The best military books written by veterans

Damien Larkin Author Of Big Red
By Damien Larkin

Who am I?

I served for seven years in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces, finishing as a weapons specialist in the infantry. I’m very grateful for the time I served in uniform and the lifelong lessons I learned that have helped me in my personal and professional life. Being a lifelong fan of military science fiction, I wrote Big Red from the point of view of a young Irish soldier thrown into a genocidal war on Mars. I’m a co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community and our online magazine Bard of the Isles.


I wrote...

Big Red

By Damien Larkin,

Book cover of Big Red

What is my book about?

Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, Irish soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth’s Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy. But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is…

The books I picked & why

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Smokepit Fairytales (Volume 1)

By Tripp Ainsworth,

Book cover of Smokepit Fairytales (Volume 1)

Why this book?

Smokepit Fairytales is one of the most provocative, original and surreal works of military science fiction I’ve ever read. Written by US Marine veteran Tripp Ainsworth, Smokepit Fairytales is the first book in an epic series following the trials and tribulations of a small band of Marines. Each of the characters in this book are normal, flawed human beings trying to pass the boredom in between deployments with anything they can do to distract themselves. When a war unexpectedly breaks out, they must face down their fears and band together to get the job done and get home in once piece.

This book is not for the fainthearted, but from the sheer volume of 5-star rankings on Amazon, it is not one to be missed.

Smokepit Fairytales (Volume 1)

By Tripp Ainsworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smokepit Fairytales (Volume 1) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hank and his trusty Corpsman, "Doc," only thought they knew what to expect when they were deployed to Iraq, but after getting trapped in an ancient Babylonian temple, things only got weird. After months of combat in a war that wouldn't end, Hank returns to California to face a different type of immigrant, the kind that comes from space.
Follow Hank through this wildly imaginative science fiction romp as he tries to figure out what it means to be human, or if he even still is one.


Shadow Warriors

By Paul O’Brien, Wayne Fitzgerald,

Book cover of Shadow Warriors

Why this book?

Ireland is known as the land of a thousand welcomes, but most people aren’t aware of its sixty unbroken years of Peacekeeping duty with the UN and even less know of its elite special forces unit known as the Army Ranger Wing (ARW).

The ARW is seen by many as one of the most effective special forces in operation. Shadow Warriors gives an in depth look into the history of the ARW, set up against the backdrop of rising instances of international terrorism and its deployment in a variety of roles across dozens of countries. This is an easy and straightforward read for anyone interested in military related books.

Shadow Warriors

By Paul O’Brien, Wayne Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1980, the Irish Department of Defence sanctioned the establishment of a new unit within the Irish Defence Forces and the Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW) came into being. In the decades that followed, its soldiers have been deployed on active service at home and abroad, generally without the knowledge of the wider public. The ARW is made up of seasoned men from across the island, who are selected through tough competition. Only the best of the best make it through and are trained in an extraordinary range of specialist skills. Being one of these elite operators…


Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of Starship Troopers

Why this book?

Starship Troopers is easily one of the most distinguished and recognisable books of the twentieth century, going on to influence an entire generation of authors and readers alike. Set against the backdrop of an interstellar war between the Terran Federation and alien arachnids referred to as Bugs, Heinlein uses the novel to explore his own philosophical ideas on a militarised society where only citizens can vote. Although the book has had many detractors over the years, it pioneered the use of ‘powered armour’ and is considered by many to be the grandfather of modern military science fiction.

A definite must read for fans of science fiction.

Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Starship Troopers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The historians can't seem to settle whether to call this one 'The Third Space War' (or the fourth), or whether 'The First Interstellar War' fits it better. We just call it 'The Bug War'. Everything up to then and still later were 'incidents', 'patrols' or 'police actions'. However, you are just as dead if you buy the farm in an 'incident' as you are if you buy it in a declared war.'

5,000 years in the future, humanity faces total extermination. Our one defence: highly-trained soldiers who scour the metal-strewn blackness of space to hunt down a terrifying enemy: an…


We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

By Joseph Galloway, General Harold Moore,

Book cover of We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

Why this book?

Many people will remember Mel Gibson’s film adaption of one of the pivotal moments in America’s involvement in Vietnam, but for me, the book is far more fascinating and in depth. Written by the US commanding officer and the only journalist present for the battle, this book is an intriguing snapshot into the heroism and dedication of American soldiers who fought an enemy many times their numbers and survived countless bloody counterattacks.

This is an excellent read for anyone interested in learning more about American involvement in Vietnam.

We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

By Joseph Galloway, General Harold Moore,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked We Were Soldiers Once... and Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'If you want to know what is was like to go to Vietnam as a young American... and find yourself caught in ferocious, remorseless combat with an enemy as courageous and idealistic as you were, then you must read this book. Moore and Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war' THE TIMES

THE MUST READ CLASSIC OF THE VIETNAM WAR

In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt.Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small…


The Forever War

By Joe Haldeman,

Book cover of The Forever War

Why this book?

Written as a reaction to Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, The Forever War is a fantastic depiction of warfare with no end in sight. Thanks to a propulsion system that ensures decades and even centuries pass in real time, we a follow a soldier’s endless struggle to defend his world and navigate the changing cultural developments of humanity, to a point that they become unrecogniseable.

Another must-read for any die-hard SF fans.

The Forever War

By Joe Haldeman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Forever War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The monumental Hugo and Nebula award winning SF classic-- Featuring a new introduction by John Scalzi

The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand--despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. A reluctant conscript drafted into an elite Military unit, Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties and do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But "home" may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time…


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