Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War” as Want to Read:
Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Thirteen Soldiers: A Personal History of Americans at War

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  138 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
John McCain's evocative history of Americans at war, told through the personal accounts of thirteen remarkable soldiers who fought in major military conflicts, from the Revolutionary War of 1776 to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a veteran himself, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a long-time student of history, John McCain brings a distinctive pers
...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Simon & Schuster
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Thirteen Soldiers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Thirteen Soldiers

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dave Hoff
Mar 16, 2015 Dave Hoff rated it liked it
The stories of 13 soldiers, ordinary people who went to 13 Wars. Fought bravely. Book well written, however my interest waned by No 11, the 1st Gulf War. An age thing
Mariah Petrosino
Jan 08, 2015 Mariah Petrosino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Interesting Historical Read

I enjoyed reading this book. I have always enjoyed reading history books, but struggle when the writing in long and dry. This book was neither of those things. I found it to be interesting and insightful. Each chapter was long enough to provide useful information regarding the various wars and battles that were being discussed and to tell the story of each of the soldiers being highlighted without becoming boring or long winded. I appreciated that a wide variety of
...more
Amber
Apr 29, 2015 Amber rated it it was ok
The concept of this book is amazing...to take a soldier, not even a famous soldier from each of the 13 conflicts that America has been involved in. I love war books. I love hear the stories of bravery, hope and sacrifice. I love that they chose some more obscure soldiers. What I didn't like was that was so much obscure war background that once we got to the individuals story, we are hopelessly lost in war details, some having only minimal time and importance placed on our soldier. Kind of sad ...more
Virgil Alexander
Aug 13, 2015 Virgil Alexander rated it really liked it
I enjoyed looking at the history of each of America's wars through the eyes of a single soldier in that war. This is done at the human level, frequently using the soldiers own writings, so you are seeing it from an ordinary man's point of view. It gives humanity to the history. This is not a political book as one might expect from a politician but more an aknowledgment of the people who fight our wars. This is a good book if you enjoy history.
Ann
Oct 02, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it
I'm not a big non-fiction reader but I enjoyed this book. I picked it up because I like the author, John McCain and I'm from a military family. I particularly liked the Chapters on the more modern soldiers, Mary Rhodes and Monica Lin Brown. This book is well written and he has chosen 13 individuals who most people have never hear of but are heroes in their own right. This is a great Christmas gift for the reader on your list.
Laura Madsen
Jan 18, 2015 Laura Madsen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2014, history
"We owe veterans, the living and the dead, a country that remains worthy of their sacrifice."

An interesting compilation, especially the chapter about a female combat medic in Afghanistan.
Robert Fisher
Nov 16, 2016 Robert Fisher rated it really liked it
Senator McCain's biography was overall a great summary of the United States of America's conflicts through the eyes of those who fought in it. However, the narrative was slightly limited in scope, as by selecting one service member per conflict limits the scope of some of the more major multi-theater conflicts. It also contained choppy transitions jumping between branches. A more accurate title would be "Seven Soldiers, Two Sailors, Three Marines, and an Airman." It would have been more ...more
Horace Drunkersloppin
Nov 28, 2016 Horace Drunkersloppin rated it it was amazing
oh yeah
Eric
Feb 18, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Thirteen Soldiers is a very interesting look at the lives of a single soldiers from each of our nation's 13 wars - from the Revolutionary War to War on Terrorism. What makes this book so interesting is that these soldiers are not the famous heroes of each conflict, nor the well-known names of history. Rather, McCain and Stalter did good research into 'ordinary' soldiers who had extra-ordinary stories and experiences in each of our country's conflicts. There are stories of both men and women, ...more
Jean Poulos
John McCain, a Senator from Arizona and a former Navy aviator wrote this book about thirteen soldiers. The author identifies a single soldier, sailor, airman, or marine from each of American’s thirteen major wars to eulogize for courage under fire. The chapters follow the books basic format, setting the world stage, recalling the principal person’s prewar life and then describing the person’s performance of duty.

For example, the Civil War the authors chose Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. For the 1898
...more
Scott
Apr 27, 2015 Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: history


John McCain and Mark Salter give and engaging picture of United States wars, from the Revolutionary War through Afghanistan, through the eyes of individual soldiers. It's a mix of the ordinary, the brave, and the corrupt along with men and women. McCain and Salter thought it good to tell the stories of both good and bad soldiers to run the gamut of people who have fought for our country.

