Military Books

Christmas Books for your Military Partner

Just in time for Christmas, here’s a list of the best of military books for your spouse/partner, or really for anyone who wants to learn more about the world of the warrior. These are the classics, so you will need to check first to ensure that the object of your affections doesn’t already have a copy. All are currently available on Amazon.


Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda – Sean Naylor

Blackhawk Down – Mark Bowden


Tet!: The Turning Point in the Vietnam War – Don Oberdorfer

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam – Neil Sheehan

The Experience of War

The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme – John Keegan

The Forgotten Soldier – Guy Sager

War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning – Chris Hedges

Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II – George MacDonald Fraser


Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945 – William Slim and David Hogan

The Nature of War

The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity – Antoine Bousquet

War and Culture

The Great War and Modern Memory – Paul Fussell

Failure in War

On the Psychology of Military Incompetence – Norman F Dixon

The Cold War

The Fifty Years War: The United States and the Soviet Union in World Politics, 1941-1991 – Richard Crockatt

Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev – Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov

Air War

Thud Ridge: F-105 Thunderchief Missions Over Vietnam – Colonel Jack Broughton

The Eleven Days of Christmas: America’s Last Vietnam Battle – Marshall L Michel III

Naval Warfare

Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat: Second Edition – Wayne Hughes

So that’s your shopping list done and dusted. Good hunting!

BTW this will be of no help to any of my potential Santas, as I have all of these. However I would love to get a copy of:

War From The Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics – Emile Simpson

An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict – Mike Martin

Have I missed anything? Add your favourites using the comment box below.

8 thoughts on “Christmas Books for your Military Partner”

  1. Losing Small Wars by Frank Ledwidge is a surprisingly well researched and compiled commentary. I suspect it is on your radar.

  2. If you want to know just how barbaric our friends the Japanese were, read Hell on Earth – Aging Faster, Dying Sooner by Dave McIntosh. Not for the faint of heart, it is based largely on the extensive war diaries of a largely unsung Canadian hero, Len Birchall. It’s a chilling story of the conditions under which Allied soldiers lived – and died – in Japanese POW camps. If you want to learn about command under the most extreme circumstances, look no further. A book I would love to get my hands on is by an American, whose name escapes me at this moment except that his nickname was Fingers. He dedicated his book to Birchall, stating “everything I know about stealing I learned from Birch”

  3. Anthony – An excellent list, somewhat marred only by Dixon’s “On the Psychology of Military Incompetence”. While an interesting read, it relies, in the latter half particularly, on very simplistic Freudian analysis. Some alternatives which provide a more general view of failure: “The Logic of Failure” by Deitrich Doerner; “Military Misfortunes; The Anatomy of Failure in War”by Eliot A. Cohen and John Gooch; or, for a good examination of cognitive dissonance, “The March of Folly” by Barbara Tuchman. My particular favourites from your list (and way up on mine): “Not a Good Day to Die” (my copy lent out and lost); “Quartered Safe Out Here” (mandatory reading for subalterns when I was an Adjt, two copies lent and lost, third copy on the shelf – on the fiction side one could include the Flashman series as excellent history laced with humour) and “Defeat into Victory”. Merry Christmas 🙂

  4. Dave, I see you’re testing me. I had a small moment of panic at the thought that I might have left Defeat Into Victory off the list, but it’s actually there, albeit in long title form.
    I will have to have another look at the Dixon book – it’s been a few years since I read it. I agree that The Anatomy of Failure is mandatory reading. I first discovered it in the section of the Leavenworth staff college library set aside for SAMS students.
    I`m doing slightly better on lost books – I have only lent and lost one copy of Quartered Safe Out Here, and my copy of Not a Good Day to Die was lent to me by a colleague (though I don’t think he expected it back).
    Stand by for a post on military fiction – I hope to finish it off today.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  5. Hi, Tony, I just checked in and was happy to see your blog flourishing!

    Two of my all time favourites:
    – Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster (Strategy, Civ-Mil Relations. Its very instructive as one can see how some of the errors, arrogance and malfeasance recounted there have been repeated in past ten years)
    – The Landmark Thucydides (Strategy, Diplomacy and Civ-Mil….maybe doesn’t quite fit in your military list, but essential reading for military folk, I think.)

    Merry Christmas!


  6. Thanks Andy. McMaster is one of my heroes so his book is definitely on my radar.
    Back when I was a taxi driver in Calgary I kept Thucydides in my car for those long waits for a fare. It was a bit of a slog. I suspect the maps and commentary in the book you recommend would definitely have helped.
    Merry Christmas to the Scheidl clan!

  7. McMaster hero of mine as well. I’ll gloat over my signed version another time!

    Thucydides between fares actually makes sense. Need to take it bites, though you’re the first (former) taxi driver I know to be a fan. By the way, you must have seen the Landmark version in stores, but I can’t imagine enjoying it as much without Landmark’s brilliant system of maps and footnotes.

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