - he reported upon the war for the North American Newspaper Alliance. For Whom The Bell Tolls tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American solider in the International Brigades. The book is a fascinating account of sacrifice, heroism and patriotism, and quite possibly Hemingway’s crowning achievement.

Best war novels

5 . Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

If Edwin Starr’s powerful War has a literary corollary it’s probably Kurt Vonnegut’s iconic Slaughterhouse-Five. A bewitching and maddening text, it takes the Dresden bombings of 1945 as its starting point and in the subsequent pages and through the eyes of its time-travelling protagonist Billy Pilgrim, eloquently demonstrates the ridiculousness of war. So it goes. So it goes…

Best war novels

6 . Johnny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo

Although not as heralded as All Quiet on the Western Front, Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun is no less authoritative in illustrating the folly of war. In a novel laced with pathos and comedy, protagonist Joe Bonham loses his arms, legs and, improbably, his face in World War I. He’s kept alive in a glass box, a prisoner in his own body and communicates by banging his head against a pillow in Morse code. Trumbo’s novel was a key text of the anti-war movement that sprung up in America in the 1960s.

Best war novels

7 . The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

Ok, The Three Musketeers isn’t about war as such, but all the elements that best make up a war novel are there – conflict, friendship, nobility, heroism… Dumas recognised that while the glamour supposedly inherent in armed struggle is mostly a fallacy, the attributes of friendship, loyalty and the ties that bind comrades are not.

Best war novels

8 . Empire Of The Sun - J.G. Ballard

Ballard’s semi-autobiographical novel captures children’s innocence (and the loss thereof) during wartime magically. Stranded in Shanghai after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, James Graham is held in an internment camp. As the war progresses, and James becomes more cognizant of the reality of war, his feelings develop, and life becomes a struggle for survival. The confusion inherent in war is never far from the surface in this compelling book.

Best war novels

9 . Regeneration - Pat Barker

Pat Barker’s triptych of World War I novels (which also includes The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road) was inspired by her grandfather’s experiences in the trenches. Terrifyingly, the majority of the ‘action’ takes place not in the miserable fields of Europe, but rather a psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh where patients are supposedly cured of the trauma they witnessed before, incredibly, being sent back to the front line. An inflammatory set of novels that strike at the heart of the callous nature of war.

Best war novels

10 . The Hunt For Red October - Tom Clancy

The Cold War was a metaphorical battle in which the combatants never met directly, instead engaging in phoney wars; conflicts of propaganda and taking sides in other wars like Vietnam. This is the backdrop to Tom Clancy’s hugely successful slice of literary cant and the introduction to his enduring All-American Jack Ryan character. Can Ryan safely deliver a defecting Soviet submarine captain to American waters? What do you think?

Best war novels

11 . The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

Taking in everything from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 – and the resultant decade-long conflict and flight of refugees to Pakistan, Iran and the US – to the subsequent rise of the Taliban, The Kite Runner is a thoroughly modern examination of warfare on individuals, societies and nations. Told through the eyes of two friends Amir and Hassan, the book demonstrates that while wars and conflicts change through time, the resultant carnage and destruction doesn’t.

Best war novels

12 . From Here To Eternity - James Jones

James Jones was a master of the war novel – we could have easily plumped for The Thin Red Line here instead. From Here To Eternity gets our vote though because it was Jones’s first book and captures him at his dramatic best. The conflict apparent in Jones’s book is both literal – World War II – and metaphorical – the struggle between individual choice (as exemplified by Private Robert E Lee Prewitt) and authority. As Jones realises, being an ex-soldier himself, sometimes the biggest adversary in wartime is on your own side.

Best war novels

13 . Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon

This much we can say; Thomas Pynchon’s postmodern masterpiece takes place in Europe as World War II is drawing to a close. It takes in the development of deadly V-2 rockets in Nazi Germany and a hunt to find a ‘black device’ that is located in the weapons of mass destruction. From there, you’re on your own. Pynchon flaunts his bewildering intellect unashamedly, but that’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable – and provocative – novel either.

Best war novels

14 . Homage To Catalonia - George Orwell

Not a novel, but a vital account of the Spanish Civil War; a struggle that Orwell engaged in first-hand. For seven months from December 1936, Orwell served in the socialist POUM militia fighting Franco and fascism. Or so he thought: his account of this fight also demonstrates the internecine conflict that so ravaged the left, and enabled Franco to gain an upper hand.

Best war novels

15 . The Naked And The Dead - Norman Mailer

Some of the finest war writing focuses not on the bloody battles that punctuate a life in the trenches, but the friendships that are formed in such heightened circumstances. Norman Mailer’s iconic The Naked and the Dead, published just three years after the end of World War II, tells the story of a platoon of ordinary young Americans fighting the Japanese. The success of the book catapulted Mailer to a fame we embraced with gusto.

Best war novels

16 . Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak

Of course, Doctor Zhivago – much like War and Peace and Gone With The Wind – is not just a war novel. It’s a dizzying and spellbinding narrative whose epic scope takes in one of most turbulent spells in Russian history, the period from the revolution of 1905 to the outbreak of World War II. Within that there are manifold stories to be told, primarily of course the titular protagonist, but the threat and reality of war is always close to the surface.

Best war novels

17 . The Quiet American - Graham Greene

Like Hemingway, Graham Greene observed war (in this case the First Indochina War) from the vantage point of a foreign journalist. His book has been perceived as anti-American in some quarters, but in truth, it’s really anti-war. A novel that many soldiers who fought in the second Vietnam War read with (in some cases) doomed recognition.

Best war novels

18 . The Debacle - Émile Zola

Part of Zola’s colossal Les Rougon-Macquart series of novels, The Debacle unapologetically highlights the brutality of war on ordinary soldiers and the civilians left behind. The backdrop is the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the Paris Commune of the following year, but the universal nature of Zola’s work means the themes are applicable in almost every war imaginable. A harrowing book that expertly pricks the pomposity of those that send innocent people to die for their causes.

Best war novels

19 . Men At Arms - Evelyn Waugh

Men at Arms is the first novel in Evelyn Waugh’s lauded Sword of Honour trilogy. It examines the lot of Guy Crouchback, a 35-year-old divorced Catholic who, as World War II, commences is clearly unhappy with his lot in life. War, he believes, can give meaning to his life once more. What transpires is a glimpse into the foolhardy consequences of leaving idiots, fools and the graduates of England’s public schools in charge. The noted critic Cyril Connolly proclaimed Waugh’s series to be the ‘finest novels to have come out of the war’. And if that wasn’t enough, think about how Waugh’s surname is pronounced…

Best war novels

20 . Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier

What gets individuals through war? What sustains them? Love. Or the promise of love at least. When W. P. Inman sees through the illusory concept of the Confederacy in the American Civil War and deserts, he heads back to the woman – and the home – he loves. There are traces of Homer’s epic The Odyssey in Inman’s quest, and Frazier excels in painting a desolate picture of war and its consequences.

Best war novels

21 . When The Wind Blows - Raymond Briggs

If any book caught the imagination of the anti-nuclear sentiment of the 1980s it was Raymond Brigg’s graphic novel, When The Wind Blows. Jim and Hilda Bloggs (based on Briggs’ own parents) place their faith in their government to look after them in the face of an imminent enemy attack. However, this isn’t World War II (a conflict the ageing couple can vividly recall), and the stakes have been raised considerably. Briggs deals in acute gallows humour, not shying away from the consequences of nuclear fallout and public misinformation.

Best war novels

22 . Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

Such is the irrefutable power of Sebastian Faulks’s 1993 novel – not least its moving and brutal depictions of life in the trenches – that many have compared it to the writing of the aforementioned Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway. Birdsong tells the story of Stephen Wraysford before, during and after World War I. It’s the pages that focus on Wraysford’s stout determination to survive the war that linger most in the memory.

Best war novels

23 . The Hunters - James Salter

James Salter is one of the unsung heroes of American literature – writers like Saul Bellow, Joseph Heller and Philip Roth have all waxed lyrical about his literary chops, and yet he remains an enigmatic figure. The Hunters draws upon his time as a fighter pilot in the Korean War and focuses on Captain Cleve Connell and his doomed mission to become an ace pilot – after all, there’s no glory like that achieved in battle.

