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U.S. Army Center of Military History
Professional Reading List


(bookshelf: army-cmh)

(Cadets, Soldiers, Junior NCOs)

(Company Grade NCOs, WO1-CW 3, and Company Grade Officers)

(Senior NCOs, CW4-CW5, Field Grade Officers)

(Senior Leaders above Brigade Level)

message 2: by Tom (last edited Feb 24, 2011 12:01PM) (new)

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Cadets, Soldiers, Junior NCOs


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.

message 3: by Tom (last edited Feb 24, 2011 12:00PM) (new)

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Company Grade NCOs, WO1-CW 3, and Company Grade Officers


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.

message 4: by Tom (last edited Feb 24, 2011 12:00PM) (new)

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U.S. Army CMH - Recommended Professional Reading List
Senior NCOs, CW4-CW5, Field Grade Officers


Birtle, Andrew J. U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1942-1976. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2006. This study is a well written, authoritative account of U.S. Army counterinsurgency, nation building, and stability operations during the turbulent decades that followed World War II. The book not only describes the evolution of doctrine for overseas politico-military actions but also evaluates how that doctrine fared under such diverse circumstances as the occupation of Germany, the Greek Civil War, the intervention in Lebanon, and the war in Vietnam. Contemporary soldiers will find much food for thought by learning how their predecessors coped with the multifaceted challenges posed by politico-military operations.

Clodfelter, Mark A. The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam . Lincoln, Nebraska: Bison Books, 2006.Tracing the use of air power in World War II and the Korean War, Clodfelter explains how U. S. Air Force doctrine evolved through the American experience in these conventional wars only to be thwarted in the context of a limited guerrilla struggle in Vietnam. Although faith in bombing's sheer destructive power led air commanders to believe that extensive air assaults could win the war at any time, the Vietnam experience instead showed how even intense aerial attacks may not achieve military or political objectives in a limited war. An important reading for all soldiers who wish to understand the power, and limits, of air support.

Dobak, William A. and Thomas D. Phillips. The Black Regulars, 1866-1898. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. This prize-winning book tells the story of the first generation of black soldiers in the Regular Army, covering who they were, why they enlisted, where they served, and what their living conditions were like. Beginning in the aftermath of the Civil War, their service in the American West paved the way for black participation in the Spanish-American War, two World Wars, and more recent conflicts. The story of these nineteenth-century trailblazers is an inspiration to all American fighting men.

Gordon, Michael and Bernard Trainor. Cobra II: The Inside story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. New York: Vintage Press, 2007. Cobra II is an extremely critical look at the war planning for the invasion of Iraq by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's Pentagon staff and its subsequent execution. Dazzled by the seemingly cheap success in Afghanistan and a fixed commitment on transforming the military into a lighter, leaner force, the high-level planners allowed false assumptions, faulty intelligence, personal politics and a lack of foresight undermine any rationale strategy for the endeavor, producing an unexpected outcome and sowing the seeds for future conflict.

Grossman, Dave. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society .Boston: Little Brown, 1995. Beginning with S.L.A. Marshall's 1947 work, which indicated that possibly as few as 15 to 20 percent of individual riflemen actually fired their weapons at the enemy, Grossman examines the efforts of military training to overcome the innate hesitancy to kill through "operant conditioning" that will lead soldiers to fire reflexively. Although such training significantly increased fire rates in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, he warns that this conditioning has the potential for psychological backlash when soldiers return home. This is a very readable treatment of a complex subject that will be of interest to any military leader.

Grotelueschen, Mark E. The AEF Way of War: The American Army and Combat in World War I . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. An exemplary case study of doctrinal and tactical innovation under fire shows how four divisions of the American Expeditionary Forces adapted, or failed to adapt, to conditions on the Western Front during World War I. The 1st and 2d Divisions perfected artillery-infantry liaison so that by November 1918 they had achieved "state of the art" as practiced by the Allied armies. Both the 26th and 77th failed to achieve this level of skill-the 26th because its commander failed to maintain control over his subordinate units and the 77th because its commander remained wedded to prewar doctrine.

