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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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To: Enlightiator
SOG: The Secret Wars of American Commandos in Vietnam, By MAJ John L. Plaster

41 posted on 07/05/2002 10:08:02 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: Enlightiator
"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.
42 posted on 07/05/2002 10:22:09 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: PatrickHenry
"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.
43 posted on 07/05/2002 10:28:20 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: Enlightiator
"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.
44 posted on 07/05/2002 10:43:11 PM PDT by M1911A1
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To: Enlightiator
A list of books the Marine Corps Commandant thinks are worth reading. g/CompleteListBySubject.htm
45 posted on 07/05/2002 10:53:59 PM PDT by M1911A1
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To: Enlightiator
"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.

46 posted on 07/05/2002 10:55:58 PM PDT by Pelham
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To: Enlightiator
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.

47 posted on 07/06/2002 12:45:28 PM PDT by Okies love Dubya 2
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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.

48 posted on 07/06/2002 2:05:50 PM PDT by archy
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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."

49 posted on 07/07/2002 7:11:36 PM PDT by Enlightiator
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To: Enlightiator
Also be sure to take a look at: 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.
50 posted on 07/07/2002 7:46:47 PM PDT by killjoy
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To: DCBryan1
Personally I liked "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by Shirer.
51 posted on 07/07/2002 7:59:00 PM PDT by tabsternager
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To: Enlightiator
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Van and America In Vietnam. Possibly the best book about the Vietnam War.
52 posted on 07/07/2002 8:01:21 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: tabsternager
Personally I liked "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by Shirer.

I read Shirer's account of writing that book. Incredible as it seems there was no book written up to then that covered the history of the Third Reich. At the time Shirer wrote it, the conventional wisdom was that the Third Reich was old news. In fact few copies of Rise and Fall of the Third Reich were published in the first printing because the publisher thought there would be little demand for that book. The first inkling of the popularity of the book was an excerpt of the book published in Look magazine as The Road To War. Just before it was published, the publisher panicked because Life magazine had Sopia Loren on the cover and the publisher didn't think folks would buy a magazine with Hitler and his generals on the cover.

53 posted on 07/07/2002 8:10:36 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: South Dakota
I agree 100% about A Bridge Too Far. It is a masterpiece. I would also add:

54 posted on 07/07/2002 8:23:13 PM PDT by Skooz
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To: Enlightiator
Gray Fox: Robert E. Lee and the Civil War by Burke Davis, if you can find it.
55 posted on 07/07/2002 8:50:56 PM PDT by razorbak
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To: Enlightiator
"Inside Delta Force" is a great book. Not many people like him can write so well. Have you read "Dispatches" and "Everything We Had"? Excellent Nam-era books. "Huey" is also worth reading.
56 posted on 07/07/2002 8:53:36 PM PDT by 185JHP
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To: Enlightiator
Strong stomach required for reading "Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to the Vietnam War" by H. R. McMaster.Harper/Collins.

Same, even more, for Robert McNamara's really strange "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam." At a public discussion of this book McNamara was asked by a woman whose son was killed in Vietnam, why, if McNamara knew at the time the war was lost, he had not spoken out. Mcnamara shouted at the woman to shut up and sit down, demonstrating that the major lesson of the Vietnam debacle, ignorance and arrogance of our non-military leaders, had still not been learned by this really odd, and insanely inept "war manager."

"Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans" by Wallace Terry. "Brothers: Black Soldiers in the Nam" by Stanley Goff, Robert Sanders, with Clark Smith. ("Brothers" a Military Book Club selection.)

"Dak To: America's Sky Soldiers in South Vietnam's Central Highlands" this is the "Blackhawk Down" of the Vietnam War.

"Prodigal Soldiers" by James Kitfield, in which you meet a young Colin Powell returning to Vietnam with the grim knowledge that the murderous policies of "the best and the brightest" had nearly destroyed the army's junior officer corps, and you see his and his colleagues in arms' determination to rebuild it. A soldier's soldier he makes short shrift of a black trouble-maker's attempt to play the race card.

You can find a comprehensive bibliography on WWI in Paul Fussell's "The Great War and Modern Memory" a really fine book "about the British experience on the Western Front from 1914-1918 and some of the literary means by which it has been remembered..."

I can recommend other books if there is continued interest on this thread. I appreciate the suggestions of other posters and thank you for taking the time to recommend your favorites.
57 posted on 07/08/2002 7:06:35 AM PDT by Barset
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To: Enlightiator
An obscure book titled "To Save Bastogne", by a 28th division infantryman named John Phillips. It details the first days of the Battle of the Bulge and the delaying action that allowed the 101st Airborne and other units time to set up the defense of Bastogne. Later in life, Phillips became an historian for the US Army, and is still living and active.

BTW, I know an old guy whose artillery outfit, the 687th FABN, played a significant role in the story.

58 posted on 07/08/2002 7:14:02 AM PDT by OKSooner
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To: Enlightiator
Also this one, about the one American infantry division referred to as the best in either army by both Kesselring and Patton:

The Rock of Anzio: From Sicily to Dachau: A History of the 45th Infantry Division by Flint Whitlock

Another self-serving plug for the homeys...

59 posted on 07/08/2002 7:26:38 AM PDT by OKSooner
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To: Enlightiator
Tons of great military history books are available these days. I would start with...

Almost anything by John Keegan, particularly The Mask of Command and The First World War.

Almost anything by Byron Farwell, particularly Queen Victoria's Little Wars

Shelby Foote's magnificent, three-volume The Civil War: A Narrative. 3600 pages and not a dull one amongst them.

Ron Spector's Eagle Against the Sun, the best compact history of the American war against Japan.

Victory: The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union by Peter Schweizer. This one is wonderful and makes liberals howl at the same time!

60 posted on 07/08/2002 7:39:12 AM PDT by Cincinatus
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