100 books like Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age

By Peter Paret (editor), Gordon A. Craig (editor), Felix Gilbert (editor)

Here are 100 books that Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age fans have personally recommended if you like Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. 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 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 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 How to Make War: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare in the Twenty-First Century

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?

Jim Dunnigan, the author of How to Make War, is the founder of Simulations Publications International (SPI), a commercial wargame company from the early 1970s, that revolutionized our understanding of warfare by applying historical data to combat simulation. SPI’s alumni are some of the most productive wargame designers, credited with designing simulations that frequently predicted the outcome of wars. How to Make War provides an introductory survey with insightful analysis of the key elements of modern warfare, often controversial, but always well explained. The four editions between 1983 and 2003 are updated significantly to reflect the evolving interests in military matters in each period. This is the secondary text I assign as part of my introductory strategic studies course.  

By James F Dunnigan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An up-to-date, comprehensive survey of modern warfare furnishes a detailed explanation of virtually every facet of modern war, examining the world's armed forces, cutting-edge weapons, tactics, logistics, intelligence, the increasing use of terrorist techniques, and more. Original.


Book cover of World War II Almanac 1931-1945

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?

The Second World War was the largest inter-state conflict to date, and largely informs contemporary patterns of geopolitics, international institutions, and military technology, like nuclear weapons. Knowledge of the Second World War, which is nevertheless complex, is therefore vital. The World War II Almanac’s format as a day-by-day chronological account of the conflict provides unique political, strategic, diplomatic, economic, and military insights, which would otherwise be inaccessible without having read at least ten times as many sources. Because the book covers events from 1931 to 1945, it describes the early Japanese policies in China as well as the crucial evolution of fascism within Europe. It also comes with a detailed appendix of charts and tables on a variety of topics, which makes it pedagogically invaluable as an introduction to the Second World War.    

By Robert Goralski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked World War II Almanac 1931-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beginning with the rise of Hitler and of Japanese militarism, this comprehensive chronology details the battles, diplomacy, people, and incidents of the period, supplemented with numerous maps, photographs, and illustrations


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 History and Strategy

László Borhi Author Of Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union

From my list on the search for truth in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I come from a small country, Hungary, the past of which was consciously falsified in the political system under which I grew up. Some chapters of it, like the cold war period, Soviet rule, the revolution of 1956 couldn't even be discussed. I was lucky because communism collapsed and archives were gradually opened just as I started my career as a historian. Books on international history are usually written from the perspective of the powerful states, I was interested in looking at this story from the perspective of the small guy. Writing this book was both a professional challenge and a personal matter for me. I'm currently a professor at Indiana University-Bloomington.

László's book list on the search for truth in history

László Borhi Why did László love this book?

For readers who are interested in learning how to think about international relations, strategy, security, and history.

The collection of essays discusses US foreign policy, nuclear politics, and the Cold War. My favorite is Trachtenberg’s critical reassessment of the origins of the First World War, a destructive conflict no one wanted to happen but still walked into.

I always assign this book to my students.

By Marc Trachtenberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work is a powerful demonstration of how historical analysis can be brought to bear on the study of strategic issues, and, conversely, how strategic thinking can help drive historical research. Based largely on newly released American archives, History and Strategy focuses on the twenty years following World War II. By bridging the sizable gap between the intellectual world of historians and that of strategists and political scientists, the essays here present a fresh and unified view of how to explore international politics in the nuclear era. The book begins with an overview of strategic thought in America from 1952…


Book cover of The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000

Yakov Ben-Haim Author Of The Dilemmas of Wonderland: Decisions in the Age of Innovation

From my list on making decisions when you don’t know what’s going on.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired university professor. My research, in which I am still actively engaged, deals with decision-making under deep uncertainty: how to make a decision, or design a project, or plan an operation when major relevant factors are unknown or highly uncertain. I developed a decision theory called info-gap theory that grapples with this challenge, and is applied around the world in many fields, including engineering design, economics, medicine, national security, biological conservation, and more.

Yakov's book list on making decisions when you don’t know what’s going on

Yakov Ben-Haim Why did Yakov love this book?

The author presents a reasoned rational explanation of historical events: Agents act rationally from self-interest. History makes sense.

As I read the book, I was challenged to ask: how rational is human behavior? What does rationality mean in a world that we hardly understand because it is fraught with uncertainty?

Uncertainty and surprise are important in history: What will be the next revolutionary invention? Who will be the next charismatic leader? What new ideology will sweep away conventions? Does history really make sense? Can we really make rational decisions when we face deep uncertainty about the world?

By William H. McNeill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this magnificent synthesis of military, technological, and social history, William H. McNeill explores a whole millennium of human upheaval and traces the path by which we have arrived at the frightening dilemmas that now confront us. McNeill moves with equal mastery from the crossbow-banned by the Church in 1139 as too lethal for Christians to use against one another-to the nuclear missile, from the sociological consequences of drill in the seventeenth century to the emergence of the military-industrial complex in the twentieth. His central argument is that a commercial transformation of world society in the eleventh century caused military…


Book cover of The Art of War in Western World

Charles S. Oliviero Author Of Praxis Tacticum: The Art, Science and Practice of Military Tactics

From my list on military tactical thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent 40 years as a soldier studying war. After graduation from Royal Military College, I joined the Armoured Corps. Throughout history, we have regaled each other with stories of war. From Greek myths to Norse sagas to modern movies, we cannot seem to get enough of war stories. And yet, we know that war is inherently a bad idea. It is evil. It is a form of collective madness. War is destructive and cruel, unworthy of our better selves. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, war breaks the bonds of our affection and does not speak to our better angels. I study it in order to better understand this madness.

Charles' book list on military tactical thinking

Charles S. Oliviero Why did Charles love this book?

If you are to be a serious student of war, warfare, and tactics, then you will need a general reference guide. This book should be your go-to reference for general knowledge on this subject. Jones elegantly combines three major components of war (tactics, strategy, and logistics) to explain the last 2,500 years of military history, from phalanxes in ancient Greece through to the Thirty Years’ War that shaped modern Europe. Well written and thoroughly researched, I have kept it on my desk for the last thirty years.

By Archer Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The magnum opus of one of America's most respected military historians, "The Art of War in the Western World" has earned its place as the standard work on how the three major operational components of war - tactics, logistics, and strategy - have evolved and changed over time. This monumental work encompasses 2,500 years of military history, from infantry combat in ancient Greece through the dissolution of the Roman Empire to the Thirty Years' War and from the Napoleonic campaigns through World War II, which Jones sees as the culmination of modern warfare, to the Israeli-Egyptian War of 1973".


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 Arms, Men, and Governments: The War Policies of Canada 1939-1945

Serge Durflinger Author Of Fighting from Home: The Second World War in Verdun, Quebec

From my list on Canada’s Second World War - that aren’t memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read my first book on WWII when I was 8 years old. It was about the Battle of Britain and I’ve never looked back. I began specializing in 20th Century Canadian military history in very literally all its facets. Discussing the war with hundreds of Canadian veterans over the last half century has been immensely inspirational to me. I’ve obtained a Ph.D. in Canadian military history from McGill University, visited Canadian battlefields in Europe at least 15 times, worked as the WWII historian at the Canadian War Museum, and have published on many aspects of Canadian military history. For more than 30 years I have been able to teach these subjects to students.

Serge's book list on Canada’s Second World War - that aren’t memoirs

Serge Durflinger Why did Serge love this book?

This is a book of unparalleled scholarship by Canada’s finest military historian of all time.

Stacey’s magisterial, wide-ranging, immensely insightful, deeply researched, and engagingly written masterpiece illuminates those many policies and personalities that governed Canada’s tremendous war effort during the Second World War. It is literally one-stop shopping for understanding Canada’s wartime political intricacies (and intrigues!), diplomatic manoeuvring, and industrial and military mobilization.

No stone is left unturned, and Arms, Men, and Governments is, and will remain, unequalled. It has greatly influenced my understanding of this pivotal moment in Canadian military history, and I refer to it constantly in my research and teaching.

By C. P. Stacey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arms, Men, and Governments as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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