100 books like P.O.W.

By John G Hubbell, Andrew Jones, Kenneth Y Tomlinson

Here are 100 books that P.O.W. fans have personally recommended if you like P.O.W.. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina

Myra MacPherson Author Of Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation

From my list on Vietnam from a multitude of sources.

Who am I?

Myra MacPherson is an acclaimed author of five books and a journalist. She was hired by Ben Bradlee for the Washington Post where she spent twenty years and specialized in politics, in-depth human interest stories, profiles, and covered five presidential campaigns. During four decades of reporting she interviewed famous figures such as Fidel Castro, Helen Keller, and the mother of serial killer, Ted Bundy, as well as several Presidents.  Of all the milestone political moments MacPherson covered nothing impressed friends and family more than the 1964 landmark and legendary first American live concert of the Beatles (in the Nation’s Capital), which propelled them into international fame. MacPherson has continued her long career as a journalist, with articles in national magazines on the internet. Her most current -- Forgotten Father of the Abortion Movement, in The New Republic -- tackles abortion rights, which remains a highly controversial politicized battle nearly a half-century since abortion was declared legal in 1973.

Myra's book list on Vietnam from a multitude of sources

Myra MacPherson Why did Myra love this book?

This brilliant classic of military history and human folly, first published in 1961, should have been read by America’s “best and brightest” architects of America’s 10-year fiasco. French Journalist and historian Bernard Fall vividly captured the sights, sounds, and smells of the brutal conflict between the French and the Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists. I get angry every time I think of the arrogance of America’s leaders who never examined Fall’s insightful warnings of the futility of jungle fighting that would defeat the United States in the bloody years to follow. Fall’s blueprint for disaster graphically shows that even with lethal modern military force, the French could not defeat the hit-and-run tactics, ambushes, booby traps, and nighttime raids that would become drastically familiar to American troops. The final French downfall ended at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Street Without Joy has remained in print for half a century and I stress…

By Bernard B. Fall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Street Without Joy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1961 by Stackpole Books, Street without Joy is a classic of military history. Journalist and scholar Bernard Fall vividly captured the sights, sounds, and smells of the brutal-- and politically complicated--conflict between the French and the Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists in Indochina. The French fought to the bitter end, but even with the lethal advantages of a modern military, they could not stave off the Viet Minh insurgency of hit-and-run tactics, ambushes, booby traps, and nighttime raids. The final French defeat came at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, setting the stage for American involvement and a far bloodier…


Book cover of We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

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

From my 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

Angel Giacomo Why did Angel love this book?

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

By General Harold Moore, Joseph Galloway,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked We Were Soldiers Once... and Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'If you want to know what is was like to go to Vietnam as a young American... and find yourself caught in ferocious, remorseless combat with an enemy as courageous and idealistic as you were, then you must read this book. Moore and Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war' THE TIMES

THE MUST READ CLASSIC OF THE VIETNAM WAR

In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt.Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small…


Book cover of The Best and the Brightest

James Bradley Author Of Flags of Our Fathers

From my list on war and what it all means.

Who am I?

My father, John Bradley, was a veteran and fought on Iwo Jima in World War 2 in 1945. Later I walked in the sands of Iwo Jima and eventually wrote four books about war. I am a New York Times best-selling author and Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood made my first book into a movie, Flags of Our Fathers. I've been traveling in and learning about Asia since 1974, when I attended Sophia University in Tokyo. I am also the host of a podcast called Untold Pacific that mines 40 years of my life to create historical travelogues about the American experience on the other side of the Pacific. 

John and I did a podcast about these book recommendations and if you want to listen to the full episode go here.

James' book list on war and what it all means

James Bradley Why did James love this book?

David Halberstam documents how fools go to war. This book is about the whiz kids that got us into the Vietnam war and ran it under the JFK and the Johnson administrations. The same ones who got us into the Iraq War, the Spanish American War, and so on. There is a quote that I love from this book that effectively says, "they used brilliant policies that defied common sense." And, that sums this all up. These whiz kids ran a war as if it was part of American politics and from thousands of miles away with memos and meetings in DC. They completely screwed it up.