Best war novels

24 . Austerlitz - W.G. Sebald

Austerlitz isn’t about the nitty gritty of war – the fighting, the bombings, the violent deaths – but its aftermath. Jacques Austerlitz is a successful architect in the Sixties who managed to flee Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of war in 1939. As Austerlitz attempts to come to terms with the fate of his parents, the book deals in themes of loss, memory and hope. Emotions that war deals explicitly in.

Best war novels

25 . Henry VI - William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s three plays that make up his Henry VI trilogy – known as Harry the Sixth, The Houses of York and Lancaster and The True Tragedy of the Duke of York – cover the period of the War of the Roses. Shakespeare was perceptive enough to see the tragedy and revulsion of war early on (a theme that is particularly acute in part three); a shame that we haven’t learned much in the intervening centuries.

Best war novels

26 . Covenant With Death - John Harris

World War I, or the Great War, was meant to be the war that ended all wars. It wasn’t, it was the biggest bloodbath of its time – more than one million men perished at the Battle of the Somme, with no clear victor. John Harris’s book tells the story of one voluntary battalion from its inception during the naïve jingoism 1914 to its eventual destruction on the first day of the Somme’s hostilities. An anti-war book right up there with Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

Best war novels

27 . Parade's End - Ford Madox Ford

Parade’s End is the name given to Ford Madox Ford’s four novels about the cataclysmic events of World War I – both on the individuals characterised in the books, but society as a whole. The central figure is Christopher Tietjens, an old school chap attached to a code about to be blown to smithereens. The war tears everything he thought stable asunder. Ford’s depiction of life in the trenches has been said to be unerringly realistic.

Best war novels

28 . Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain

Ben Fountain’s mesmeric debut novel concerns the fortunes of Bravo Company, and in particular one of its members, the titular Billy Lynn, after its engaged in a bloody battle with Iraqi insurgents. The skirmish is caught on camera, ensuring that Billy and his buddies become overnight heroes in America. Can Bravo Company live up to their star billing when they embark on a tour back home? A brave, compelling book that doesn’t flinch from portraying the uncomfortable realities of war. It was made into a film by Ang Lee, which flopped mainly due to its experimental 120fps framerate rather than its faithful adaptation of the source material.

Best war novels

29 . Restless - William Boyd

William Boyd has an artist’s eye for detail and a historian’s grasp of the past – it’s a trick that has enabled him to conjure up momentous events in many of his novels, not least the brilliant Any Human Heart. Restless is equally superb. It focuses on a Russian woman who is recruited to work for the British Secret Service during World War II and who falls for her boss, who ultimately betrays her. War is the backdrop, but the misery that unfolds can be traced back to the conflict of ideologies and fighting.

Best war novels

30 . Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

Like the film it gave birth to, Margaret Mitchell’s novel is an epic. Like Austerlitz, it doesn’t deal in the grim minutiae of conflict, rather the sweeping effect it has. In this case, the American South, that in the wake of the American Civil War is gone with the wind.

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25 Best War Books of All Time To Read

Are you looking for the best war books of all time? The 25 books in this list cover various wars and include the best fiction and non-fiction war books ever written.

Wars expose humanity’s dark and light sides and has led to the creation of some outstanding literature. Some writers focus on military history, giving detailed accounts of conflicts, some focus on personal stories, and non-fiction authors explore concepts of war through imaginary settings and characters.

The books in this list will teach you about several significant conflicts through personal accounts, military history, and thrilling fiction stories. Add a few of these books to your reading list to enjoy several Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and learn more about war. And, if you are writing about war yourself, check out our adjectives for war when you have finished here, of course!

1. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

2. the guns of august by barbara w. tuchman, 3. war and peace by leo tolstoy, 4. for whom the bell tolls by ernest hemingway.

  • 5. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

6. Night by Elie Wiesel

7. the iliad by homer, 8. the personal memoirs of u.s. grant by ulysses s. grant, 9. the face of battle by john keegan.

  • 10. The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara

11. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

12. the afghanistan papers by craig whitlock, 13. catch-22 by joseph heller, 14. the kite runner by khaled hossein, 15. all quiet on the western front by erich maria remarque, 16. the shadow of arms by hwang sok-yong, 17. the corpse washer by sinan antoon, 18. peleliu: tragic triumph: the untold story of the pacific war’s forgotten battle by bill ross, 19. empire of the sun by j.g. ballard, 20. unbroken: a world war ii story of survival, resilience, and redemption by laura hillenbrand, 21. the american war in afghanistan: a history by carter malkasian, 22. the second world war by anthony beevor, 23. the korean war by max hastings, 24. a history of modern palestine: one land, two peoples by ilan pappe, 25. a homage to catalonia by george orwell.

Sun Tzu

The Art of War was written thousands of years ago and remains one of the world’s most important and widely read war books.

The 13 chapters were written by an Ancient Chinese author and military strategist, Sun Tzu, whose writings on ‘war’ changed the course of military history.

In his book, Sun Tzu breaks down military strategy into skillsets required for a leader hoping to wage a successful military campaign.

Even though the book is based on case studies and events from Ancient China, it’s considered a must-read for US military personnel as many of the theories continue to be implemented by modern militaries to this day.

Interestingly, the theories within The Art of War have been widely applied outside of the military, with business leaders often studying the ideas to improve their ability to penetrate new markets and beat competitors.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu

Barbara W. Tuchman

The Guns of August is a must-read for anyone that wants to learn about the early stage of World War I. The book covers the process that led up to the war and then provides a detailed narrative of the British-Franco effort that stopped the German army from making it to Paris. The book is a fantastic way to better understand how and why the horrors of trench warfare became such a prominent feature of the war.

Although this is a non-fiction book, it’s brilliantly written and very engaging, so you won’t feel like you’re reading a school textbook about World War I. Barbara W. Tuchman won the non-fiction Pulitzer Prize for The Guns of August, and it became a New York Times bestseller.

“Human beings, like plans, prove fallible in the presence of those ingredients that are missing in maneuvers – danger, death, and live ammunition.” Barbara W. Tuchman , The Guns of August

Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace , by Leo Tolstoy, is still widely revered as one of the great war novels of all time. The Russian author is one of the world’s most influential writers, and War and Peace is one of his best novels. The book focuses on Napoleon’s military campaign against Russia, which followed his successful conquest of Western and Central Europe.

Published in 1869, Tolstoy covers the dramatic and doomed French military campaign from the perspective of five upper-class Russian families. The story has been praised not only for its writing style but also for its accuracy. Tolstoy is believed to have done meticulous research about the battles discussed in the book and visited battlefields.

His descriptive style did not conform to the standards at the time and profoundly impacted future authors. The way he portrays the perspective of individual characters and adds small visual details makes War and Peace a must-read for anyone that wants to learn about the Napoleonic wars.

“Pierre was right when he said that one must believe in the possibility of happiness in order to be happy, and I now believe in it. Let the dead bury the dead, but while I’m alive, I must live and be happy.” Leo Tolstoy , War and Peace

Ernest Hemingway

For Whom the Bell Tolls is set in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The novel’s protagonist is Robert Jordan, a US citizen who had been living in Spain teaching English when the civil war broke out. Robert joins the anti-fascist Loyalist army and is sent on a covert mission to blow up a strategically valuable bridge.

Robert is trained by the anti-fascists. He quickly changes from an everyday teacher to a fully trained freedom fighter, willing to do whatever it takes to stop General Franco from taking control of Spain. Ernest Hemingway is a legendary American writer whose work often focused on war as its something he had personal experience with. Hemingway’s war novels are some of the best military fiction stories, and they always leave the reader with valuable knowledge about history through his unique writing style.

“There will always be people who say it does not exist because they cannot have it. But I tell you it is true and that you have it and that you are lucky even if you die tomorrow.” Ernest Hemingway , For Whom the Bell Tolls

5. Slaughterhouse-Five , by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

If you’re looking for a science-fiction book with a powerful anti-war message, Slaughterhouse Five deserves a spot on your reading list. The science-fiction classic is the work of Kurt Vonnegut, who writes about the experience of a chaplain’ assistant called Billy Pilgrim during World War II.