Linn, Brian McAllister. The Philippine War, 1899-1902. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. Professor Linn, who has lectured extensively at Army schools and forums, provides a definitive treatment of military operations in the Philippines from the early pitched battles to the final campaigns against the guerrillas. His work is a clear treatment of a complex, unconventional war, and is essential reading for all junior officers trying to understand the many difficulties inherent in counterinsurgency operations conducted in an alien culture and environment.

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Ballantine, 1988. Professor McPherson has written a brilliant account of the American Civil War-the war that made the country what it is today. He discusses the causes of the war, the military operations, the soldiers, the leaders, and the political, economic, and social aspects of life in the Union and the Confederacy before and during the war in clear, incisive detail. With many experts judging it the best one-volume history of the Civil War, it provides an excellent introduction to what is still one of the most significant wars fought by the American Army.

Neustadt, Richard E. and Ernest May. Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers. New York: Free Press, 1986. History is an invaluable tool for decision makers; but if used without careful consideration, it can blind the unwary by false analogies. This classic book offers senior leaders invaluable suggestions on how to use and avoid misusing the valuable experience that history can provide.

Palmer, Dave R. Summons of the Trumpet: U.S.-Vietnam in Perspective. Novato, Calif: Presidio Press, 1995. This work is a clear and concise history of the Vietnam war from 1954 to 1973 written by one who witnessed it first-hand as a combat advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. It is especially useful for those seeking a broad overview of an extremely lengthy and confusing conflict and a summary of its main military and political trends.

Paret, Peter, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. A wonderful anthology on the evolution of strategic thought. Moving from Machiavelli to the present in twenty-eight insightful essays, the authors examine such topics as the role of doctrine, the genius of Napoleon, the limits of air power, and nuclear strategy. A primer for all military leaders who must think strategically on a variety of issues, Makers summarizes the classic military thinkers in a highly digestible manner, underlining the enduring lessons that remain relevant today.

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Tom | 92 comments Mod
U.S. Army CMH - Recommended Professional Reading List
Senior Leaders above Brigade Level


Cohen, Eliot A. Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime. New York: Free Press, 2002. This work examines four case studies in leadership and civil-military relations. Focusing on Abraham Lincoln, Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill, and David Ben-Gurion and their relations with subordinate military commanders, Cohen argues that, rather than adhere to traditional civilian and military roles in directing war, some of the most successful civilian leaders have inserted themselves into what many have argued were "purely military" spheres of strategic and operational art. Cohen's work provides an accessible treatment of longstanding issues in the field of civil military relations.

D'Este, Carlo. Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2002. Perhaps the most renowned American general of the twentieth century, Dwight D. Eisenhower remains a subject of intense interest. A lieutenant colonel at 50 with little combat experience and no military future ahead of him in the stifling between-the-wars promotion system, Eisenhower became, in little more than three years and three months, a five-star general who would later head the nation for two presidential terms of office. D'Este's work focuses only on World War II, discussing the emerging general's skill at building the Allied coalition and keeping its disparate elements pointed at a common objective. He also covers his weaknesses, indicting the supreme commander for keeping incompetents favorites in major positions, failing to make decisive decisions at key junctures in the war, and generally ignoring the dimension of logistics. The balance account provides an accurate picture of the dilemmas faced by military commanders beset by conflicting objectives and course of action.

Habeck, Mary. Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. In this primer on a small splinter group of Islan, Habeck traces the current of Islamic thought that eventuated in jihadism from an early-fourteenth-century scholar and the eighteenth-century founder of the harshly restrictive Islam predominant in Saudi Arabia to four twentieth--century figures who inspired a host of radical reactionary organizations, including Hamas and al-Qaeda. Habeck's purpose is to reveal jihadism. So doing, in considerable detail and with admirable clarity, she contributes one of the most valuable books on the ongoing Middle East--and world--crisis. This is an important book for all leaders as we attempt to understand our enemy.

