Joining the military and becoming a good soldier is about more than just being physically fit and tough. The military also wants their soldiers to be intelligent and well versed in military history. There are many books recommended by the US military, from military tactics to tellings of any war in American history. These are ten books recommended by the US military.
Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
Band of Brothers is Stephen E. Ambrose's tribute to the men of Easy Company, the 101st Airborn Batallion in World War II. Ambrose takes the reader into detail of the rigorous training program in Georgia in 1942 to the dangerous parachute landings on D-Day to their successful capture of Hitler's "Eagle's Nest." These were the toughest men, sent on the toughest missions of the war. Ambrose takes readers into detail of each member of the company and makes it feel like you developed a personal relationship with them, especially Maj. Richard Winters, the leader of the battalion who rose from average soldier to the top of the ranks.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Despite being 2,000 years old, The Art of War is still relevant in 2018. The quintessential book on military theory and strategy should be on reading lists for aspiring leaders outside the military, not just soldiers and generals. The Samuel Griffith translation is highly recommended since it is translated in such a way that it feels more relevant than ever.
1776 by David McCullough
Written in his compelling narrative style, 1776 by David McCullough tells the story of the first year of the United States in fascinating detail. This book brings to life the stories of those that marched into battle with George Washington, those that felt the weight of the whole burgeoning nation on their shoulders. What's more is that this book doesn't just tell the story from the American perspective but from the British perspective as well. This book about the first year of the nation is one of many books recommended by the US military.
Lincoln and His Generals by T. Harry Williams
A month after taking over the office of the president, Abraham Lincoln found his country embroiled in the deadliest war in American history. When Lincoln's first term started he was a novice in military strategy but he quickly became well versed in the field. One of the biggest challenges Lincoln faced in his presidency was finding the right leadership for the military. Lincoln and His General details that challenge and how he developed relationships with his generals.
Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq by John C. McManus
It's no surprise that this book detailing the infantryman experience from every major war since World War II is one of the books recommended by the US military. McManus explains that regardless of how technology changes and advances one thing always remains the same, and that's the soldier. Whether it be the Army, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, or the Navy, the side with the stronger and more disciplined soldiers will be on the victorious side. Detailing six decades of combat, this book serves as a reminder that there is no replacing the infantry.
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
This brilliant account of the American Civil War by Professor James McPherson is definitely one of the books recommended by the US military. McPherson details the causes of the war, the military operations, the soldiers, the leaders, and the political, economic, and social aspects of life in the Union and Confederacy before and during the war. Part of "The Oxford History of the United States" series, this piece is one of four works from the series to win the Pulitzer Prize and is considered by many historians to be the best one-volume account of the Civil War ever written.
Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944–1945 by Michael D. Doubler
During World War II the United States was at a tactical disadvantage from the thick hedgerows in Normandy to the confusing streets of Germany. Some of these issues were known before going to Europe, while others were not. Regardless of the issues being known or not, the American soldiers had to adapt to survive. In Closing With the Enemy, Michael Doubler explains how and why the US Army was generally successful in overcoming challenges. This book will benefit soldiers and is on the official US Army Chief of Staff's Professional Reading List.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
It may come as a surprise to see a sci-fi novel on this list, but science fiction books can be very relevant to the military, specifically the Marine Corps. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from Enders Game. In this novel, main character Ender finds himself thrust into a leadership position amongst his peers and friends. The way Ender handles these new challenges and responsibilities offer incredible insight for Marines facing similar trials. Ender's Game does a fantastic job of showing how leadership affects friendships and how being a good leader doesn't mean keeping everyone happy.
We Were Soldiers Once... and Young by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway
Another one of the books recommended by the US military is a firsthand account of the November 1965 Battle of the Ia Drang by the commander of 1/7 Cavalry. This battle was the first major combat test of the airmobile concept and the first, and one of the most savage, battles between the US forces and the North Vietnamese Army. The story is told by Col. Harold Moore and reporter Joseph Galloway who was there reporting on the war. This story serves as a testament to the bravery and perseverance of the 450 Americans who went up against over 2,000 Vietnamese troops.
The Face of Battle by John Keegan
Considered to be a classic of modern military history, The Face of Battle details three major battles: Agincourt in 1415 as part of the Hundred Years War, Waterloo in 1815 as part of the American Revolution, and the First Battle of the Somme in 1916 as part of World War I. Keegan writes with immense detail, describing the sites, sounds, and smells of these battles which really helps capture the experience of combat. This book really brings to light the human element of war and battle and is one of the many books recommended by the US military.