100 books like The Stuff of Soldiers

By Brandon M. Schechter,

Here are 100 books that The Stuff of Soldiers fans have personally recommended if you like The Stuff of Soldiers. 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 The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II

Sarah Percy Author Of Forgotten Warriors: The Long History of Women in Combat

From my list on women in combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an academic, writer, and broadcaster, and I’ve always been fascinated by the big questions of who fights wars and why. A puzzle caught my eye: the only profession (short of maybe priest) where women were actively banned in the 1980s and as late as the 2010s, was combat. How could Western democracies ban women from an entire profession? This was especially odd, given that the plentiful historical evidence that women were perfectly capable of combat. So I wrote a book explaining how women in combat fit into the broader sweep of military history, and how the suppression and dismissal of their stories has had a profound social and cultural impact. 

Sarah's book list on women in combat

Sarah Percy Why did Sarah love this book?

If you didn’t know that between 800,000 and a million Soviet women fought in combat during World War II, this book will blow your mind.

Even for those aware of the history of Soviet female combatants – Soviet women fought in every imaginable military role, from fighter pilots to snipers to tank units – Alexievich’s astonishing oral history brings their stories to life. It’s especially profound to hear from the women themselves because after the war was over, women were told to never speak of their military service and got very little recognition for it.

By the time Alexievich recorded their stories, these women were getting old – and without her work many of these stories would have been lost. 

By Svetlana Alexievich, Larissa Volokhonsky (translator), Richard Pevear (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A must read' - Margaret Atwood

'It would be hard to find a book that feels more important or original' - Viv Groskop, Observer

Extraordinary stories from Soviet women who fought in the Second World War - from the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

"Why, having stood up for and held their own place in a once absolutely male world, have women not stood up for their history? Their words and feelings? A whole world is hidden from us. Their war remains unknown... I want to write the history of that war. A women's history."

In the late…


Book cover of Life and Fate

Paul Clark Author Of The Price of Dreams

From my list on life in the Soviet Union.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of 16, I briefly joined the International Socialists, a small British Trotskyist party. Though I soon became disillusioned, it was a formative experience that left me with a lifelong fascination with communism and the Soviet Union. Over the following decades, I read everything I could about the subject, both fiction and non-fiction. In the years after the fall of communism, the ideas that eventually culminated in the writing of this book began to form in my head.

Paul's book list on life in the Soviet Union

Paul Clark Why did Paul love this book?

Grossman consciously attempted to write the War and Peace of the Second World War, and in this panoramic masterpiece, he pulled it off. Like War and Peace, the book focuses both on the travails of a single family and the broader sweep of history, as we witness events from the perspective of persecuted Jewish scientists, soldiers (both Soviet and German), partisans, peasants, and generals.

This is an intensely personal work – Grossman covered the battle of Stalingrad for the Soviet press and knew his subject matter firsthand. Writing it was also an extremely courageous act. The KGB confiscated the manuscript and Grossman never lived to see the book published.

By Vasily Grossman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Life and Fate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based around the pivotal WWII battle of Stalingrad (1942-3), where the German advance into Russia was eventually halted by the Red Army, and around an extended family, the Shaposhnikovs, and their many friends and acquaintances, Life and Fate recounts the experience of characters caught up in an immense struggle between opposing armies and ideologies. Nazism and Communism are appallingly similar, 'two poles of one magnet', as a German camp commander tells a shocked old Bolshevik prisoner. At the height of the battle Russian soldiers and citizens alike are at last able to speak out as they choose, and without reprisal…


Book cover of Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945

Harold J. Goldberg Author Of D-Day in the Pacific: The Battle of Saipan

From my list on on World War II according to my students.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1974 I started my full-time teaching career at a small liberal arts college and realized how much I love teaching and discussing historical events with students. With Russian and Soviet history as my areas of specialization, expanding my course offerings to include World War II was a natural addition. My World War II class became extremely popular and led to demands that I take students to Europe to visit many of the places we discussed in class. Every summer for about ten years I led study-abroad trips to England, France, and Germany. Watching student reactions to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery made every trip worthwhile.

Harold's book list on on World War II according to my students

Harold J. Goldberg Why did Harold love this book?

