100 books like Command

By Lawrence Freedman,

Here are 100 books that Command fans have personally recommended if you like Command. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of America's Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity

Andrew Payne Author Of War on the Ballot: How the Election Cycle Shapes Presidential Decision-Making in War

From my list on the politics of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I take great pride in having somehow turned a passion for visiting presidential libraries into an academic career. I’ve now conducted extensive research at eight of them, and have future projects lined up to get me to the rest. This experience means I can and frequently do ruin family gatherings by challenging distant relations to quizzes about obscure details involving presidential pets. But it has also left me well-placed to write a number of articles and books exploring how domestic politics shapes the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy. I’ve done this while affiliated with the University of Oxford and, more recently, at City, University of London. 

Andrew's book list on the politics of war

Andrew Payne Why did Andrew love this book?

This was the book that got me hooked on the study of U.S. foreign policy.

I vividly remember debating the grammatical merits of the word “intermestic” with my undergraduate adviser. (Full disclosure: he was a skeptic; I was in favour.) But we both agreed that the term it introduced to describe the connection between the international and domestic dimensions of policy was fundamentally apt.

This remains my go-to book to get up to speed on the domestic politics of any major foreign policy challenge of the Cold War period. And it should be yours, too.

By Campbell Craig, Fredrik Logevall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked America's Cold War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A creative, carefully researched, and incisive analysis of U.S. strategy during the long struggle against the Soviet Union."
-Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy

"Craig and Logevall remind us that American foreign policy is decided as much by domestic pressures as external threats. America's Cold War is history at its provocative best."
-Mark Atwood Lawrence, author of The Vietnam War

The Cold War dominated world affairs during the half century following World War II. America prevailed, but only after fifty years of grim international struggle, costly wars in Korea and Vietnam, trillions of dollars in military spending, and decades of nuclear…


Book cover of Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security--From World War II to the War on Terrorism

Andrew Payne Author Of War on the Ballot: How the Election Cycle Shapes Presidential Decision-Making in War

From my list on the politics of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I take great pride in having somehow turned a passion for visiting presidential libraries into an academic career. I’ve now conducted extensive research at eight of them, and have future projects lined up to get me to the rest. This experience means I can and frequently do ruin family gatherings by challenging distant relations to quizzes about obscure details involving presidential pets. But it has also left me well-placed to write a number of articles and books exploring how domestic politics shapes the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy. I’ve done this while affiliated with the University of Oxford and, more recently, at City, University of London. 

Andrew's book list on the politics of war

Andrew Payne Why did Andrew love this book?

This book expands the horizon to include coverage of many of the crises and conflicts of the post-Cold War era. In doing so, it draws on an unusually rich range of primary sources for a book of this scope.

Its treatment of the role played by Congress is particularly notable, which should perhaps be no surprise given the author’s expertise in chronicling several of the major legislative battles in U.S. history. Somehow still coming in around the 500-page mark, the book’s briskly paced narrative makes it possible to devour it in one sitting. Indeed, you might find it hard not to. 

By Julian E. Zelizer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Arsenal of Democracy , historian and public intellectual Julian Zelizer shows how internal politics have influenced American foreign policy since the Cold War. Rejecting the notion that, prior to the presidency of George W. Bush, politics stopped at the water's edge," Zelizer exposes the partisan fighting that shaped the foreign policies of presidents from FDR to Kennedy to Reagan, revealing the extent to which the GOP and Democratic party have alternately sought to define themselves as the party of war and the party of peace as the political mood shifted. Republicans, he shows, have not always been hawks during…


Book cover of Selling the Korean War: Propaganda, Politics, and Public Opinion in the United States, 1950-1953

Andrew Payne Author Of War on the Ballot: How the Election Cycle Shapes Presidential Decision-Making in War

From my list on the politics of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I take great pride in having somehow turned a passion for visiting presidential libraries into an academic career. I’ve now conducted extensive research at eight of them, and have future projects lined up to get me to the rest. This experience means I can and frequently do ruin family gatherings by challenging distant relations to quizzes about obscure details involving presidential pets. But it has also left me well-placed to write a number of articles and books exploring how domestic politics shapes the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy. I’ve done this while affiliated with the University of Oxford and, more recently, at City, University of London. 

Andrew's book list on the politics of war

Andrew Payne Why did Andrew love this book?

