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Best Books - Non-fiction military (war story) - Freeper opinions wanted!
Posted on 07/05/2002 4:46:49 PM PDT by Enlightiator
I would like to hear freeper recommendations on military "war story" books. What are your favorites? I have read and highly recommend:
1. "The Last Battle, The Mayaguez Incident and the End of the Vietnam War", Ralph Wetterhahn. The best read ever on the rescue of the crew of the ship 'Mayaguez' from the Khmer Rouge shortly after the Vietnam War proper ended. An absolutely fascinating story, I could hardly put it down (even stopped reading Blackhawk Down to read this). Politics, incredible combat, honor and sacrifice, huge governmental and IMHO military leadership blunders. And astoundingly, the story and shock of discovery of three Marines unknowingly left behind on a small island off Cambodia as the evacuation helicopters flew away. I must warn that this is the worst edited book I have read, repetitions galore, incorrect indexes, etc, but the conviction of the author and the sheer power of the story overcame this for me.
2. "Ghost Soldiers", by Hampton Sides. A great story of WWII rescue of soldiers in the Phillipine POW camps, many of them survivors of the Bataan Death March. In prison for years, abandoned by their country and MacArthur (until he did "return" to Manila and the Philipines as promised), their stories of survival and finally rescue are amazing.
3. "Black Hawk Down", Mark Bowden. IMHO, the new standard of writing for war stories - fair, balanced, bluntly honest, and extremely well researched and documented. Going after the Mogadishu, Somalia warlord, success and tragedy, more failed leadership, hero's on the ground, and last but not least Clinton's wasting of the 18 (I think) lives lost by abandoning the whole effort and freeing the captured leadership of the warlord. Great read, but haven't seen the movie yet.
4. "Band of Brothers", by Stephen Ambrose. WWII, Easy company, 506th, 101st Airborn. Very good book.
5. "We were Soldiers Once..and Young", Lt. Gen. Harold Moore and Joe Galloway. The best book I have read to date on Vietnam, and overall, a great book.
----- Books I am considering buying, but would like freeper opinions of these and others:
"Flags of our Fathers" - by James Bradley, Ron Powers (WWII, Iwo Jima battle and raising of the flag).
"The Commandos: The Inside Story of Americas Secret Soldiers",by Douglas C. Waller
"Inside Delta Force: The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit", by Eric L. Haney
TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: bestbooks; military; militarybooks; nonfiction; usocanteen
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Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. About the Battle of Gettysburg. I think the movie, Gettysburg, was based on it. But the book is better by far.
Gates of Fire, Stephen Pressfield
Stalingrad by Beevers,
WInter War by Foss
Infantry Tactics by Erwin Rommel
Last Man in Rome (political mostly, some military)
Flags of our fathers
With the Old Breed at Okinawa and Pelilu
Hope these Help...its about 2 mos worth of reading.
posted on 07/05/2002 4:50:39 PM PDT
A must read. A Bridge too Far
Rape of Nanking
and how about "Unintended Consequenses by John Ross (if you want a domestic war, and your blood boiling)
Lewis and Clark is a good one
Rebels and Redcoats (not Redcoats and Rebels).
posted on 07/05/2002 4:54:33 PM PDT
To: DoughtyOne; 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub; A Navy Vet; *USO Canteen; archy; Alamo-Girl; Angelwood; ...
Can any of you help with my request for best of the best military books? Thanks!
Try "WARTIME" by Paul Fussell
I'm listening to "A History of WWII" by Martin Gilbert on unabridged audiocassette during my one-hour daily commute. I'm almost done, and it's quite compelling.
I just got an MP3 player for my daily runs, and downloaded "American Caesar: Douglas McArthur" by William Manchester as my first audiobook. I'm about 2 hours into it so far.
As you can see, I listen to a lot more books than I read. I'll bookmark this thread for more ideas later on.
Sea of Glory
, by Father Francis Thornton. (Fictionalized under the same title by Ken Wales). About the sinking of a US troop carrier in 1943. The four chaplains (Catholic, protestant, and Jewish) chose to stay on board the sinking vessel, relinquishing their life preservers and chances at a spot on the lifeboats in favor of other men.
Unlikely Liberators by Masayo Umezawa Duus. About the Japanese-American troops in WW II, who fought to free Occupied Europe.
