When the military needs to get down and dirty with the enemy, it usually means a few things have gone wrong. It’s best for the U.S. if fights are conducted at long range where more assets can be brought in to assist, but you need the right moves just in case.
The enemy gets a vote and if they want to fight hand-to-hand, America is willing to oblige. Using the major “weapons of the body” as well as grappling techniques, troops jockey for position and then strike any soft spots they can find, hurting, crippling, or killing the enemy.
Here are 8 moves to help the ground pounders come out on top.
1. Eye gouge- the cringiest move
A perennial favorite, the eye gouge is exactly what it sounds like. Either two fingers are thrust into the eyes sockets or two thumbs. Fingers are aimed to slide in under the eyeballs while thumbs should be aimed for the inner corners of the eye, near the nose. Either way, the goal is to scoop the eyes out or crush them inside the occipital cavity. This is a great move when you’re overpowered and need to inflict pain, fast.
For obvious reasons, the military services require that this be practiced against a dummy or a sparring pad rather than a human.
2. Elbow strikes to the back of the neck
Any elbow strike can do some damage. There’s the low-to-high that strikes an enemy beneath the chin, the horizontal that smashes into a soft spot of the body or face, and then there’s striking an enemy in the base of the skull with an elbow strike.
It requires that the target is doubled over to work well, so this is a great way to finish the fight after a Long Knee or a solid strike to the stomach or groin.
3. The Long Knee move
When a fighter wants to knee the enemy but there’s a little too much space to come up directly, they use the long knee and move forward with their strike. It works even better when they can get a hold of the target and pull them towards the knee. For the most effective move, aim for the soft parts of the abdomen or the groin to really do some damage.
4. Up Knee
If the target tries to move away, feel free to pull harder on their head and transition to the Up Knee, using the knee strike to hit an opponent right in the face. This can also work if the target has bad posture or is leaned over for another reason.
5. Throat punch
The throat punch isn’t just a common internet joke. The Marine Corps lists the throat as a good target for lead hand punches, rear hand punches, and uppercuts. A good punch to the throat can crush the windpipe and even a more modest hit is going to hurt and throw the opponent off balance.
Go straight for the Adam’s apple and remember to follow through.
6. Stomps to the groin or knees- a dirty move, but a good one
It’s all in the headline. If the enemy falls to the ground, a downward stomp can make sure they stay there. Stomping the groin will cause extreme pain and possibly nausea while a solid hit to the knee can disable the joint and make it impossible to stand. Simple move that everyone should know.
7. Ax stomp to the wherever
While the standard stomp is straight down, the ax stomp is a backward swing. This allows the power of the strike to be concentrated in the heel. To add more power, slightly bend the knee of the non-striking leg to gain more downward momentum.
An ax stomp to the face while wearing new boots can easily split skin open and crush underlying bone. Not exactly a sparring technique, but it can finish a real fight.
8. Nutcracker choke
This colorfully-named choke involves grabbing the sides or rear of an opponent’s collar before pulling the hands into the center and crushing the Adam’s apple with the knuckles of the index finger. The tightened collar keeps the opponent from squirming away while the knuckles cut off the target’s airflow.
9. Fish Hook- a weird move that works
Fish hooking is simple. When a target is facing away, reach around and slip fingers into the cheeks and pull hard. This allows the attacker to control their opponents head to a degree, can incite panic in the enemy, and hurts. The attacker should be careful to avoid the enemy’s teeth since this can backfire quickly.
Moviegoers across the nation love to get a fresh bucket of popcorn and sit down in front of the big screen to watch a well-crafted action film. With so many cool explosions and witty one-liners, there’s only one thing left to take a movie from great to legendary: an epic knife fight.
From a directorial standpoint, capturing an excellent knife fight on film is both dangerous and difficult, but the following movies managed to pull off the impressive feat in unique ways.
In 1986, New York City got its first taste of the knife-wielding, Aussie bushman, Michael J. ‘Crocodile’ Dundee. The character from down under was a huge blockbuster for Paramount Pictures and featured one of the funniest almost-knife fights to ever hit the big screen.
In a knife-measuring contest, Dundee’s unveils his monster blade and dwarfs the tiny switchblade brandished by thugs who wanted his wallet. Unfortunately for the muggers, the Aussie’s steel was far too fierce.
It may not be the most action-packed knife fight, but it’s f*cking hilarious. Who could forget this line?
It’s safe to say that Jean-Claude Van Damme was one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars. Known for his cinematic helicopter kicks, Van Damme takes on a bunch of murderous thugs in his living room while sporting nothing but his undies.
In attempts to avenge the murder of his wife, the Belgian martial artist travels through time to try and rewrite history, defeating all the bad guys along the way.
When moviegoers show up to the cinemas to watch a Tarantino film, they know they’re in for some witty dialogue and a sh*t-ton of F-bombs. When they showed up to watch Kill Bill: Volume 1, they got just that — and a whole lot of action. In this scene, our protagonist goes up against an old enemy and the two immediately draw steel. Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox put on a dazzling display — until they’re interrupted by a four-year-old girl.