Vonnegut adds a science fiction twist to the story by making Billy Pilgrim a time traveler who is captured by the German military. The story paints a brutally negative image of war through the narrator’s eyes. Vonnegut doesn’t hold back in her criticisms of the generals and politicians that sent young men to die in foreign lands.

One of the most traumatic moments in the book comes when Billy witnesses the firebombing of Dresden by Allied forces. The city was famously leveled during the War leaving countless civilians dead or wounded. Vonnegut herself was in the city when the bombing happened. This will be a great addition to your reading list if you’re a science fiction fan and want to learn more about World War II.

“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.” Kurt Vonnegut , Slaughterhouse-Five

Best War Books: Night, by Elie Wiesel

Night tells the harrowing true story of Elie Wiesel’s experience as a prisoner in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Born to Hungarian-Jewish parents, Elie Wiesel was sent to Auschwitz as a teenager toward the end of World War II.

Wiesel spent two years in the Nazi-run concentration camps as the Allied and Russian forces slowly closed in on Berlin and began to liberate prisoners. Although the book is relatively short, it’s one of the most valuable first-hand documentation of the horrors of the Holocaust and the conditions that Hitler and the Nazi regime subjected its victims to during the Second World War.

Weisel has written dozens of other successful books about the Second World War and Nazi Germany. In 1986 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in human rights and activism against violent oppression.

Are you looking for more inspiration? Check out these essays about war .

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” Elie Wiesel , Night


The Illiad is undoubtedly one of the most important books ever written. Even though it dates back to the 8th century BC, Homer’s epic poem about the Trojan War continues to be read worldwide to this day.

The epic story of the Trojan War centers around the legendary Greek warrior Achilles, who is essentially immortal. According to the story, Achilles was dipped in the River Styx as a baby, but his mother held him by the heel, leaving him with a minor vulnerability that the Trojans would eventually exploit.

The Illiad touches on several themes, such as glory, pride, and fate, as the siege of Troy plays out under the observation of Greek gods and goddesses. The Trojan War culminates with the Greeks using a giant wooden horse to infiltrate the Trojan walls. Although Troy eventually falls, several great warriors, including Achilles and Hector, die in the fighting.

“Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. Now the wind scatters the old leaves across the earth, the living timber bursts with the new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.” Homer, The Iliad

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography, The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, covers the former president’s experience in the Civil War, during which he led the Union to victory. The two-term president was fundamentally changed by the bloody US Civil War and the battles he fought. Despite having served two terms in power, he struggled financially after leaving the White House, which encouraged him to write and publish this book.

Writing autobiographies wasn’t common for presidents at the time, but Grant’s success changed that, and his book is now widely regarded as the gold standard for presidential autobiographies. Grant’s narrative is clear and straightforward. His experiences are a brilliant way to gain insight into the American Civil War from the perspective of a politician, soldier, and military leader.

Grant had throat cancer while writing, and he doesn’t hold back in expressing his emotions at the time, which adds depth to the narrative. Furthermore, he is candid about the poverty he faced after leaving office, bringing the reader into a strange world where a man went from being one of the most influential people in the world to a humbled man struggling to get by. The Personal Memoirs of U.S Grant is an excellent read for anyone interested in the American Civil War and one of America’s most respected presidents.

“There are many men who would have done better than I did under the circumstances in which I found myself. If I had never held command, if I had fallen, there were 10,000 behind who would have followed the contest to the end and never surrendered the Union.” Ulysses S. Grant , The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

The Face of Battle is a non-fiction military history book that details some of the most notable wars from medieval times through to the First World War. John Keegan provides a detailed analysis of battles that can teach us how modern Europe was formed and highlight military strategies that led to crucial victories.

This is an excellent book for military history buffs. You’ll learn specific details about Napoleon’s campaigns and significant turning points in the First World War, such as the battle of the Somme. Keegan charts the history of military tactics to show how war changes over time and the specific innovations that allowed Napoleon to dominate so much of Europe. He often brings in the perspective of the average soldier, which adds a layer of detail to his narrative. If you want to learn why wars are lost and won, then The Face of Battle should be on your reading list.

“Rundstedt, revered throughout the German regular officer corps as its last archetypal Prussian, refused to deal with detail or to look at small-scale maps, as if the fighting itself were distasteful to him, but spent his days reading detective stories and thrice resigned his command.” John Keegan

10. The Killer Angels , by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that covers the Battle of Gettysburgh, the most crucial battle of the American Civil War. Michael Shaara ’s book was published in 1974 and immediately became a bestseller among the Civil War titles. He tells the story of the three-day battle through the first-person perspective of soldiers in the Union and the Confederacy.

By taking a first-person perspective covering both sides of the Civil War, Shaara can bring the reader into the war and show them the tragedy of Americans killing their fellow Americans. Some of the most notable characters that Shaara included in his book are Joshua Chamberlain, John Buford, Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and George Pickett. If you’re interested in US military history and enjoy first-person novels, then The Killer Angels deserve a spot on your reading list.

“There’s nothing so much like a god on earth as a General on a battlefield.” Michael Shaara , The Killer Angels

Tim O'Brien

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a collection of short stories about a platoon of soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. O’Brien was a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division, so many of the events in the book are based on his real-life experiences in a controversial war that ended with the United States withdrawing from the country.

In his writings, he examines themes of war, death, love, and the weight of memories and emotions that soldiers carry with them, physically and mentally, after a war. This book is about more than just the Vietnam War. Although reading it will give you a better understanding of how the conflict unfolded, it also demonstrates how war impacts the people involved and questions core aspects of morality and loyalty.

The Things They Carried is an intriguing mix of O’Brien’s personal experiences, facts, and non-fiction that has proven popular among readers interested in the Vietnam War.

Looking for more thriller novels to add to your reading list? Check out our round-up of the best PD James books !

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it.” Tim O’Brien

Craig Whitlock

The invasion of Afghanistan by the US and its allies is one of the 21st century’s most controversial wars. The invasion lasted two decades, and many commentators have claimed that it achieved very little to help the people of Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Papers is a collection of previously classified information that uncovers the failures of the Afghanistan War.

Craig Whitlock , a Washington Post investigative reporter, obtained the information in the book from various freedom of information requests. Using the official data, Whitlock builds a narrative from the beginning of the invasion that highlights some of the significant failures of the occupying forces.

The controversial book gives the reader a sense of the lack of direction that war took on. As new presidents came and went, none of them were able to solve the riddle, and billions of dollars were spent on projects on the ground that failed to improve the situation.

Although Whitlock’s book focuses on Afghanistan, it’s a valuable source of information for anyone looking to learn why great powers occupying countries with weaker armies often fail to achieve their aims and end up losing.

“U.S. officials wanted to pull out but feared the Afghan state would collapse if they did. Bin Laden had hoped for this exact scenario when he planned 9/11: to lure the U.S. superpower into an unwinnable guerrilla conflict that would deplete its national treasury and diminish its global influence.” Craig Whitlock

Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is a fictional story, inspired by the life of the author, that follows Captain John Yossariann, an anti-hero who operates a bomber during the Second World War. It was published in 1961 and is considered one of the 20th century’s best novels .

Joseph Heller’s narrative is highly critical of the war and all the absurdity that comes with it. Through the eyes of the anti-hero, Heller mocks many aspects of war.

The cornerstone of the story is a bizarre US Army Air Force regulation called ‘Catch-22’ that states if a soldier is willing to carry out borderline suicidal military missions, they are insane, but if they request to be relieved of duty, it proves they are not insane, so there are no grounds to be relieved. The term ‘Catch-22’ has been absorbed into the English language. It represents a dilemma  or difficult  circumstance  from which there is no escape because of  mutually   conflicting  or dependent conditions.

Catch-22 has been translated into several languages, and you’ll find it in libraries worldwide. If you want to read a classic book that looks at the insanity of war, then pick up a copy of Joseph Heller ’s Catch-22.

“[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.” Joseph Heller

Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner tells the story of a young Afghan boy called Amir across several events that have shaped modern Afghanistan, including the Soviet and US invasions. Khaled Hossein uses Amir’s perspective of the turmoil in Afghanistan to tell a captivating story of love, betrayal, and tragedy against the backdrop of military and political chaos.