When the Guns Roared by Philip Van Doren Stern. Has to be read to be (dis)believed. Very entertaining as a result. Highly biased, to put it mildly. I don't believe this book has ever been reprinted once, and this country has an unquenchable appetite for civil war books.
posted on 07/05/2002 5:02:00 PM PDT
To: South Dakota
A must read. A Bridge too Far.
I both agree and disagree. Cornielous is a notorious exaggerator. He is discredited by historians and veterans alike in his version of events. Although it is an entertaining and tells the basic tale, your advanced WW2 authors will be Ambrose, John Keegan, and Raminov (for those of you who read Russian).
posted on 07/05/2002 5:04:27 PM PDT
There is a huge 3-volume narrative on the Civil War by Shelby Foote that is the definitive account of the Civil War. I purchased this set in April and it is very worthy.
"Goodbye, Darkness" by William Manchester. About his experince as a Marine in the Pacific campaign.
To: South Dakota
Yeah, really, 'A Bridge Too Far' should be on everyone's top ten list of military non-fiction.
To: DCBryan1; PatrickHenry; South Dakota; RANGERAIRBORNE; Larry Lucido; kaylar; SamAdams76
Thanks for the replies!
And hey DCBryan1, thats quite a list, can you narrow the top three for me? :) In your second post, you give "Lewis and Clark", is that the "Lewis & Clark - The Journey of the Crops of Discovery", by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns (was a PBS special as well), if so, I have it and enjoy it, especially the actual diary entries. As a teenager, I read a huge volume of the diaries ("Unabridged Diaries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition" or SOMETHING like that, was a long time ago), and that was even better.
the guns of august.
posted on 07/05/2002 5:13:31 PM PDT
A Rifleman Went to War by H.W. McBride, Lancer Militaria, 1987 - WWI
They Fought Alone, Maurice buckmaster Publisher: tells the real life story of Wendell Fertig, an American soldier who fought in the Philippines during World War II and became a hero. (They Fought Alone is released on DVD or VHS. They Fought Alone In Theaters: Estimated for November 2003. Starring: Brad Pitt
And hey DCBryan1, thats quite a list, can you narrow the top three for me?
No. I cannot narrow the most destructive century in mankind (the 20th century with 500 million dead in war), and definately will not narrow the biggest EVENT in the history of mankind, World War II, down to two or three books.
The person that would want 3 books for WW2 should have received that education in High School, or college level courses in contemporary European (or military history) history.
The reason I say this is WW2 was HUGE...and on purpose, I studied Russian so I could read Russian version of events on the East Front.
Did you know that seventy percent (70%!!!!) of all combat casualties from were on the EASTERN FRONT? Thats all the way from 1933 (when China went into Manchuria) to VJ day in 1945, the Russians bore the true hell of WW2.
I suggest the book "The Second World War" by John Keegan, for basic understanding of WW2. He writes from an ENGLISH perspective, not American. For an American perspective, contact Ambrose, or Theodore Wilson at University of Kansas.
Keegan also is an author on WW1.
Glad I could be of help.
posted on 07/05/2002 5:21:26 PM PDT
Company Aytch by Sam Watkins and Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed kills by Charles Henderson.
A bump for later perusal.
I add "Death of a Navy" but I read it 35-40 years ago and don't have a copy for a quick review.
Final note: I find Keegan to be a boring writer. The facts are there but his style is just too dry.
No. I cannot narrow the most destructive century in mankind (the 20th century with 500 million dead in war), and definately will not narrow the biggest EVENT in the history of mankind, World War II, down to two or three books. Fair enough I guess, but what I was asking for is the first three books you would recommend starting with, given that one has to start somewhere :) Your comments concerning the magnitude of 20th century war and especially Russia's losses in WWII are well made! My interest is primarily in the real world experiences of war, specifically as to why things seem to "go wrong" so often in the fog of battle. I haven't put a lot of military books behind me yet, however I see a pattern of many lives lost unecessarily due to poor leadership and battle tactics driven down from the top. Mirrors the corporate world and government in general it appears...
Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed kills by Charles Henderson
I browsed that one at Amazon before your post, now I may take a second look, thanks.
Bat-21, We were Soldier Once and Young, Citizen Soldiers.
And yes Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara While is fiction is great, the chapter about little round top is one of the best things I've ever read.
posted on 07/05/2002 5:34:34 PM PDT
Guns of August
The Great Game
Winston Churchill (WWI & WWII)
If you wish to read Military History start with this link and its recommendations.
posted on 07/05/2002 5:38:39 PM PDT
Comment #25 Removed by Moderator
great link, thanks dts.