Although 1992’s Under Siege, starring Steven Seagal, defies many of the real-life attributes of life in the Navy, it does showcase a pretty cool knife fight that you wouldn’t have expected out of acclaimed actor Tommy Lee Jones. Seagal and Jones go toe-to-toe, pitting a real-life Aikido expert up against a talented actor in one of the best knife-fight scenes ever to take place on a Navy vessel.
Tommy Lee Jones takes the two top spots on this list — who would’ve thought this veteran actor was so freakin’ talented with a blade? In 2003, William Friedkin brought The Hunted to the big screen, which follows an FBI tracker (played by Jones) as he sets out to capture a trained assassin (played by Benicio Del Toro), who’s made a sport out of killing humans.
The film features some pretty epic knife fights and showcases some interesting human-tracking skills.
The strength of a nation is directly tied to its naval power and command of the seas. It was for this reason that an island nation like Great Britain was able to create such a vast empire and dominate so much of the world. Today, America follows this naval principle by maintaining freedom of maneuver and overwhelming superiority on the open sea. Since the nation’s birth, the U.S. Navy has fought in epic battles that have changed the course of history. From these events come some of the most badass Naval quotes that we can enjoy today.
1. “I have not yet begun to fight”
This naval quote comes from none other than John Paul Jones. John Paul Jones was America’s first naval hero of the Revolutionary War and is considered the father of the American Navy. In 1779, Jones commanded the 42-gun Bonhomme Richard and led a squadron of five ships attacking British vessels around Ireland, Scotland, and northern England. On September 23, he encountered a large merchant convoy escorted by two British ships of the line. Bonhomme Richard engaged with HMS Serapis and her 50 guns.
Realizing he was outgunned and outmaneuvered with the wind dying, Jones made an effort to lock the ships together. With Serapis in a position of advantage, the British hailed the Americans and asked if they wished to surrender. “I have not yet begun to fight,” was Jones’ reply. Consider this the 18th century naval version of Captain America getting back up during a fight and saying that he could do this all day. Jones’ fighting spirit, and that of his crew, won the day. Though the Bonhomme Richard was lost in the fighting, Serapis was captured by Jones who was knighted by King Louis XVI of France for his valor.
2. “We have met the enemy and they are ours…”
Ever heard of Captain James Lawrence? You can thank him for this quote. During the War of 1812, Captain James Lawrence commanded USS Chesapeake against HMS Shannon in single combat. Chesapeake was quickly disabled by gunfire and Lawrence was mortally wounded. He issued his dying order, “Don’t give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks,” before he was carried below decks. Sadly, the crew was overwhelmed by a British boarding partly shortly thereafter and the ship was surrendered. After his valiant command and death, Lawrence’s words were taken up by his friend and fellow naval officer Captain Oliver Hazard Perry. Perry ordered a large blue battle ensign stitched in white with the phrase “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” and flew it in the Battle of Lake Erie. During the battle, Perry’s flagship, USS Lawrence, was also named for his fallen comrade. At the onset of the battle, Perry fortuitously stated, “If a victory is to be gained, I will gain it.”
A badass quote on its own, Perry was a man on a bloodthirsty mission of revenge against the British. When the battle was won, Perry had the British come aboard his ship to surrender so that they could see the sweat and blood of his men. But, the cherry on top of Perry’s revenge sundae was the battle report that he sent to future president General William Henry Harrison. “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.” For all the fighting and passion that went into the battle, Perry was famously brief with his summary; casual like an action hero not looking back at an explosion.
3. “Damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead”
This hardcore quote comes from Admiral David Farragut, a Southern Unionist from Tennessee who opposed secession and the Confederacy at the outbreak of the Civil War. Though he was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, Farragut’s loyalty was still questioned because of his Southern roots. However, he was given command of the Union’s Gulf Blockading Squadron and captured the city and port of New Orleans in 1862. For this achievement, he was loyalty was solidified and he was promoted to Rear Admiral, becoming one of the the Navy’s first four active flag officers. On August 5, 1864, Farragut was given the task of taking Mobile, Alabama, the Confederacy’s last major port in the gulf. Though the bay was protected by torpedoes, as tethered naval mines were known then,
Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank, other ships halted their charge and turned away from the bay. When Farragut saw this, he called over to one of his ships, “What’s the trouble?” USS Brooklyn replied, “Torpedoes!” “Damn the torpedoes!” Farragut proclaimed and issued orders to continue the charge. “Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.” With the “Leroy Jenkins” type charge, the fleet burst through the defenses and into the bay where they destroyed the Confederate batteries and captured Mobile May. Today, Farragut’s quote is most often paraphrased to, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
4. “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley”
Some quotes are famous because they are linked to important historical events: “Et tu, Brute” with the death of Caesar which led to the end of the Roman Republic or “Molon labe” with the last stand of the 300 Spartans which gave rise to a united Greece against the Persian Empire. In modern history, it can be argued that Commodore George Dewey ushered in the age of American supremacy at the Battle of Manila Bay. Just after midnight on May 1, 1898, Dewey commanded the U.S. Asiatic Squadron through the Boca Brande Channel off the coast of the Philippine Island of Luzon. America was at war with Spain and Dewey was poised to strike a major blow to the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay. Dewey’s flagship, USS Olympia, was to fire the first rounds of the American attack. As dawn broke, Olympia‘s commander, Captain Charles Gridley, waited for his orders as Spanish shore batteries fired harmlessly at the out-ranged squadron. At 5:40 AM, Dewey gave his now-famous order, “You may fire when you are ready, Gridley.” The Spanish fleet was obliterated in the bay and the capital city of Manila was surrendered. This action signaled to the world that the centuries-old Spanish Empire had come to an end and that America had arrived as a major naval and world power.
5. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”
Military chaplains play a major role in maintaining the morale and welfare of a unit. Regardless of religion, chaplains can motivate troops to push through hardship and win through to victory. Moreover, chaplains are prohibited from actively participating in combat. So, on December 7, 1941, Lt. JG, CHC Howell M. Forgy did everything he could to keep his fellow sailors in the fight. Like the other ships that were still fightable, New Orleans and her crew filled the skies above Pearl Harbor with anti-aircraft fire against the Japanese surprise attack. New Orleans didn’t have any electrical power during the attack, so ammunition had to be carried up from the magazines below decks. After some time, the sailors began to exhaust from the strenuous work. Lt. Edwin Woodhead was in charge of an ammunition line that fed the guns.
“I heard a voice behind me saying, ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,'” Woodhead recalled. “I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward me, along the line of men. He was patting them on the back and making that remark to cheer and keep them going. I know it helped me a lot, too.” With enemy bullets and bombs falling from the sky, here comes the chaplain telling you to praise God and keep the ammo moving. Forgy’s words of encouragement helped keep New Orleans in the fight and were later used in a patriotic war song. “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” was published in 1942 as a response to Pearl Harbor. The 1943 recording by Kay Kyser’s orchestra reached number 1. Gamers may recognize the tune from such titles as BioShock 2, Mafia II, and Fallout 76.
It is the year 69 BC. A Roman man stands before the state of an ancient conqueror. The Roman weeps, realizing that at his age this conqueror was master of the known world, while the Roman has accomplished nothing. The Roman’s name is Julius Caesar, and the statue is of Alexander III of Macedon, whose conquests changed the course of European and Middle Eastern history. Here are seven things to know about Alexander the Great.
1. His father conquered ancient Greece
In the middle of the fourth century BC, Macedon was a small kingdom north of classical Greece. City-states like Athens and Sparta looked down on their northern neighbors as barbarians. But for a hundred years the Greek cities had worn each other down through war, and King Philip II of Macedon knew the time was right to strike. He reformed his army and, through a series of diplomatic and military victories, came to dominate ancient Greece. The last resistance was crushed at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, uniting all of Greece under the king of Macedon.
2. He was tutored by Aristotle
In 343 BC, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle (who was Macedonian, but taught in Athens) to tutor then-thirteen Alexander. The prince studied everything from politics to philosophy to natural science, but he fell in love with Homer’s Iliad, the epic poem about the demigod Achilles and his struggle with pride. Aristotle even wrote an abridged version of the text for Alexander, who carried it with him during his campaigns. Alexander would also send rare plants and animals found on his campaigns to Greece for Aristotle to study. By all accounts, Alexander had an education fit for a king.
3. He fought to claim his father’s throne
Alexander’s mother Olympias, Philip’s fourth wife, was not Macedonian, but Alexander was still Philip’s heir. The prince even fought with Philip at the Battle of Chaeronea and proved himself a capable warrior. That same year, however, Philip married a Macedonian noblewoman named Cleopatra Eurydice, whose pure Macedonian offspring could challenge Alexander’s succession. When Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and her daughter by Philip burned alive; Alexander was furious, but he also assassinated several of his relatives to prevent them from stealing his throne. There was a rebellion from several city-states, but Alexander suppressed it, proving himself the Macedonian king of Greece.
4. He conquered the Persian Empire
Alexander spent two years pacifying the Balkans and stabilizing his rule before turning eastward. In 334 he and his army crossed the Hellespont, the straits connecting Europe and Asia Minor (modern Turkey). He then conquered, in just four years, the Persian Empire which had controlled all the land between the Levant coast and the Iranian Plateau for centuries. Alexander chased the Persian king Darius III – one of the most powerful men in the world – through the empire until Darius was captured and executed by one of his own nobles. Throughout his conquests Alexander established many cities, all of them named Alexandria.
5. He pushed his troops to their limit
Alexander reached as far as the land the Greeks called India (modern Pakistan). In 327 BC Alexander left the Middle East for his Indian campaign, where he continued carving through kingdoms and founding cities named after himself – Alexander’s bread and butter. After defeating the Indian king Porus, Alexander’s Macedonian army mutinied and refused to march any further. The disappointed king was forced to turn back.