Merridale uses archival material and interviews with Soviet war veterans to personalize the war on the Eastern Front. This work moves beyond the number of combatants and tanks to focus on real life at the frontlines. She talks about issues that help the reader “feel” the war: what did soldiers eat given the well-known shortages and privations throughout the USSR; how did soldiers get warm clothes and boots; how did they obtain ammunition and artillery shells and new guns despite the long supply lines; was stealing accepted in the army; what behaviors were tolerated and which ones were punished; how did hierarchy allow officers to get first choice of captured enemy equipment. She reveals how officers might not report all the dead in their unit so they would not lose the lost soldier’s food ration. While Alexander Werth’s Russia at War provides a sweeping view of Soviet organization, suffering, and…

By Catherine Merridale,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Ivan's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful, groundbreaking narrative of the ordinary Russian soldier's experience of the worst war in history, based on newly revealed sources.

Of the thirty million who fought in the eastern front of World War II, eight million died, driven forward in suicidal charges, shattered by German shells and tanks. They were the men and women of the Red Army, a ragtag mass of soldiers who confronted Europe's most lethal fighting force and by 1945 had defeated it. Sixty years have passed since their epic triumph, but the heart and mind of Ivan -- as the ordinary Russian soldier was called…


Book cover of Russia at War, 1941-1945: A History

Francine Hirsch Author Of Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

From my list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet History, Modern European History, and the History of Human Rights. She spent fifteen years researching and writing about the Soviet Union’s experience in World War II and the role that it played in the Nuremberg Trials. Her recently published Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg was awarded the 2021 Certificate of Merit for a Preeminent Contribution to Creative Scholarship from the American Society of International Law.

Francine's book list on The experience of Soviet Soldiers in WW2

Francine Hirsch Why did Francine love this book?

This vivid history of the Soviet Union at war by BBC journalist Alexander Werth is worth picking up for the Stalingrad chapters alone. In January 1943, Werth set out by train from Moscow to Stalingrad with a small group of correspondents. His conversations with Russian soldiers, officers, nurses, and railwaymen about the fighting, the Germans, and the Soviet defense of the city are woven into these chapters and make for extremely engaging reading.

By Alexander Werth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia at War, 1941-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1941, Russian-born British journalist Alexander Werth observed the unfolding of the Soviet-German conflict with his own eyes. What followed was the widely acclaimed book, Russia at War, first printed in 1964. At once a history of facts, a collection of interviews, and a document of the human condition, Russia at War is a stunning, modern classic that chronicles the savagery and struggles on Russian soil during the most incredible military conflict in modern history.

As a behind-the-scenes eyewitness to the pivotal, shattering events as they occurred, Werth chronicles with vivid detail the hardships of everyday citizens, massive military operations,…


Book cover of SOE: The Scientific Secrets

Brian Lett Author Of Ian Fleming and SOE’s Operation Postmaster

From my list on history about real secret agents.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started writing military history out of anger—a national newspaper had published an obituary of one of our SAS heroes, and it had wrongly defamed a deceased Italian partisan as a traitor. The newspaper published my letter of correction, but only on its website. It mattered to me that the record should be put straight, and therefore I wrote my first book. In researching that book, I discovered links that led me to Operation Postmaster, and after that, I caught the researcher's bug. As an experienced criminal lawyer, evaluating evidence has always been one of my skills, and sometimes "building" a book is very similar to building a case for the defence or prosecution.  

Brian's book list on history about real secret agents

Brian Lett Why did Brian love this book?

How did they do it? If you want to know about secret agents, then you need to know about the secret weapons and devices they used. SOE had a whole catalogue of secret weapons—from sleeve guns to incendiary cigarettes, exploding rats, and exploding turds. This book tells much of the story of the secret devices factory that SOE ran.

By Fredric Boyce, Douglas Everett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The history of Special Operations Executive (SOE) seems to spring a never-ending run of surprises, and here are some more. This book explores the mysterious world of the tools SOE used for their missions of subversion and sabotage. An often grim reality is confronted that is more akin with the world of James Bond and Q's workshop than previously believed. Written by two scientists, one of whom served in the SOE and one who was tasked with clearing up after it was disbanded; their insider knowledge presents a clear account of the way in which SOE's inventors worked. From high…


Book cover of Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain

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?