Huntington, Samuel. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Touchstone, 1996. The late renowned Harvard Social Scientist Samuel Huntington warns of the increasing threat of renewed conflicts originating in countries and cultures that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. Moving past the issues of race and nationality as sources of future conflict, he cites the growing influence of a handful of major cultures--Western, Eastern Orthodox, Latin American, Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, and African--in current struggles across the globe. His study underlines the importance of cultural awareness in dealing with crises throughout the globe and its importance in implementing effective policies and programs on the ground.

McMaster, H.R. Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam. New York: Harper Perennial Publisher, 1998. A masterful study of military strategy gone awry, the author, a professional soldier, argues persuasively that President Johnson wanted to fight the war on poverty, not the war in Vietnam, and that he made decisions he believed would allow him to do both. The result was a recipe for disaster, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff exacerbated by failing to provide the President with their best advice. Dereliction of Duty is a cautionary tale about how military and civilian leadership failed at the highest levels and stumbled into a war that appeared to have no logical culmination.

Reid, Michael. The Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 2008. In examining a vast continent that is often overlooked by the West, Reid argues that Latin America's efforts to build more equitable and more prosperous societies make it one of the most dynamic areas of the world. Here a series of democratic leaders are attempting to lay the foundations for faster economic growth and more inclusive politics, while addressing the region's seemingly intractable problems of poverty, inequality, and social injustice. Failure will not only increase the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants, but will also jeopardize the stability in a region rich in oil and other strategic commodities, and threaten some of the world's most majestic natural environments. The study provides a vivid, current, and informed account of a dynamic continent and its struggle to compete in a globalized world.

Segal, David R. Recruiting for Uncle Sam: Citizenship and Military Manpower Policy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989. Written by a noted military sociologist, this study is a plea to the country to institute a system of civilian and military national service that uses economic incentives to entice recruits and not compulsion. In discussing the possible models for such a service, the author raises issues that are as relevant today as they were when he was writing in the waning days of the Cold War. Included is a compact history of U.S. recruitment and mobilization policies that can serve as a useful pr�cis on the subject.

Slim, Viscount William. Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India 1942-45 . New York: Cooper Square Press, 2000. In May 1942, British Lt. Gen. William J. Slim was the defeated commander of a demoralized corps in a forgotten theater, forced into a long, humiliating retreat by a seemingly invincible jungle enemy. Almost exactly three years later, his victorious Fourteenth Army marched into Rangoon, completing a masterful re-conquest of the country he had lost. This gripping story of leadership and command in the face of adversity has been praised as one of the great military memoirs of all time, a tale remarkable in its honesty, humility, ironic wit, and human understanding.

Stoler, Mark A. George C. Marshall: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century. New York: Twayne, 1989. General George C. Marshall played a pivotal role in American history between 1939 and 1951. In this synthesis, Professor Mark Stoler integrates an extensive variety of primary and secondary sources, including Marshall's private papers, in the story of the frustrations and successes of Marshall's attempts to forge a workable military policy in World War II consistent with the basic principles of American democracy. Marshall, best remembered for the Marshall Plan, is made comprehensible as a strategist at the center of the most destructive conflict in world history.

Strassler, Robert., ed. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War. New York: Free Press, 1998. This is an annotated new translation of the classic Greek historian's account of the war between Athens and Sparta fought between 431 B.C. and 404 B.C. It has explanatory footnotes and appendixes on war and society in 5th century B.C. E. Greece that does much to place the war in its context. The Peloponnesian War is not only an excellent chronicle of ancient warfare, but also a thoughtful dissertation on the relationship between politics and war, government and empire, and the strong and the weak. It should be in every soldier or diplomat's bookshelf.

Yates, Lawrence A. The U.S. Military Intervention in Panama: Origins, Planning, and Crisis Management June 1987-December 1989. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Army Center of Military History, 2008. In this first of a planned two volume history of Operation Just Cause, Dr. Yates, noted historian of the U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, discusses the critical events, planning, and undercurrents that lay behind the U.S. military intervention in Panama in late 1989. He skilfully weaves military planning, high-level strategic debates, and interagency priorities and confusion into a masterful story of crisis management in a post-Goldwater-Nichols world. This is essential reading for any student of regional combatant commands, their powers, and their limitations as they attempt to influence strategy and national policy.

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