6. He died under mysterious circumstances
Alexander started marching his troops back to Persia. After dealing with unscrupulous governors and another rebellion from his troops, he arrived at the imperial capital of Susa, where he would spend the rest of his short life. The king contracted a fever in the city and died soon after. For thousands of years scholars have debated the cause of his death, from natural causes to poisonings. Alexander’s proclivity towards alcohol, many say, exacerbated whatever made him ill in the first place. In 323 BC, a mere thirteen years after his coronation, Alexander the Great was dead.
7. He changed the course of Western civilization
Alexander’s conquests established an empire from the Balkan Peninsula to the Indus River. Greek became the language of the upper class from Macedon to Persia, creating a new path for social advancement. After his death, Alexander’s empire was divided up between his generals, whose successor-states came to be known as the Hellenistic (or “Greek-ish”) kingdoms. In the coming centuries, those states would be swallowed up by the Romans and the Arabs, who were inspired by the greatness of Greek culture. It was Alexander whose conquests created the Greek-speaking world that would provide the foundation for the civilizations to come.
It goes without saying that the US Army is continuously testing and adding new weapons to its arsenal.
For example, the Army recently began to replace the M9 and M11 pistols with the M17 and M18, but has only delivered them to soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Therefore, the pistols are not yet standard issue.
While the Army continues to stay ahead of the game, it undoubtedly has a multitude of weapons for its soldiers.
And we compiled a list of all these standard issue weapons operable by individual soldiers below, meaning that we didn’t include, for example, the Javelin anti-tank missile system because it takes more than one person to operate, nor did we include nonstandard issue weapons.
Check them out:
The M1911 is a .45 caliber sidearm that the Army has used since World War I, and has even begun phasing out.
The Army started replacing the M1911 with the 9mm M9 in the mid-1980s.
The M11 is another 9mm pistol that replaced the M1911, and is itself being replaced by the M17 and M18 pistols.
The M500 is a 12-gauge shotgun that usually comes with a five-round capacity tube. The Army began issuing shotguns to soldiers during World War I to help clear trenches, and has been issuing the M500 since the 1980s.
The 12-gauge M590 is very similar to the M500 — both of which are made by Mossberg — except for little specifications, such as triggers, barrel length and so forth.
M26 modular shotgun accessory
The M26 is “basically a secondary weapon slung underneath an M4 to allow the operator to switch between 5.56 and 12-gauge rounds quickly without taking his eyes off the target or his hands off of his rifle,” according to the US Army.
M14 enhanced battle rifle
The M14, which shoots a 7.62mm round, has been heavily criticized, and the Army is currently phasing it out. Read more about that here.
The M4 shoots 5.56mm rounds and is a shortened version of the M16A2.
The M16A2 shoots the same round and has a similar muzzle velocity as the M4. One of the main differences, though, is that it has a longer barrel length.
M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher
The M203 shoots 40mm grenades and can be fitted under the M4 and M16, but the Army is currently phasing it out for the M320.
M249 squad automatic weapon
The SAW shoots a 5.56mm round like the M4 and M16, but it’s heavier and has a greater muzzle velocity and firing range.
M240B medium machine gun.
The M240B is a belt-fed machine gun that shoots 7.62mm rounds, but is even heavier and has a greater max range than the SAW.
There are multiple versions of the M240, and two more of those versions are Army standard issue.
M240L medium machine gun
The M240L is a much lighter version of the M240B, weighing 22.3 pounds, versus the 240B’s 27.1 pounds.
M240H medium machine gun
The M240H is an upgraded version of the M240D, which can be mounted on vehicles and aircraft.
M110 semi-automatic sniper system
The M110 shoots a 7.62x51mm round with an effective firing range of more than 2,600 feet. But the Army is currently phasing it out for the Heckler & Koch G28.
M2010 enhanced sniper rifle
The M2010 shoots a .30 caliber, or 7.62x67mm round with an even greater effective firing range than the M110 at nearly 4,000 feet.
M107 long-range sniper rifle
The M107 shoots an incredibly large 12.7x99mm round with an equally incredibly large effective firing range of more than 6,500 feet.
M2 machine gun
The M2 shoots .50 caliber rounds with an effective firing range of more than 22,000 feet. It’s also very heavy, weighing 84 pounds.
M320 grenade launcher (stand-alone)
The M320 is the Army’s new 40mm grenade launcher, which can be fitted under a rifle or used as a stand-alone launcher. The M203 could too, but rarely was.
The M320 reportedly is more accurate and has niftier features, like side-loading mechanisms and better grips.
MK19 grenade machine gun
The MK19 is a 40mm automatic grenade launcher that can mount on tripods and armored vehicles. It has an effective firing range of more than 7,000 feet, compared to the M320‘s 1,100 feet.
M3 Carl Gustaf (MAAWS)
The M3 Carl Gustaf is an 84mm recoilless rifle system that can shoot a variety of high-explosive rounds at a variety of targets, including armored vehicles.
And this graphic, updated in February 2018, and which the Army gave to Business Insider, shows all the current and future standard issue weapons.