David Halberstam was a correspondent in Saigon and knew these insiders. He wrote about the decision-making that was happening behind closed doors that led to one of our greatest follies. He is a master storyteller and I strongly recommend this book. 

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

David Halberstam’s masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy, with a new Foreword by Senator John McCain.

"A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience.”—The New York Times

Using portraits of America’s flawed policy makers and accounts of the forces that drove them, The Best and the Brightest reckons magnificently with the most important abiding question of our country’s recent history: Why did America become mired in Vietnam, and why did we lose? As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded. It is an American classic.

Praise for The Best…


Book cover of The Ravens: The True Story Of A Secret War In Laos, Vietnam

Thomas R. Yarborough Author Of A Shau Valor: American Combat Operations in the Valley of Death, 1963-1971

From my list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot).

Who am I?

A decorated Air Force combat pilot, Tom Yarborough served two tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. After leaving the Air Force he was a professor and department chair at Indiana University and history professor at Northern Virginia Community College. His writing background includes the books Da Nang Diary, winner of the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for the best memoir of 2014, and A Shau Valor, a finalist for the 2016 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award.

Thomas' book list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot)

Thomas R. Yarborough Why did Thomas love this book?

The Ravens were young Air Force pilots, all volunteers, who flew tiny Cessna O-1 Bird Dog spotter planes through heavy groundfire to identify targets and call in air-strikes during the top-secret war in northern Laos. Their mission was so secret that they wore no uniforms and carried no identification. Fed up with the bureaucracy of the war in Vietnam, these young FACs accepted the 50% casualty rates of what was known as the Steve Canyon Program in return for a life of unrestricted flying and fighting. Devoted to the CIA-sponsored hill tribesmen they supported, the Ravens did their job with extraordinary skill and raw courage. This is their story, brilliantly told in Christopher Robbins. Based on extensive interviews with the survivors, it is a tale of undeniable heroism, blending real-life romance, adventure, and tragedy.

By Christopher Robbins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on materials that were, until recently, classified, this account depicts the intense air war fought over Laos and profiles the "Ravens," the pilots who risked their lives in this little-known field of war.


Book cover of The Last Detail

Martin Limón Author Of War Women

From my list on GI life as told by GIs.

Who am I?

I spent 20 years in the US Army with 10 of those years in Korea. Everybody thought I was crazy. Why would you like being stationed in such an odd country as Korea? Whenever I tried to explain, their noses would crinkle and they’d stare at me as if I were mad. I started collecting books that explained better than I did. To supplement it I purchased a manual Smith Corona typewriter at the PX and to assuage my angst began writing mystery stories about two 8th Army investigators in Seoul, Korea. Fifteen novels and over 50 short stories later I’m still attempting to explain the odd beauty of GI life through the eyes of a GI.

Martin's book list on GI life as told by GIs

Martin Limón Why did Martin love this book?

In the early 1970s, when I was a Buck Sergeant in the US Army stationed overseas in Korea, I received a small package from my cousin. He was a year older than me and in the Navy and stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines. What was odd about the package was that he seldom mailed me anything, and certainly nothing that would be more trouble than a brief letter. I opened the package and therein lay a paperback copy of The Last Detail.

The story starts out with Petty Officer First Class William Buddusky, better known as Billy Bad-Ass, passed out drunk in the Day Room in the barracks, still in dress uniform with an almost empty bottle of cheap wine next to him. Immediately, I recognized a kindred spirit. A lifer, an enlisted man, and somebody who lived in the real world of the military as I…

By Darryl Ponicsán,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Acclaimed Novel That Was the Basis for the Classic Movie Starring Jack Nicholson

Unlike other branches of the armed services, the Navy draws it police force from the ranks, as temporary duty called Shore Patrol. In this funny, bawdy, moving novel set during the height of the Vietnam War, two career sailors in transit in Norfolk, Virginia Billy "Bad-Ass" Buddusky and Mule Mulhall are assigned to escort eighteen-year-old Larry Meadows from Norfolk to the brig in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he is to serve an eight-year sentence for petty theft. It's good duty, until the two old salts realize…


Book cover of Survival in Auschwitz

Richard Zimler Author Of The Incandescent Threads

From my list on survivors of a horrific trauma.

