10 books like Helmet for My Pillow

By Ross Leckie,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Helmet for My Pillow. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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With the Old Breed

By E.B. Sledge,

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

Benjamin Sledge Author Of Where Cowards Go to Die

From the list on war that leave you shattered.

Who am I?

I’m a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient who fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As I explored the ramifications of combat and struggled to reintegrate when I returned home, I often felt veterans’ memoirs teetered on the brink of “war porn” as opposed to the crushing devastation and fear men and women face on the battlefield. Seeking to rectify the misconceptions about the longest-running wars in U.S. history, I began writing about my experiences on medium.com and amassed over 40,000 followers (which turned into a book deal). This list of books below directly influenced my work and—I believe—are the gold standards for true war stories.

Benjamin's book list on war that leave you shattered

Discover why each book is one of Benjamin's favorite books.

Why did Benjamin love this book?

A question I’m often asked is if I’m related to Eugene Bondurant Sledge, whose classic work from World War II became the basis for the HBO miniseries, The Pacific. Though I don’t know, when reading Sledge’s work, I found the way he described the horrors of combat in manners that pricked at the edges of my own war experience. (“His intestines were strung out among the branches like garland decorations on a Christmas tree.”) Sledge has been one of the few who explains the moral injury soldiers face on the battlefield long before the term became common in the Iraq and Afghan Wars. His novel impacted me so deeply, I quote him in my book.

With the Old Breed

By E.B. Sledge,

Why should I read it?

6 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…


Day of Infamy

By Walter Lord,

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

Angel Giacomo Author Of The Jackson MacKenzie Chronicles: In the Eye of the Storm

From the list on war 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.

Angel's book list on war that go beyond the battles

Discover why each book is one of Angel's favorite books.

Why did Angel love 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.

Day of Infamy

By Walter Lord,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A special 60th anniversary edition of the bestselling re-creation of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, by the author of A Night to Remember.

Sunday, December 7, 1941, was, as President Roosevelt said, "a date which will live in infamy." Day of Infamy is a fascinating account of that unforgettable day's events. In brilliant detail Walter Lord traces the human drama of the great attack: the spies behind it; the Japanese pilots; the crews on the stricken warships; the men at the airfields and the bases; the Japanese pilot who captured an island single-handedly when he could not get back…


Guadalcanal Diary

By Richard Tregaskis,

Book cover of Guadalcanal Diary

Johnnie M. Clark Author Of Guns Up!: A Firsthand Account of the Vietnam War

From the list on 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.

Johnnie's book list on war and the Marines

Discover why each book is one of Johnnie's favorite books.

Why did Johnnie love 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. 

Guadalcanal Diary

By Richard Tregaskis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This celebrated classic gives a soldier's-eye-view of the Guadalcanal battles--crucial to World War II, the war that continues to fascinate us all, and to military history in general. Unlike some of those on Guadalcanal in the fall of 1942, Richard Tregaskis volunteered to be there. An on-location news correspondent (at the time, one of only two on Guadalcanal), he lived alongside the soldiers: sleeping on the ground--only to be awoken by air raids--eating the sometimes meager rations, and braving some of the most dangerous battlefields of World War II. He more than once narrowly escaped the enemy's fire, and so…


Twilight of the Gods

By Ian W. Toll,

Book cover of Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945

Daniel Hammel Author Of Two Flags Over Iwo Jima: Solving the Mystery of the U.S. Marine Corps' Proudest Moment

From the list on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945.

Who am I?

I am Daniel Hammel and my father Eric Hammel was a prolific author and military historian. He specialized in the Marine Corps and specifically World War II. Though he has passed, several of these books, especially Day of Infamy, inspired him to become an author, where he wrote over 40 books. This list is an ode to my father, Eric, and to his many accomplishments.

Daniel's book list on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945

Discover why each book is one of Daniel's favorite books.

Why did Daniel love this book?