Some of the people you meet include Joseph Plumb Martin, who at fifteen years fought in the Revolutionary War
...more
David Mattingly
Aug 07, 2015 David Mattingly rated it really liked it
What do American service members look like today? Do they resemble those that served in other wars? How has history changed those that decide to serve? Our history lessons taught us how the brave volunteers and conscripts fought the British in the American Revolution and the wars that followed. Senator John McCain and Mark Salter—former Sen. McCain staffer and collaborator of many of Sen. McCain’s previous books — tell the story of 13 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that fought in each of ...more
J. Ewbank
Dec 04, 2014 J. Ewbank rated it really liked it
McCain and Salter have done a difficult job well. They selected thirteen American warriers and wrote their story. Included is an African American, female and others. I have not gone to war so these stories are not in my experience. Don't know how they dug up all the information about these soldiers but they found their early life, their struggles etc... and made them human for us. Not all of them lived exemplary lives but they all served their country, and this is what the book is about. Good ...more
Gordon
Feb 11, 2015 Gordon rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Wonderful tales of Thirteen men and women. Not exactly all Soldiers, but a collection of patriots and combat veterans from all services who have fought in the many wars of United States history. This book is a tribute to their lives, their sacrifice (in and out of war), their times and their incredible stories. The breadth of experience of these thirteen veterans provides a complex portrait of our nation and the evolution over two centuries of the unique American experience of ...more
Dan Ward
Oct 21, 2015 Dan Ward rated it did not like it
This book is short on facts and long on political correctness. I think every ethnic group and gender is represented. I finally quit reading after korea because the writing wasn't that good and to my mind didn't really represent the experiences of those wars. They seem to go out of their way to find off beat representatives for a war because of gender or race. I guess every author who writes a book is looking for something unique to sell their story. This author just tried too hard.
Jeremy
Jul 25, 2016 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
The book is a collection of mini-biographies from the major wars in American History. Some of the soldiers are well-known, some lesser-known, and some mostly unknown. In the early chapters, when documentary evidence is sometimes lacking, the soldiers' personal experiences are mixed with general experiences of that war. Overall, this was a very interesting book. What it tries to do, it does rather well.

I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.
Marc Cooper
Feb 06, 2015 Marc Cooper rated it it was ok
Too many short vignettes. Lacks any overarching theme or narrative except what the title implies. Writing does flow well or strongly engage the reader. Seems to just trade on the name of the author, who is not known as an author, and probably didnt write most of it. Not a waste of time but not very memorable. The only one who really stuck with me was the soldier from WWII who was lured dozens of Japanese out of fox holes and captured them repeatedly.
Gina
Feb 16, 2015 Gina rated it it was ok
I received this book as a first read. While the selection of everyman soldiers spanning all the different American wars was interesting the writing was choppy and poorly executed. The stories could have been compelling in the hands of different authors but instead it was clumsy and lacked cohesion.
Lynn Demsky
Dec 10, 2014 Lynn Demsky rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, history, war
I was truly disappointed in this book. The information that the authors got was a lot from various writings of the soldiers and I would have preferred to read what they actually said not the authors interpretation of what they said! Some of the stories were just "not enough" information....was glad to finish it!
Andrea
May 21, 2015 Andrea rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It was good for what it was - an in-depth look at an American that served in some branch of the military during each of the 13 conflicts that we have been in. Sometimes I liked the background information provided in each chapter; other times it was too much. I definitely have a greater sense of patriotism after reading this.
Rovertoad
Not my favorite style of writing

I found the book and stories very interesting, but telling the reader the punch line at the beginning of the story takes away some of the reading excitement. The authors tell what the hero in each short does in the very beginning and then retells the story.
Jeffrey
Jul 08, 2015 Jeffrey rated it liked it
While some of the people they documented in this book obviously needed more exposure because of their brave and important contributions, for the most part it seemed like a litney of tragedy wrapped up in military speak.
Jason
Aug 04, 2016 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not well written. Personal story of 13 soldiers turned into long ramblings of 50+ people. Often by the time I finished a chapter I had no idea whose story I had just read. Good idea for a book, but poor execution.
John Cornelius
Jan 10, 2016 John Cornelius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, military
This is a great read filled with rich history and personal accounts of these 13 individual American soldiers. Many thanks to these men and women, past and present, for their bravery, their sacrifice, their will to do what needed to be done.
Sandi
Jul 03, 2015 Sandi rated it liked it
A well written book about common soldiers who in all of our wars I have to Amit my favorite story was the medic story for two reasons she wS a medic and was located at the base my son was at. It got better at the half mark
Debby Baumgartner
Nonfiction accounts of 13 soldiers who served as Americans in wars from American Revolution to Mideast wars
Gary
Gary rated it liked it
Jul 18, 2015
Ann
Ann rated it liked it
Jun 19, 2016
Tkevinr
Tkevinr rated it liked it
Feb 08, 2016
Bob LaCross
Bob LaCross rated it really liked it
Jun 20, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Where the Iron Crosses Grow: The Crimea 1941–44
  • The Generals: Patton, MacArthur, Marshall, and the Winning of World War II
  • Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command
  • Lords of the Sky: Fighter Pilots and Air Combat, from the Red Baron to the F-16
  • Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq
  • Mistakes Can Kill You: A Collection of Western Stories
  • Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse
  • Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War
  • Warriors: Portraits from the Battlefield
  • Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command in Future War
  • Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery: Where War Comes Home
  • Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond
  • Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Portrait of a First Lady
  • We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam
  • Ministers at War: Winston Churchill and His War Cabinet
  • Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill
  • The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority
  • The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis
42851
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican candidate in the 2008 United States Presidential Election.

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bomb
...more
More about John McCain...

Share This Book