If you want to go a little deeper, you can’t do much better than this outstanding study of how Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower sought to sustain public support for the Korean War.

Written by a historian who knows his sources like the back of his hands, this book is jam-packed with evidence of the ways in which presidents try to control the narrative about an ongoing war. And beyond its impressive use of archival materials, it also challenges the conventional wisdom about a president’s ability to lead public opinion using the “bully pulpit.”

Presidents can and do try to do that. But the Korean case illuminates the unique challenges of selling a limited war, in which the administration struggled to calibrate its mobilization campaign with the complex politics of waging war. 

By Steven Casey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Selling the Korean War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How presidents spark and sustain support for wars remains an enduring and significant problem. Korea was the first limited war the U.S. experienced in the contemporary period - the first recent war fought for something less than total victory. In Selling the Korean War, Steven Casey explores how President Truman and then Eisenhower tried to sell it to the American public.

Based on a massive array of primary sources, Casey subtly explores the government's selling activities from all angles. He looks at the halting and sometimes chaotic efforts of Harry Truman and Dean Acheson, Dwight Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.…


Book cover of The Insiders' Game: How Elites Make War and Peace

Andrew Payne Author Of War on the Ballot: How the Election Cycle Shapes Presidential Decision-Making in War

From my list on the politics of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I take great pride in having somehow turned a passion for visiting presidential libraries into an academic career. I’ve now conducted extensive research at eight of them, and have future projects lined up to get me to the rest. This experience means I can and frequently do ruin family gatherings by challenging distant relations to quizzes about obscure details involving presidential pets. But it has also left me well-placed to write a number of articles and books exploring how domestic politics shapes the development and execution of U.S. foreign policy. I’ve done this while affiliated with the University of Oxford and, more recently, at City, University of London. 

Andrew's book list on the politics of war

Andrew Payne Why did Andrew love this book?

Unlike the other recommendations on my list, this is a work of political science. But the qualitative components of this text rival that of any work of history.

In fact, it was this author’s first book that provided the model for my own, blending deeply researched case studies with conceptual innovations in the study of foreign policy decision-making. Her latest contribution, The Insiders’ Game, will set the agenda for the next generation of scholarship on the politics of war.

It reminds us that the public is not the only audience that leaders need to worry about when making decisions to initiate, escalate, or conclude a war. Maintaining the support of advisers, legislators, and military officials is also essential. As a result, it is often the bargains struck with these small groups of political elites that determine how democratic leaders wage war.

By Elizabeth N. Saunders,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Insiders' Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How elites shape the use of force in American foreign policy

One of the most widely held views of democratic leaders is that they are cautious about using military force because voters can hold them accountable, ultimately making democracies more peaceful. How, then, are leaders able to wage war in the face of popular opposition, or end conflicts when the public still supports them? The Insiders' Game sheds light on this enduring puzzle, arguing that the primary constraints on decisions about war and peace come from elites, not the public.

Elizabeth Saunders focuses on three groups of elites-presidential advisers, legislators,…


Book cover of Pan-Asianism and Japan's War 1931-1945

Moss Roberts Author Of Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel

From my list on modern Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a strong, if contrarian, interest in modern history, Asian history in particular. I have published more than a dozen articles and book reviews on the subject, and I have taught courses on modern Asian history (China, Japan, Vietnam, India) at New York University, where I have been a professor since 1968. A brief history of my somewhat unusual academic career may be found in a 50-page memoir published via Amazon in 2020 together with an appendix containing a sampling of my short writings. It is titled Moss Roberts: A Journey to the East. The memoir but not the appendix is free via Researchgate. In addition, I have studied (and taught) the Chinese language for more than half a century, and published translations of classical works of literature and philosophy.   

Moss' book list on modern Asia

Moss Roberts Why did Moss love this book?

Important for Japan’s shifting policy in China, but also for the responses in China and in Russia.  Identifies key figures in the military responsible for war planning and their conflicts as well as the role of the emperor. This book emphasizes the twisting path toward Pearl Harbor and how it might have been avoided.

By Eri Hotta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pan-Asianism and Japan's War 1931-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book explores the critical importance of Pan-Asianism in Japanese imperialism. Pan-Asianism was a cultural as well as political ideology that promoted Asian unity and recognition. The focus is on Pan-Asianism as a propeller behind Japan's expansionist policies from the Manchurian Incident until the end of the Pacific War.