The third and final book of the epic Pacific War Trilogy, Twilight of the Gods is the story of the crushing of the once venerable Japanese Empire. At just under 800 pages the book describes in the great detail the coming apocalypse for the Japanese war machine. While 1943 was pivotal with the war in the Pacific having essentially been won by the Allies, it was 1944 and 1945 where the real murder of empire happened. In these two years of horrendous fighting, hundreds of thousands died for what was clearly a lost cause. The Japanese tried one last time at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but were massacred by the incredible might of the U.S. Navy and combined forces. Toll brings the reader into the little details of the war, and how they affected everything.

Twilight of the Gods

By Ian W. Toll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In June 1944, the United States launched a crushing assault on the Japanese navy in the Battle of the Philippine Sea. The capture of the Mariana Islands and the accompanying ruin of Japanese carrier airpower marked a pivotal moment in the Pacific War. No tactical masterstroke or blunder could reverse the increasingly lopsided balance of power between the two combatants. The War in the Pacific had entered its endgame.

Beginning with the Honolulu Conference, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with his Pacific theater commanders to plan the last phase of the campaign against Japan, Twilight of the Gods brings…


The Cruel Sea

By Nicholas Monsarrat,

Book cover of The Cruel Sea

Michael Tappenden Author Of Pegasus to Paradise

From the list on war that show the awful impact on the individual.

Who am I?

On D-Day 1944, three gliders carrying elite British soldiers landed to capture and hold the vital Pegasus bridge. In the first glider to land was my father, Ted Tappenden. Ted was one of several close relatives who served with distinction in WW2 including a naval officer and two fighter pilots. It was then no surprise when instead of following my grammar school direction to University, I volunteered instead to serve with the Parachute Regiment (my degree came later). My close connection with the military allowed me an insight into both the physical and mental strain and the awful consequences that might afflict those who serve and their nearest and dearest.

Michael's book list on war that show the awful impact on the individual

Discover why each book is one of Michael's favorite books.

Why did Michael love this book?

Again I have to admit a personal link to this book, having had two relatives who served in the Royal Navy during WW2, one of whom led a boarding party to capture a German U boat (but that’s another story). I certainly met him often and very occasionally you could see the effect of his wartime experiences in his words or actions. Like most who served, he rarely spoke about his experiences. 

The fact that the author of The Cruel Sea served as a naval reservist in WW2 certainly adds authenticity to this story. You know that this really is an accurate depiction.

The Cruel Sea is not about glamour or even heroes, but it is about grinding relentless exhaustion, about being soaked and freezing on an open bridge in Atlantic winter storms, about men’s strengths and weaknesses, searching day after day, night after night for a ruthless hidden enemy…

The Cruel Sea

By Nicholas Monsarrat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the author's own vivid experiences, The Cruel Sea is the nail-biting story of the crew of HMS Compass Rose, a corvette assigned to protect convoys in World War Two.

Darting back and forth across the icy North Atlantic, Compass Rose played a deadly cat and mouse game with packs of German U-boats lying in wait beneath the ocean waves.

Packed with tension and vivid descriptions of agonizing U-boat hunts, this tale of the most bitter and chilling campaign of the war tells of ordinary, heroic men who had to face a brutal menace which would strike without warning…


The U-Boat War

By Lawrence Paterson,

Book cover of The U-Boat War: A Global History 1939-45

Arthur W. Gullachsen Author Of Bloody Verrières: The I. SS-Panzerkorps Defence of the Verrières-Bourguebus Ridges: Volume II: The Defeat of Operation Spring and the Battles of Tilly-la-Campagne, 23 July–5 August 1944

From the list on the First and Second World Wars.

Who am I?

I have a lifetime interest in military events of the First and Second World Wars, and my current status as an Associate Professor teaching military history within the Royal Military College of Canada’s RMC History Department allows me to live my dream of exploring past conflicts for a living. I am currently also a contracted author at Casemate Publishing of Havertown, PA, and I am very lucky to have this company support me and publish my work.

Arthur's book list on the First and Second World Wars

Discover why each book is one of Arthur's favorite books.

Why did Arthur love this book?

The majority of books written about the German U-boat naval campaign in the Second World War focus on the Battle of the Atlantic.

