5 Military Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List

5 Military Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List
Image by Betsy Moore/MOAA

By Col. William Bushnell, USMC (Ret)


Whether you are at home, by the pool, or in the great outdoors, the perfect companion to take with you on your summer adventures may be a great book. Our reviewer has handpicked a selection of military reads for you to enjoy, wherever the season takes you. 

You can order the books through the links in the titles below; MOAA is an Amazon Associate and earns money from qualifying purchases, with the revenue supporting The MOAA Foundation.


Middle East 101: A Beginner's Guide for Deployers, Travelers, and Concerned Citizens

By Youssef H. Aboul-Enien and Joseph T. Stanik. Naval Institute Press, 2019. ISBN 978-1-68247-427-3.


The authors, both U.S. naval officers, have produced perhaps the best written, most useful single volume to clearly describe Middle East history, past, present, and future, religious and political. They pose 101 questions, offering lucid answers and insights, covering everything from terminology, geography, and institutions, to the fundamentals of Islam, jihad, and religious conflicts, ancient and modern. They explain the growth and spread of Islam, the dream of the caliphate, Muslim empires, Middle East nationalism, the Zionist movement, wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the very real threat of jihadist terrorism and its goals, and the uncertain future of Middle East reform and peace. This is essential reading for any professional military officer.


It’s My Country, Too: Women's Military Stories from the American Revolution To Afghanistan

By Jerri Bell and Tracy Crow. Potomac Books, 2017. ISBN 978-1-64012-232-1. 

For more than 230 years American women have served honorably in the U.S. military in a variety of roles, but “the voices of American women veterans” are seldom heard outside of a few published memoirs. Fortunately, editors Bell and Crow correct that with this powerful collection of women veterans’ stories from the American Revolution, the Civil War, Spanish-American War, both world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The editors selected 57 women veteran stories, some from historical sources, others from diaries and interviews. And their contributions as soldiers, sailors, aircrew, Marines, and coast guard personnel reveal much about the courage, patriotism, determination, and skill of American servicewomen. The editors also highlight the continual challenges women face in the military, the seemingly endless Gender War of full acceptance.


[RELATED: Military Professional Reading List]


Infantry Combat - The Rifle Platoon: An Interactive Exercise in Small Unit Tactics and Leadership 

By John F. Antal. Casemate, 2019. ISBN 978-1-61200-820-2.

Colonel Antal is a retired U.S. Army officer, now historian and author of a dozen books on military subjects. Originally published in 1995, this offers a useful training method to teach the light infantry tactics of an American infantry platoon deployed to combat in the Middle East. The lessons are interactive – the reader is an American second lieutenant who must defend a desert position against an enemy mechanized force. Each scenario presents the lieutenant with problems and options, with possible decisions and outcomes smartly discussed. Well-written and realistic, the theme is reminiscent and similar to the old “Defense of Duffer’s Drift” lesson plan taught 40 years ago, but much more timely. Well supplemented with maps and tables, this is a suitable accompaniment to The Last Hundred Yards by H.J. Poole (1996).


The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam

By Max Boot. Liveright Publishing, 2018. ISBN 978-0-87140-941-6.

Best-selling author Max Boot has produced some stunning histories like The Savage Wars of Peace and Invisible Armies, now offering the fascinating biography of Edward Lansdale (1908-1987), the legendary CIA operative whose visionary approach to unconventional warfare guided American foreign policy for years, until Washington bureaucrats stopped listening to him. This massive book covers Lansdale’s life and work in the Philippines suppressing the Huks in the 1950s to Indochina in the 60s and 70s. Boot reveals Lansdale to be a brash, controversial CIA figure, calling him the “T.E. Lawrence of Asia.”  His counterinsurgency successes and forward-thinking convinced him that force alone cannot win a guerrilla war, and that the population’s “hearts and minds” have greater, long-lasting positive impact. Excellent, insightful reading.

Warrior: A Visual History of the Fighting Man

By R.G. Grant. DK Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7566-3203-8.

This hefty, oversized, and beautifully illustrated book is a British publication, written by R.G. Grant, a prolific British military historian. This is a pictorial and narrative history of fighting men through twenty-five centuries, from the Greek hoplite, medieval man-at-arms, and musketeer to the cavalryman, infantryman, guerrilla fighter, and SAS soldier. Grant focuses not on battles, but the fighting men themselves – their training, weapons, equipment, organization, battlefield tactics, and the martial culture that created warriors like the Roman legionnaire, Mongol horse archer, Swiss pikeman, German stormtrooper, RAF fighter pilot, and U.S. Marine, professionals and citizen-soldiers. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs, drawings, maps, and tables, this is a nice addition to a professional’s personal library.