The best books about American war reporting

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been curious about how reporters covered D-Day, and their interactions with the army, for more than thirty years, and my research into media-military relations, begun in earnest fifteen years ago has led to more than a dozen archives in several countries. Most accounts suggest that the press and the military fully cooperated during World War II, but documentary evidence reveals a far more nuanced story, with far more conflict between officials and the press than is supposed. After publishing work about the campaign in French North Africa, and a book about Ed Kennedy’s scoop of the German surrender, I’m now back where I started, working on a book about press coverage of D-Day.

I wrote...

The Price of Truth: The Journalist Who Defied Military Censors to Report the Fall of Nazi Germany

By Richard Fine,

Book cover of The Price of Truth: The Journalist Who Defied Military Censors to Report the Fall of Nazi Germany

What is my book about?

In May 1945, Associated Press journalist Ed Kennedy circumvented military censorship to break the news of the final German surrender he had just witnessed in France. No action by an American correspondent during the war proved more controversial. Other reporters in Paris accused Kennedy of betrayal; the army threatened court-martial before expelling him from Europe. When the dust settled after a ferocious national debate, Kennedy’s estimable career was in ruins. The episode revises what we think we know about media-military relations during the Second World War, challenging the conventional view that those relations were amicable at the time and only ran off the rails later in Vietnam.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Military and the Press: An Uneasy Truce

Richard Fine Why did I love this book?

This book was a lifesaver for me as I began to explore media-military relations about a decade ago.

Briefly but authoritatively Sweeney charts the relationship between the American military and the media from the Revolutionary War to the early twenty-first century. Sweeney, a former journalist himself, also writes well and this is a joy to read.

The subtitle suggests Sweeney’s take on the subject, and Sweeney’s work generally has been invaluable to me and this book would be the place to start for anyone interested in the subject.  

By Michael S. Sweeney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Military and the Press as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Because news is a weapon of war - affecting public opinion, troop morale, even strategy - for more than a century America's wartime officials have sought to control or influence the press, most recently by ""embedding"" reporters within military units in Iraq. This second front, where press freedom and military imperatives often do battle, is the territory explored in ""The Military and the Press"", a history of how press-military relations have evolved during the twentieth and twenty-first century in response to the demands of politics, economics, technology, and legal and social forces. Author Michael S. Sweeney takes a chronological approach,…

Book cover of The War Beat, Europe: The American Media at War Against Nazi Germany

Richard Fine Why did I love this book?

This is a book I wish I had written, far and away the best book about coverage of the Second World War in Europe. 

It is based on a wealth of archival research and features both celebrated reporters like Ernie Pyle and Edward R. Murrow, and less well-known ones like Homer Bigart and Don Whitehead. Although award-winning scholarship, Casey’s work is accessible to any curious reader. Casey is English but understands well the American military, the American press, and American culture generally.

Casey explores the war in the Pacific theater in a subsequent book, The War Beat, Pacific: The American Media at War Against Japan.

By Steven Casey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War Beat, Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the North African desert to the bloody stalemate in Italy, from the London blitz to the D-Day beaches, a group of highly courageous and extremely talented American journalists reported the war against Nazi Germany for a grateful audience. Based on a wealth of previously untapped primary sources, War Beat, Europe provides the first comprehensive account of what these reporters witnessed, what they were allowed to publish, and how their reports shaped the
home front's perception of some of the most pivotal battles in American history.

In a dramatic and fast-paced narrative, Steven Casey takes readers from the inner councils…

Book cover of Reporting War: How Foreign Correspondents Risked Capture, Torture and Death to Cover World War II

Richard Fine Why did I love this book?

Moseley was the Chief European Correspondent for The Chicago Tribune for the last forty years of the twentieth century and although published by a university press is more a work of journalism than original scholarship. 

It is based largely on the memoirs of an extraordinary number of reporters, many American but many more not. The real virtue of this book is how wide-ranging it is, covering the entire war and reporters from all of the combatant countries.

Readers get a vivid sense of how World War II was just that—a war that raged across the globe. 