A new approach by Lawrence Paterson challenges this narrative and makes the argument that the German U-boat Wolfpacks fought a truly global naval campaign, one that occurred during the entire wartime period 1939-1945.

Paterson also makes the argument that the operations by the U-Boats were not separate from the activities of other German service branches, but in concert with them to attain larger strategic goals.

He concludes that the ultimate failure of the U-Boats was due to this overreaching global strategy, combined with the impact of overpowering Allied anti-submarine warfare resources directed against them.

The U-Boat War

By Lawrence Paterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The accepted historical narrative of the Second World War predominantly assigns U-boats to the so-called 'Battle of the Atlantic', almost as if the struggle over convoys between the new world and the old can be viewed in isolation from simultaneous events on land and in the air. This has become an almost accepted error. The U-boats war did not exist solely between 1940 and 1943, nor did the Atlantic battle occur in seclusion from other theatres of action. The story of Germany's second U-boat war began on the first day of hostilities with Britain and France and ended with the…


Book cover of The Hunters 1939-1942

Walter R. Borneman Author Of The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King--The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea

From the list on naval battles in WW2.

Who am I?

Walter R. Borneman is an American military and political historian. He won the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize in Naval Literature for The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King, a national bestseller. Borneman's other titles include Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona; MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific; and 1812: The War That Forged a Nation.

Walter's book list on naval battles in WW2

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Why did Walter love this book?

Yes, there was a naval war in the Atlantic, too. Had not the Allies defeated Hitler’s U-boats over a multi-year battle—the longest of the war—World War II would likely have been lost no matter the heroics in the Pacific. Hitler’s U-Boat War does for the Battle of the Atlantic what Blair did with Silent Victory for submarine actions in the Pacific.

This book is exhaustive in detail—pick a boat or an engagement, and Blair has chronicled it— but taken overall, these volumes show the tenuous nature of the battle that was won in the aggregate by individual conflicts between hunter and hunted. This is a reliable desktop reference as well as a compelling read.

The Hunters 1939-1942

By Clay Blair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hunters 1939-1942 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"His monumental work...is the most thorough study of the U-boat campaign available."    --Library Journal

Hitler's U-boat War is an epic sea story about the most arduous and prolonged naval battle in history. For a period of nearly six years, the German U-boat force attempted to blockade and isolate the British Isles in hopes of forcing the British out of the war, thereby thwarting both the Allied strategic air assault on German cities and Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Occupied France. Fortunately for the Allies, the U-boat force failed to achieve either of these objectives, but in the attempt they…


Seizing the Enigma

By David Kahn,

Book cover of Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-boat Codes, 1939-1943

Mark Ciampa Author Of Security Awareness: Applying Practical Security in Your World

From the list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.).

Who am I?

I have had the opportunity to write (I have written over 30 college textbooks on technology, most of them in the area of cybersecurity), study (my PhD dissertation was on cybersecurity), teach (I have taught at colleges and universities my entire career about technology, networking, and cybersecurity), and research (I have published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles) on the topic of cybersecurity. But I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the average computer user who struggles with how to protect their technology devices. This has helped drive my passion to focus on practical cybersecurity for everyone.

Mark's book list on how to break things (encryption, passwords, etc.)

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love this book?

David Kahn explains the most widely-known effort (widely-known today but in complete secrecy then) to decipher messages sent by the Germans using their Enigma machines during World War II. This book looks at the groundbreaking work done by Polish mathematicians in the 1930s, how Enigma machines were rescued from sinking German U-boats, and how Bletchley Park in Britain became the focal point of breaking these transmissions. Much of the book focuses on how Enigma machines, rotors, and codebooks were confiscated from German submarines and surface vessels, and how these were then used to allow the Allies, by the war's end, to read German messages almost as quickly as the Germans could send them.