The plot develops from when Amir’s friend is sexually assaulted as a young boy. Amir cannot process the information and eventually turns his back on his friend.

The story develops as Amir tries to make up for his failure by attempting to save his friend’s son. The book was a bestseller worldwide, has sold over 30 million copies, and had been translated into dozens of languages just five years after publication. It’s still ranked among the top books on Amazon.

“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime…” Khaled Hosseini

Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet On The Western Front is a must-read First World War novel that has sold millions of copies and been turned into several films, including the 2023 Oscar-winning Netflix version. Erich Maria Remarque’s tale documents the suffering of a young German soldier sent to the trenches during the First World War and draws on his real-life experience as a German soldier.

The book describes in detail the brutality of the war that took place primarily in muddy trenches where waves of young men were sent to their deaths as they attempted to gain land by rushing the enemy. The book was published in 1928 and became very popular, almost instantly selling over two million copies in over 20 languages within two years of publication.

However, under Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the book was banned and burned, while even the US and its allies held reservations about the book due to its pacifist undertones. If you read just one book about World War I, All Quiet On The Western Front is a great choice.

“Bombardment, barrage, curtain-fire, mines, gas, tanks, machine-guns, hand-grenades – words, words, but they hold the horror of the world.” Erich Maria Remarque

Hwang Sok-Yong

The Shadow of Arms provides a unique perspective of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a Korean soldier sent to the Vietnamese city of Da Nang to uncover Northern Vietnamese agents using the local black market to finance their war effort. The story is based on Hwang Sok-Yong’s experience as a Korean mercenary in Vietnam. The Korean author covers the illicit trade that financed the conflict and details some of the most tragic elements of the Vietnam War.

The book is surprisingly balanced. If you want a fresh perspective on the US invasion of Vietnam, this is a good choice, as the author is somewhat of a third party in the conflict, as Sok-Yong is neither American nor Vietnamese.

“People hated and killed each other back then. Now even those who survived are dying, leaving this world one by one. Unless we find a way to forgive one another, none of us will ever be able to see each other again.” Hwang Sok-Yong

Sinan Antoon

The Corpse Washer tells the story of Jawad, a young man in Iraq who wants to leave behind the family business of corpse washing in favor of a career in sculpting. Unfortunately for Jawad, the increasing turmoil in Iraq prevents him from pursuing his dreams and forces him to accept his destiny as a corpse washer.

Sinan Antoon ’s award-winning novel is set during two challenging periods in Iraq’s history. First, Jawad experiences the socio-economic turmoil that plunged countless Iraqis into poverty during the 1990s. Then, Jawad’s life is upended when the US and its allies invade Iraq in 2003.

The novel is a heartbreaking account of the suffering that Iraqis have suffered and continue to suffer due to war. The book won the Arab American Book Award in 2014 and sold millions of copies worldwide.

“I am like the pomegranate tree, but all my branches have been cut, broken, and buried with the dead. My heart has become a shriveled pomegranate beating with death and falling every second into a bottomless pit.” Sinana Antoon

Peleliu: Tragic Triumph: The Untold Story of the Pacific War’s Forgotten Battle is a highly detailed account of the Battle of Peleliu, which is widely regarded as the bloodiest battle in the Pacific during World War II. Bill D. Ross was a war correspondent during World War II and witnessed many of the most brutal battles of the Pacific theatre first-hand.

In this book, Ross gives the reader a day-by-day account of the battle of Peleliu, which was fought between the United States and the Empire of Japan in the final months of 1944. The battle was over a small yet strategically important island in the Pacific Ocean, and the account is based on years of research and interviews with soldiers who survived.

“While the men of the Old Breed took perverse pride in calling themselves ‘raggedy-assed Marines,’ their self-imposed…description wasn’t even close to how they looked…Their appearance was, in all likelihood, the grimiest, most evil-looking, stinking, and nonmilitary of any division at any time in the Pacific War.” Bill Ross

Empire of the Sun is a story about a young British boy called Jim who, along with his parents, is living in China when the Japanese military force them into an interim camp during World War II. J.G. Ballard draws on some of his own experiences in the book as he was forced into one of the Japanese camps as a child. However, the story is largely fictional taking only a few actual events from Ballard’s time in the camp.

The story is set shortly after the Japanese army invades and occupies Shanghai, where Jim and his family live. Jim’s parents are taken, and he spends a long period trying to survive on his own, but eventually, he turns to the occupying Japanese forces, who send him to the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre.

As the war draws to a close, the Japanese run out of supplies, and prisoners begin to starve, but Jim manages to escape and eventually returns to post-war China. Empire of the Sun tells a story that has somewhat been forgotten. The reality of Japan’s occupation of China was a brutal part of World War II, and J.G Ballard’s novel provides a much-needed account of the events.

“Jim knew that he was awake and asleep at the same time, dreaming of the war and yet dreamed of by the war.” J.G . Ballard

Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is an epic story based on the life of Louis Zamperini, who went from an Olympic athlete to a Japanese prisoner of war. Laura Hillenbrand ’s book follows Zamperini’s life from when he began running in high school to becoming an Olympian and later a POW.

Just as he was hitting his stride as an athlete, World War II began, and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He eventually finds himself fighting the Japanese over the Pacific. Zamperini’s plane is shot down, and he and his crew spend over a month on a desert island. Against all odds, he survives on the arid sandy island but is captured by the Japanese.

He spends several years in the camp, tortured and abused by the guards. He was released at the war’s end, and in 1998, he passed the torch at the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, as a gesture of reconciliation.

“Without dignity, identity is erased.” Laura Hillenbrand

The American War in Afghanistan: A History is a detailed guide to the Afghan War that covers the build-up to the invasion and all the significant events during the two-decade-long occupation. Carter Malkasian encompasses a wide range of themes within the context of the war, including politics, military strategy, cultural issues, and economics.

Malkasian witnessed first-hand policy decisions that drove the war as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The book was published in 2021, when the US and NATO forces left Afghanistan and the country returned to Taliban control.

Interestingly, the book gives plenty of detail from the Taliban’s perspective on the war, which Western authors often ignore. If you want a detailed guide to the Afghanistan war from start to finish, then The American War in Afghanistan: A History is a good choice.

“In simple terms, they fought for Islam and resistance to occupation, values enshrined in Afghan identity.” Carter Malkasian

Anthony Beevor

The Second World War by Anthony Beaver is one of the most informative books about World War II, as it covers every critical moment and battle in meticulous detail. Anthony Beevor is one of the most widely-read military historians and is renowned for combining well-researched narratives with engaging prose.

The Second World War covers all significant fronts, detailing both the war in Europe and the battles in the Pacific between the USA and Japan. If you want to understand how Nazi Germany almost succeeded in dominating all of Western Europe, then this is a great place to start. Furthermore, Beaver explains the events that led to Hitler’s fall, Stalin’s success in Eastern Europe, and the US’s success in the West.

The book also explores the non-military side of the Second World War as Beaver provides an account of civilian life in several major cities during the most bloody battles.

“The Nazi regime had trapped the whole population of the country as accomplices, willing or not, in its own crimes, and its own insanity.” Anthony Beaver

Max Hastings

The Korean War by Max Hastings is a deep-dive book covering the 1950s conflict that almost dragged the two global superpowers into direct confrontation.

Using first-hand accounts, Max Hastings provides raw insight into the bloody war that divided the Korean peninsula into the capitalist South and the Communist North. The Korean War was a tragic conflict driven primarily by funding from the US and the Soviet Union. Families were often pitted against one another based on which side of the country they lived in.

The Korean War’s impact is still clear to see today. South Korea has become one of the world’s wealthiest and most advanced countries, while the North is one of the poorest and most isolated. If you want to understand modern Korea, you’ll need to learn about the Korean War, and The Korean War by Hastings will provide you with that knowledge.

“As George Orwell wisely observed a generation later, the only way swiftly to end a war is to lose it.” Max Hastings

Ilan Pappe

A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples covers the history of Palestine going back beyond its occupation by the Ottomans, through to the British imperial mandate, the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, and more recent wars and conflicts.

Ilan Pappe’s seminal book on Palestine has been praised for providing clarity surrounding a conflict often subject to highly biased analysis. Arguably the war in Palestine has been ongoing since the creation of the Israeli state. In this book, all the major violent clashes between the Israeli army and Palestinian authorities and rebels are explained to the reader.

