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"Your best military history books" Topic

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2,116 hits since 6 Mar 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Haitiansoldier Inactive Member06 Mar 2017 9:18 a.m. PST

What are your favourite military history books you own? Do you have all them all on the same shelf? I have a couple dozen that are the best I have ever read. They are the majority of books I own, and I was able to put them all on the same shelf. This list is long, but I wonder if you own any of these titles as well.
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion
Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles
A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn
Omaha Beach Joseph Balkoski
Thermopylae-The Battle for the West
The Guns of Independence: Siege of Yorktown, 1781
September Hope: American Side of a Bridge Too Far
Shiloh 1862 by Winston Groom
How Can Man Die Better: The Secrets of Isandlwana Revealed
Long Obstinate and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse
The Fredericksburg Campaign by Frank O'Reilly
Brandywine by Michael Harris
Chancellorsville by Stephen Sears
Landscape Turned Red
Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge
Two Armies on the Rio Grande
Aachen: The U.S. Army's Battle for Charlemagne's City in World War II
Fatal Sunday
The Blood of Heroes by James Donovan
Four Days in September: The Battle of Teutoburg
Braddock's Defeat by David Preston
Northern Armageddon: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
Iwo Jima 1945 Osprey
Wabash 1791 Osprey

Rich Bliss06 Mar 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

I'll give you my top two

A Time for Trumpets
The Washing of the Spears

They are not on the same shelf but rather place with others from the same period

Duncan Adams06 Mar 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

Anything by Bruce Catton, followed by a bunch of other good stuff.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 9:31 a.m. PST

My books are somewhat organized by topic/time period (as well as shelf height), so a book about WWII would not be with a book about the F&IW unless it was a case of lack of space and the books are just stacked on top of each other. Ospreys get their own pile and are kept separate from regular books.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 9:33 a.m. PST

Boldly They Rode: A History Of The First Colorado Regiment Of Volunteers by Ovando James Hollister

The Bitter Woods: The Battle of the Bulge
by John S. D. Eisenhower

The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat by Bob Drury, Tom Clavin

Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member06 Mar 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

Lots,but the one that immediately springs to mind is Washington's Crossing. Or really, anything by Fischer.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian06 Mar 2017 9:55 a.m. PST

For WW-II: my copies of the "Green Books"

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 10:09 a.m. PST

Cheeseman Auxillia of the Roman army.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 10:24 a.m. PST

Beat me to it.
Washington's Crossing

jdginaz06 Mar 2017 10:34 a.m. PST

@Haitiansoldier, good list. Since you liked "September Hope" I would recommend other books by McManus,

"The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach"

"Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible"

"The Americans at Normandy: The Summer of 1944--The American War from the Normandy Beaches to Falaise"

"The Deadly Brotherhood: The American Combat Soldier in World War II"

nukesnipe Inactive Member06 Mar 2017 10:35 a.m. PST

Anything by James Hornefischer.

"The Fleet the Gods Forgot" and "The Ghost that died at Sunda Strait" by Winslow.

"Flying Fortress" by Jablonski.

"Six Frigates" by Toll.

"Silent Victory" and "Hitler's U-Boats" by Clay Blair.


Scott Chisholm

coopman Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 10:46 a.m. PST

My books are organized by war/periods.

Personal logo taskforce58 Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 11:04 a.m. PST

"The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" by James D. Hornfischer – the story of escort carrier group TAFFY 3 during the Battle off Samar.

"Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway" by Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully – The Battle of Midway from the Japanese point of view, with extensive use of Japanese primary sources.

"Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea" by Robert K. Massie

"Clashes: Air combat over North Vietnam 1965 – 1972" by Marshall L. Michel III

Grignotage06 Mar 2017 11:46 a.m. PST

I still find myself going back to Keegan's Face of Battle. I also really like Citino's series on the German way of war.

leidang06 Mar 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

Anything by Duffy or Nosworthy regarding Horse and Musket periods.

shirleylyn Inactive Member06 Mar 2017 6:26 p.m. PST

I never had an interest in war books until I met my husband. I think he was a bit ashamed of his toy soldiers and it was many months until he showed me his clubs 15mm ACW game tables.

I found the whole thing quite interesting. I used to paint ceramics and I talked him into letting me paint a figure. I thought 15mm was too small so he gave me a Blood Bowl figure and the rest is history, LOL. Now I paint miniatures.

Back on topic(sorry boys) I like to read books on ww2. I like anything on Stalingrad, or D-day.