All images featured in this article are courtesy of the Department of Defense.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Marine infantrymen thrive on hardship. Whether it’s training and deploying to austere environments, learning to do more with less, or figuring out how to catch Z’s anywhere, grunt life in the infantry is very different from the rest of the Marine Corps.
There are also some problems specific to the infantry community. We came up with five, but if you can think of some more, leave a comment.
1. Physical training often consists of “death runs” and they feel just like it sounds.
Physical training is a part of being a Marine, but it’s much more demanding as an infantryman. Life in the grunts usually means waking up early to go on a “death run,” which isn’t that far off the mark. While the Marine physical fitness test (PFT) has a timed three-mile run, grunts can expect to go way beyond that.
On “death runs” that I’ve personally been on — also known jokingly as “fun runs” — our platoon commander or platoon sergeant would take us on runs over the seven-mile mark at an insane pace. And for extra fun, sometimes we wore gas masks. Gotta love it.
2. Your platoon commander is guaranteed to get you completely lost at some point.
When he’s not running you into the dirt, your platoon commander is supposed to be planning missions and leading. But sometimes that means leading you into who-knows-where. It’s a running joke that second lieutenants are terrible at land navigation, but it’s not that far off. He’s guaranteed to get you lost at least once. Let’s just hope it only happens in training.
3. I hope you’re ready for the non-grunt company First Sergeant who wants to “get back to the basics.”
Infantry Marines hold the 0300 military occupational specialty, as do their officers with 0302. But since company first sergeants perform mostly administrative duty (compared to Master Sergeants who remain in their field), they aren’t required to hold the infantry MOS. Although plenty of them do come up from the infantry ranks, some come from completely unrelated fields.
Grunt first sergeants are usually focused on the mission of the infantry (locating, closing with, and destroying the enemy), but first sergeants outside of the MOS sometimes focus on “getting back to the basics” — aka cleaning the barracks, holding uniform inspections, and marching properly. These are all good things for junior Marines to be exposed to in their careers. Just don’t expect them to like it.
4. Excuse me sir, do you have a moment to talk about prickly heat?
Training in the field can lead to some weird physical problems for grunts. In humid places, Marines can expect something called “prickly heat” — a very annoying rash that develops after sweating profusely. When you’re out in the field for days or weeks and not able to take a shower, that tends to happen quite a bit.
Then of course, there’s that terrible smell you develop. But luckily, you’re around a bunch of other people who smell terrible so you don’t even notice. Great success!
5. Range 400.
This legendary training range is a rite of passage for infantry Marines. With machine guns firing over their heads and mortars dropping down in support, grunts rush forward to attack a fortified “enemy” position in 29 Palms, California. It sounds awesome, and it is. It’s also an ass kicker.
“It’s the only range in the Marine Corps where overhead fire is authorized,” Capt. Andy S. Watson explained in a Marine Corps news release. “We are also granted a waiver to close within 250 meters of 81mm mortar fire. Normally, it is only 400 meters. Therefore, Range 400 gives Marines a realistic training experience of closing close into fires. They can’t get that anywhere else in the Marine Corps.”
So check out our list of stupid mistakes boots immediately regret during that special adjustment-to-active-duty period:
1. Talking back to a superior
Sometimes you feel the need to tell off someone higher ranking than you just to show your bros how tough you are. In many cases, the punishment given for that action can be worse than the crime committed.
Someone’s getting extra duty (Images via Giphy)
2. Marrying just for the benefits
Sure, the extra pay to buy beer for your friends sounds good now, but there are so many things that can go wrong right after saying the words, “I do.”
3. Sleeping with a grenade for your friend
We do a lot for our military brothers and sisters; this can include sleeping with someone’s friend as a personal favor.
This one is rarely a repeat mistake…
4. Over-sleeping and missing formation
It happens quite frequently, especially after a long night of drinking. I hope that sleep was worth it, because you’re gonna get reamed.
Being super cute won’t get you out of trouble every time. (Images via Giphy)
5. Getting caught with someone hiding in your trunk
After a set time, most military bases won’t allow people to enter the front gate without proper ID. So there’s only one way to sneak that special someone through security — stow them in the trunk.
Hopefully, your date will fit. (Images via Giphy)
6. Negligent discharge
Everybody wants to look cool while carrying a weapon around. But don’t be the one who accidentally fires the damn thing.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re prepared to fire. (Images via Giphy)
7. When you break something expensive because you don’t know how to work it
It happens, but now you either have to man up and face the situation or cover the mistake up somehow.
War is the subject of some of the most powerful movies ever made. But Hollywood has long been borrowing its inspiration from an older medium – books – and its war movies are no exception. While some war movies are original efforts, like 2017’s Dunkirk (though The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord is a fantastic book on the subject — even if the movie wasn’t based on it), many of the greatest war movies of all time have been based on novels or nonfiction books.
Some of the books that have inspired war adaptations are considered classics, and others are too often overlooked. But all are worth reading, and we’ve brought together some of the very best ones below. Here are the superb books behind some of the best war adaptations Hollywood has ever made.