Pappe’s book is a great way to try and get to grips with an exceptionally complex war influenced by a myriad of factors, including politics, cultural issues, external factors, and history.

“And therefore we should acknowledge that the Oslo process was not a fair and equal pursuit of peace, but a compromise agreed to by a defeated, colonized people.” Ilan Pappe

George Orwell

A Homage To Catalonia details George Orwell’s personal experience during the Spanish Civil War in which he thought on the side of the anti-fascist forces. Orwell’s personal story during the war covered a period from 1936-1937 and saw him train in Barcelona and fight in the Northern region of Aragon. Orwell’s experience changed his perspective about both fascism and communism.

Although the book is based on Orwell’s personal experience, it’s worth noting that many of the events are exaggerated or changed, so if you’re looking for a factual guide to the Spanish Civil War, this isn’t ideal. However, if you are looking for an engaging story about the Spanish Civil War written by one of the greatest British authors , A Homage To Catalonia should be on your reading list.

“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell

good titles for war books

Meet Rachael, the editor at Become a Writer Today. With years of experience in the field, she is passionate about language and dedicated to producing high-quality content that engages and informs readers. When she's not editing or writing, you can find her exploring the great outdoors, finding inspiration for her next project.

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The Wagner Group: From Savage Global Mercenaries to Putin's Unlikely Nemesis

The Things They Carried

Tim O'Brien | 5.00

good titles for war books

Karl Marlantes But when O’Brien wrote The Things They Carried he came down to absolute real brass tacks. It was no longer surreal, it was like here’s a list of what a grunt carries, an infantry soldier… (Source)

Caroline Paul A beautiful book by a writer who fought in Vietnam. (Source)

Eugene Gu @realDonaldTrump Tim O’Brien is the author of the book The Things They Carried, which was about the Vietnam War. Must be very triggering for Trump since he dodged the draft multiple times with fraudulent doctors’ notes for fake bone spurs like a coward. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

good titles for war books

All the Light We Cannot See

Anthony Doerr | 4.82

good titles for war books

Jason Goldman All The Light We Cannot See is the best book I've read in a while. I tend to speed read and here I savored every word; the writing is just effortlessly beautiful. I hope it's made it onto high school WWII syllabi by now. (Source)

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The Book Thief

Markus Zusak | 4.73

good titles for war books

Lydia Ruffles The (Source)

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Joseph Heller, Christopher Buckley | 4.72

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Mark Bittman I used to buy [this book] for a lot of people because I just thought if you hadn’t read it, you had to but maybe that era is over. (Source)

William Boyd The most wonderful novel ever written, because of its absurdist sense of humour and the way it looked at war. (Source)

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All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque, A W. Wheen | 4.70

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Cécile Fabre He knows that his pleasure at a beautiful landscape, at the smell of good food, will forever be coloured by what the landscape looked like in the trenches, by the food that was cooked in the trenches. (Source)

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The Nightingale


good titles for war books


Kurt Vonnegut and Kevin Power | 4.57

good titles for war books

Carlos Eire Even though he is no philosopher Vonnegut is still able to ask the questions that all of us think about – how time affects our lives. (Source)

Dan Christensen @MetaHumean Love that book. (Source)

Bernard Tan I’m also a Murakami and Vonnegut fan, Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, Slaughterhouse-Five, etc. Now that I look at the books listed, they seem to carry an existential theme. I guess I like to understand humanity and human behaviour ultimately to better understand myself. I find reading a means to connect with people who may have lived before my time, or in a... (Source)

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City of Thieves

David Benioff | 4.45

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Brian Koppelman I’ve given it to 100 people. All of them thanked me and gave away a bunch themselves. (Source)

Nicholas Carlson Amazing recommendations. Thanks everyone. Just finished a book off this list: "City of Thieves." It was funny, moving, and thrilling. I also recommend it. (Source)

The CEO Library Community (through anonymous form) One of the best 3 books I've read in 2019 (Source)

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The Richest Man in Babylon

George S. Clason | 4.44

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Daymond John [Daymond John said this is one of his most-recommended books.] (Source)

Grant Cardone This book emphasized the need to get reliable income streams and to never ever confuse your necessary expenses with the things you want. It’s a timeless classic that every school in America should have in their curriculum. (Source)

David Heinemeier Hansson This is a 1920s classic version of How To Get Rich. The ancestor of all the pale imitations, like Rich Dad/Poor Dad, that came since. And while I scoffed at plenty of the allegories from ancient Babylon that presents the lessons, it was still a neat package. And at least ancient Babylon is a more interesting backdrop for teaching lessons about money than some suburban house flipper. I ended up... (Source)

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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

John Boyne | 4.43

Don't have time to read the top War Fiction books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
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  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows | 4.43

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A Farewell to Arms

The Hemingway Library Edition

Ernest Hemingway, Seán Hemingway, Patrick Hemingway | 4.43

good titles for war books

Jordan B Peterson A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, a book from my great books list (Source)

Julia Enthoven For non-business, I’ve loved so many different books that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Recently, I’ve enjoyed The Art of Fielding and Americanah, and I love classics like A Farewell to Arms and Lord of the Flies. (Source)

Jordan Peterson [Jordan Peterson recommended this book on his website.] (Source)

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Johnny Got His Gun

Dalton Trumbo, Ron Kovic | 4.39

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Cheryl Strayed I came upon this book when I was about 14. [It was] about a reality that was so far from my own. And yet when I was this teenager, I really could feel like the power of narrative, the power of inhabiting the life of another human. (Source)

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A Thousand Splendid Suns

Khaled Hosseini | 4.39

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James Altucher Excellent novel. (Source)

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Ann Miura-Ko I would encourage people to read it because it gives you a sense of Afghanistan’s incredible history and the role women have played within that history (Source)

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War And Peace

Leo Tolstoi, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude | 4.37

good titles for war books

Vanora Bennett Although it was published in 1869, War and Peace deals with events half a century earlier. This makes it one of the first historical novels – and, all these years later, it’s still the greatest. (Source)

Tendai Huchu Tolstoy does something which is very unusual in War and Peace and which, for his time, was pretty profound: he sees the conditions of the ordinary soldier on the battlefield. (Source)

Niall Ferguson As a middle aged man, I react differently to Tolstoy than I did when I first read War and Peace at about 15. (Source)

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Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel | 4.36

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Johanna Reiss Elie Wiesel wrote..that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. (Source)

Steven Katz Probably the best known memoir that has been written about the experience of the death camps. (Source)

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The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini and Simon & Schuster Audi | 4.34

Vanessa Keng I've always loved fiction - mainly crime and legal thrillers, but there's something wonderful about reading a completely different style of writing from what I'm used to. I found myself absorbed in the narrative of guilt and love in The Kite Runner, and The Curious Incident told me a story from a completely different perspective. (Source)

Magda Marcu I’m currently reading “The Kite Runner”. I never have expectations from books, I let them surprise me as I get into the story. Learning about characteristics of different cultures, in this case the Afghan one, it’s one aspect I am interested in. (Source)

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Red Storm Rising

Tom Clancy | 4.31

With that shrill cry, three Muslim terrorists blow up a key Soviet oil complex, creating a critical oil shortage that threatens the stability of the USSR.

To offer the effects of this disaster, members of the Politburo and the KGB devise a brilliant plan of diplomatic trickery - a sequence of events designed to pit the NATO allies against each other - a distraction calculated to enable the Soviets to seize all the oil in the Persian Gulf.

But as this spellbinding story of international intrigue and global politics nears its climax, the Soviets are faced with another...

