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Book Lists > Ike Skelton’s National Security Book List With Reviews

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message 1: by Tom (last edited Feb 24, 2011 12:04PM) (new)

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Professional Military Education is a particular interest of mine. I consider myself lucky that my longtime hobby as a military history enthusiast has complemented my work in Congress as a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Through the years, I have benefited enormously by seeking out books recommended by others who share my interest in history and military affairs. The fifty books I have chosen cover the topics of leadership, character, and military art. The subject matter ranges from ancient to modern warfare, although a large number of my recommendations focus on the Civil War and World War II. By necessity, some excellent works were omitted--such as Churchill's outstanding six volume history of World War II--but the list is comprehensive and covers each branch of the U.S. military. If one undertakes to read the entire list, I expect it would be about a ten-year project. However, familiarity with this material should be invaluable to any officer preparing to attend a war college.
-- Congressman Ike Skelton, June 9, 2003

bookshelf : ike-skelton-national-security

1. The Constitution of the United States of America

The Constitution is a product of the Constitutional Convention which was held in Philadelphia, PA, in 1776. The original 13 states ratified it and ever since it has been the base of the American government and freedom.

2. The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Samuel B. Griffith (trans)

Written in China over two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu's The Art of War provides a basis for the planning and training of military operations. These essays contain principles used by modern day military leaders. This classic work is timeless.

3. On War

Clausewitz’s classic work on war, written at the time of Napoleon's greatest campaigns, is the basis for a thorough discussion of the art of warfare. Clausewitz is best remembered by the assertion that war is a continuation of politics by other means.

4. Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought by Michael I. Handel

Masters of War is a study based on the works on war by Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Mao Tse-tung, and, to a lesser extent, Jomini and Machiavelli. The author explains that these military leaders had a great deal in common. Handel states the logic of waging war and of strategic thinking are
universal and timeless.

5. The Book of War: 25 Centuries of Great War Writing. by John Keegan (ed.)

Keegan brings together several writings on war, including first hand accounts of battles. The conflicts waged by Caesar, Wellington, Hemingway, and Ernie Pyle are reflected in this book.

6. Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo by Edward Creasy

This book, originally published in 1851, discusses famous battles of the past 2,300 years that changed the course of world history. Conflicts which are discussed include the battle of Marathon down through the battle of Waterloo.

7. Alexander the Great by Peter Bamm

Bamm’s writing reflects the brilliant military tactics of Alexander the Great as he fought his way through mountains and deserts of central Asia, all the way to the Himalayas.

8. Hannibal by Sir Gavin R. De Beer

Hannibal fought a losing battle in his quest to protect his birthplace, Carthage. Nevertheless, this work highlights his courage and excellent battlefield tactics.

9. The Face of Battle by John Keegan

Keegan, an instructor at Sandhurst, speaks for soldiers who were involved in the battles at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme.

10. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson

Anderson makes a convincing argument that the American Revolution could not have taken place but for the French and Indian War that was waged in the Americas. The book discusses Washington’s engagements as well as the roles of Pontiac, William Pitt, and Montcalm.

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11. Daniel Boone: The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer by John Mack Faragher

Faragher gives an excellent account of the life of America’s legendary pioneer and the early struggle against the Indians as he tried to settle the West. Drawing from records and documentation from Boone's own hand, this is an accurate reflection of young America during times that helped shape our country.

12. Washington by Douglas Southall Freeman

An abridgment by Richard Harwell of Freeman’s seven-volume biography of the “Father of our Country” helps to place Washington in a historical context.

13. Tecumseh: A Life by John Sugden

Tecumseh, a Shawnee, endeavored to organize the Native American Confederacy to halt the westward expansion of the American settlers.

14. Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose

Ambrose’s biography of Lewis and Clark is based on their journals, regarding their travels up the Missouri River from St. Louis all the way to the Pacific. Ambrose discusses the military leadership of the explorers as they dealt with Indians and reported to Jefferson.