Katherine Epstein unravels the tale of a single weapon system—the pre-World War I self-propelled torpedo—to reveal a remarkably informative and entertaining history of the interconnectedness of world politics, economics, law, industry, and military power. National leaders in the early 20th Century had to reach into all these spaces to develop effective, cheap torpedoes that could potentially upset rival naval powers resting on traditional, expensive, and vulnerable big gun ships. American and British leaders succeeded only by reshaping obsolete procurement processes into partnerships between public fund managers and private sector research and development, leading to attendant legal clashes between intellectual property rights and national security concerns—and creating the basis for the Military-Industrial Complex. With brilliant research and analysis, Epstein illustrates how complicated and seemingly unrelated factors merge to dictate the flow of a revolution in military affairs that changed the world. In the process, she reminds historians like me to…

By Katherine C. Epstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When President Eisenhower referred to the "military-industrial complex" in his 1961 Farewell Address, he summed up in a phrase the merger of government and industry that dominated the Cold War United States. In this bold reappraisal, Katherine Epstein uncovers the origins of the military-industrial complex in the decades preceding World War I, as the United States and Great Britain struggled to perfect a crucial new weapon: the self-propelled torpedo.

Torpedoes epitomized the intersection of geopolitics, globalization, and industrialization at the turn of the twentieth century. They threatened to revolutionize naval warfare by upending the delicate balance among the world's naval…


Book cover of Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought: The Red Army's Military Effectiveness in World War II

Wendy Z. Goldman Author Of Fortress Dark and Stern: The Soviet Home Front During World War II

From my list on the Soviet Union in World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of Russian history at Carnegie Mellon University. I have visited Russia many times and spent years working in Russian archives. I am keenly aware of the impact World War II and the Nazis had on the country: a loss of 26-7 million people, wide-scale suffering, mass murder of civilians, and destruction of cities, towns, and villages. The majority of German divisions were concentrated on the eastern front, and it was here the Red Army broke the back of the Wehrmacht. Yet because of divisions created by the Cold War, Americans are taught little about the central role the Soviet Union played in this victory. As a historian, I am strongly committed to bringing the full story of the war to light.

Wendy's book list on the Soviet Union in World War II

Wendy Z. Goldman Why did Wendy love this book?

Why are soldiers willing to fight and die, often despite horrific odds, for a cause?  And why do whole armies fall apart under less difficult conditions? The Red Army, which lost millions of men and suffered massive encirclements by the Wehrmacht provides the perfect case study of these questions. After months of retreat, the Red Army turned the tide at Stalingrad and drove the Nazis back to Berlin. 

Reese’s careful research and balanced conclusions note that morale and motivation fluctuated depending on soldiers’ nationality, social group, and personal circumstances. Many were deeply motivated by Soviet patriotism, which was sometimes, but not always coincident, with socialist ideals and support for Stalin. The army quickly proved that despite catastrophic losses of people and equipment, it could regroup and deliver victory. Its successes were tied in no small measure to the efforts the Soviet state poured into creating strong morale and motivation. Credit,…

By Roger R. Reese,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inept leadership, inefficient campaigning, and enormous losses would seem to spell military disaster. Yet despite these factors, the Soviet Union won its war against Nazi Germany thanks to what Roger Reese calls its "military effectiveness": its ability to put troops in the field even after previous forces had been decimated. Reese probes the human dimension of the Red Army in World War II through a close analysis of soldiers' experiences and attitudes concerning mobilization, motivation, and morale. In doing so, he illuminates the Soviets' remarkable ability to recruit and retain soldiers, revealing why so many were willing to fight in…


Book cover of Do Not Erase: Mathematicians and Their Chalkboards

Gilbert Strang Author Of Introduction to Linear Algebra

From my list on mathematicians and their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

A key event in my mathematical life was videotaping my linear algebra class (the MATH 18.06 course at MIT). This was the right moment when MIT created OpenCourseWare to describe all courses freely to the world—with some big classes on video. Linear algebra has had 12 million viewers and many of them write to me. So many people like to learn about mathematics and read about mathematicians—it is a great pleasure to help. I hope you will enjoy the OpenCourseWare videos (on YouTube too), the books about mathematical lives, and the Introduction to Linear Algebra that many students learn from. This is real mathematics.

