The best non-fiction military books that you can't put down

Why am I passionate about this?

I served for some time in the elite forces and have always had a fascination with military history, especially when it comes in the form of a memoir or autobiography. I’m equally compelled by eloquently written prose by many of the gifted journalists and reporters who have illuminated the struggles, valor, and glory of the fighting man since the days of Tsu.


I wrote...

Mutiny of Rage: The 1917 Camp Logan Riots and Buffalo Soldiers in Houston

By Jaime Salazar,

Book cover of Mutiny of Rage: The 1917 Camp Logan Riots and Buffalo Soldiers in Houston

What is my book about?

Salado Creek, Texas, 1918: Thirteen black soldiers stood at attention in front of gallows erected specifically for their hanging. They had been convicted of participating in one of America’s most infamous black uprisings, the Camp Logan Mutiny, otherwise known as the 1917 Houston Riots. The revolt and ensuing riots were carried out by men of the 3rd Battalion of the all-black 24th U.S. Infantry Regiment—the famed Buffalo Soldiers—after members of the Houston Police Department violently menaced them and citizens of the local black community. It all took place over one single bloody night.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu

Jaime Salazar Why did I love this book?

In this book recounting the fall of French Indochina, Bernard B. Fall, a critically acclaimed scholar, and reporter makes use of declassified documents from the French Defense Ministry. He also interviews thousands of surviving French and Vietnamese soldiers in order to weave a compelling account of the key battle of Dien Bien Phu—the strategic attack fought by France against the Vietnamese in 1954 after eight long years of war. Fall presents a new model of modern warfare on which size and sophistication don’t always dictate victory.

By Bernard B. Fall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hell In A Very Small Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu ranks with Stalingrad and Tet for what it ended (imperial ambitions), what it foretold (American involvement), and what it symbolized: A guerrilla force of Viet Minh destroyed a technologically superior French army, convincing the Viet Minh that similar tactics might prevail in battle with the U.S.


Book cover of House to House: A Soldier's Memoir

Jaime Salazar Why did I love this book?

Fallujah is one of the most horrendous and hard-fought battles in U.S. history. David Bellavia has written an unforgettable story of triumph, tragedy, and the resilience of the human spirit. In the second Iraq conflict, Bellavia shows us the stairways and alleys of Fallujah through the sights of his rifle. Politics and strategy are impossible luxuries for the combat soldiers, but Bellavia writes about even bigger themes: courage, fear, brotherhood, and duty. To read this account is to know intimately the daily grind and danger of men at war, a rare and gripping account of the frontline war. He captures the brutal action and raw intensity of leading his Third Platoon, Alpha Company, into a lethally choreographed kill zone: the booby-trapped, explosive-laden houses of Fallujah's terrorists.

Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, this gripping war memoir features an indelibly drawn cast of characters, not all of whom would make it out alive, as well as the sober account of the singular courage that earned Bellavia the Medal of Honor: Entering one house alone, he used every tool at his disposal in the fight of his life against America's most vicious enemy. Bellavia's riveting, poignant, and at times even humorous firsthand account intensely emphasizes why this battle must never be forgotten.

By David Bellavia, John Bruning,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked House to House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC SOLDIER’S MEMOIR FROM MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT STAFF SERGEANT DAVID BELLAVIA

“A rare and gripping account of frontline combat.”—LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty

“They used to say that the real war will never get in the books. Here it does, stunningly.” —Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq and Making the Corps

“To read this book is to know intimately the daily grind and danger of men at war.”—Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author of Jarhead

One of the great heroes of the Iraq War, Staff Sergeant David…


Book cover of Black Hawk Down: The History of the Battle of Mogadishu

Jaime Salazar Why did I love this book?

Black Hawk Down documents efforts by America’s Unified Task Force to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in 1993, and the resulting fight in Mogadishu between U.S. forces and his militia. Dramatically, graphically reconstructing the battle, author Mark Bowden leaves nothing about combat to the imagination. He describes Mogadishu as a place of Mad Max-like anarchy to describe the warring with great accuracy. Thinking there must have been some official inquiry into the tragedy that killed 18 American fighters and upwards of 500 Somalis, Bowden discovered none was undertaken, and so this account was conceived. It is a horribly enthralling bullet-by-bullet story, in which the purpose of Americans in Somalia fades to irrelevance amidst the instant desperation of fighting. In the ensuing day-and night-long snafu, men bled to death, rescue convoys drove in wrong directions, and choppers were shot down. His narrative tells of how Rangers and elite Delta Force members began a mission to capture a pair of high-ranking deputies to warlord Aidid only to find them surrounded in a hostile North African city. 