15. Napoleon Bonaparte: An Intimate Biography. by Vincent. Cronin

Cronin gives an accurate portrayal of the famous French general and emperor with full explanation of his various battlefield triumphs including his defeat at Waterloo.

16. The Military Maxims of Napoleon by George C. D' Aguilar (Trans.)

This is a distillation of the knowledge, intuition, and wisdom of history's greatest military commander. Napoleon's success was built upon practical experience combined with his own study of classical warfare and his natural grasp of the key principles of war. His thoughts, theories, and commentaries on the subject are presented in the form of accessible and readable maxims, and these, with explanatory comments, reveal the fundamentals of Napoleon's art of waging war.

17. Nelson: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert

Hibbert gives an excellent account of England's best maritime leader. It follows Nelson’s story from his joining the navy at age 12 through his decisive victory over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805, which resulted in his death.

18. The Price of Admiralty: The Evolution of Naval Warfare by John Keegan

Keegan illuminates the history of naval combat by expertly dissecting four landmark sea battles, each featuring a different type of warship: The Battle of Trafalgar, the Battle of Jutland in World War I, the Battle of Midway in World War II, and the long and arduous Battle of the Atlantic.

19. The Washing of the Spears: A History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation Under Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879 by Donald R. Morris

Morris provides a sixty year history of Africa’s Zulu empire including descriptions of the battles of Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift.

20. Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman

Freeman's provides an excellent biography of Confederate war general Robert E. Lee. It captures Lee's military genius and why so many Southerners enthusiastically fought and died under his banner.

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21. Personal Memoirs: Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses S. Grant

Grant’s memoirs is one of the finest military biographies ever written. It follows Grant’s boyhood
through his leadership in the Civil War. This fine work was written as Grant was dying from lung

22. Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865 by Richard S. Brownlee

Brownlee’s book, incorrectly named, is an excellent discussion of guerrilla warfare along the
Missouri and Kansas border from the years 1861-1865. It includes discussion of Missouri’s
guerrilla’s Quantrill and Anderson.

23. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson

McPherson provides a one volume full discussion of the Civil War. This book earned
McPherson the Pulitzer Prize. He highlights the military aspects of the war and also describes
economic, political, and social forces behind the conflict.

24. Son of the Morning Star by Evan S. Connell

Connell gives a thorough account of George Armstrong Custer's military career and the events
that lead up to the Battle of Little Bighorn.

25. A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard

This is the famous essay involving the carrying of a message from President McKinley to an
insurgent leader in Cuba named Garcia. This is a story of Lieutenant Colonel Rowan, who
without question, accepted the mission and fulfilled it.

26. Yanks : The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I by John S.D. Eisenhower

This is an excellent discussion of how Gen. John Pershing created a war-winning army in less
than 18 months. The book focuses on World War I senior officers Douglas MacArthur, George
Patton, and George C. Marshall.

27. Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing by Frank E. Vandiver (Two Volumes).

This is a two-volume work on the military leadership of General John J. Pershing. General
Pershing is portrayed as a simple, direct, honest, energetic, efficient, and dedicated man and
soldier who rose to the rank of General of the Armies. Vandiver traces Pershing from his youth,
his cadet days at West Point through his leadership in World War I.

28. Churchill by Roy Jenkins

This is one of the best biographies of Churchill, Britain’s most famous member of Parliament in
the last century. It traces his life from his unhappy boyhood through his two term service as
Prime Minister.

29. A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War by Williamson Murray & Allan R. Millett

This one-volume study of World War II was written by two distinguished military historians.
Murray and Millett unapologetically consider the war just and necessary.

30. Reminiscences by Douglas MacArthur

MacArthur wrote this book in his own hand and finished it only weeks before his death. This
revered and admired general was a remarkable leader of many successful military campaigns.

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31. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer

Shirer’s book published in 1960, is portrayed as the definitive record of Adolph Hitler and how Hitler nearly succeeded in taking over the world.

32. Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II by John Prados

Prados gives an excellent picture of World War II’s Pacific battles and the role of intelligence in defeating Japan.

34. Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides

Sides describes the rescue of American and British POW’s after three years in a Japanese prison camp near the city of Cabanatuan. The prisoners included the last survivors of the Bataan Death March.

35. Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle by Richard B. Frank

This is an excellent history of the battle at Guadalcanal as well as the Navy battles that surrounded the island. It draws on first-time translations of Japanese first-hand accounts and declassified U.S. radio intelligence.

36. The Victors: Eisenhower and His Boys by Stephen E. Ambrose

The Victors is a compilation of Stephen E. Ambrose's best works, drawing heavily from his biography of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

37. Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen by Lynn M. Homan, Thomas Reilly

Between 1941 and 1948, African American airmen trained at a segregated facility in Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee airmen secured a significant place in American and African American history for bravery in service on and off the battlefield.

38. Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Rendezvous with Destiny by Frank Freidel

Freidel details Roosevelt's life before and during his presidency. It focuses on Roosevelt’s service during the Depression and wartime periods.

38. Women in the Military: An Unfinished Revolution by Jeanne Holm

Updated through Desert Storm, this revision of Holm's comprehensive history of women in the U.S. armed forces exemplifies excellent scholarship. Holm, a retired major general and former director of the WAF, marshals an impressive body of evidence to support her contention that the increasing number of women in uniform since the 1960s has diminished neither the American military's operational readiness nor its combat effectiveness.

39. Defeat Into Victory by William Slim

An account by Field-Marshall Viscount William Slim who led shattered British forces from Burma to India.

40. Truman by David McCullough

McCullough offers a detailed account of the life of Harry Truman, defining his character and describing his life as a farmer, haberdasher, local official, Senator, Vice President and President.

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41. This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History - Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by T.R. Fehrenbach

This is the classic discussion of the Korean War, which began in June 1950. It brings to life the
harrowing and bloody battles that were fought up and down the Korean Peninsula.

42. Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War by Robert Coram

John Boyd (1927-1997) was a brilliant military scholar and strategist. Boyd wrote the first
manual on jet aerial combat, was primarily responsible for designing the F-15 and the F-16 jet
fighters, was a leading voice in the post-Vietnam War military reform movement and shaped the
smashingly successful U.S. military strategy in the Persian Gulf War.

43. We Were Soldiers Once...and Young by Harold G. Moore & Joseph L. Galloway

This is a description of the first major battle fought by U.S. troops in Vietnam. It highlights the
story of Lieutenant Colonel Moore as he commanded the battalion that initiated the fighting. This
work depicts Ia Drang through the eyes of junior officers and enlisted men of the 1st Cavalry
Division and their North Vietnamese opponents.

44. Gulf War: The Complete History by Thomas Houlahan

This is a thorough history of the Gulf War covering all aspects of the conflict.

45. Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos by Robert D. Kaplan

Kaplan explores the wisdom of the ages for answers for today’s leaders. While the modern
world may seem more complex and dangerous than ever before, Kaplan writes from a deeper
historical perspective to reveal how little things actually change.

46. Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America's Military by Robert H. Scales Jr.

This is an excellent book discussing current doctrinal debates and the vision of future war. It
argues the U.S. Army should instead prepare for more complex political settings as it continues
to try to win wars with the minimum of fighting.

47. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy by Russell F. Weigley

This is an excellent work on the development of American military strategy over the years. It
discusses wars from the time of the early republic through post World War II.

48. Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime by Eliot A. Cohen

An excellent discussion about Abraham Lincoln, Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill and
David Ben Gurion and what made them great wartime leaders.

49. From Vietnam to 9/11: On the Front Lines of National Security by John P. Murtha

Congressman John P. "Jack" Murtha is a Vietnam combat veteran who combines personal
memoirs with an analysis that provides accounts of the United States military strategy from
Vietnam to 9-11.

50. Making the Corps by Thomas E. Ricks

Making the Corps discusses Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. Here, old values
are stripped away and new, Marine Corps values are forged.

message 6: by Tom (last edited Feb 01, 2011 12:17PM) (new)

Tom | 92 comments Mod
This list was from here:

I have tried to create links to the correct editions where possible.

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