Bump! I've put it on the Mn. page.
posted on 07/05/2002 5:45:38 PM PDT
Disregard I'm an idiot!
posted on 07/05/2002 5:46:55 PM PDT
Semper Fi Mac
Both Marine histories in the Pacific WWII
posted on 07/05/2002 5:48:17 PM PDT
... Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara While is fiction is great, the chapter about little round top is one of the best things I've ever read.
Fiction? Only in the sense that the author purports to get into Lee's head from time to time and tell us what he's thinking. I believe he used Lee's writings as a basis for such passages, and maybe the recollections written later by others. Some of the discussions about the soldiers' reasons for fighting are probably fiction, but based on the sort of things soldiers actually wrote in their letters. But all the facts of the battle, and all the military characters, are real. The description of Pickett's Charge is absolutely breathtaking.
Morotai: A Memoir of War
by John S. Boeman
B-24 ops in the southwest pacific; no heroics, lots of routine bravery, not much sense of accomplishment and a fair amount of confusion. Remarkably like my own war a generation later.
posted on 07/05/2002 6:07:19 PM PDT
I probably should have put "" marks around "fiction". It is called a novel and they are usually fiction. Have you read his follow up "The Last Full Measure"?
posted on 07/05/2002 6:11:52 PM PDT
I read that Neil Roberts's favorite book was TO THE LAST CAARTRIDE by Robert Barr Smit. I've tried to find it but neither bookstore nor the library has it.
posted on 07/05/2002 6:12:34 PM PDT
From a Dark Sky
by Orr Kelly. The heroic tales of the USAF Air Commandos from their early days in WWII up to the Gulf War. CCT, PJs, Ravens, Carpetbaggers and other little known units are covered. OSS and CIA ops covered also.
CQB by Mike Curtis. Good read on the life of a SAS soldier. Covers Falklands War, the madness in Bosnia and Gulf War
The One That Got Away by Chris Ryan, Story of SAS Bravo Two Zero patrol in Gulf War that went on the run after being compromised while looking for SCUD launchers. Ryan was the only one to E&E out of Iraq to freedom. The others died or where captured. Ryan's E&E is the longest in SAS history and pretty incredible with half the countryside looking for him.
posted on 07/05/2002 6:13:34 PM PDT
Have you read his follow up "The Last Full Measure"?
Not yet. It's on my list.
Great read, but haven't seen the movie yet
The book is still sitting on my desk where I quit at page 261.
The hell that those brave guys went through was too much for me. I wanted to do nasty things to the military and civilian pricks who let them down.
For that reason, I won't watch the movie or video-tape.
I trust we learned something useful from this incident but doubt it.
posted on 07/05/2002 6:17:45 PM PDT
A couple of my recent reads (concentrating on the German-Russian War 1941-1945):
Ostfront: The German Defensive Battles on the Russian Front 1944 by Alex Buchner
With Our Backs to Berlin: The German Army in Retreat 1945 by Tony Le Tissier
"Enemy at the Gates" by William Craig 1973.
I first read it in 1979. I have never read anything as powerful before or since.
When I first heard that a movie was being made from it, I considered it a personal gift from the Gods. The movie is based on a few characters from one chapter of the book. As with most movies, justice to the book was not done.
The story of what Hitler did to the men of the 6th Army is a monument to the stupidity of hubris.
posted on 07/05/2002 6:58:43 PM PDT
To: clintonh8r; freedomson; johnboy; pa_dweller; balrog666; Valin; Mike Darancette; ...
Thanks for the great list of military books you are all making here! The books you listed like excellent reads, and I'm checking out some of the detailed reviews at Amazon for some of them.
JimVT, I understand! Black Hawk Down was a bit too graphic, and those few men had to have been in the most one sided firefights ever undertaken.
Dittoes - have read this book several times. Always enjoy it.
SOG: The Secret Wars of American Commandos in Vietnam, By MAJ John L. Plaster
posted on 07/05/2002 10:08:02 PM PDT
"Crucible of War" by Fred Anderson. This is the tale of the Seven Years War- what we Americans call the French and Indian War- and it was this war that set in motion the American Revolution. The Seven Year's War was a global war fought by the French and the British, with a major role played by some remarkably sophisticated American Indians, working the French and the British against each other. This global war was ignited by a chance encounter on a remote frontier, when some natives commanded by a British colonial officer massacred a French patrol. The British colonial officer who lost control of his native warriors was a very young George Washington.
posted on 07/05/2002 10:22:09 PM PDT
"The Black Flower" by Howard Bahr, another excellent fictional treatment of a civil war battle- the Battle of Franklin I think it is, from an infantry soldier's perspective. The equal of the Shaara books, perhaps even better.
posted on 07/05/2002 10:28:20 PM PDT
"With the Old Breed" by E.B. Sledge. A very personal and compelling book about combat Marines written simply and eloquently. Unforgettable.
