Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is a legend among Marines, and he’s credited much of his success on the battlefield to reading.
As a result of his constant quest for learning and reading the histories of past battles, “the enemy has paid when I had the opportunity to go against them, and I believe that many of my young guys lived because I didn’t waste their lives because I didn’t have the vision in my mind of how to destroy the enemy at least cost to our guys and to the innocents on the battlefields,” Mattis famously wrote in an email to a colleague.
Now, thanks to a recent interview with History Net, we know what’s at the top of his reading list. Here’s what he told the site:
Colin Gray from the University of Reading is the most near-faultless strategist alive. Then there’s Sir Hew Strachan from Oxford, and Williamson Murray, the American. Those three are probably the leading present-day military theorists. You’ve got to know Sun-tzu and Carl von Clausewitz, of course. The Army was always big on Clausewitz, the Prussian; the Navy on Alfred Thayer Mahan, the American; and the Air Force on Giulio Douhet, the Italian. But the Marine Corps has always been more Eastern-oriented. I am much more comfortable with Sun-tzu and his approach to warfare.
The full interview with Mattis is pretty interesting. Check it out here