The best war books that go beyond the battles

Who am I?

I am a retired police officer, except I don’t write about law enforcement. I write about the military. My degree is in Political Science and History. I am a meticulous researcher. My emphasis has been on the Vietnam War. My father served in both the U.S. Navy and the Army National Guard. One of my great uncles served in Africa during WWII. His brother during the Occupation of Germany. I have a step-uncle who spent time as a POW in Laos during the Vietnam War. My step-father served in the Army National Guard, and my step-brother in the U.S. Army, Korea and Ft. Hood.


I wrote...

The Jackson MacKenzie Chronicles: In the Eye of the Storm

By Angel Giacomo,

Book cover of The Jackson MacKenzie Chronicles: In the Eye of the Storm

What is my book about?

War, it changes everyone and everything it touches. But especially the men who live in the trenches who fight the battles. Lt. Colonel Jackson Joseph MacKenzie is one of those men. He grew up in the shadow of a legendary Marine. Part of a family tradition to serve, he joined the United States Army. His first war in Korea taught him death the hard way, both personal and professional. His second in Vietnam taught him never-ending pain. And betrayal by those above him. Those he trusted. Given a top-secret mission to help end the war, he carried out his orders. Then upon his return, they disavowed any knowledge of it. He found himself in a six-by-eight cell with no way out and no hope.

The books I picked & why

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We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang—The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam

By Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway,

Book cover of We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang—The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam

Why this book?

This book is a complex but excellent read. It is laced with moments of sheer bravery and interludes of absolute terror. Lt. Colonel Hal Moore commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Division—part of the “The Garryowen” Brigade. This book covers the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley during the early years of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, in November 1965. The first major engagement between the forces of North Vietnam and the United States. I want to highlight one thing in the book, “The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed.” While good in its own right, the movie does not do the book justice. Read this book.


Welcome Home from Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon's Memoir

By Gus Kappler, MD,

Book cover of Welcome Home from Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon's Memoir

Why this book?

Dr. Gus Kappler contacted me via my Facebook page. After we spoke, I ordered his book, Welcome Home From Vietnam, Finally: A Vietnam Trauma Surgeon’s Memoir. Since I write Vietnam War fiction, I found his memoir both enlightening as to how it really was for the doctors saving the lives of our troops. M*A*S*H it is not, while themes in that classic show have a ring of truth. I will not mention them as you need to read the book to understand. The book is written from Gus’ heart and soul of his experiences and illustrated with the pictures he took in-country. The book is gritty, down-to-earth, and above all, how it truly was to work in a Vietnam War field hospitalthe 85th Evacuation Hospital. You need to read this book.


Vietnam: A Complete Photographic History

By Michael Maclear, Hal Buell,

Book cover of Vietnam: A Complete Photographic History

Why this book?

Twenty chapters and 732 pages, not including the Preface, Acknowledgements, Introduction, and Chronology, of the history of the Vietnam War. From the Preface, you are thrown into a photograph-rich hardback book that covers the beginnings of what lured the French to Indochinatrade, to the final surrender in April 1975. Gritty, sometimes horrifying black and white pictures jump out at you from the pages. There are over 2,000 photographs and maps inside the book. It is truly the book for anyone interested in the Vietnam War.


Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

By Walter Lord,

Book cover of Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

Why this book?

I got this book as a teenager. As a WWII history buff, I read it cover to cover so many times that the cover wore off. This is a complete account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. From the workers dipping soup with their oily hands to eat on breaks while trying to free men from the capsized USS Oklahoma to the use of coke bottles to store donor blood, it is a gritty account of the bravery of the U.S. forces caught by surprise by the attack. While newer books on Pearl Harbor have been published, this one is still my favorite.


Pork Chop Hill: The American Fighting Man in Action: Korea, Spring, 1953

By S.L.A. Marshall,

Book cover of Pork Chop Hill: The American Fighting Man in Action: Korea, Spring, 1953

Why this book?

This book is a detailed account of the fighting at Pork Chop Hill, aka Hill 255. It was aptly named because on the topographical map it resembled a pork chop. They call this the forgotten war. It is a gritty, blow-by-blow, extremely detailed account of the battle in April 1953. This book describes the incredible feat of bravery and heroism by the men of the 7th Infantry Division. Pork Chop Hill was not the only place of the combat as Old Baldy, Hill 266, was a short distance away.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Vietnam, the Vietnam War, and Japan?

5,810 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Vietnam, the Vietnam War, and Japan.

Vietnam Explore 100 books about Vietnam
The Vietnam War Explore 145 books about the Vietnam War
Japan Explore 317 books about Japan

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Shattered Sword, With the Old Breed, and Helmet for My Pillow if you like this list.