From the Shelves: Add These 5 Vintage Books to Your Fall Military Reading List

From the Shelves: Add These 5 Vintage Books to Your Fall Military Reading List
Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

By Col. William D. Bushnell, USMC (Ret)


The latest additions to MOAA’s Military Professional Reading List include an often-overlooked part of naval history, an examination of guerrilla warfare throughout the centuries, and even a taste of historical fiction. 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.


The British Navy in Battle

british-navy-book.jpgBy Arthur H. Pollen. Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919 (Create Space, 2017). ISBN 978-154511-365-1.


Originally published in 1919, Pollen's book is a period study of British naval actions during World War II, as well as a revealing history of Royal Navy doctrine, tactics, training, technology, and leadership.


Iconic naval battles are well covered the Falklands, Dogger Bank, Jutland, Ostend, and Zeebrugge. Best, however, are Pollen's detailed descriptions of gunnery, weapons, armor, fire controls, and torpedoes, with special sections on the moral effects and naval ethics in battle with a defeated enemy. This would be a collector's item for serious students of World War I naval warfare.


Victorian Colonial Warfare: India 

indian-warfare-books.jpgBy Donald Featherstone. Cassell, 1992. ISBN 979-0-304-34172-6.


British Army veteran and military historian Featherstone offers this second volume in the Victorian Colonial Warfare series, following Africa. This volume covers the major wars fought by the British in India, beginning with the conquest of the Sind in 1843 and ending at the Sepoy Mutiny in 1858. Intervening wars included the Gwalior War and the two Sikh wars, with all five events critical to British dominance of the Indian subcontinent.


He tells of the political and diplomatic background, as well as the brutal battles fought in forbidding terrain in harsh climates, European-style warfare in its most bitter form. Well-illustrated with period engravings and maps.


War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History, Volume I 

guerrillla-history-books.jpgBy Robert B. Asprey. Doubleday, 1975. No ISBN.


This is the first volume in Asprey's history of guerrilla warfare (or "irregular warfare," as some would call it), covering the subject from Persian charioteers to Mao and the Chinese Civil War. Meticulously researched and brilliantly narrated, this is a classic of military history, describing guerrilla leaders like T.E. Lawrence, Francis Marion, Kenyatta, Slim, Castro, and Zapata, as well as guerrilla strategic goals, politics, tactics, insurrections, uprisings, and counterinsurgency doctrine and tactics.


Most revealing, for each period and example, he also clearly describes the conditions for victory or defeat. Volume II covers Indochina and Vietnam.


Her Privates We 

her-privates-we-books.jpgBy Frederic Manning. Profile Books, 1999 (1930). ISBN 978-1-8524-2717-7.


Among all the novels about World War I this stands out as one of the best, if least known. Originally published in 1929 as The Middle Parts of Fortune, then as Her Privates We in 1930, Manning's novel tells the story of Private Bourne, a light infantryman who fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 (the British suffered 60,000 casualties in just one day).


Bourne is 30 years old, educated, speaks French, and is trying desperately to be just a private soldier and survive the war. He and his squadmates endure bloody trench warfare, bombardment, and patrols, as well as hunger, fatigue, fear, filth, and the indifference of their officers. Manning (1882-1935) fought as a private soldier in the Shropshire Light Infantry at the Somme.


The Key to the Bulge: The Battle for Losheimergraben

key-to-the-bulge-books.jpgBy Stephen M. Rusiecki. Praeger Publishers, 1996. ISBN 978-0-8117-3591-9.


December 1944, the Battle of the Bulge, and American infantry defend the crossroads at Losheimergraben in the Ardennes with orders to hold at all costs, and a small intelligence and reconnaissance platoon dug in at Lanzerath fights until overwhelmed by German panzergrenadiers, with all the Americans killed or wounded and captured. But they held until the end.


This is the dramatic story of that small but important piece of the overall battle in frigid, miserable conditions. A wonderful tribute to small-unit leadership and cohesion.


Col. William D. Bushnell, USMC (Ret), is a regular contributor to and Military Officer magazine.


Check Out MOAA Member Books for More Great Reads!

Visit MOAA's Member Books page to see a list of recent works from MOAA members in a variety of genres.

Click Here

Related Content