10 Great Books About Those Who Have Served in the Military

In honor of Veteran’s Day, here’s some of my favorite books about those who have served in the military:

1. BLACK HAWK DOWN by Mark Bowden -“On October 3, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour. Instead, they found themselves pinned down through a long and terrible night fighting against thousands of heavily armed Somalis. The following morning, eighteen Americans were dead and more than seventy had been badly wounded. Drawing on interviews from both sides, army records, audiotapes, and videos (some of the material is still classified), Bowden’s minute-by-minute narrative is one of the most exciting accounts of modern combat ever written—a riveting story that captures the heroism, courage, and brutality of battle.” Made into a film by the same name.

2. THE SANDBOX:  Dispatches From Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan Edited by David Stranford with an Introduction by G. B. Trudeau – “service members in Afghanistan and Iraq share their stories with readers here at home. In hundreds of fascinating and compelling posts, soldiers write passionately, eloquently, and movingly of their day-to-day lives, of their mission, and of the drama that unfolds daily around them.”



3. THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien – “…unique vision of the horror that was Vietnam. Neither a novel nor a short-story collection, this powerful work presents and arc of fictional episodes, which take place in the childhood of its characters, in the jungles of Vietnam, and back home in America two decades later. ..More than simple a book about war, The Things They Carried explores the human heart and reflects on the terrible weight of those things people carry through their lives.”


4. FORTUNATE SON: The autobiography of Lewis B. Puller, Jr. – Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this book depicts the life of this military legend. The Washington Post called it “An extraordinary story of survival. And love.”





5. SHRAPNEL IN THE HEART: Letters and Remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Laura Palmer – ” Thousands of letters and messages have been left at the Vietnam Memorial Wall since its dedication in 1982, many preserved by the National Park Service as part of a planned museum collection. Palmer, who worked in Saigon as a reporter in the early ’70s, found and interviewed many of the people who left them. The resulting book combines the messages with the comments of those who wrote them, and one would have to look far to find a work that stirs deeper emotions. Reading it is a cathartic experience rather than a depressing one.” — Publishers Weekly

6. THE GREATEST GENERATION by Tom Brokaw – The extraordinary stories of the men and women (those who served in the military and those who didn’t) who “came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War.”





7. MATTERHORN by Karl Marlantes – A novel about the Vietnam war written by a Marine Veteran. “One of the most profound and devestating novels ever to come of of Vietnam–or any war.” Sebastian Junger, The New York Times Book Review





8. HOME BEFORE MORNING: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam – “An awesome, painfully honest look at war through a woman’s eyes. “– Washington Post






9. DON’T MEAN NOTHING: Short Stories of Vietnam by Susan O’Neill – A nurse who served in Vietnam “offers a glimpse into the war from a female perspective. These stories are about women, and men, who served in three combat hospitals in 1969 and 1970. They are…purely fictional, yet based loosely on the author’s experiences….”




10. RULE NUMBER TWO: Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital by Dr. Heidi Squier Kraft – A U.S. Navy clinical psychologist who was deployed to Iraq, Kraft penned this “powerful firsthand account of providing comfort admidst the chaos of war, and of what it takes to endure.”







  1. Another good book is Growing Up Patton, by Benjamin Patton. Ben is the grandson of the popular and controversial George S. Patton, Jr., and the son of General Patton’s son, General George S. Patton IV. The book is a look at these two men and several other military figures, told from the unique perspective of a son and grandson. I particularly enjoyed this book because the younger George was my division commander when I was in the Army.

  2. I haven’t read that one Ron – it’s sounds like an interesting book from a unique perspective. I’ll have to check it out.

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