In an effective New Journalism style, Bowden projects the individual soldier's thinking: his satisfaction in his elite training, his surprise at the strangeness of war, his determination to hold out until rescue, and, in two instances, his pure self-sacrificial heroism. He supplements this with hundreds of interviews, turning Black Hawk Down into a totally authentic nonfiction novel, a lively page-turner that will make readers feel like they're standing beside the embattled troops. 

By Charles River Editors,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Hawk Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Includes pictures *Includes an explanation of the action, what went wrong, and an analysis of who was to blame *Includes online resources, footnotes, and a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents “The Somalis were a curious bunch. For every armed person, there were fifty unarmed just standing around, often right next to the guy firing at us.” – Michael Goffena, a Black Hawk pilot If it was the dawn of a new world order in the 1990s, it was one of American unilateralism. Throughout the decade, America’s unrivaled power and the globalization of the world through technology…


Book cover of Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

Jaime Salazar Why did I love this book?

Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers is the account of the men of a remarkable unit who fought, went hungry, froze, and died, a band that took 150 percent casualties and considered the Purple Heart an initiation. The book rests upon interviews Ambrose conducted with former members of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The interviews were conducted as part of a project to collect oral histories of D-Day for the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. Ambrose tells the stories of the survivors and fleshes out the soldiers' journals and letters, often in the men's own words. He was intrigued with the bonds that had developed among the members. Ambrose wrote of the book’s finished draft, "We have come as close to the true story of Easy Company as possible."

By Stephen E. Ambrose,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Band of Brothers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

They fought on Utah Beach, in Arnhem, Bastogne, the Bulge; they spearheaded the Rhine offensive and took possession of Hitler's Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden. Easy Company, 506th Airborne Division, U.S. Army, was as good a rifle company as any in the world. From their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to D-Day and victory, Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company, which kept getting the tough assignments. Easy Company was responsible for everything from parachuting into France early D-Day morning to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden. BAND OF BROTHERS is the account of the men of…


Book cover of The Guns of August

Jaime Salazar Why did I love this book?

The Guns of August is a historical volume by Barbara W. Tuchman. It is centered on the first month of World War I, and the events that led up to it. This was the last kick of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, many who sported pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms. Pomp and romance accompanied the beastly war. After introductory chapters, Tuchman describes in great detail the opening events of the conflict.

The war becomes a military history of the chief contestants, the great powers. Tuchman masterfully portrays this transition from the 19th to 20th Century, focusing on the turning point in 1914, the month leading up to the war and the first month of the war. With fine attention, she reveals how and why the war started, and why it could have been stopped but wasn't. She also includes the discussion of the plans, strategies, world events, and international sentiments before and during the conflagration, managing to make the story utterly suspenseful even when we already know the outcome.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Guns of August as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • “A brilliant piece of military history which proves up to the hilt the force of Winston Churchill’s statement that the first month of World War I was ‘a drama never surpassed.’”—Newsweek
 
Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time

In this landmark account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step…


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Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Idealistic Storyteller Teacher Mother Seeker

Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Looking for clean romantic suspense with spiritual undertones?

Look no further than the Acts of Valor series by Rebecca Hartt. With thousands of reviews and 4.7-5.0 stars per book, this 6-book series is a must-read for readers searching for memorable, well-told stories by an award-winning author.

A dead man stands on her doorstep.

When the Navy wrote off her MIA husband as dead, Eden came to terms with being a widow. But now, her Navy SEAL husband is staring her in the face. Eden knows she should be over-the-moon, but she isn’t.

Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has no recollection of their fractured marriage, no memory of Eden nor her fourteen-year-old daughter. Still, he feels a connection to both.

Unfit for active duty and assigned to therapy, Jonah knows he has work to do and relies on God, who sustained him during captivity, to heal his mind, body, and hopefully his family.

But as the memories lurking in his wife's haunted eyes and behind his daughter's uncertain smile begin to return to him, Jonah makes another discovery. There is treachery in the highest ranks of his Team, treachery that not only threatens him but places his new-found family in its crosshairs.

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

What is this book about?

Presumed Dead, Navy SEAL Returns Without Memory of His Ordeal in the Christian Romantic Suspense, Returning to Eden, by Rebecca Hartt

-- Present Day, Virginia Beach, Virginia --

A dead man stands at Eden Mills' door.

Declared MIA a year prior, the Navy wrote him off as dead. Now, Eden's husband, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has returned after three years to disrupt her tranquility. Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, he has no recollection of their marriage or their fourteen-year-old step-daughter. Still, Eden accepts her obligation to nurse Jonah back to health while secretly longing to regain her freedom, despite the…


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Interested in World War 1, the Iraq War, and presidential biography?

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