Who am I?

I’m originally from New York but have lived in Portugal for the last 33 years. I write my novels in English and my children’s books in Portuguese. As anyone who reads my latest novel will discover, I have been greatly influenced the mythology and mystical traditions of various religions, especially Judaism (kabbalah). Happily, I discovered early on that I adore writing about people who have been systematically persecuted and silenced. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to explore taboo subjects and topics that others would prefer to forget or conceal. When I’m not working on a book, I like to garden and travel. 

Richard's book list on survivors of a horrific trauma

Richard Zimler Why did Richard love this book?

Almost all the survivors of the Holocaust have now died, which makes it more important than ever that we pass on knowledge about this incomparably brutal crime against humanity – and do our best to prevent future genocides.

Survival in Auschwitz is a highly detailed, profoundly disturbing, and, in the end, intensely moving account of Italian chemist Primo Levi’s eleven months in the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz.

If you wish to understand what the Holocaust meant to its victims – and how the prisoners did their heroic best to resist dehumanization, hopelessness, and death – you would do well to start with this important work.  

By Primo Levi,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Survival in Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true and harrowing account of Primo Levi’s experience at the German concentration camp of Auschwitz and his miraculous survival; hailed by The Times Literary Supplement as a “true work of art, this edition includes an exclusive conversation between the author and Philip Roth.

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint,…


Book cover of The Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness

Georgina Banks Author Of Back to Bangka: Searching For The Truth About A Wartime Massacre

From my list on truth-seeking post WWII.

Who am I?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick – in their unseen inner world. In my twenties, I literally embodied others in my work as an actor. In my thirties, I studied applied psychology and sat alongside others and talked. In my forties, I started my consulting business Changeable, working with group and organizational dynamics. Now in my fifties, I am accessing inner worlds through writing, placing myself imaginatively into other people and places. I have merely scratched the surface. These post-WWII books give a gripping, personal, and scorching window into truth-seeking. 

Georgina's book list on truth-seeking post WWII

Georgina Banks Why did Georgina love this book?

This is a story about brutality, justice, and mercy, set amongst the aftermath of Lomax’s experiences as a POW in WWII. With a steady gaze he faces the depths of human barbarity and reckons with his own emotional responses.

Lomax confronts his previous captor wanting retribution, but instead makes an astonishing decision that changes the course of hatred for both him and his perpetrator. I also grappled with the shadows of dark acts committed against my family - even all these years later. 

By Eric Lomax,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING COLIN FIRTH, NICOLE KIDMAN AND JEREMY IRVINE

During the second world war Eric Lomax was forced to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway and was tortured by the Japanese for making a crude radio.

Left emotionally scarred and unable to form normal relationships Lomax suffered for years until, with the help of his wife Patti and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, he came to terms with what had happened and, fifty years after the terrible events, was able to meet one of his tormentors.

The Railway Man is an…


Book cover of King Rat

Sam Foster Author Of Non-Semper Fidelis

From my list on showing that a man is the sum of his choices.

Who am I?

I heard a Jordan Peterson interview in which he boiled down my entire life’s struggle in a single phrase.  The interviewer was pushing Jordon on the subject of male toxicity. Jordon said something like, “If a man is entirely unwilling to fight under any circumstance, he is merely a weakling. Ask in martial arts trainer and they will tell you they teach two things – the ability to fight and self-control. A man who knows how and also knows how to control himself is a man.”

Sam's book list on showing that a man is the sum of his choices

Sam Foster Why did Sam love this book?

James Clavell’s first book, King Rat, is the story of allied servicemen trapped by the Japanese in Singapore at the beginning of World War II and held captive for the duration in the infamous Changi prison. The captured consisted of some 10,000 men made up of a British regiment, a few Australian companies, and one small American platoon. After three years of brutal, virtually starvation conditions even the British Commanding General was reduced to a uniform of nothing more than rags. Only one prisoner, an American Corporal, had lost no weight, wore a freshly pressed uniform and spit-shined shoes every day. With physical courage and an understanding of human weaknesses and breaking points he dominated all the other prisoners and many of the guards as well. When the camp was liberated he was the only man among the survivors who left without one friend. Why? The key to both his…

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in Changi, the most notorious prisoner of war camp in Asia, King Rat is an heroic story of survival told by a master story-teller who lived through those years as a young soldier. Only one man in fifteen had the strength, the luck, and the cleverness simply to survive Changi. And then there was King.