-The Germans in Normandy by Richard Hargreaves

-Stalingrad by Antony Beevor

Atomic Floozy06 Mar 2017 6:35 p.m. PST

"On the Border with Mackenzie or Winning West Texas from the Comanches"
"Carbine & Lance, the Story of Old Fort Sill"
"Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier"
"The Buffalo War, the History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874"
"Plains Indian Raiders, the Final Phases of Warfare from the Arkansas to the Red River"
"Empire of the Summer Moon"
"The Buffalo Hunters, the Story of the Hide Men"
"Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay"
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"

I'll stop here, I've got 20 or 30 other books covering the Plains Wars, particularly the Southern Plains. And only one of them is about Custer. Do you know how hard it is to find history books on the Plains Wars that are not about Custer?

It would be like trying to learn about WWII when all the books are about Patton.

Toy Soldier Green06 Mar 2017 7:36 p.m. PST

Navy & Empire by Stokesbury.
The Battle of Belleau Wood by Suskind.

Matsuru Sami Kaze Inactive Member06 Mar 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

Glance and House trilogy on Stalingrad

Kevin in Albuquerque Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2017 9:34 p.m. PST

Some are repeats from above:
"Face of Battle" John Keegan
"Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway" by Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully – absolutely brilliant

Some not yet mentioned:
"The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 16601783" Alfred Thayer Mahan
"Strategy" B. H. Liddell Hart
"How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower" Adrian Goldsworthy
"1809: Thunder on the Danube" all three volumes John H Gill.

I've grouped my history books into eras, also.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2017 2:06 a.m. PST

If I had to choose just one, it would be Keegan's Face of Battle. His approach was a real revelation to me at that time.

Still imho worth a reread after 30 years, and I can only recommend it even to those not really interested in the three battles covered.

ITALWARS07 Mar 2017 4:34 a.m. PST

For plain wars: Michno books
Modern: Lester Grau books

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2017 8:00 a.m. PST

If I had to choose one "The Fleet that had to die" by Richard Hough. The book that got me interested in military history.

Bindon Blood07 Mar 2017 9:08 a.m. PST

Definitely anything by Duffy.

I'll add…

Battle Tactics of the Western Front by Duffy
Uniforms of the Pacific War 1879 – 1884 by Moller and Cerda
The Four Days' Battle of 1666 by Fox
Cheerful Sacrifice – The Battle of Arras 1917 by Nicholls

It's all personal choice, but I never thought much of "The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 16601783". It came over very much as Mahan being jealous of Britain and feeling it should have been France as the premier naval power..

Mike Target07 Mar 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

Theres many on the shelves but if I had to pick favourites-

Richard Holmes; Tommy and Redcoat.

Bindon Blood07 Mar 2017 11:13 a.m. PST

Oops. Just noticed. Battle Tactics is by Griffith not Duffy.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Mar 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

How could I forget Hans Delbruck? Couldn't do without him.

And,oh yeah,the Green Books. Definitely.

Brechtel19807 Mar 2017 4:03 p.m. PST

It depends on the period.

My overall favorites, though, are the trilogy on the Napoleonic period by John Elting: The Atlas, Swords Around A Throne, and the four volumes of Napoleonic Uniforms.

Triplecdad13 Mar 2017 10:06 p.m. PST

Shattered Sword, which I have read, re-read and re-read.
I own about 300 books on the ACW, but Shelby Foote's trilogy is hard to beat. Beautifully written.
Zulu Victorious and Zulu Vanquished set by Lock and Quantrill is well done.

Old Wolfman29 Mar 2017 6:59 a.m. PST

I have Shelby Foote's book about Shiloh,Sam Watkins' "Company 'Aytch'",Bell Wiley's "Life of Billy Yank /Life of Johnny Reb",a number of Osprey topics,and several others buried in boxes around the pad.

John Miller Inactive Member01 Apr 2017 4:17 p.m. PST

Was going to post a response but when the book count reached 35 I thought better of it. Even limiting it to any books by so and so and any books by so and so was too time consuming. John Miller

WillieB Supporting Member of TMP02 Apr 2017 2:51 p.m. PST

Impossible Victories Bryan Perret
The Spanish Civil War Anthony Beevor
The Hunting Of Man Andy Dougan
The Steel Bonnets George McDonald Fraser
The Threat: Inside The Soviet Military Machine Andrew Cockburn
White Devil Stephen Brumwell
The Wilderness War Alan Eckart
The Late Roman Army Pat Southern and Karen Dixon
Lost To The West Lars Brownworth

