The best military books written by veterans

Damien Larkin Author Of Big Red
By Damien Larkin

The Books I Picked & Why

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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