Book cover of Warfare and Armed Conflicts: A Statistical Encyclopedia of Casualty and Other Figures, 1492-2015

Julian Spencer-Churchill (Schofield) Author Of Strategic Nuclear Sharing

From my list on strategic studies on a deeper understanding of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of political science with a focus on strategic studies and the causes of war, and before that, I was an operations officer at an army engineering regiment during the Cold War, and before that I was an adolescent wargamer obsessively applying math to sociological problems, and before that an enthusiast of military history. I have had the generosity of providence to conduct research in and on Pakistan’s military for over ten years, as well in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Egypt. These are the books I think every scholar of strategic studies should start with, as they provide an inspirational and the most direct path to strategic insight.   

Julian's book list on strategic studies on a deeper understanding of war

Julian Spencer-Churchill (Schofield) Why did Julian love this book?

Warfare and Armed Conflicts is indeed an Encyclopedia, arranged chronologically, that surveys five centuries of battles and wars. What makes it so indispensable is that it focuses not on the chronology of events or personalities, but primarily on the presentation of available numbers, including the size of armies in battles, personnel casualties, and equipment losses. A study of strategy, war causation, victory, and defeat, depends heavily on understanding the relative strengths and capabilities of adversaries, which makes this text so valuable for understanding the causes of the outcomes of battles and wars. The presentation of numbers often challenges the conventional wisdom of events, and helps explain the periodic disasters of military history.    

By Micheal Clodfelter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In its revised and updated fourth edition, this exhaustive encyclopedia provides a record of casualties of war from the last five centuries through 2015, with new statistical and analytical information. Figures include casualties from global terrorism, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fight against the Islamic State. New entries cover an additional 20 armed conflicts between 1492 and 2007 not included in previous editions. Arranged roughly by century and subdivided by world region, chronological entries include the name and dates of the conflict, precursor events, strategies and details, the outcome and its aftermath.


Book cover of The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present

Julian Spencer-Churchill (Schofield) Author Of Strategic Nuclear Sharing

From my list on strategic studies on a deeper understanding of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of political science with a focus on strategic studies and the causes of war, and before that, I was an operations officer at an army engineering regiment during the Cold War, and before that I was an adolescent wargamer obsessively applying math to sociological problems, and before that an enthusiast of military history. I have had the generosity of providence to conduct research in and on Pakistan’s military for over ten years, as well in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Egypt. These are the books I think every scholar of strategic studies should start with, as they provide an inspirational and the most direct path to strategic insight.   

Julian's book list on strategic studies on a deeper understanding of war

Julian Spencer-Churchill (Schofield) Why did Julian love this book?

Dupuy & Dupuy’s Encyclopedia of Military History is the historical bedrock of strategic studies. Despite its name, it is not so much an encyclopedia, as a readable chronological account of world history. It is integrated with insightful commentary on technology, tactics, leadership, and society, presented at the beginning of each chapter, and within sections dedicated to specific battles and wars. Although Wikipedia now exceeds it in the detail of the events and the background of the conflicts covered, Wikipedia lacks a roadmap or the careful examination of the cumulative historical changes that underpin warfare. I assign this fourteen hundred-page text as the primary text in my introduction to strategic studies course. 

Book cover of Decoding Clausewitz: A New Approach to on War

James Kelly Morningstar Author Of Patton's Way: A Radical Theory of War

From my list on military history for people who think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for this theme because I served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for more than twenty years. I saw the effect of both thinking and non-thinking commanders first-hand in places like the inter-German border during the Cold War, Iraq in combat during the first Gulf War, and Bosnia in ‘operations other than war.’ My experience drove me to continue my military studies resulting in four degrees, including my PhD and my current occupation as a professor of military history. My search for understanding war and military decision-making reflects a desire to better instruct the future leaders among my college students and readers.

James' book list on military history for people who think

James Kelly Morningstar Why did James love this book?

This too often overlooked classic—written by my PhD advisor—not only explains why Clausewitz wrote his masterpiece but what he was trying to say. In doing so, Sumida breaks conventional understandings of both the great German military philosopher and the very subject of military history. Clausewitz and Sumida combine to eschew history limited to explaining outcomes by linearly tracing them back to their origins and instead advocate for narratives that reveal what the participants saw as their options in the moment and then contextualizes their choices and actions. It is this path that leads to knowledge gained through synthetic experience. Decoding Clausewitz is the single most influential work in my approach to military history.