But as this spellbinding story of international intrigue and global politics nears its climax, the Soviets are faced with another prospect, one they hadn't planned on: a full-scale conflict in which nobody can win.

good titles for war books

Cristian-Dragos Baciu Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy also deserves mentioning. (Source)

P W Singer and August Cole Tom Clancy was the master and Red Storm Rising was written at the height of his game. The reading experience was addictive. (Source)

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A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

Laura Hillenbrand | 4.31

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit . Telling an unforgettable story of a man's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he'd been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

good titles for war books

Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card | 4.30

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Mark Zuckerberg Oh, it’s not a favorite book or anything like that, I just added it because I liked it. I don’t think there’s any real significance to the fact that it’s listed there and other books aren’t. (Source)

Timothy Ferriss At one point, this was the only book listed on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. If it’s good enough to be the sole selection of the founder of Facebook, maybe there’s something to it. The plot: In anticipation of another attack from a hostile alien race, the search for a brilliant military strategist has led to Ender Wiggin. In space combat school, Ender stands out, demonstrating exceptional... (Source)

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Travis Kalanick About a kid who is trained by the military to play video games [...] But he realizes at the end that the video games he was playing were an actual war. (Source)

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The Killer Angels (The Civil War Trilogy, #2)

Michael Shaara | 4.29

good titles for war books

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingwa | 4.29

Ernest Hemingway did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the twentieth century, and for his efforts he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. Hemingway wrote in short, declarative sentences and was known for his tough, terse prose. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established Ernest Hemingway as one of the greatest literary lights of the twentieth century. As part of the expatriate community in 1920s Paris, the former journalist and World War I ambulance driver began a career that lead to international fame. Hemingway was an aficionado of bullfighting and big-game hunting, and his main protagonists were always men and women of courage and conviction, who suffered unseen scars, both physical and emotional. He covered the Spanish Civil War, portraying it in fiction in his brilliant novel For Whom the Bell Tolls , and he subsequently covered World War II. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. He died in 1961.

good titles for war books

Josh Waitzkin Exquisite novel. (Source)

Jordan B Peterson For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway, a book from my great books list (Source)

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Heather Morris | 4.29

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Where Eagles Dare

Alistair MacLean | 4.28

good titles for war books

Karl Marlantes | 4.28

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Lilac Girls (Lilac Girls, #1)

Martha Hall Kelly | 4.28

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Eye of the Needle

Ken Follett | 4.27

One enemy spy knows the secret to the Allies' greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin -- code name: "The Needle" -- who holds the key to ultimate Nazi victory.

Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is beginning to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life.

All will come to a terrifying conclusion in Ken Follett's unsurpassed and unforgettable masterwork of suspense, intrigue, and the dangerous machinations of the human heart.

good titles for war books

Tess Gerritsen John le Carré is very cerebral. There is an intellectual puzzle of trying to figure out who the characters are. Eye of the Needle was an out-and-out chase thriller. (Source)

Louise Bagshawe This is another terrific chase story with a bit more characterisation, Ken Follett’s first really big success as an author. It’s interesting because the protagonist is a German spy who has to transmit important information to Germany and he goes on the run to try to do it. (Source)

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Gone with the Wind

Margaret Mitchell, Pat Conroy | 4.27

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Ted Turner I enjoyed "Gone with the Wind" and history books of all types. (Source)

Annie Parker @mariesornin @Twitter @goodreads @colinismyname @lonelyplanet @AmazonKindle @nytimestravel @TravelLeisure @Delta @BNBuzz Shantaram, The Beach, Round Ireland with a Fridge, and please read Gone with the Wind (not really a travel book but very awesome & needs a good chunk of time!) (Source)

Kris Reid I’m a hopeless romantic, Gone With the Wind is an epic love story based around a tale of an empowered woman struggling to success in a time of extreme adversity. There is a reason it’s a classic! (Source)

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Between Shades of Gray

Ruta Sepetys | 4.26

good titles for war books

Code Name Verity

Elizabeth Wein | 4.26

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The Sympathizer

Viet Thanh Nguyen | 4.26

good titles for war books

Bill Gates Most of the books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen about the Vietnam War focused on the American perspective. Nguyen’s award-winning novel offers much-needed insight into what it was like to be Vietnamese and caught between both sides. Despite how dark it is, The Sympathizer is a gripping story about a double agent and the trouble he gets himself into. (Source)

Andrew Liveris Dow Chemical Company chairman and CEO Liveris will take this time to get away from heavier reading and enjoy some of the most highly acclaimed novels of the past year. (Source)

Michigan Students The Sympathizer by @viet_t_nguyen is another one of my favorite books. With influences from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Nguyen tells a story not often heard by U.S. audiences in popular culture: the Vietnamese side of the Vietnam War. (Source)

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Starship Troopers

Robert A. Heinlein | 4.25

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Clancy Brown @theBrianBurgess I have not read anything by John Steakley. I have read Robert Heinlein's book STARSHIP TROOPERS which is the book the movie is based upon. I recommend that one to you and, if you like future-war stories, FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman is one of the best. (Source)

Daniel H Wilson This is a story of war in the future with advanced weaponry against aliens. This story is so grounded, and so realistic – the way that the characters interact, their language, their lingo, the way the military is set up, the way they utilise their weaponry – everything is just pitch perfect. When you read it, you pretty quickly find – at least I did – that you aren’t worried that it is science... (Source)

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The Guns of Navarone

Alistair Maclean | 4.23

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The Hunt for Red October (Movie Tie-In)

Tom Clancy | 4.21

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Lindsay Berra I had a great time working out with the #SpecialForces crew from @GhostRecon and @sofletehq in NYC last week! @jonnybernthal even did a drive-by. Fun fact: My dad had me read my first Tom Clancy book, Hunt for Red October, when I was 10. #GhostRecon (Source)

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The Spy and the Traitor

The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

Ben Macintyre | 4.21

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Casey Neistat just finished this yesterday. absolutely fantastic book. super recommend if you're into spycraft and espionage. bravo @BenMacintyre1 (Source)

Isabel Hardman @holland_tom @BenMacintyre1 Oh it’s a brilliant book isn’t it. Another one I was sad to finish. (Source)

Amrullah Saleh I had a great conversation with Ambassador Micheal Lund Jeppesen of @DKinAfghanistan . On the sidelines of our rich conversation we spoke of the Spy & the Traitor a great book in which Denmark's intelligence features highly. Proud of our alliance & cooperation. (Source)

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The Caine Mutiny

Herman Wouk | 4.20

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The Winds of War (The Henry Family, #1)

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The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank, B.M. Mooyaart, Eleanor Roosevelt | 4.20

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Tim Fargo @Quixoticnance Good point, Nancy. The museum is a powerful experience, esp. when you've read her book. (Source)

Catalina Penciu I'm a huge fan of personal stories and biographies like this one. (Source)

Alice Little I remember being a fourth grader and trying to check out [this book] and being told it was grossly inappropriate and going so far as to have my parents take it to the school board and petition for me to be allowed to read this book. (Source)

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Ian McEwan | 4.19

Patricia Reed The portrayal of vastly different interpretations and outcomes from a single moment was thorough, unvarnished, and raw. I agonized and worried about the main character, and turned pages as fast as I could, hoping for resolution. (Source)

good titles for war books

The Forever War

Joe Haldeman | 4.19

good titles for war books

Peter Boghossian @krazyowl I don’t have one. The Forever War is probably my favorite fiction book. (I love sci fi.) (Source)

Bertalan Meskó Even William Gibson said it might be one of the best science fiction war novels ever. The far future of humanity, biology and warfare. Check out The Forever War and dive into the far future of human life while keeping the focus on long-term military tactics. #book (Source)

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War Horse (War Horse, #1)

Michael Morpurgo | 4.19

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Vanessa King A beautiful and emotional story of love, resilience and meaning. (Source)

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Regeneration (Regeneration, #1)

Pat Barker | 4.18

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The Naked and the Dead

Norman Mailer | 4.17

Barack Obama When asked what books he recommended to his 18-year-old daughter Malia, Obama gave the Times a list that included The Naked and the Dead and One Hundred Years of Solitude. “I think some of them were sort of the usual suspects […] I think she hadn’t read yet. Then there were some books that are not on everybody’s reading list these days, but I remembered as being interesting.” Here’s what he... (Source)

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Cold Mountain

Charles Frazier | 4.17

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Bryan Callen So here are my three must read books. I've been reading a lot of great books like: Outsmart Your Instincts, The Culture Code, and Antonio Damasio’s The Strange Order, and sometimes when you read a lot of nonfiction it’s very enriching, sometimes you need a novel. I really believe you should take a minute and read something beautiful. Listen, listen to Lolita by Nabokov. But also listen to Blood... (Source)

good titles for war books

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard Flanaga | 4.17

Barack Obama In November 2014, Obama took a trip to D.C. independent bookstore Politics and Prose to honor small businesses and add to his personal library. Accompanied by daughters Malia and Sasha, POTUS picked up novels from the Redwall fantasy series by Brian Jacques, as well as some from the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. He also added these titles to his heavy bags: Brown Girl Dreaming,... (Source)

good titles for war books

Alone in Berlin

Hans Fallada | 4.17

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Alastair Campbell So I wanted to have political leadership, sporting leadership and a novel to demonstrate moral leadership: I have chosen a German novel variously translated as Alone in Berlin or Every Man Dies Alone, and it’s by Hans Fallada. (Source)

Claire Fox This is an important novel for a range of reasons, because it was written so shortly after the Second World War by a novelist who lived through the Nazi regime. It is a very rare glimpse into what working-class life was like then. (Source)

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The One Man

Andrew Gros | 4.16

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The Eagle Has Landed (Liam Devlin, #1)

Jack Higgins | 4.16

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Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Mark Sullivan | 4.15

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to...