Rick Don Burnette05 Apr 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

Most of the authors and books mentioned, many of them also my favorites, make a mockery of any claim by or of our miniatures games to being simulations. Even uniforms and equipment, the seeming most simple or easy to simulate, is denied by John Elting in his Swords around a Throne, as well as Paddy Griffith and S L A Marshall among others.
Yet we atteck other rules or miniatures as being unrealistic with, at times, a partisan fury that one only sees in pooitical disputes. That there are quite out of place miniatures or rules, such as say ancients figures and rules claiming to represent say WW1, yet the simulation content between Command Decision and say, Crossfire isnt worth debating as the aforementined authors and their books show how all miniatures rules and games have very little if any simulation value.
The more of these favorite authors you read, the less you are impressed with the arguments for the simulation

Brechtel19806 Apr 2017 3:59 a.m. PST

Even uniforms and equipment, the seeming most simple or easy to simulate, is denied by John Elting in his Swords around a Throne…


Rick Don Burnette09 Apr 2017 8:52 p.m. PST

Elting begins his Chapter "Dressed to Kill" in Swords around a Throne with the observation of a soldier that there are at least three views about uniforms, What the Regulations say, What the Artists saw, and What they actually wore. In other words did Napoleon ride in the mountains a la David or something other?

Chouan Inactive Member10 Apr 2017 12:05 p.m. PST

There are two painted versions, by David and Delaroche. It isn't hard to guess which is the accurate one…..


Rick Don Burnette10 Apr 2017 8:28 p.m. PST

and as to other issues. It never fails to amuse me when a game/simulation/whatever follows the Mel Gibson so called history in his movies such as Braveheart or Hacksaw Ridge while the game/ simulation designer professes admiratiin of many of the above mentioned works. Or the designer merely updates a prior set

Ottoathome Inactive Member06 May 2017 8:41 p.m. PST

The one book that ought to be required reading for all regardless of period is Thucydides, the Peloponnesian War. Not for the battle reports, but for the arguments, debates, and conversations he records. Make no mistake about it many of them are only generalizations of what the person really said, or people recalled and some of them are out and out fabrications but valid because no doubt SOMEONE said them or someone OUGHT to have said them, and the ideas were current back then. Within that is every question, moral philosophical, strategic, and operation that you can find. There is one clarion call sentence that stands above all others.

"Do not become hasty in involving yourself in the affairs of others. Remember while there is still time that war when prolonged often ends by being a matter of mere chance." This was said by the Athenian Envoys to the Spartan ephors.

The one right after that is from the debate of those ephors.
"War is not an affair of arms, but of money, which gives to arms their use. … and we have none."

What is ironic is that in the first case, the Athenians are in the war precisely because they are involving themselves in the affairs of others and they will be the eventual losers by "mere chance." And the second is that the Spartans will eventually get money and win the war, but it will destroy their own social system.

mkck194710 May 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

I'm with Rich Bliss
A Time for Trumpets and Washing of the Spears are both outstanding.

Digby Green17 May 2017 1:40 a.m. PST

The Face of Battle – John Keegan – read it 3 times
The Struggle for Europe – Chester Wilmot read it twice
The Road To Passchendaele – John Terraine – shows how Haig was not a butcher, but a very clever strategist.
The Kaiser's War – Martin Middlebrook – read it three times

basileus66 Inactive Member23 May 2017 3:24 a.m. PST

Some of my favourites (i.e. those that I have read at least twice), in not particular order:

The Battle Alessandro Barbero

Lepanto Alessandro Barbero (yes, I am partial to this historian!)

Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics Bert Hall (one of my favourites)

Gettysburg Stephen S. Sears. I don't know if it is the "best" single volume on the battle, but it is one of the most entertaining and inspiring that I have read.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2017 8:30 a.m. PST

It All Started with Stones and Clubs: Being a Short History of War and Weaponry from Earliest Times to the Present, Noting the Gratifying Progress Made by Man Since His First Crude, Small-scale Efforts to Do Away with Those who Disagreed with Him
By Richard Armour

This short book kind of sums it all up rather nicely. Accurate yet funny.

Haitiansoldier Inactive Member23 May 2017 5:35 p.m. PST

The best single volume on Gettysburg in my opinion is Allen Guelzo's The Last Invasion.
Sears' Landscape Turned Red on Antietam is the best on the battle you can find.
As for Waterloo Barbero is good, but I prefer Cornwell.

Corporal Fagen24 May 2017 10:19 a.m. PST

Battle Tactics of the Civil War, Griffith
Battle in Africa, Whitehouse
Karari, Zulfo
Don Troiani's Civil War, Pohanka
Queen Victoria's Enemies (Northern Africa), Knight
i'm sure there's more

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