Gilbert's book list on mathematicians and their lives

Gilbert Strang Why did Gilbert love this book?

The mathematics in this new book is purely visual – it is there on the board to think about. Questions are waiting patiently for new approaches. This book has photographs of chalk on blackboards all over the mathematical world. Many a cartoon shows a blinding mess of formulas and a goofy author – but these blackboards are the real thing.

By Jessica Wynne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Erase as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A photographic exploration of mathematicians' chalkboards

"A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns," wrote the British mathematician G. H. Hardy. In Do Not Erase, photographer Jessica Wynne presents remarkable examples of this idea through images of mathematicians' chalkboards. While other fields have replaced chalkboards with whiteboards and digital presentations, mathematicians remain loyal to chalk for puzzling out their ideas and communicating their research. Wynne offers more than one hundred stunning photographs of these chalkboards, gathered from a diverse group of mathematicians around the world. The photographs are accompanied by essays from each mathematician, reflecting on…


Book cover of Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop

Michael Dresdner Author Of The New Wood Finishing Book

From my list on for woodworkers to expand their horizons.

Why am I passionate about this?

Michael Dresdner is a nationally known finishing and woodworking expert and guitar maker/designer, author of five books and several videos on wood finishing and guitar making. He’s been a Contributing Editor to Fine Woodworking Magazine, American Woodworker Magazine, and Woodworker’s Journal, wrote the Just Finishing byline column for American Woodworker Magazine for over 7 years, and the Finishing Thoughts byline column for Woodworker’s Journal for almost 20 years. While a consultant to one of the country’s largest coatings conglomerates, he wrote answers to over 8,000 questions for the www.woodanswers.com website blog and edited the Woodworker’s Journal eZine, an award-winning online woodworking magazine with over a quarter of a million subscribers.

Michael's book list on for woodworkers to expand their horizons

Michael Dresdner Why did Michael love this book?

Whether starting from scratch or expanding into new woodworking ventures, correctly setting up your shop can spell the difference between success and failure. Here’s where to come for information on electricity and lighting, tools, heating and ventilation, dust collection, benches, shop layout, and even safety. You’ll know what to buy, what to avoid, and what to do to make your workspace as efficient and comfortable as possible, no matter what flights of woodworking fancy you pursue. 

By Sandor Nagyszalanczy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is ideal for fitting a shop for the first time, or expanding an existing shop. "Setting Up Shop, Revised" takes the practical knowledge and ingenious solutions of the first edition and combines them with additional photos and drawings to create the most comprehensive workshop book on the market. Includes new photos and also updates on technology especially regarding dust collection, pneumatic tools and safety. With guidance on the best shop location, shop layout, equipping the shop with tools and accessories, shop safety and storage.


Book cover of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique

Carey Jones Author Of Every Cocktail Has a Twist: Master 25 Classic Drinks and Craft More Than 200 Variations

From my list on books for home bartenders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing about cocktails and spirits for over a decade, often in collaboration with my mixologist husband and co-author, John McCarthy. Our mission is to create delicious, practical cocktail recipes for the home bartender. There are a number of cocktail books out there, but they usually fall into two camps. Novelty books, which are often silly and untested. Or books written by professionals, for professionals, impractical if you don’t have a centrifuge, dehydrator, and 300-odd liqueurs in your home bar. What about the vast middle ground–people who love cocktails, want to make them at home, and learn something while they’re sipping? We believe in finding the best books for them. 

Carey's book list on books for home bartenders

Carey Jones Why did Carey love this book?

I’ve spent more than a decade immersed in the cocktail world and writing about bar culture, mixology, and technique; John is an award-winning bartender himself. And yet when we have questions on cocktail technique, we always, always reach for this book.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler is a legend in the industry and, what’s more, he has a gift for clear instruction. Whatever our question, we’ll find an authoritative answer here. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Soviet Union, soldiers, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Soviet Union, soldiers, and presidential biography.

The Soviet Union Explore 327 books about the Soviet Union
Soldiers Explore 99 books about soldiers
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography