89 books like Fortunate Son

By Lewis B. Puller Jr.,

Here are 89 books that Fortunate Son fans have personally recommended if you like Fortunate Son. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Will McLean Greeley Author Of A Connecticut Yankee Goes to Washington: Senator George P. McLean, Birdman of the Senate

From my list on inspiring biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in West Michigan, with a deep interest in American history, politics, and birds. Since boyhood I’ve wanted to learn the life story of my great-great uncle, Senator George P. McLean, who is credited with leading passage of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The MBTA represents a turning point in how the world views and now protects birds and the environment generally. Drawing upon my love of history, my degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a master's degree in Archives Administration, I spent over a year researching McLean’s life story. Thus began my four-year research and writing journey culminating in A Connecticut Yankee Goes to Washington. 

Will's book list on inspiring biographies

Will McLean Greeley Why did Will love this book?

This is a World War II memoir by United States Marine Eugene Sledge, first published in 1981. 

It is a powerful depiction of war, honest and authentic, describing what it was like to fight in some of the fiercest battles of World War II. The writing is vivid and gripping, sometimes humorous, but mostly reflective of the horrors of war. There is a very refreshing “non-commercial” tone to the narrative.

Sledge originally wrote this as a private memoir for his immediate family, a way to finally tell them what he could never verbalize in person. Sledge’s passion comes through on every page, a reminder that the best books come from the heart.  

By E.B. Sledge,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked With the Old Breed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration behind the HBO series THE PACIFIC

This was a brutish, primitive hatred, as characteristic of the horror of war in the Pacific as the palm trees and the islands...

Landing on the beach at Peleliu in 1944 as a twenty-year-old new recruit to the US Marines, Eugene Sledge can only try desperately to survive. At Peleliu and Okinawa - two of the fiercest and filthiest Pacific battles of WWII - he witnesses the dehumanising brutality displayed by both sides and the animal hatred that each soldier has for his enemy.

During temporary lapses in the fighting, conditions on…


Book cover of Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills

Ronny Bruce Author Of The Grunts of Wrath: A Memoir Examining Modern War and Mental Health

From my list on infantry life during modern war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an OG ATLien (born in Atlanta, Georgia) and served in the US Marine Corps and the US Army. I hold a degree from Kennesaw State University and taught high school social studies from 2004 - 2006, before my military reenlistment which jumpstarted the events in my memoir.   

Ronny's book list on infantry life during modern war

Ronny Bruce Why did Ronny love this book?

Charles Henderson wrote a banger of a true story involving the exploits of USMC scout sniper Carlos Hathcock during Vietnam.

Hathcock isn’t your average grunt, though. He’s a highly skilled and award-winning shooter who is arguably the greatest American sniper of all time. Sometimes crawling through thick jungle, mud, and extreme filth, Hathcock stalked his human prey for hours and days - patiently waiting for the perfect kill shot.

If a top Vietnamese general needed to be taken out, Gunny Hathcock got the call. While tracking his objective, Hathcock navigated the harsh jungles and hills of Southeast Asia better than his enemies who lived underground there. This book takes you on a helluva ride.  

By Charles Henderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Marine Sniper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The explosive true story of Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, a legendary Marine sniper in the Vietnam War.

There have been many Marines. There have been many marksmen. But there has only been one Sergeant Carlos Hathcock.

He stalked the Viet Cong behind enemy lines-on their own ground. And each time, he emerged from the jungle having done his duty. His record is one of the finest in military history, with ninety-three confirmed kills.

This is the story of a simple man who endured incredible dangers and hardships for his country and his Corps. These are the missions that have made Carlos…


Book cover of Flags of Our Fathers

J. Conrad Guest Author Of A World Without Music

From my list on PTSD and overcoming oppression of the human spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father retired from the Marines before he married my mother. Sadly, he was more drill instructor to me than father. He never shared with me his experience on Okinawa, yet he was proud of his service. He kept in touch with several marines and attended many reunions. It was only after Dad’s death that I discovered With the Old Breed. Eugene Sledge told me everything my father withheld from me, and why he was the way he was. Today, Dad would be diagnosed with PTSD. Thus began a quest to read other accounts of wartime experiences, as soldiers and civilians, which led me to write A World Without Music.

J. Conrad's book list on PTSD and overcoming oppression of the human spirit

J. Conrad Guest Why did J. Conrad love this book?

In Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley recounts a story not so unlike my own and many other sons born of this generation of leathernecks. James is the son of John Bradley, who served on Iwo Jima as a corpsman and was awarded the Navy Cross for his service. He also was one of the boys who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi.

Flags is the result of James Bradley’s research and interviews with survivors of the battle for Iwo Jima, after his father’s passing. At times Flags reads like an action thriller, its battle sequences authentic not only in their depiction of all the clichés Hollywood made famous in the 1950s but in its realism of the true horrors of war, and the impact it had on the survivors.

By James Bradley, Ron Powers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • This is the true story behind the immortal photograph that has come to symbolize the courage and indomitable will of America

In this unforgettable chronicle of perhaps the most famous moment in American military history, James Bradley has captured the glory, the triumph, the heartbreak, and the legacy of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima. Here is the true story behind the immortal photograph that has come to symbolize the courage and indomitable will of America.

In February 1945, American Marines plunged into the surf at Iwo Jima—and into history.…


Book cover of The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations

Dan Moller Author Of The Way of Bach: Three Years with the Man, the Music, and the Piano

From my list on Bach, music, and the piano.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland interested in politics, ethics, and art. Philosophers are often unpopular loners who are passionate about their ideas, and so are musicians like Bach. When I teach Socrates and the trial that led to his death I can’t help but think of Bach, who was rejected from job after job in favor of mediocrities, and whose music was considered offensive by parishioners and obsolete by musicians by the end of his life. These figures endear themselves to me not just because of the ideas themselves, but because they had to fight so hard for what they believed in.

Dan's book list on Bach, music, and the piano

Dan Moller Why did Dan love this book?

I came to the piano as an adult and felt pretty sorry for myself–how am I supposed to do all this torturous practicing before and after work?

Then I read Zhu Xiao-Mei’s account of studying the piano during the Cultural Revolution, and realized what real commitment looks like. Zhu is a brilliant concert pianist who had to master Bach while practicing in a labor camp freezer. Read this tragi-comedy of China, politics, and Bach, and surmount your (room-temperature) challenges.

By Zhu Xiao-Mei, Ellen Hinsey (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Secret Piano as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zhu Xiao-Mei was born to middle-class parents in post-war China, and her musical proficiency became clear at an early age. Taught to play the piano by her mother, she developed quickly into a prodigy, immersing herself in the work of classical masters like Bach and Brahms. She was just eleven years old when she began a rigorous course of study at the Beijing Conservatory, laying the groundwork for what was sure to be an extraordinary career. But in 1966, when Xiao-Mei was seventeen, the Cultural Revolution began, and life as she knew it changed forever. One by one, her family…


Book cover of Wave of Terror

J. Conrad Guest Author Of A World Without Music

From my list on PTSD and overcoming oppression of the human spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father retired from the Marines before he married my mother. Sadly, he was more drill instructor to me than father. He never shared with me his experience on Okinawa, yet he was proud of his service. He kept in touch with several marines and attended many reunions. It was only after Dad’s death that I discovered With the Old Breed. Eugene Sledge told me everything my father withheld from me, and why he was the way he was. Today, Dad would be diagnosed with PTSD. Thus began a quest to read other accounts of wartime experiences, as soldiers and civilians, which led me to write A World Without Music.

J. Conrad's book list on PTSD and overcoming oppression of the human spirit

J. Conrad Guest Why did J. Conrad love this book?

Hidden from the English-speaking world for more than 50 years, this panoramic novel begins with the Red Army invasion of Belarus in 1939. Ivan Kulik has just become headmaster of school number 7 in Hlaby, a rural village in the Marsh of Pinsk. Through his eyes, I witnessed the tragedy of Stalinist domination where people are oppressed, randomly deported to labor camps, or tortured in Zovty Prison in Pinsk.

The author’s individual gift that sets him apart from his contemporaries is the range of his sympathies and his unromantic, unsentimental approach to the sensual lives of women. His debt to Chekhov is obvious in his ability to capture the internal drama of his characters with psychological conciseness.

This historical novel serves as a stern warning against adopting socialism in America.

By Theodore Odrach, Emma Odrach (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This panoramic novel hidden from the English-speaking world for more than 50 years begins with the Red Army invasion of Belarus in 1939. Ivan Kulik has just become Headmaster of school number 7 in Hlaby, a rural village in the Pinsk Marshes. Through his eyes we witness the tragedy of Stalinist domination where people are randomly deported to labour camps or tortured in Zovty Prison in Pinsk. The author's individual gift that sets him apart from his contemporaries is the range of his sympathies and his unromantic, unsentimental approach to the sensual lives of females. His debt to Chekhov is…


Book cover of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Martin Pengelly Author Of Brotherhood: When West Point Rugby Went to War

From my list on brotherhood in war – and sports.

