The best books about war and the Marines

Who am I?

As a combat Marine, I believe these books honor the brave men who served and died for America. I joined the Marine Corps at 17 years of age after graduating from St. Petersburg High School. I served as a machine gunner with the famed 5th Marine Regiment during the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. I was wounded 3 times by mortar round, grenade, and gunshot. I've written nine books around these subjects as well as an off-Broadway stage play titled The Battle For Nong Son. Many of my books are recommended reading for all newly commissioned officers at The Basic School. I am the recipient of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association Brigadier General Robert L. Denig Memorial Distinguished Service Award for writing, as well as the Silver Star, 3 Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, the Civil Action Combat Medal, and the Marine Combat Ribbon among other decorations.

I wrote...

Guns Up!: A Firsthand Account of the Vietnam War

By Johnnie M. Clark,

Book cover of Guns Up!: A Firsthand Account of the Vietnam War

What is my book about?

"Guns up!" was the battle cry that sent machine gunners racing forward with their M60s to mow down the enemy, hoping that this wasn't the day they would meet their deaths. Marine Johnnie Clark heard that the life expectancy of a machine gunner in Vietnam was seven to ten seconds after a firefight began. Johnnie was only eighteen when he got there, at the height of the bloody Tet Offensive, and he quickly realized the grim statistic held a chilling truth.

The Marines who fought and bled and died were ordinary men, many still teenagers, but the selfless bravery they showed day after day in a nightmarish jungle war made them true heroes. This new edition is filled with photographs and updated information about those harrowing battles, also contains the real names of these extraordinary warriors and details of their lives after the war. The book's continuing success is a tribute to the raw courage and sacrifice of the United States Marines.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Echo in Ramadi: The Firsthand Story of US Marines in Iraq's Deadliest City

By Scott A. Huesing,

Book cover of Echo in Ramadi: The Firsthand Story of US Marines in Iraq's Deadliest City

Why this book?

Major Scott Huesing is a Marine after my own heart. He was once a Lance Corporal and understands the Corps from top to bottom. He was the combat leader for Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines during their bloody battles in the deadliest city of the Iraq War. Reading this book taught an old Marine what the new Corps is like.

West to Cambodia

By S.L.A. Marshall,

Book cover of West to Cambodia

Why this book?

Slam Marshall is the author of many books about the American military. He was a Brigadier General and served in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. This book will give the reader a view of what it’s like to fight under the worst possible conditions, under constant surveillance, and over ground where the enemy continually held the advantage. This is a tribute to the GIs who fought those impossible battles.

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

By E.B. Sledge,

Book cover of With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Why this book?

Obviously one of the great classics about the Marine Corps in combat. Brutal and honest. A must-read by all Marines.

Guadalcanal Diary

By Richard Tregaskis,

Book cover of Guadalcanal Diary

Why this book?

Written by a war correspondent who landed on Guadalcanal with the Marines, this book is another must-read for history buffs and every Marine. It is an accurate story of this critical and now legendary battle. 

Edson's Raiders: The 1st Marine Raider Battalion in World War II

By Col. Joseph H. Alexander,

Book cover of Edson's Raiders: The 1st Marine Raider Battalion in World War II

Why this book?

When I was writing Gunner’s Glory and needed to know real details about Edson’s Raiders on Guadalcanal, an old Raider named Cpl. Ted Eleston told me to read this book. Mr. Alexander is a retired Marine Colonel, and his research in writing this book is fabulous. Old Ted wanted it made clear that for the record, our first so-called “Special Forces” were just a bunch of very hard men taken from the 5th Marine Regiment and named Raiders.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, Japan, and the Iraq War?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, Japan, and the Iraq War.

World War 2 Explore 975 books about World War 2
Japan Explore 318 books about Japan
The Iraq War Explore 37 books about the Iraq War

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Forgotten 500, Day of Infamy, and Helmet for My Pillow if you like this list.