Read like a warrior with these military books

Jessica Evans Avatar
military books
U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, 652nd Regional Support Group.

Today we’re talking about the best military books of all time. That’s right, books. To help you decide what to read, let’s break down possible reading selections into three categories – history, strategy and memoir. What else is there to know how to read like a warrior?


If you want to know how we got here, you have to look to the past. The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a classic that’s been around for over 2,000 years. It may have been written in ancient China, but the lessons about strategy and tactics still apply today. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to understand military history.

While The Art of War is undoubtedly a classic, there are many other books that should be included in the history section of the best military books of all time. One of the most influential books in modern military history is The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler. This book provides a detailed account of Napoleon Bonaparte’s military campaigns and strategies, as well as his personal life and political career.

Another important book in military history is A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan. This book recounts the events of Operation Market Garden, a massive Allied airborne operation that aimed to secure a bridgehead over the Rhine River during World War II. It’s a gripping account of the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers involved, as well as the failures of leadership and planning that ultimately led to the operation’s failure.

1776 by David McCullough is another important book in military history. This book tells the story of the American Revolution in 1776, a crucial year in the war’s outcome. McCullough’s narrative style brings to life the personalities and events that shaped the early years of the United States.

Lastly, The Face of Battle by John Keegan is a groundbreaking book that examines the experience of soldiers in three pivotal battles throughout history: Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme. Keegan’s analysis of the psychological and emotional impact of battle on individual soldiers is a valuable addition to any understanding of military history.


Alright, buckle up buttercups because we’re talking about strategy now. And if you’re serious about climbing the ranks, you better be ready to dig deep into On War by Carl von Clausewitz. This book is like the holy grail of strategy and has been dubbed the Bible of War for good reason.

Now, fair warning, this isn’t a light read. It’s dense, it’s heavy and it’s long. It’s like the military version of War and Peace, except with more violence and fewer love triangles. But if you’re serious about understanding the ins and outs of military strategy, this is the book for you.

And let’s be real, if you’re trying to get promoted, you can’t afford to skip out on On War. Clausewitz was a Prussian general who lived in the 19th century, but his ideas about war and politics are still studied today. That’s right, we’re talking about a guy who’s been dead for over 180 years and is still making waves in the military world. If that’s not a testament to the importance of this book, what is?


The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander isn’t exactly about strategy, but hear us out! This book is all about changing your perspective, and how doing so can help you be more creative and effective in your decision-making. And as we all know, creativity and effectiveness are pretty key when it comes to strategy.

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt is all about, you guessed it, strategy. But what sets it apart is how accessible and practical it is. Rumelt breaks down the elements of good strategy and gives plenty of real-world examples of both good and bad strategies in action. If you’re looking for a book that will help you actually apply strategic thinking to your work, this is a great choice.

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries might seem like an odd choice but stick with us. While it’s ostensibly a book about starting a business, The Lean Startup is all about building a strategy that’s responsive to feedback and constantly evolving. And really, isn’t that what all good strategies should be? If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on strategic thinking, this book is definitely worth a read.

american sniper How to read like a warrior
American Sniper by Chris Kyle.


Let’s talk about some memoirs that will give you a glimpse into the real experiences of our service members in the last 20 years. These books will take you beyond the glorified version of war and give you an honest look at the challenges, triumphs, and struggles of those who served.

First up, we have American Sniper by Chris Kyle. This book is the real-life account of a Navy SEAL sniper who served in Iraq. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a gripping read that will give you a sense of what it’s like to be in the middle of a warzone. From intense firefights to dealing with the psychological toll of combat, Kyle doesn’t hold back in this book.

Next on the list is Red Platoon by Clinton Romesha. This memoir tells the story of the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, where a small group of soldiers held off an attack from hundreds of Taliban fighters. Romesha, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle, gives a detailed account of the fight and the sacrifices that were made. It’s an inspiring story of courage and brotherhood that will leave you in awe.

If you’re looking for a memoir with a touch of humor, then Terminal Lance: The White Donkey by Maximilian Uriarte is the book for you. Uriarte is a Marine veteran who turned his experiences into a hilarious comic strip called Terminal Lance. This book is a collection of his comics and tells the story of a young Marine’s deployment to Iraq. It’s a refreshing take on military life that will have you laughing out loud.

Bonus suggestions – Commander’s reading list and promotion boards

Now, let’s talk about the commander’s reading list. Every year, the military puts out a list of books that all officers should read. You’ll probably find the list collected together at your installation’s library. One book that’s always on the list is The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China. This is a collection of seven books that were written in China over 2,000 years ago. They cover everything from strategy to logistics to leadership. If you want to be a well-rounded officer, reading these books is a must.

Now, if you’re looking for some books to read for promotion boards, we’ve got you covered. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek is a great book about leadership and how to create a culture of trust and cooperation. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to be a successful leader in the military.

Another great book for promotion boards is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. It’s all about taking responsibility for your actions and leading by example. If you want to show your superiors that you’re ready for more responsibility, reading Extreme Ownership is a great way to do it.

So, there you have it, the best military books of all time neatly categorized for your reading pleasure. Whether you’re a history buff, a strategic mastermind, or just looking for a peek into the real experiences of our service members, there’s a book on this list for you. Just remember, reading might make you look like a nerd, but hey, at least you’ll be a nerd with a killer bookshelf. And if anyone gives you a hard time, just remember what Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Or, you know, just throw the book at them.