Seizing the Enigma

By David Kahn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seizing the Enigma tells the thrilling story of the Royal Navy's battle to crack the Germans' supposedly unbreakable U-boat Enigma code, which would allow the vital Allied convoys in the North Atlantic to be routed away from Doenitz's wolfpacks. This battle was fought both on shore and at sea: by an assortment of scientists, chess champions and linguists, including Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer, who struggled to crack Enigma at Bletchley Park, and in the Atlantic by sailors and intelligence officers, such as Ian Fleming, the future creator of James Bond, who undertook dangerous and often fatal…


The U-boat War

By Lothar-Gunther Buchheim,

Book cover of The U-boat War

Lawrence Paterson Author Of Schnellboote: A Complete Operational History

From the list on U-boats that aren't Das Boot.

Who am I?

I have been writing non-fiction Second World War history books since 2000 and just recently had my twenty-first published by Osprey. Most deal with aspects of the history of Germany’s U-boats. Though I have had a lifelong interest in military history, the desire to write about this topic began while living near Brest in Brittany, France. I am a scuba diving instructor and spent a great deal of time diving on wrecks left behind by the Kriegsmarine, all in the shadow of the huge U-boat bunkers created in Brest’s military harbour. Encouraged by authors Jon Gawne and Robert Strauss I submitted the proposal for the First U-Boat Flotilla to Pen & Sword in 2000…and it went from there. 

Lawrence's book list on U-boats that aren't Das Boot

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Why did Lawrence love this book?

Related to Das Boot this may be (same author, same boat as within the novel) but this is a factual photographic essay of photos taken by Buchheim, predominantly aboard U96 during August-September 1941 as a member of the Propaganda Company. The photographs show life as it actually was in the North Atlantic on patrol, and end with shots taken aboard U309 as it escaped Brest in August 1944 and was involved in the rescue of crew from U981 which sank after hitting a mine with twelve crewmen killed.

This is, quite simply, a brilliant and evocative set of photographs. Buchheim was part of the propaganda machine that he so vocally lambasted in his later years, and, talking to U-boat veterans, opinions of him as a human being were extremely polarised. However, there can be no doubt about his mastery of the visual medium.

The U-boat War

By Lothar-Gunther Buchheim,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Chronicles submarine warfare in the North Atlantic during the Second World War, and describes the battles above and below the surface


U-505

By James E. Wise, Jr,

Book cover of U-505: The Lone Wolf of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II

From the list on surprising and compelling WWII stories.

Who am I?

I am the author of two books (the second is Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression), a blogger, Iowa historian, and a regular contributor to Our American Stories. I’ve woven WII letters and newspaper clippings, along with memoirs and family stories, into the narrative. As Clabe and Leora Wilson’s oldest granddaughter, I also enjoy giving programs about the Wilson family, as well as TV and radio interviews.

Joy's book list on surprising and compelling WWII stories

Discover why each book is one of Joy's favorite books.

Why did Joy love this book?

The day I was born, the German U-boat U-505 lurked off the west coast of Africa, awaiting American and Allied ships. The submarine was part of the Nazi’s fleet of “wolfpacks,” terrorizing the Atlantic, and even the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States. The book tells about the capture of the submarine after it had carried out a dozen patrols, sinking eight ships. It was secretly towed to Bermuda where the crew interned at a U.S. POW camp. Codebooks, an Enigma machine, and other materials found on board bolstered Allied codebreakers.

The U-505 was eventually donated to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, one of only four German WWII U-boats to survive as museum ships. The submarine was towed 3,000 miles from Portsmouth, NH, through the St. Lawrence River, and across four of the Great Lakes to Chicago. The logistics of getting the huge boat across traffic…

U-505

By James E. Wise, Jr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked U-505 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On 4 June 1944 the German submarine U-505 became the first man-of-war captured by the US Navy in battle on the high seas since the War of 1812. Attacked by the American hunter-killer force Task Group 22.3 off the coast of West Africa, the 750-ton U-boat was forced to the surface, boarded by American sailors and secretly towed to Bermuda. Renamed USS Nemo, it made a war bond subscription tour before docking to await scrapping. The book offers a vivid description of these events and continues the story by explaining how U-505 became a major attraction at the Museum of…


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Interested in naval warfare, the Pacific Ocean, and the Pearl Harbor attack?

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