By Ray Moseley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reporting War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Luminary journalists Ed Murrow, Martha Gellhorn, Walter Cronkite, and Clare Hollingworth were among the young reporters who chronicled World War II's daily horrors and triumphs for Western readers. In this fascinating book, Ray Moseley, himself a former foreign correspondent who encountered a number of these journalists in the course of his long career, mines the correspondents' writings to relate, in an exhilarating parallel narrative, the events across every theater-Europe, Pearl Harbor, North Africa, and Japan-as well as the lives of the courageous journalists who doggedly followed the action and the story, often while embedded in the Allied armies.

Moseley's broad…

Book cover of Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press

Richard Fine Why did I love this book?

I first encountered Ed Kennedy while doing research in the AP archives and have spent the better part of a decade untangling what proved to be the biggest controversy over press coverage of the war—Kennedy’s scoop of the German surrender.

No American war correspondent was more experienced than Kennedy, who reported for the Associated Press from the Spanish Civil War until the end of World War II.

Given that Kennedy acted as an AP bureau chief in both North Africa and Paris, his memoir, written in the late 1940s but not published for sixty years, is the best insider account we have at how American reporters interacted with army public relations and censorship officials during the war.

By Ed Kennedy, Julia Kennedy Cochran (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ed Kennedy's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On May 7, 1945, Associated Press reporter Ed Kennedy became the most famous -- or infamous -- American correspondent of World War II. On that day in France, General Alfred Jodl signed the official documents as the Germans surrendered to the Allies. Army officials allowed a select number of reporters, including Kennedy, to witness this historic moment -- but then instructed the journalists that the story was under military embargo. In a courageous but costly move, Kennedy defied the military embargo and broke the news of the Allied victory. His scoop generated instant controversy. Rival news organisations angrily protested, and…

Book cover of A. J. Liebling: World War II Writings

Richard Fine Why did I love this book?

I first encountered Liebling’s work about Normandy during World War II when I received a Fulbright fellowship to teach at the university in Caen in the 1980s.

His Normandy Revisited was the only book in the library at VCU that had Normandy in the title. I’ve been a fan ever since, as his work is both canny and often laugh-out-loud funny. Liebling worked for the New Yorker for many decades, and wrote the best long-form journalism of the war.

Liebling possessed an intimate knowledge of French language and culture, which gave him unparalleled access to civilians both in French North Africa and in Normandy in the months after D-Day.

By Pete Hamill (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A. J. Liebling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most gifted and influential American journalists of the 20th century, A. J. Liebling spent five years reporting the dramatic events and myriad individual stories of World War II. As a correspondent for The New Yorker, Liebling wrote with a passionate commitment to Allied victory, an unfailing attention to telling details, and an appreciation for the literary challenges presented by the discursive, centrifugal, both repetitive and disparate nature of war. This volume brings together three books along with 26 uncollected New Yorker pieces and two excerpts from The Republic of Silence (1947), Liebling's collection of writing from the…

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The Forest Knights

By J. K. Swift,

Book cover of The Forest Knights

J. K. Swift Author Of Acre

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I love a good fight scene! It doesn’t need to be long and gruesome, but it must be visceral and make me nervous for those involved. Don’t get me wrong, I also love a good first-kiss scene but unfortunately, my past has made me more adept at recognizing and writing one over the other. I started training in martial arts at the age of nine and continued for thirty years. I don’t train much these days but I took up bowmaking a few years back and now spend a lot of time carving English longbows and First Nations’ bows. I recently also took up Chinese archery.

J. K.'s book list on with realistic fight scenes

What is my book about?

The greatest underdog story of the medieval age.

A wild land too mountainous to be tamed by plows. A duke of the empire, his cunning overshadowed only by his ambitions. A young priestess of the Old Religion, together with a charismatic outlaw, sparking a rebellion from deep within the forests. And an ex-Hospitaller caught between them all.

The Forest Knights

By J. K. Swift,

What is this book about?

A druid priestess enlists the help of an ex-Hospitaller warrior and a charismatic outlaw to fight Austrian tyranny in medieval Switzerland. A subtle blend of fantasy and history, ALTDORF (Book 1) tells the events leading up to one of the greatest underdog stories of the medieval age, the Battle of MORGARTEN (Book 2).

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the news media, war correspondents, and mass media?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the news media, war correspondents, and mass media.

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