Atkinson, Rick. The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. New York: Henry Holt, 2008. In this second volume of Rick Atkinson's highly anticipated Liberation Trilogy, the author shows how a newly blooded and more experienced American Army overcame distance and allied squabbling to conduct successful amphibious operations that secured the Mediterranean and knocked Italy out of the war. Although after the war many doubted whether the extended slog up the boot of Italy was strategically wise, there was no doubt of the courage and persistence of the American soldier in this theater of war so soon to be overshadowed by the landings in northern France.
Appleman, Roy E. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950. College Station, TX.: Texas A&M University Press, 1987. This book tells the riveting story of 3,000 soldiers of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division who fought in a four-day and five-night battle on the east side of the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir in November and December 1950 during the initial Communist Chinese intervention in the Korean War. During this brief battle, Task Force MacLean/Faith endured misery, frigid cold, privation, and exhaustion, before meeting with disaster. Although facing overwhelming odds does much to explain the complete annihilation of this army unit, the author clearly shows that eight factors, including a lack of experience, poor training, inadequate supply, and non-existent communications, combined with less than astute leadership and unwise troop deployments, doomed the men of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, most of whom did not survive. Although not as well-known as other tactical disasters in Korea, such as the earlier Task Force Smith, this book says a great deal about the overall poor condition of the U.S. Army during the early days of the war.
Bolger, Daniel. Savage Peace: Americans at War in the 1990's. Presidio Press, 1995. Both a scholar and professional soldier, General Bolger chronicles the many unconventional missions performed by the U.S. Army over the past two decades, especially those involving difficult peacekeeping tasks throughout the world. From Lebanon and the Sinai to Somalia and the Balkans, he shows why these critical missions are not susceptible to the high-tech solutions preferred by many Americans and instead put a premium on the ability of soldiers on the ground to devise creative solutions after considering an extremely diverse number of local variables not readily apparent to those in Washington. An excellent primer for the full-spectrum professional soldier of the future.
Brown, Todd S. Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2007. This journal of a company commander in the 4th Infantry Division north of Baghdad from 2003 to early 2004 captures the stresses and emotions of combat in a confusing war. Especially useful is Brown's evolving understanding of the differences between combat operations and nation-building missions-and how U.S. forces came to employ that new knowledge. This work provides significant lessons for the young professional, and for anyone interested in the Iraq War.
Fischer, David Hackett. Washington's Crossing. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. This Pulitzer Prize winning book details the "darkest hour" of the American Revolution in 1776, from the defeats of Washington's army around New York City, through the miserable retreat across New Jersey, to the cold, wretched camps of eastern Pennsylvania, as the British seemed poised to crush the cause of independence in its first year. Yet Washington quickly achieved two stunning successes at Trenton and Princeton through boldness, perseverance and personal example. Fischer emphasizes the unpredictable role of contingency in military operations, and shows that the remarkable victories of Washington and his men saved the faltering American Revolution.
Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. New York: Praeger, 2005. [originally published in 1964] This classic work, written at the height of Communist insurgencies in the 1960s, remains as relevant today as it was decades ago. Galula, a French officer, distilled and refined the lessons being learned the hard way in Greece, Algeria, Southeast Asia, and other regions torn apart by revolution in order to provide a guide for future conflicts.
Heller, Charles E. and Stofft, William A., eds. America's First Battles: 1776-1965 . Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986. Eleven prominent American military historians assess the first battles of nine wars in which the U.S. Army has fought. Each essay is written within a similar framework, examining how the U.S. Army prepares during peacetime, mobilizes for war, fights its first battle, and subsequently adapts to the exigencies of the conflict. America's First Battles shows clearly the price of unpreparedness and the harsh adjustments that are often necessary when preconceived plans and doctrines meet ground reality.
Knox, MacGregor and Murray, Williamson, eds. The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. The editors provide a conceptual framework and historical context for understanding the patterns of change, innovation, and adaptation that have marked war in the Western world since the fourteenth century. Case studies and a conceptual overview offer an indispensable introduction to military change for all Army leaders.
MacDonald, Charles B. Company Commander. Springfield, N.J.: Burford Books, 1999. Original edition, 1947. Published repeatedly for decades, this classic is an exciting memoir of a young company commander in the Battle of the Bulge and an unforgiving tale of American infantrymen in combat. Written shortly after the war, his account gives a vivid sense of the awesome responsibility of command from the perspective of a small unit commander and a keen sense of what it was like for an inexperienced officer to be thrown into battle. Highlighted are the personal leadership skills needed for survival and the intangibles that held small units together in the face of danger and deprivation. This is a book that should be read by every junior leader about to face the test of leadership in war.
Parker, Geoffrey, ed. Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Parker's authors cover the gamut of Western warfare from antiquity to the present in a digestible, compelling manner, to include the development of warfare on land, sea and air; weapons and technology; strategy, operations and tactics; logistics and intelligence. Throughout, there is an emphasis on the socio-economic aspects of war, the rise of the West to global dominance, and the nature of that aggressive military culture that has been its hallmark.
Van Creveld, Martin. Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Surveying four centuries of military history, the noted historian Martin Van Creveld points out clearly the reasons why "amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics." Most battlefield results would not have been possible without the careful organization and allocation of logistical resources. Leaders who fail to consider logistics in all of their plans and operations will do so at their peril.
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