10 Books On The Courage And Sacrifice Of Military Service

Whether you've served in the military yourself, are related to a soldier, or are simply interested in learning more about those who fight for their country, the ten books listed here might pique your interest. Ranging from works written by contemporary soldiers looking back on recent wars to biographies of historical figures and studies on past wars, these books explore what it means to serve. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Books About the Military: Our 10 Picks

Title Author(s)
1. 12 Strong Doug Stanton
2. Legend Eric Blehm
3. Not Forgotten Neil Oliver
4. In the Name of Rome Adrian Goldsworthy
5. Soldiers First Dave Cullen
6. American Boys Louise Esola
7. Service Marcus Luttrell with James D. Hornfischer
8. Redeployment Phil Klay
9. Omar Bradley Jim DeFelice
10. Spearhead Adam Makos

5 Ways to Get the News

If you want to know what's going on in conflicts overseas, it's important to stay informed. Here are a few sources that can help you keep up-to-date on global events:

  1. NPR: Radio programs, podcasts, and online articles
  2. The New York Times: Print & online journalism
  3. BBC: Good source for international news
  4. The Wall Street Journal: Breaking news and economic coverage
  5. Associated Press: Investigative reporting and trusted facts

Nonprofit Organizations That Support Veterans

The Challenge of Being a Soldier

In Depth

The battlefield is a setting perfect for dramatic fiction, but also the source of some of the most gripping true stories. Whether you're after a deep dive about important moments in American history, or want a short story with interesting characters, if you're looking for captivating tales of those who dedicate their lives to military service, check out these ten titles, presented here in no particular order.

At #1 we have "12 Strong" by Doug Stanton. Shortly after the events of 9/11, twelve men volunteered to be covertly deployed to Afghanistan. Despite being outnumbered by enemy fighters, the team was able to liberate Mazar-e Sharif, a key military location, from the Taliban's grip. Even when they thought they were done, an ambush forced them to fight for their lives. Their triumph stands as an incredible combat achievement, and this book, previously published as "Horse Soldiers," tells their story in gripping detail.

Our #2 entry is "Legend" by Eric Blehm. On May 2, 1968, a U.S. Special Forces team was tasked with finding evidence of the North Vietnamese using Cambodian territory as part of their supply line. However, the group had been unknowingly deployed into a jungle housing an enemy base, and soon the men were trapped. Green Beret Roy Benavidez responded to their distress call, suffering incredible wounds as he ran through enemy ranks to ensure that every survivor was saved and lifted to safety.

On May 2, 1968, a U.S. Special Forces team was tasked with finding evidence of the North Vietnamese using Cambodian territory as part of their supply line.

Coming in at #3 is "Not Forgotten" by Neil Oliver, which provides an in-depth look at what the First World War meant for Britain. Beyond the country's participation on the battlefield, Oliver outlines how the conflict changed British society. Sweeping changes at home brought women's rights and equality into the spotlight. At the same time, traditional family roles were in flux as many children were pulled from schools and sent to work in the face of a growing labor shortage. Mothers, too, had to assume more work to make ends meet. It was this state of chaos that helped shape modern Britain as we know it.

Our #4 pick is "In the Name of Rome" by Adrian Goldsworthy. Covering the entire history of the Roman empire, Goldsworthy analyzes the generals who led Rome's armies to victory and conquest, helping to build an empire whose political and cultural influence can still be felt today. A spotlight is cast on the tactics they used that would ultimately change the way wars would be fought even after the fall of the empire itself. History buffs will appreciate the level of detail Goldsworthy gives, recreating battles and retelling the lives of these generals.

For #5 we have "Soldiers First" by Dave Cullen. Spanning three decades across multiple combat zones, this is the true story of two gay soldiers, Brett and Drake, and their experiences serving in the military before, during, and after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Their stories highlight the complexities of serving as soldiers while being forced to remain silent about who they are. As they rise through the ranks, attitudes towards homosexuality change at home and within the military, as same-sex marriage is legalized and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is eventually repealed.

Their stories highlight the complexities of serving as soldiers while being forced to remain silent about who they are.

Our #6 choice is "American Boys" by Louise Esola. The names of many soldiers who died serving America in the Vietnam War are memorialized in Washington D.C., but the seventy-four man crew of the USS Frank E. Evans, who died when the ship was rammed near the South China Sea, were not well documented by the U.S. government. Journalist Louise Esola relates the events leading to the loss of those men in an attempt to make sure they are remembered for their bravery and sacrifice.

At #7 is "Service" by Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer. Luttrell, a Navy SEAL, reflects on his time in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to investigate the idea of warrior brotherhood. Many people gave their lives to save him and protect those back home, and this book aims to examine the bonds that create such loyalty. Set against the backdrop of Ramadi, the deadliest city in Al Anbar Province, this heartfelt account pays tribute to those who fought with Luttrell by highlighting the courage and dedication it takes to put your life on the line for someone else.

Our #8 pick is "Redeployment" by Phil Klay. These short stories, written by a veteran, portray the psychological challenges faced by servicemen, both those stationed abroad as well as those who have returned home, and the long-lasting effects military duty can have on individuals. One of the book's central themes is how disconnected some soldiers feel trying to readjust to civilian life. Such is the case in the title story, wherein a man finds it difficult to ease back into domestic life after serving, but doesn't know how to express it to those close to him.

Such is the case in the title story, wherein a man finds it difficult to ease back into domestic life after serving, but doesn't know how to express it to those close to him.

Coming in at #9 is "Omar Bradley" by Jim DeFelice. Not only does this biography explore Bradley's journey from grunt to five-star general, it also makes the case that he deserves much of the credit for America's victories against Germany in World War II. Unlike the more well-known General Patton, Bradley's strong sense of humility led to his assuming a quiet life once he retired, perhaps explaining why he isn't as prominent in the public consciousness. DeFelice's meticulous research of his subject's life informs a detailed portrait of the man's heroism and dedication, despite his remaining unknown to many Americans.

Finally, at #10 is "Spearhead" by Adam Makos. By combining a series of interviews with historical documents, the author retells the story of American tank gunner Clarence Smoyer, who was inside the Pershing tank that was caught on film during an epic showdown in Germany. While the text is rich with details of tank combat, the heart of the book is Smoyer's 2013 return to Cologne, the site of his most famous encounter, to meet face to face with Gustav Schaefer, his enemy from that same fight. Their meeting exhibits how time can change even the most bitter of feelings.