Craig’s nonfiction account of one of the most dramatic moments of the Second World War was the inspiration for a movie made nearly 30 years after its publication. Enemy at the Gates (2001) used multiple accounts to create its story, but both the movie and this book capture the dark drama and tension of the Battle of Stalingrad.
2. From Here to Eternity by James Jones
From Here to Eternity (1953) is one of Hollywood’s all-time classics, and it owes its existence to the novel of the same name written by James Jones. The story centers around the men stationed at Pearl Harbor and reaches its climax with the infamous surprise attack launched by the Japanese. Themes of love and friendship mix with the horror of the attack in a story that lingers. Jones’ sequel, The Thin Red Line, focuses on a fictionalized battle within the Battle of Guadalcanal and was adapted into a film starring Sean Penn and Adrien Brody in 1998.
3. Casualties of War by Daniel Lang
The roots of Casualties of War (1989) are found in Daniel Lang’s work – not just in his book Casualties of War, but also in the 1969 article he wrote for The New Yorker that eventually led to the full-length work. Like the movie and the article, Lang’s book tells the story of a wartime atrocity committed by American servicemen in Vietnam. The kidnapping, rape, and murder of Phan Thi Mao is difficult to read about and impossible to forget.
4. We Were Soldiers Once… and Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway
We Were Soldiers (2002) is an adaptation of this nonfiction book, widely considered to be one of the great modern military histories ever written. The book is a collaboration between Galloway, a war journalist, and Moore, a lieutenant colonel at the time of the Battle of Ia Drang, which is featured prominently in the book.
War correspondent Richard Tregaskis’ clear, vernacular prose and careful reporting work make his account of his time on Guadalcanal one of the most readable journalistic records of World War II. The book offered insight into the relationship between the Marines on Guadalcanal, and its uplifting moments of camaraderie helped make it popular in the U.S. as the war raged on. It was swiftly adapted into a film, which was also released before the end of World War II.
6. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness is unique on this list in part because it is not, strictly speaking, a war novel. Conrad’s book is about the soul of a man in the in the Congo at the height of colonization. Kurtz, a European ivory trader, has changed dramatically during his years in the jungle. Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and screenwriter John Milius saw parallels to the changing souls of men at war and adapted the novella into the classic, Apocalypse Now.
Fascinating, impressive, and sometimes troubling, the autobiography that Chris Kyle wrote with Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice is an essential documentation of American warrior culture. Kyle is the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, with 160 confirmed kills. Yet some reports have suggested that he embellished his military record in this book, which also led to Kyle losing a defamation lawsuit. Kyle was later killed by a shooter at a civilian gun range, but his book survives as a fascinating primary document – more useful and important, in some ways, than the popular film adaptation.
8. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
All Quiet on the Western Front is a grim and moving novel. It is a fictionalized account of Remarque’s time in the German army late in World War I. Its unflinching portrayal of the evils of war and its underlying tones of survivor’s guilt make it one of the most honest books ever written about war. It’s also one of the best. It was adapted into a film in 1930, which went on to win Academy Awards for Best Director and Outstanding Production.
Jodie is a piece of military folklore that everyone loves to hate. He’s the guy or girl who takes advantage of military deployments by going after the spouses at home. Here are five of the reasons that troops absolutely hate Jodie.
1. Jodie is a player.
Jodie is most famous for stealing away the spouses, girlfriends, and boyfriends of service members. While troops are fighting the good fight against America’s enemies, this smooth criminal is keeping their beds very, very warm.
2. He could be anyone.
It would be great to believe there is only one, but the truth is that Jodie is everyone with low enough morals to swoop in while the troops are deployed or in training. Guys in every bar, girls on the street, even friends and family of service members can hear the Jodie call and start acting terribly.
3. He’s doing way more than just hooking up with lonely spouses.
While Jodie may be most famous for slipping into vacant beds, that’s not all he’s doing. He takes Cadillacs, girlfriends, sisters, food, and pretty much anything else not nailed down at home.
He’d probably take the homes as well if he could figure out how to do it.
4. Jodie has been pulling this sh-t for generations.
Jodie was called out in World War II cadences, so he’s been slipping through military base windows for at least that long. He’s still going strong today and will likely be a problem for every recruit who ever joins.
5. He comes back, deployment after deployment.
Unlike those who fought in World War II, modern service members rotate in and out of deployment zones. But, they don’t get home enough to keep Jodie at bay. He may run away when troops get home, but he slips back in every time they leave for another rotation.
The Civil War is cemented in history as the deadliest war fought on American soil. For four years, the Unioners of the North fought the Confederates of the South, hoping to dismantle the institution of slavery. This led to the loss of over 600,000 lives and, ultimately, the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865.
Thousands of Civil War books have been written since the first shot rang out in 1861. Though no single book can attempt to cover the endless tragedies or important events that occurred over those four years, the following works add valuable new perspectives to the narrative. Between fictionalized accounts and battle retellings to soldiers’ eye-opening diaries, this list will satisfy any Civil War history buff.
