What Are the Best Non-fiction Military Books of All Time? 

Best Non fiction Military Books

In previous articles, we’ve given our opinion on what we think are the best military movies as well as the best military podcasts.

Today, we’re turning our attention to the best non-fiction military books of all time.

The Top 10 Non-Fiction Military Books of All Time

Check out this list of what we think are the10 best non-fiction military books of all time.

Do you agree with us? Did we forget to include your favorite book? You can let us know by leaving a comment below.   

1. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

From Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and New York Times foreign correspondent, Dexter Filkins, The Forever War gives readers an in-depth understanding of American’s war against Islamic terrorism.

The book opens as the Taliban rises to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s, then describes the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, and the subsequent decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Told from the perspective of the citizens and servicemembers who were affected by the conflicts, the reader gets an emotional and unbiased account of what actually happened on the ground.

2. The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard, by James G. Burton

Best Non fiction Military Books

The author, a retired Air Force Colonel, worked in the pentagon for 14 years.

During his time there, he was part of a vocal and passionate minority who fought corruption, rampant over-spending, and flaws in the policy-making process from inside the Pentagon. He and his colleagues pushed hard against those who were determined to get high-tech weapons into the field no matter how expensive or ineffective they were.

It’s a jaw-dropping account of what happens when profit is valued more than the health and safety of the men and women on the frontlines of battle.

Although it is a serious book, the story was turned into a dark comedy film for HBO in 1998 that’s also worth checking out.

3. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden

Most of us have seen the 2001 movie adaptation of this book about the crew of a Black Hawk helicopter that was shot down during the Battle of Mogadishu

If you enjoyed the movie, then you owe it to yourself to read the book. Bowden recreates the infamous battle where hundreds of elite U.S. Army soldiers fought back against thousands of militants after an otherwise routine mission went terribly wrong.

The author describes the brutality of the battle and the heroism of soldiers who fought and died there in astounding detail. It’s a moving read that will likely render you speechless when you’ve finished.

4. 1776, by David McCullough

This book tells the story of those who marched with George Washington in the fight for America’s independence.

Grounded in fact but told in a narrative style, this is an intensely human story focuses on the men, boys, farmers, schoolteachers, merchants, and craftsmen who were turned into soldiers almost overnight to fight for a cause that was bigger than any would have imagined. They entire fate of the country was resting on their shoulders whether they knew it or not.

We know the outcome, but it doesn’t make this story any less gripping, dramatic, or compelling. 1776 will give you an entirely new appreciation for everything that was sacrificed by the men who fought in the Revolutionary War to ensure we lived in a nation free from tyranny and British rule.

5. We Were Soldiers Once … And Young, by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway

Best Non fiction Military Books

In November of 1965, 450 American soldiers were dropped into the la Drang Valley only to be surrounded by 2,000 soldiers from North Vietnam. This book tells the story of the battle that ensued, which is considered to be one of the earliest and most deadly conflicts between American and Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War.

Authors Lt. Gen. Harold Moore (retired) and journalist Joseph Galloway interviewed hundreds of men who were there, including North Vietnamese commanders, to give an intensely accurate depiction of the brutality of the battle.

Ultimately, the book serves as an homage to the sacrifice and bravery of the American soldiers who never gave up in spite of impossible odds.

6. One Bullet Away, by Nathaniel Fick

One Bullet Away is one man’s account of his transformation from civilian to Marine to platoon leader on the frontlines of Iraq.

Fick lifts the curtain to show the average reader just how Marines are transformed into the legendary leaders they’re known to be. From enlistment to basic training to deployment, you feel like you’re right there with him. He also recounts the split second, life-and-death decisions he made in the heat of battle in order to keep the promise he made to himself to bring the men under his command home safely.

The book doesn’t pull punches or shy away from the harsh truths of war, but ultimately, it’s an inspiring account of one man’s ability to transform himself into a leader under the harshest conditions possible.

7. The Outpost: The Most Heroic Battle of the Afghanistan War,by Jake Tapper

Coming in at more than 700 pages, The Outpost isn’t quite a beach read, but it’s certainly a must read. The story centers around Combat Outpost Keating, which was built in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan just miles outside of the Pakistani border.

The outpost was doomed for disaster even before it was built. Tapper explains how one bad decision led to another, which eventually resulted in a harrowing battle that involved 53 American soldiers fighting off 400 Taliban fighters.

Several soldiers won the Medal of Honor for the bravery displayed at Outpost Keating.

8. Band of Brothers, by Stephan Ambrose

Best Non fiction Military Books

This New York Times bestseller was the inspiration for the widely acclaimed HBO series that came out in 2001. If you enjoyed the movie, then you owe it to yourself to read the book.

Band of Brothers tells the true story the men of Easy Company during World War II from their training in the summer of 1942 to the time they disbanded in 1945. These men were always given the toughest assignments. And their reward for each success was another assignment that was tougher than the last.

Easy Company’s exploits include parachuting into France on D-Day, parachuting into Holland during the Arnhem campaign, and being dropped in to hold the line in the Battle of the Bulge. Their most famous exploit was capturing Hitler’s Bavarian outpost, his so-called “Eagle’s Nest” at Berchtesgaden.

It’s a fascinating story of ordinary men coming together to do extraordinary things.

9. Flyboys: A True Story of Courage by James Bradley

There are many books about World War II, but Flyboys finally brings to light events that have been obscured for six decades.

Nine American flyers were on a mission to destroy Japanese communication towers but were shot down over the island of Chichi Jima. One of the nine, future president George H.W. Bush, was rescued, but this isn’t his story. It’s the story of the other eight who were taken prisoner and seemingly disappeared.

When the Japanese surrendered, and the war ended, there was still no word about the Flyboys. Both the Japanese government and even the American government covered up the events of Chichi Jima. It seemed that the story of the Flyboys would be forever forgotten to history—until today.

Bradley conducted exhaustive research and continued to pursue the truth until he finally uncovered an amazing story that has never been told before.

10. The Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman

Best Non fiction Military Books

This Pulitzer Prize winning title is widely considered to be a modern masterpiece of military history. The Guns of August isn’t merely an academic recounting of WWI. Rather, this book zeroes in on the 30 days that preceded “The Great War” and how those events would forever upend the modern world.

Tuchman devotes time and attention to bringing the robust personalities of the war’s key players, including czars, presidents, generals, and kings to life. It’s no wonder The Modern Library selected The Guns of August as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of all time.

Non-fiction Military Books are Entertaining and Educational

These are just 10 of the non-fiction military books that we recommend. There are countless others, to be sure, so just pick one and start reading.

No matter which book you choose to read, you’re sure to learn about specific time in history and gain a deeper appreciation of the sacrifices the men and women of the military have made in defense of our country throughout history.

Ready for a Civilian Job? 

When you’re ready to transition out of the military and begin your civilian career search, be sure to contact Empire Resume.

We can help you create a winning resume and prepare you for civilian job interviews. We also offer a discount to separating servicemembers and veterans.

To get started, call us at 801-690-4085 or send an email to info@empireresume.com. And, for more information to help you in your career search, be sure to check out other articles in our military blog.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.   

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