The best thriller books about veterans that go beyond “thank you for your service"

Who am I?

Before I’m a writer, I’m a reader and I need the realness when it comes to military service. I started as an Army journalist so the details matter to me. When I pick up a book to relax and the main character draws me with a story I can get all the five senses of it, I’m in! On the other hand, I'm usually turned off by books that use veterans as props or either heroes or villains with nothing in between. That’s not who I served with. Where was the gray of the human existence in veteran characters? Gimme books that bring more depth to characters that round out personal experience. 


I wrote...

Beyond Sacrifice

By Alicia Dill,

Book cover of Beyond Sacrifice

What is my book about?

Concepcion Chapa, an Army veteran, FBI special agent, and the orphaned daughter of two CIA agents, has lived a life of sacrifice for her country. When she learns that her parents may not be dead, just undercover, she allows herself to be recruited as a killer-for-hire for the CIA. Faking her death and undergoing surgery to change her looks, Concepcion leaves everything behind-her friends, family, and country. Under the identity of Sofia Paltrini, she travels the globe doing the dirty work of the US government. But in a world of subterfuge and hidden motives, no one is quite who they seem. Concepcion is left not knowing who to trust and wondering if there's a way to live a life for herself that's beyond sacrifice.

The books I picked & why

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Little Falls

By Elizabeth Lewes,

Book cover of Little Falls

Why this book?

Finally, a competent female veteran character, Camille who is struggling with what it means to be home as a mother set against a backdrop of murder she finds familiar. This was the exact type of book I recommend to everyone because Camille is doing all the things, but she is also not fitting into any characterization of being a mom. And it’s a mystery, thoroughly crafted by a female veteran author in her debut, Elizabeth Lewes. 

Little Falls

By Elizabeth Lewes,

Why should I read it?

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


Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

By Anthony Swofford,

Book cover of Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Why this book?

Anthony Swofford made a non-fiction book read like fiction. Period. He set the standard for writing about the “hurry up and wait” of the military. The grit of the sand in your mouth as you witness things that don’t feel right. And what happens when we go to fight abroad and come back different. I read this prior to deployment and it helped cast a light on what sacrifice can mean after we get out. 

Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

By Anthony Swofford,

Why should I read it?

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


A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

By Samantha Power,

Book cover of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

Why this book?

Strong material for a college course that connected me to the why I served our country in Kosovo. Samantha Power helped me understand the U.S. history with our conflicts, both good and bad. This was a critical read to write nuanced characters from war zones. Each chapter is a different conflict. Amazingly, I was able to meet Samantha Power, former Ambassador to the UN and as a former journalist herself reporting from conflict areas, she’s the real deal. She walks the talk. 

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide

By Samantha Power,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Problem from Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Armenian Genocide to the ethnic cleansings of Kosovo and Darfur, modern history is haunted by acts of brutal violence. Yet American leaders who vow never again" repeatedly fail to stop genocide. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, " A Problem from Hell" draws upon exclusive interviews with Washington's top policymakers, thousands of once classified documents, and accounts of reporting from the killing fields to show how decent Americans inside and outside government looked away from mass murder. Combining spellbinding history and seasoned political analysis, " A Problem from Hell" allows readers to…

Sisters in Arms

By Kaia Alderson,

Book cover of Sisters in Arms

Why this book?

I loved this was a historical fiction novel that featured the Six Triple Eight unit from the Women’s Army Corps. The Midwest was heavily featured including Iowa and the way race played in the way women were allowed to serve. This reminded me that I stand on the shoulders of the women who came before me in the Women’s Army Corps and the treatment of women has come a long way. I struggled with some of the scenarios the two main characters, Grace Steele and Eliza Jones were put into but they rang true for a fictional novel. 

Sisters in Arms

By Kaia Alderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sisters in Arms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kaia Alderson's debut historical fiction novel reveals the untold, true story of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women's Army Corps, who made the dangerous voyage to Europe to ensure American servicemen received word from their loved ones during World War II.


Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the…


One Was a Soldier

By Julia Spencer-Fleming,

Book cover of One Was a Soldier

Why this book?

This book is from a series but I picked this one out because it was perfectly targeting why veterans talking to other veterans can heal. These fictional characters have real backstories that resonated with me. This is set in a small town with the dichotomy of military and law enforcement and is an easy, mystery read. 

One Was a Soldier

By Julia Spencer-Fleming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Was a Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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