Why am I passionate about this?

I played rugby union for Durham University and at Rosslyn Park FC in London. Then I became a reporter and editor, for Rugby News magazine and on Fleet Street sports desks. In March 2002, six months after 9/11 and a year before the invasion of Iraq, my Park team played against the cadets of the United States Military Academy. Years later, settled in New York, I decided to find out what happened to those West Point rugby players in the 9/11 wars, and what their experiences might tell us about sports, war, brotherhood, loss, and remembrance.

Martin's book list on brotherhood in war – and sports

Martin Pengelly Why did Martin love this book?

Junger wrote War, about Afghanistan. But as I found the West Point rugby players’ stories wouldn’t leave me alone, so Junger stayed with those he found in Kunar province.

In Tribe, he considers the ties that bind – notably a focus on the “energy of male conflict and male closeness”. Junger “once asked a combat vet if he’d rather have an enemy or another close friend”. The vet looked at Junger like he was crazy. “‘Oh, an enemy, 100%,’ he said. ‘I’ve already got a lot of friends.’

He thought about it a little longer. ‘Anyway, all my best friends I’ve gotten into fights with – knock-down, drag-out fights. Granted we were always drunk, but think about that.’ He shook his head as if even he couldn’t believe it.”

By Sebastian Junger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of THE PERFECT STORM and WAR comes a book about why men miss war, why Londoners missed the Blitz, and what we can all learn from American Indian captives who refused to go home.

Tribe is a look at post-traumatic stress disorder and the challenges veterans face returning to society. Using his background in anthropology, Sebastian Junger argues that the problem lies not with vets or with the trauma they've suffered, but with the society to which they are trying to return.

One of the most puzzling things about veterans who experience PTSD is that the majority…


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

Ronny Bruce Author Of The Grunts of Wrath: A Memoir Examining Modern War and Mental Health

From my list on infantry life during modern war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an OG ATLien (born in Atlanta, Georgia) and served in the US Marine Corps and the US Army. I hold a degree from Kennesaw State University and taught high school social studies from 2004 - 2006, before my military reenlistment which jumpstarted the events in my memoir.   

Ronny's book list on infantry life during modern war

Ronny Bruce Why did Ronny love this book?

It’d be hard to imagine a former marine, who served during the 1980’s or 1990’s, not identifying with Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead.

Swofford and his unit land in the desert sand to kickoff Operation Desert Shield, and months of boredom, anxiety, and self-doubt blanket the men. This isn’t your typical “shoot ‘em up bang bang” war diary. In fact, Swofford is a sniper who never fires a shot.

But months of patrolling an empty desert, living “the suck” life, eagerly awaiting a war to start, and the fear of the unknown drag on these marines and test their sanity. After months of grinding, the Gulf War begins then quickly ends. 

By Anthony Swofford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anthony Swofford's Jarhead is the first Gulf War memoir by a frontline infantry marine, and it is a searing, unforgettable narrative.
When the marines -- or "jarheads," as they call themselves -- were sent in 1990 to Saudi Arabia to fight the Iraqis, Swofford was there, with a hundred-pound pack on his shoulders and a sniper's rifle in his hands. It was one misery upon another. He lived in sand for six months, his girlfriend back home betrayed him for a scrawny hotel clerk, he was punished by boredom and fear, he considered suicide, he pulled a gun on one…


Book cover of My War: Kiling Time in Iraq

Ronny Bruce Author Of The Grunts of Wrath: A Memoir Examining Modern War and Mental Health

From my list on infantry life during modern war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an OG ATLien (born in Atlanta, Georgia) and served in the US Marine Corps and the US Army. I hold a degree from Kennesaw State University and taught high school social studies from 2004 - 2006, before my military reenlistment which jumpstarted the events in my memoir.   

Ronny's book list on infantry life during modern war

Ronny Bruce Why did Ronny love this book?

My War is a true story set in 2004 post-invasion Iraq told by a US Army grunt on the bottom of the totem pole.

As a former infantryman near the bottom myself, I could relate to the rollercoaster ride war grunts endure that can go from extreme boredom and amp up to fierce combat in an instance. Buzzell’s language is grunt speak which is unrefined and full of profanity, not for everyone, but it’s the perfect dialect for describing everything from battles to talking trash with other grunts.