1. Dee Brown on the Civil War
By Dee Brown
This trilogy focuses on the some of the Civil War’s most influential but lesser-known figures. In Grierson’s Raid, aformer music teacher leads almost 2,000 Union troopers from Tennessee to Louisiana. Their attack diverts attention from General Grant’s crossing of the Mississippi—an instrumental distraction for the subsequent Siege of Vicksburg.
The Bold Cavaliers stars Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, whose cavalrymen wreak havoc on Alabama. Meanwhile, The Galvanized Yankees tells the widely unknown story of a group of captured Confederate soldiers. Faced with the prospect of serving time in a prison camp or in the Union Army, they choose the latter. When they’re tapped to guard outposts in the Western frontier, their experiences have profound effects on their own loyalties—and make for a fascinating Civil War story.
2. Battle Cry of Freedom
By James. M. McPherson
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book charts the period between the 1846 outbreak of the Mexican-American War to Robert E. Lee’s surrender in 1865. Author James McPherson examines the economic, political, and social factors that led to the Civil War, particularly how small, violent outbursts evolved into America’s deadliest war. Both sides believed they were fighting for freedom—though their definitions of this freedom differed greatly. With in-depth analyses of nearly every major event, Battle Cry of Freedom is an indispensable addition to any history buff’s collection.
3. The Civil War: A Narrative
By Shelby Foote
In the first book of Foote’s three-volume series, the author opens with Jefferson Davis’ resignation from the US Senate. The Democratic politician was destined for another, bigger role: the first presidency of the Confederate States. So begins an extensively researched account of the events—and war—that followed, which culminates in the Union’s victory four years later. Maps are a welcome addition to the narrative, providing useful visuals of important battle sites and travel routes.
4. Mary Chesnut’s Diary
By Mary Chesnut
A native of South Carolina, Mary Chesnut kept a detailed account of her life as an upper class woman during the Civil War. Though her husband was a senator and a Confederate officer, Mary secretly hated the institution of slavery. From her reflections on witnessing the first shots fired in Charleston to hearing parts of her husband’s meetings, Chesnut’s diary is one of the few complete firsthand accounts of the war written by a non-soldier.
5. For Cause and Comrades
By James M. McPherson
After countless bloody battles and widespread death, how did Civil War soldiers find the will to keep fighting? In For Case and Comrades, James McPherson explores what drove them—namely, their unshakeable belief in the necessity of their actions. For both sides, victory was worth everything.
McPherson analyzed over 250 diaries and 25,000 letters to truly understand the soldiers’ thought processes. He was shocked by their eloquence and honesty, and the frequency with which they wrote of their daily lives. Their writings reveal how they were not just hardened men of war—but brothers, sons, fathers, and husbands who simply wanted to go home with their dignity in tact. The result is a humanizing study of war, and of the men who fought unwaveringly for their ideals.
6. The Black Flower
By Howard Bahr
As a war veteran and novelist, Bahr was a master of well-paced, engaging Civil War fiction—and lucky for us, he wrote three books. The first installment in his Civil War trilogy is The Black Flower, a New York Times Notable Book. When a 26-year-old Confederate soldier is wounded, the bond he forms with a medic gives him hope for a brighter, post-war future.
The Year of Jubilo sees a similar hero: Gawain Harper, who only fights in the Confederate army to be with the woman he loves. His return home is not as charmed as he anticipated when he discovers the rebels’ plot to incite new warfare—which Gawain must stop.
In the final book, The Judas Field, Civil War veteran Cass accompanies a friend to Tennessee, where they’ll retrieve the bodies of her brother and father. As they pass through devastated Southern towns, Cass cannot escape his haunting memories of the battlefield. All three novels explore the violence of warfare, the endurance of hope, and the lengths to which men and women fought to return to their loved ones.
7. The North and South Trilogy
By John Jakes
In the trilogy that has sold millions of copies, John Jakes examines how war can disintegrate even the closest of bonds. While training at West Point, Southerner Orry Mains quickly befriends Northerner George Hazard. But when the Civil War places them on opposite sides of the battlefield, tensions reverberate through their relationship, their families, and the rest of Jakes’ bestselling trilogy. Part war story, part family drama, the books were adapted into a wildly popular miniseries starring Patrick Swayze and James Read.
8. Murder at Manassas
By Michael Kilian
With the Civil War still in its earliest days, Virginian Harrison Raines is torn between his abhorrence of slavery and his love for his home state. He is also in love with actress Caitlin Howard—though her affection for John Wilkes Booth (yes, that one) poses a serious threat. Raines’ personal dramas reach new heights when, after taking Caitlin to watch the Battle of Bull Run, he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery involving a wrongly-disgraced major. What ensues is a fast-paced whodunit full of rich historical detail and real-life figures like Abe Lincoln.
