Atkinson, Rick. An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943. New York: Henry Holt, 2002. In this first volume of Rick Atkinson's highly anticipated Liberation Trilogy, the author shows why no modern reader can understand the ultimate victory of the Allied powers in May 1945 without a solid understanding of the events that took place in North Africa in 1942 and early 1943. Atkinson convincingly demonstrates that the first years of the Allied war effort was a pivotal point in American history, the moment when the United States began to act like a great military power, but he also chronicles without apology the many false steps taken before the new and untested American Army could emerge as a coherent and capable force.
Boot, Max. The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. New York: Basic Books, 2002. A survey of American "small wars," this work focuses on Navy and Marine Corps actions in the 18th and 19th Centuries, broadening to include Army operations with the Philippine Insurrection of 1899 to 1902. Although there is little on the Army's role as a frontier constabulary, this is a well-written and thoughtfully reasoned account focusing on expeditionary warfare and the best available book on the subject.
Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. New York: Norton, 1982. A classic of American literature, this Civil War novel depicts a Union soldier's terrifying baptism of fire and his ensuing transformation from coward to hero. Originally published in 1895, its vivid evocation of battle remains unsurpassed.
Constitution of the United States. Available on-line at URL:
As soldiers and civilians we swear an oath to defend this document as the basis of our government and way of life. It is time to go back and read this classic expression of organizing and balancing human society and understand what you are swearing to "support and defend."
Hogan, David W. Jr. Centuries of Service: The U.S. Army, 1775-2005. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2005. An easy-to-read and informative pamphlet that describes the many missions the U.S. Army has performed over the course of its history. The booklet covers America's wars as well as the Army's many operations other than war, including occupation, peacekeeping, nation building, exploration, civil administration, scientific research, and disaster relief. This pamphlet is a valuable introduction to American military history for the soldier and junior leader.
Keegan, John. The Face of Battle. New York: Penguin Books, 1985. One of the classics of modern military history, The Face of Battle brings to life three major battles: Agincourt (1415), Waterloo (1815), and the First Battle of the Somme (1916). The author describes the sights, sounds, and smells of battle, providing a compelling look at what it means to be a soldier and how hard it is to describe realistically the dynamics of combat.
Kindsvatter, Peter S. American Soldiers: Ground Combat in the World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003. Historian Pete Kindsvatter, a combat veteran himself, uses the letters, memoirs, and novels written by other soldiers, along with official reports and studies, to detail the experience of soldiers from entry into military service through ground combat and its aftermath. Thoughtful discussions of leadership, the physical and emotional stresses of the battlefield, and the various ways soldiers try to cope with these stresses make this a valuable book for all those preparing to lead American soldiers in ground combat.
McCullough, David. 1776. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006. A fast-paced narrative of the Revolutionary War from the summer of 1775 to Washington's stunning twin victories at Trenton and Princeton in late 1776. McCullough shows that, through persistence, dedication to the American cause, and Washington's remarkable leadership, a small and ill-equipped American army overcame severe hardships and numerous defeats to save the American Revolution from collapse during the war's most tumultuous year.
McPherson, James M. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. This inspiring book by a Pulitzer Prize winning historian argues, contrary to many scholars, that Civil War soldiers overcame their fear by remaining dedicated to the ideals that had motivated them to enlist: duty, honor, patriotism, and love of liberty. In reaching his conclusions, he draws on roughly 25,000 letters and 249 diaries written by 1,076 Union and Confederate soldiers, thus wisely allowing the soldiers to tell much of the story in their own words.
Moore, Harold G. and Joseph L. Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 2004. A gripping firsthand account of the November 1965 Battle of the Ia Drang by the commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. The Ia Drang was the first major combat test of the airmobile concept and the first major battle between U.S. forces and the North Vietnamese Army.
Stewart, Richard W., gen. ed. American Military History, Volume II: The United States Army in a Global Era, 1917-2003. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2005. Created initially as an ROTC textbook, this second volume in a two volume overview of the Army's story covers the period from World War I to the early days of the Iraq War. Written in an engaging style and enhanced by sophisticated graphics and recommended readings, the work is an excellent source of general service history in the modern world.
Return to the CMH Recommended Professional Reading List Main Page