I also appreciated that Buzzell guided us through his life as a struggling twentysomething, before joining the army, rather than taking the reader straight to battle. Gen Xers will love \m/.

By Colby Buzzell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Colby Buzzell traded a dead-end future for the army-and ended up a machine gunner in Iraq. To make sense of the bloody insanity surrounding him, he started a blog about the war and how it differed from the government's official version. As his blog's popularity grew, Buzzell became the embedded reporter the Army couldn't control-despite its often comical efforts to do so.

The result is an extraordinary narrative, rich with unforgettable scenes: the Iraqi woman crying uncontrollably during a raid on her home; the soldier too afraid to fight; the troops chain-smoking in a guard tower and counting tracer rounds.…


Book cover of Gods Go Begging

Doug Bradley Author Of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

From my list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note.

Why am I passionate about this?

Until today’s multiple catastrophes, the Vietnam War was the most harrowing moment in the lives of my fellow baby boomers and me. Drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1970, I spent 365 days in Vietnam as a combat correspondent. That experience changed my life, because as the Argentinian writer Jose Narosky has pointed out, “in war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” I have spent the past five decades trying to heal those wounds, writing three books grounded in my Vietnam experience, and have devoted my life to listening to the voices of our veterans, distilling their memories (often music-based), and sharing their words. 

Doug's book list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note

Doug Bradley Why did Doug love this book?

Vea’s novel is as ambitious, complex, and surreal a story about the horrors of Vietnam (and post-Vietnam) ever written. A Vietnam vet himself, Vea traces the efforts of several men and women who try to purge their Vietnam ghosts while finding a way to curtail the violence convulsing contemporary America. Jesse Pasadoble, the protagonist, is a defense attorney in San Francisco, hardened and embittered by his Vietnam experience. While his journey toward redemption, as well as that of an Army chaplain who goes AWOL in Vietnam, may require a “willing suspension of disbelief,” Vea skillfully pulls it off, helped in no small way by the many allusions to jazz, specifically the inimitable works of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. 

By Alfredo Vea,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Luminous... a beautiful book." - Carolyn See

For Vietnam veteran Jesse Pasadoble, now a defense attorney living in San Francisco, the battle still rages: in his memories, in the gang wars erupting on Potrero Hill, and in the recent slaying of two women: one black, one Vietnamese. While seeking justice for the young man accused of this brutal double murder, Jesse must walk with the ghosts of men who died on another hill... men who were his comrades and friends in a war that crossed racial divides.

Gods Go Begging is a new classic of Latino literature, a literary detective…


Book cover of Psychiatric Casualties: How and Why the Military Ignores the Full Cost of War

Michael J. Prince Author Of Weary Warriors: Power, Knowledge, and the Invisible Wounds of Soldiers

From my list on the psyche of disabled war veterans.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Canadian academic, Michael J. Prince is an award-winning author in the field of modern politics, government, and public policy. The Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria, he has written widely on issues of disability activism and social change, including on veterans and their families. He is co-author, with Pamela Moss, of Weary Warriors: Power, Knowledge, and the Invisible Wounds of Soldiers, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2014. 

Michael's book list on the psyche of disabled war veterans

Michael J. Prince Why did Michael love this book?

As American veterans and academics, both authors personally and professionally know the subject of modern warfare, stress disorders, and military mental health. This book examines the invisible injuries of psychiatric casualties from combat. The authors scrutinize what they call the dark side of military mental health and, in considerable detail, expose this darkness, which they show to be systemic and multifaceted in how it inflicts wounds on military personnel. The book ends with options for changing military mental healthcare and moving toward a resilient and mentally healthy military.  I appreciate this book because it demonstrates from the perspective of insiders how military culture and practices continue to harm those veterans with invisible wounds.   

By Mark C. Russell, Charles Figley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The psychological toll of war is vast, and the social costs of war's psychiatric casualties extend even further. Yet military mental health care suffers from extensive waiting lists, organizational scandals, spikes in veteran suicide, narcotic overprescription, shortages of mental health professionals, and inadequate treatment. The prevalence of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder is often underestimated, and there remains entrenched stigma and fear of being diagnosed. Even more alarming is how the military dismisses or conceals the significance and extent of the mental health crisis.

The trauma experts Mark C. Russell and Charles Figley offer an impassioned and meticulous critique…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in veterans, soldiers, and the Vietnam War?

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