9. Cold Mountain
By Charles Frazier
Nothing, not even war, can prevent Inman from reaching his true love, Ada, in North Carolina. After being gravely wounded in battle, Inman deserts the Confederate army, determined to return to the woman he left behind. As he journeys across the ravaged American landscape, Ada struggles to restore her late father’s farm back to its former glory. But with only a few moments shared between them, have Inman and Ada pinned their hopes on a foolish dream?
Frazier’s National Book Award-winning novel is based on stories he heard from his great-great-grandfather as a child. Gorgeously written and unrelentingly heartbreaking, Cold Mountain is at once an unforgettable tale of war and a deeply moving love story.
10. The Killer Angels
By Michael Shaara
Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel recreates the bloodiest battle in American history: Gettysburg. Over the four days of fighting, countless men died—men with families, men with futures, men who might have done great things for the nation. Shaara imagines who these men, whether Northern or Southern, may have been.
Told through the perspectives of multiple historical figures, the story begins with a very confident Robert E. Lee as he and his troops travel to Pennsylvania. But instead of finding the victory they envisioned, Lee and his fellow Confederates are demoralized by the battle—and many know they’re unlikely to win the war, or even see its end.
11. Cain at Gettysburg
By Ralph Peters
Another Gettysburg-centered novel, Cain at Gettysburg is a fictional retelling of what is considered “the turning point of the Civil War.” It follows a misfit group of characters—including desperate generals, a German refugee, and an Irishman who fled the famine—as they fight for their cause, unsure of their futures. Compelling and jam-packed with action, Cain at Gettysburg is a fascinating tale of battle, bravery, and brotherhood that no lover of Civil War history should miss.
12. Gone with the Wind
By Margaret Mitchell
If you ever had access to the Turner Classic Movie channel, then you’ve probably heard of the film version of Gone with the Wind. But before Vivien Leigh starred as Scarlett O’Hara, there was Margaret Mitchell’s epic book, which offers a more detailed look at Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. At the center, of course, is Scarlett—a Southern belle and the daughter of a wealthy planter—who is forced to change her spoiled ways once war divides the country. Though her enduring relationship with Rhett Butler is considered one of the greatest love stories of all time, the novel is also one of the best portraits of the effects of war on a place and its people.
When it comes to curb appeal, few airplanes in history can match the look of the SR-71 “Blackbird.” And nothing in the Air Force’s inventory — past or present — can beat its signature performance characteristics. Here are 11 photos that show why the Blackbird remains the standard of aviation cool:
The SR-71 “Blackbird” was a high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed’s legendary “Skunk Works” team in the 1960s.
The Blackbird was capable of speeds exceeding Mach 3.0. The fuselage was designed to expand at high speeds, which caused the airplane to leak fuel on the ground because the panels fit very loosely when jet was parked.
The Blackbird’s service ceiling (max altitude) was 85,000 feet, which forced crews to wear pressure suits and astronaut-type helmets.
SR-71s were manned by two aviators: a pilot and a Reconnaissance Systems Officer who monitored surveillance systems from the rear cockpit.
Only 32 Blackbirds were manufactured, and they were in service from 1964-1998. Despite over 4,000 combat sorties, none of the planes were lost due to enemy fire. However, 12 of them were destroyed in mishaps.
Claustrophobic types need not apply. The narrow space between canopy rails didn’t give crews much room to move around. The outer windscreen of the cockpit was made of quartz and was fused ultrasonically to the titanium frame. The temperature of the exterior of the windscreen reached 600 °F during a mission.
Nothing ‘glass’ about this cockpit. The SR-71 presented the pilot with a dizzying array of steam gauges and switches. And visibility out the front wasn’t the greatest.
Although not technically a stealth aircraft, the SR-71 was hard for enemy SAM systems to spot because it was designed with a low radar cross section in mind.
Because of its high approach speed the Blackbird used a drag chute to slow down on the runway after touchdown.
Aerial refueling capability allowed the SR-71 to perform long-range, high endurance missions.
The Blackbird still holds the record for fastest air-breathing manned aircraft (a record it broke in 1976). Although the SR-71 is no longer in service, the legend lives on.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
A security forces Airman secures the outside of a hardened facility after neutralizing the opposing force during a combat training course on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Capt. Alexander Goldfein, Thunderbird 3, and Maj. Jason Curtis, Thunderbird 5, fly above the U.S. Air Force Academy grounds in Colorado Springs.
Sailors assist Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operating combat rubber raiding craft as they approach the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Devorris Harris mans the bridge helm while transiting out of Victoria Harbor aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).
An Army chaplain candidate in the Basic Officer Leaders Course and his assistant negotiate the day infiltration course at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Knock, Knock. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, “The Lava Dogs,” stack up for door breaching with a water charge at Lava Viper aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.
Night Crew. U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, perform post-flight maintenance on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD 23) in the Philippine Sea.
The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails into Norfolk, Va., as part of Norfolk Harborfest 2015. The Eagle is a 295-foot barque sailing vessel and the only operational commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. military.
A Coast Guard crewman stands at the ready on a 25-foot Response Boat – Small while watches the USS Chosin, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as it arrives for the Portland, Ore., annual Rose Festival.