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See , The Nightingale , and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

good titles for war books

The Yellow Birds

Kevin Powers | 4.15

good titles for war books

War and Remembrance (The Henry Family, #2)

Herman Wouk | 4.14

good titles for war books

Paula Fredriksen Wouk writes an enormous panoramic novel about World War II. War and Remembrance is the second half of this two-volume novel – the first half is The Winds of War. He gathers a cast of characters who lead the reader across continents into different theatres of the conflict. His prose is very clear and unsentimental as he narrates one horror after another. This war really was a global convulsion,... (Source)

good titles for war books

The Alice Network

Kate Quinn | 4.14

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant,...

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915 . A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the matter where it leads.

good titles for war books

The Forgotten 500

The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All For the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

Gregory A. Freeman | 4.14

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Salt to the Sea

Ruta Sepetys | 4.13

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Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy | 4.13

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Chelsea Handler I don't know if I have to expound on why I love this book, but everyone should read [this author], and this was the first one of his works I read. So, it's like a first boyfriend. Or my first Cabbage Patch Kid. (Source)

Marvin Liao My list would be (besides the ones I mentioned in answer to the previous question) both business & Fiction/Sci-Fi and ones I personally found helpful to myself. The business books explain just exactly how business, work & investing are in reality & how to think properly & differentiate yourself. On the non-business side, a mix of History & classic fiction to understand people, philosophy to make... (Source)

good titles for war books

Rupert Isaacson Anna’s trying to be her authentic self, a sexual and loving woman and she gets whopped for it and that’s not fair. (Source)

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Sebastian Faulks | 4.13

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The Complete Maus


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Homer, Robert Fagles, Bernard Knox | 4.13

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Ted Turner When I got to college, I was a classics major, and that was mainly the study of Greek - and to a lesser extent Roman - history and culture, and that fascinated me: the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid by Virgil. (Source)

John Gittings Homer, like Shakespeare, encompassed all humanity in his work, and in The Iliad he encompasses peace as well as war. (Source)

Kate McLoughlin A lot of people who had public school educations, classical educations, might have gone into the First World War thinking that they were fighting Homer’s war. (Source)

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Fields Of Fire

James Webb | 4.12

Karl Marlantes This is a book I like because Webb understands the warrior mentality. I’m not one. I’m a citizen soldier who gets drafted and I’ll do my bit and then I want out. But there are warriors born into the world, and thank God we’ve got them – I’m no pacifist. And the hero of this book, it’s what he wanted to do since he was a child. He’s Scots-Irish and Webb is proud of his heritage and the Marine... (Source)

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Sarah's Key

Tatiana de Rosnay | 4.11

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Anthony Marra | 4.11

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Derek Sivers [Derek Sivers recommended this book in the book "Tools of Titans".] (Source)

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Half of a Yellow Sun

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | 4.10

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Michelle Jana Chan Her story is told by three powerful, self-aware and intellectually upright characters who are swept up in the struggle to establish an independent Nigeria. It’s a call to arms. (Source)

Michael Peel Chimamanda Adichie broke the ice in writing about the Biafran war. (Source)

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The Quiet American

Graham Greene, Robert Stone | 4.10

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Richard Branson Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Barack Obama "According to the president’s Facebook page and a 2008 interview with the New York Times, these titles are among his most influential forever favorites: Moby Dick, Herman Melville Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch Gilead, Marylinne Robinson Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton Souls of Black... (Source)

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Ben Fountain | 4.06

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Lois Lowry | 4.06

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Frederick Forsyth | 4.05

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Louis de Bernieres | 4.05

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Harold Coyle | 4.04

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Ken Follett | 4.04

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Tudor Mihailescu It’s vacation time so I got brave enough to start a sizeable trilogy by Ken Follett, The Century (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity). The only expectation I had was to enjoy a good story, take my mind off into a different space. And it delivers, it’s a nice blend of history and fiction, an absorbing story throughout 20th century. (Source)

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Gustav Hasford | 4.03

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Alistair MacLean | 4.03

The story of men who rose to heroism, and then to something greater, HMS Ulysses takes its place alongside The Caine Mutiny and The Cruel Sea as one of the classic novels of the navy at war.

It is the compelling story of Convoy FR77 to Murmansk – a voyage that pushes men to the limits of human endurance, crippled by enemy attack and the bitter cold of...

It is the compelling story of Convoy FR77 to Murmansk – a voyage that pushes men to the limits of human endurance, crippled by enemy attack and the bitter cold of the Arctic.

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Tom Clancy | 4.03

But too many groups have invested too much blood. Shunned by their erstwhile Soviet sponsors, increasingly isolated by the realignment of the Mideast, these terrorists have one more desperate card to play, requiring a degree of ruthlessness never before seen. With one...

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When Heroes Flew

H. W. "Buzz" Bernard | 4.02

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Life and Fate

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John Marsden | 4.00

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The Dead of Night (Tomorrow, #2)

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Leon Uris | 4.00

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War Books: A Major War Fiction Reading List

Walker Mills and Timothy Heck | 08.11.23

War Books: A Major War Fiction Reading List

Editor’s note: Editor’s note: Welcome to another installment of our weekly War Books series! The premise is simple and straightforward. We invite a participant to recommend five books and tell us what sets each one apart. War Books is a resource for MWI readers who want to learn more about important subjects related to modern war and are looking for books to add to their reading lists.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it signaled a truth that the US military has been increasingly preparing for over the past decade: large-scale combat is back. But even as the war in Ukraine continues and fears of a major conflict with China over Taiwan grow, what does large-scale combat look like in the twenty-first century between two technologically equipped great powers contesting one another in all domains?

Fiction helps us to imagine the answer to this question. And because of fiction’s fundamental characteristics, it is not just new novels that help to readers to imagine how both competition and conflict in an era of growing strategic parity might unfold. So even as valuable new additions to the canon of speculative military fiction are published, there are a set of works that have been published over the years, decades—even centuries—that carry an enduring value. For this installment of War Books, we asked MWI deputy editorial director Tim Heck and Marine Corps officer Walker Mills to recommend novels to add to your reading list to refine the way you think about a future major war.

Ralph Peters, Red Army: A Novel of Tomorrow’s War (1989)

Red Army is an excellent imagination of the Cold War turning hot—but from the Soviet perspective. Ralph Peters spent much of his Army career as a military intelligence and foreign area officer focused on the Soviet Union, and more than anything, that deep knowledge is the allure of his book. It’s not about Americans or NATO forces, but neither does it fall into the trap of stereotyping the adversary. It is, if there ever was one, a character-driven book about world war. Peters also offers a compelling vision of future war with decisive information operations and a tempo driven by new (at the time) computers. Written just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is set at that time and has some of the best descriptions of a war that never happened.

Eric L. Harry, Invasion (2000)

Invasion begins just before a Chinese invasion of the United States. The Chinese military has conquered most of Asia, after the United States embraced an increasingly isolationist foreign policy. The plot centers on a mix of characters including the US president and his daughter, an infantryman. If you can overlook some of the Hollywood plot twists, Harry presents a compelling future where the United States is forced to find a strategy to defeat an enemy with overwhelming industrial and numerical superiority. The technology in the book is from the future but a near future. The book is also valuable for the global picture that it presents—the United States is forced to deal with the Chinese threat across multiple domains at the strategic level.