Book cover of Andersonville

Terry Roberts Author Of That Bright Land

From my list on that will bring the American Civil War alive.

Who am I?

I am a native of the mountains of Western North Carolina. My direct ancestors include six generations of mountain farmers, as well as the bootleggers, preachers, and soldiers who appear in my novels. These generations include at least six family members who fought in the Civil War. I came to understand that the war itself began primarily over slavery, one of the most shameful and hideous aspects of our history. As a reader, I admire the complexity and power of these novels. As a writer, I sought to create a story of my own that offered a form of narrative healing to those, Black and white, who suffered through the horrific years of the war. 

Terry's book list on that will bring the American Civil War alive

Terry Roberts Why did Terry love this book?

Andersonville was a groundbreaking novel about the war because it told the tragic story of the infamous Andersonville Prison (official name: Camp Sumter), located in Andersonville, Georgia. Andersonville was only in operation for a little over a year; however, during that time 45,000 Union soldiers were imprisoned there, and nearly 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, or exposure. In this remarkable novel, Kantor revealed a little-known aspect of the war that affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Civil War soldiers and their families. The prison camps in both the north and south were inhumane and even cruel institutions, often more deadly than the battles themselves. Kantor’s novel explores this phenomenon through the use of multiple points of view (like several of the novels on this list).

By Mackinlay Kantor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The greatest of our Civil War novels" (New York Times) reissued for a new generation

As the United States prepares to commemorate the Civil War's 150th anniversary, Plume reissues the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel widely regarded as the most powerful ever written about our nation's bloodiest conflict. MacKinlay Kantor's Andersonville tells the story of the notorious Confederate Prisoner of War camp, where fifty thousand Union soldiers were held captive-and fourteen thousand died-under inhumane conditions. This new edition will be widely read and talked about by Civil War buffs and readers of gripping historical fiction.


Book cover of Crossing the Deadlines: Civil War Prisons Reconsidered

Derek D. Maxfield Author Of Hellmira: The Union’s Most Infamous Civil War Prison Camp - Elmira, NY

From my list on Civil War P.O.W. camps.

Who am I?

The Civil War has been a passion of mine since I was seven years old. This was inflamed by a professor I met at SUNY Cortland—Ellis Johnson, who first told me of the POW camp at Elmira, New York. Even though I grew up just thirty miles from Elmira I was astounded at this revelation. Later I learned that I had a third great-grandfather—William B. Reese—who served in the Veterans Reserve Corps after being wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg and was assigned to the garrison in Elmira, where he may have stood guard over the very prison his great grandson would write about.

Derek's book list on Civil War P.O.W. camps

Derek D. Maxfield Why did Derek love this book?

This intriguing collection of essays explores the dark reaches of Civil War prison scholarship from a variety of viewpoints and professions—including historians, anthropologists and public historians. The eclectic mix of topics includes environment, race, material culture, memory, and more. One of the more interesting aspects explored here is the phenomenon of prison camps which became tourist attractions—such as Johnson’s Island off Sandusky, Ohio—where steamboats would ply the waters around the island so guests might be able to spot an actual Rebel officer.

By Michael P. Gray (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The "deadlines" were boundaries prisoners had to stay within or risk being shot. Just as a prisoner would take the daring challenge in "crossing the deadline" to attempt escape, Crossing the Deadlines crosses those boundaries of old scholarship by taking on bold initiatives with new methodologies, filling a void in the current scholarship of Civil War prison historiography, which usually does not go beyond discussing policy, prison history and environmental and social themes. Due to its eclectic mix of contributors-from academic and public historians to anthropologists currently excavating at specific stockade sites-the collection appeals to a variety of scholarly and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in prisoners, the Vietnam War, and prisoner of war?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about prisoners, the Vietnam War, and prisoner of war.

Prisoners Explore 92 books about prisoners
The Vietnam War Explore 223 books about the Vietnam War
Prisoner Of War Explore 76 books about prisoner of war