By Jon Tetsuro Sumida,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For nearly two centuries, On War, by Carl Phillip Gottfried von Clausewitz (1780-1831), has been the bible for statesmen and military professionals, strategists, theorists, and historians concerned about armed conflict. The source of the famous aphorism that "war is an extension of politics by other means," it has been widely read and debated. But, as Jon Sumida shows in this daring new look at Clausewitz's magnum opus, its full meaning has eluded most readers-until now.

Approaching Clausewitz's classic as if it were an encoded text, Sumida deciphers this cryptic masterwork and offers a more productive way of looking at the…


Book cover of The Face of War

Judith Mackrell Author Of The Correspondents: Six Women Writers on the Front Lines of World War II

From my list on WW2 – but written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I was child growing up in London, the war was a powerful presence in my life. It was there in the films we watched, in the comics my brothers read, and in my vague understanding of what it meant to be British. It was not a subject we ever studied at school and as an adult I’ve always felt frustrated by my inadequate knowledge of this world-changing conflict. When I first had the idea of writing about the six remarkable women who pioneered the way for female war journalists, it wasn’t just their personal stories that drew me in but the chance to learn more about WW2 itself.

Judith's book list on WW2 – but written by women

Judith Mackrell Why did Judith love this book?

Some readers may know about the late great Martha Gellhorn through her dramatically volatile relationship with the novelist Ernest Hemingway. But she was a fierce and passionate writer of fiction herself, and when I discovered her collection of war journalism I realised that she ranked and still ranks amongst the finest of war correspondents. Even decades after the event, Gellhorn still has the power to shock and move us. By choosing to put the suffering of individuals at the heart of her writing, by the unflinching detail of her descriptions, evoking the sights, smells, and sensations of war she drives home her own profound conviction that while the fight against fascism had been necessary in her time, war itself is nearly always an evil, driven by the cynicism and greed of powerful old men.

By Martha Gellhorn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of “first-rate frontline journalism” from the Spanish Civil War to US actions in Central America “by a woman singularly unafraid of guns” (Vanity Fair).
 
For nearly sixty years, Martha Gellhorn’s fearless war correspondence made her a leading journalistic voice of her generation. From the Spanish Civil War in 1937 through the Central American wars of the mid-eighties, Gellhorn’s candid reporting reflected her deep empathy for people regardless of their political ideology. Collecting the best of Gellhorn’s writing on foreign conflicts, and now with a new introduction by Lauren Elkin, The Face of War is a classic of frontline…


Book cover of The Transnational World of the Cominternians

Oleksa Drachewych Author Of Left Transnationalism

From my list on international communist movement between World Wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in the topic of international relations and when I started graduate studies, I focused on Russian and Soviet foreign policy between the World Wars. When I began my research, I learned of the existence of the Comintern and was fascinated both by this attempt to develop a worldwide movement and its connection to Soviet foreign policy. Since then, I have focused on trying to understand the individuals who populated the parties and the organization and unearthing a legacy that still resonates today. One cannot fully understand the history of decolonization or of human and civil rights movements without considering the influence of the Comintern. 

Oleksa's book list on international communist movement between World Wars

Oleksa Drachewych Why did Oleksa love this book?

For a long time, studies of the Comintern focused on the political organization itself. Brigitte Studer’s work focuses on developing a cultural history of the organization, focusing on what she calls the “Cominternians,” the various communists who worked in the apparatus. Here, she uses a variety of lenses, from Moscow as a transnational hub, to the role of gender, to the impact of the Stalinist terror on these members. By also focusing on a wide array of experiences, she showcases the hope many Cominternians had, but also the betrayal they experienced as Stalinism changed the movement in the 1930s. Partially responsible for the transnational turn in Comintern studies, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to know more about the organization. 

By Brigitte Studer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transnational World of the Cominternians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 'Cominternians' who staffed the Communist International in Moscow from its establishment in 1919 to its dissolution in 1943 led transnational lives and formed a cosmopolitan but closed and privileged world. The book tells of their experience in the Soviet Union through the decades of hope and terror.


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