Tom Clancy (co-written Larry Bond), Red Storm Rising (1986)

Red Storm Rising is probably the best Cold War-gone-hot book in print. Clancy and Bond jump around the battlefield, following different characters, so the plot’s conflicts are not personal. The story is the war, and the characters are only as well developed as they need to be to convey the story. When it was first published, Clancy and Bond had so closely imagined some of the NATO strategy and weapons that officials (incorrectly) thought they might have had access to classified programs . One of the book’s subplots centers on the viability of the NATO sea lines of communication and resupply across the Atlantic—an essential piece of any great-power war that is often overlooked, and something the authors succeed in making an important subject of a page-turning novel.

P.W. Singer and August Cole, Ghost Fleet (2015)

Ghost Fleet is the newest book on this list and was published during the beginning of the strategic shift toward great-power competition. The highly readable book, with a focus on a Pacific war with China in the near future, became widely popular in defense circles. Technology is the main theme, and the book is somewhat lighter on plausibility than others here, but Ghost Fleet ’s recent publication date makes it valuable because it incorporates extant and newly imagined technologies that were unthinkable when other books on this list were published.

Hector Charles Bywater, The Great Pacific War (1925)

The Great Pacific War imagined a future (at the time) war between the United States and Japan. It’s on the list because fifteen years after Bywater published it, the war he imagined happened. It’s proof that future-war fiction can help us imagine a very real future. It is also still relevant, almost a century after it was published, to potential conflict in the Pacific. Among other things, the book features an attack on the Panama Canal—a plotline that should give even today’s planners something to think about.

Homer, The Iliad (eighth century BC)

The Iliad is the epic story of the Trojan War fought between Troy and Agamemnon’s Greek coalition. While it is likely true that the Trojan War took place on the coast of Anatolia during the Bronze Age, The Iliad defies simple classification. It is perhaps best described as a work of fiction weaving together individual elements of history and is almost certainly not the work of a single author. It was likely passed down in oral form for centuries before it was composed into the written epic we know today. In addition to being a classic that portrays the timelessness of war, The Iliad focuses on the characters in war—battles and duels between princes and demigods. It serves as a poetic reminder that the human level is decisive in any war—past, present, or future. We would recommend the translated editions by either Rober Fagles or Richard Lattimore, though there are several good translations available.

Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game (1985)

Ender’s Game is the gold standard for the sci-fi genre. It has inspired junior and senior leaders for decades and Orson Scott Card has been invited to speak to military audiences regularly, and for good reason. Set in the future, it’s a story about a young boy, Ender Wiggin, who is found to possess a brilliant intellect for war, and the rigorous training program that he is put through to fight the “buggers,” an alien race. We recommend Ender’s Game because of how it deals with preparing for a future conflict in which everything is on the line and its emphasis on creative thinking. How do you identify and teach creative thinking, and how do you nurture tactical genius? These are among the questions that the book will encourage readers to ponder. It was also made into a major motion picture in 2013, but we recommend you stick with the book.

Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers (1959)

Starship Troopers is another classic of the sci-fi genre. It too has been made into a mediocre movie with the same name (1997). Much like Ender’s Game , Starship Troopers is set in a future where humans are facing off against alien adversaries. Heinlein spends a considerable amount of time following his characters through their training to become elite soldiers after being selected because of heightened intelligence and other characteristics. Heinlein was a graduate of the US Naval Academy and served on the USS Lexington , one of the first two operational aircraft carriers in the US Navy, and his own experiences bleed through in the narrative. The book’s key themes include training and unit cohesion.

Joe Haldeman, The Forever War (1974)

The Forever War is less well known than Ender’s Game or Starship Troopers , but is also a great example of a sci-fi story that we can learn from. The plot follows an officer in the United Nations Exploratory Force during battles across the galaxy. Like Card and Heinlein, Haldeman details the training of the elite soldiers before telling the story of their deployment. But perhaps the central theme in the book is, as the title suggests, time. Relativity features heavily because the characters spend a lot of time travelling at light speed and lose touch with the rest of humanity. It’s not only a story about fighting, but also about coming home—during the main character’s few trips back to Earth, he finds that nothing is as he remembered. This is a theme that is clearly drawn from Haldeman’s own experiences returning home after fighting in the Vietnam War, where he was wounded while serving as a combat engineer. Haldeman’s exceptional work presents readers with the opportunity to grapple with questions of of adaptation and scales of time in conflict.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1954–55)

Truly a classic, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the masterworks of the fantasy genre. It’s long—three volumes—and was adapted and made into three long but phenomenal movies by director Peter Jackson (2001–2003). Besides being a book that every young adult should read generally, we recommend Tolkein because of the focus that he puts on alliances, coalition building, and strategy. The book also reflects Tolkein’s experiences in the First World War, where he saw combat on the Western Front, and the political climate of the interwar years. The Lord of the Rings trilogy captures the scale that great-power competition could take and lays bare the absolute requirement of assembling and maintaining coalitions in warfare.

Walker D. Mills is a Marine infantry officer currently serving as an exchange officer in Cartagena, Colombia. He has previously authored commentary for CIMSEC, the Marine Corps Gazette , Proceedings , the Modern War Institute, and War on the Rocks . He is an associate editor at CIMSEC . He can be found on twitter at @wdmills1992 .

Timothy G. Heck is a reserve Marine artillery officer. He is finishing an edited volume on amphibious operations for Marine Corps University Press. He is an associate editor at The Army Leader , a UK-based website focusing on military leadership. He can be found on twitter at @tgheck1 .

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.

Image credit: Coffee Channel

Youri AKHMEDov

Hi, I don't usually comment here but really wanted to say two things: That those recommendations are fine indeed. It always warms my heart whenever someone mentions Red Army (I wish we had more books in that vein). However, the title might be a little inaccurate. Your list reads like a recommendation for Great Power *Conflict* not *competition*. I can't help but to feel it would have profited by having more works on detterence, lower intensity operations, Foreign Security Forces Assistance or the Competition phase more generally.


I always sigh when so many of my peers admire Starship Troopers. I find its jingoism repellant and its examination of leadership simplistic. I prefer the movie. At least it openly mocked the proto-fascism that the book took seriously.

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good titles for war books


19 military non-fiction books, 1. studs terkel. 2011. the good war . the new press., 2. e.b. sledge. 2007. with the old breed . presidio press., 3. mark bowden. 2010. black hawk down . grove press..

#4 on our list of Military Non-Fiction Books Everyone Should Read. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. 2004. We Were Soldiers Once … And Young. Presidio Press.

4. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway. 2004. We Were Soldiers Once … And Young . Presidio Press.

5. micahel herr. 1991. dispatches . vintage., 6. stephen e. ambrose. 2017. band of brothers . simon & schuster..

#7 on our list of Military Non-Fiction Books Everyone Should Read. Barbara W. Tuchman. 2004. The Guns of August. Presidio Press.

7. Barbara W. Tuchman. 2004. The Guns of August . Presidio Press.

8. george wilson. 1987. if you survive . ballantine books., 9. joseph plumb martin. 2010. a narrative of a revolutionary soldier . signet., 10. adam makos and larry alexander. 2014. a higher call . dutton caliber..

11. Ulysses S. Grant. 2012. The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

11. Ulysses S. Grant. 2012. The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant . CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

12. john leppelman. 1991. blood on the risers . presidio press., 13. andrew j. bacevich. 2016. america's war for the greater middle east. random house., 14. ian w. toll. 2008. six frigates: the epic history of the founding of the u.s. navy . w.w. norton & company., 15. alex kershaw. 2013. the liberator . crown..

16. Jim Frederick. 2011. Black Hearts. Crown.

16. Jim Frederick. 2011. Black Hearts . Crown.

17. james mattis and bing west. 2021. call sign chaos: learning to lead . random house., 18. nathaniel c. fick. 2006. one bullet away . mariner books..

#19 on our list of Military Non-Fiction Books Everyone Should Read. Sun Tzu. 2019. The Art of War. Ixia Press.

19. Sun Tzu. 2019. The Art of War . Ixia Press.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.


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