"Goodbye Darkness" by William Manchester. Manchester writes a personal narrative interwoven with a history of the Pacific war. Outstanding.
"The Civil War" by Shelby Foote. A complete history of the Civil War, with a southern viewpoint that counterbalances the view of Bruce Catton's excellent earlier works.
"A Rumor of War" by Phillip Caputo. A platoon leaders view of the war in Vietnam.
posted on 07/05/2002 10:43:11 PM PDT
posted on 07/05/2002 10:53:59 PM PDT
"Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775-1781" by W.J. Wood
Not a complete history of the Revolution, but rather a look at some major battles and campaigns. Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga. Quebec, King's Mountain, Cowpens, the Chesapeake Capes.
Benedict Arnold's great victory over the Redcoats at Saratoga. The destruction of a Tory army at King's Mountain by a militia of "overmountain men" armed with Kentucky long rifles. Well written and entertaining, you'll learn about the officers and the men they led, their tactics on the field, weapons, supplies, uniforms, as well as the weather.
posted on 07/05/2002 10:55:58 PM PDT
Typically, I am not one for military books because they often go over my head to some extent (even as a veteran's wife). However, after seeing 'We Were Soldiers' I had to read the book. Even with all the military jargon--some of which I understood--I was able to stick with it and pick up an excellent, well-written story.
As for 'Ghost Soldiers' my husband brought it back for me last month from a business trip. I just finished it about four days ago, and I loved it! It was written in a way even a non-military aficianado could understand and the stories of the POWS and their rescuers were some of the most riveting I have ever read. I often could not put it down because I wanted to find out what happened next. I just lent it to my neighbor who has been very anxious to read it.
To: Enlightiator; Squantos; Snow Bunny; spatzie
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom,
Thomas Edward Lawrence [AKA *Lawrence of Arabia* to Yanks]
I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To earn you Freedom, the seven pillared worthy house, that your eyes might be shining for me
When we came.
- T.E. Lawrence, "To S.A."
(Dedication of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom)
Spencer Chapman, The Jungle is Neutral
The definitive how-to to jungle warfare living and fighting.
Vladimir Peniakoff, Popski's Private Army
The memoirs of the founder and leader of what General Montgomery described as *The most effective intelligence-gathering organization of the War.*
Das Boot,Lothar-Gunther Buchheim
The German viewpoint of subnmarine warfare, WWII, and a good general starting point on the balance of cohesion of any military unit, from platoon, to ship's crew to armies
That Devil Forrest John A. Wyeth
An account of the life of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, written by one who served with him.
The Art of War Sun Tzu
You don't even have to buy this one.
Fireworks - A Gunsite Anthology; Jeff Cooper
Add in Cooper's later To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth, for eesays on the activities of fighters and the essential skills required of them. And if you would be one such, his works Art Of The Rifle is as valuable a resource as any single other I know of for the Rifleman, and his writings on the use of the Marine Corps Mamaluke sword take that implement out of the realm of ceremonial toy back to what it once was. Go through his bibliography and you'll not be disappointed.
posted on 07/06/2002 2:05:50 PM PDT
To: Pelham; JMJ333; M1911A1; Okies love Dubya 2; archy
The British colonial officer who lost control of his native warriors was a very young George Washington.
A new history lesson for me, Pelham - "Crucible of War" sounds very interesting, thanks.
I've heard the title "Rumor of War", I will look into it further, the subject sounds good. And thanks for another good link, M1911A1!
Okies, "Ghost Soldiers" was well written, wasn't it! I hadn't thought of it, but now that you mention it, I can see that it would be a good read by both men and women, as not all war books might be...
Archy, thanks for your big list, and for the link to "The Art of War."
Also be sure to take a look at: http://www.usni.org/press/read inglist.htm
It contains the reading list recommendations of the Chief of Naval Operations, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Marine Corps Commandant, and others.
posted on 07/07/2002 7:46:47 PM PDT
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