100 books like War and the Soul

By Edward Tick,

Here are 100 books that War and the Soul fans have personally recommended if you like War and the Soul. 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 Things They Carried

Ryan A. Kovacs Author Of Create Destruction: Phase I

From my list on human choice & consequence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I firmly live by the saying, “Where we are in life is a direct reflection of the choices we’ve made, or failed to make.” The theme of choice and consequence has not just been a way of living but the very trope in all my novels. The beauty in showing the process of making a choice, for my characters, in their stories, brings them to life. It forces the reader to step inside that decision tree, to analyze and predict the outcome despite the unknown. We are continuously propelled into the unknown and we make choices based on the notion of understanding what those choices will mean.

Ryan's book list on human choice & consequence

Ryan A. Kovacs Why did Ryan love this book?

Singlehandedly one of the greatest fictional books about war, Tim finds clever ways of imbuing readers with captivating characters.

Each short story gives insight into a war still misunderstood to this day.

As a veteran, I identify with the curious war stories and the unique character attributes displayed throughout them.

While cynical and the fictitious content questioned, The Things They Carried carries the weight of war and its lasting effects. 

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…


Book cover of On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

Ryan Smithson Author Of Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI

From my list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an equipment operator for the Army Corps of Engineers, I didn’t serve in a “combat” role, per se, but the engineers go wherever the military needs things built, so we were often repairing IED damage, hauling supplies outside the wire, or fortifying bases so the infantry, cavalry, etc. could do their job effectively. Coming home, I owe a lot of my successful reintegration to my writing and the many people who encouraged me to share it with the world. Now with my Master of Arts in English, I’ve taught college courses on military culture, and I present for veteran art groups, writing workshops, and high schools and colleges around the country.

Ryan's book list on turning PTSD into post-traumatic growth

Ryan Smithson Why did Ryan love this book?

Grossman is a former Army Ranger who digs deep into the psychological impact of taking human life through countless interviews with fellow soldiers of all kinds. Combining these accounts with thorough psychological research, Grossman comments on society's collective aversion to killing while helping us understand its complicated acceptance—and even encouragement—of wartime killing. What was most surprising to me was that historically, only about 4% of soldiers even fire their weapon during war, and how obviously that skews from the “norm” of combat portrayed in popular media. It’s an honest, eye-opening, and important piece of work that should be required reading for every service member, police officer, or anyone tasked with carrying society’s heaviest burden.

By Lt. Col. Dave Grossman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so: contemporary civilian society, particularly the media, replicates the army's conditioning techniques and, according to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's thesis, is responsible for our rising rate of murder among the young. Upon its first publication, ON KILLING was hailed as a…


Book cover of War

Robert Averill Author Of NeuroAdventures: The Art and Science of Hunting and Gathering Happiness

From my list on peak and transformative human experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always craved outdoor adventure. My earliest preschool memories include frog hunting in the fields behind my house, and careening down hills around the neighborhood on my metal-wheeled skateboard. In middle school, I progressed to BMX, spearfishing and surfing. After college, I added snow and water skiing, windsurfing, and eventually mountain biking to the mix, and was fortunate to have a career that allowed time and resources to travel the world extensively seeking adventure. Now well into my sixties, I research and write about science, extreme sports, nature and philosophy in between daily hikes and mountain bike rides around the homebase and monthly journeys to destinations unknown.

Robert's book list on peak and transformative human experience

Robert Averill Why did Robert love this book?

I wanted to understand why individuals in our society would volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way by joining—and sometimes reenlisting—to serve on the front lines in a far-flung region of little strategic value to our country (Afghanistan).

In this book, a couple of common themes popped up: camaraderie and heightened states of awareness. The bonds these young men cement when depending upon each other for life and limb take on meaning greater than life itself.

And the strange sense of control—and lack of fear—that can occur on the battlefield when adrenaline kicks in and everything slows down in the mind’s eye has parallels to situations that us outdoor adventure enthusiasts also crave—the “flow experience”—but at a level of intensity I can only imagine.

By Sebastian Junger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of The Perfect Storm, a gripping book about Sebastian Junger's almost fatal year with the 2nd battalion of the American Army.

For 15 months, Sebastian Junger accompanied a single platoon of thirty men from the celebrated 2nd battalion of the U.S. Army, as they fought their way through a remote valley in Eastern Afghanistan. Over the course of five trips, Junger was in more firefights than he could count, men he knew were killed or wounded, and he himself was almost killed. His relationship with these soldiers grew so close that they considered him part of the…


Book cover of The Yellow Birds

Benjamin Sledge Author Of Where Cowards Go to Die

From my list on war that leave you shattered.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Benjamin Sledge Why did Benjamin love this book?

I read this book shortly after returning home from Iraq and remained haunted for months. Despite the novel being a work of fiction, it details the modern veteran's struggle to find his place in society and his unadulterated embrace of violence and camaraderie that permeates each corner of his life. Powers’ explanation of combat is similar to the suspended moment before a car crash is told in prose that sings, and probably why he won the PEN/Hemingway Award for this work of art. 

By Kevin Powers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unforgettable depiction of the psychological impact of war, by a young Iraq veteran and poet, THE YELLOW BIRDS is already being hailed as a modern classic. It is also a story of love, of great courage, and of extraordinary human survival.

WINNER OF THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and BOOK OF THE YEAR

A TLS, GUARDIAN, EVENING STANDARD and SUNDAY HERALD BOOK OF THE YEAR

Everywhere John looks, he sees Murph.

He flinches when cars drive past. His fingers clasp around the rifle he hasn't held for months. Wide-eyed strangers praise…


Book cover of I Am Not Your Victim: Anatomy of Domestic Violence

Allison Bloom Author Of Violence Never Heals: The Lifelong Effects of Intimate Partner Violence for Immigrant Women

From my list on domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a researcher, educator, and practitioner of domestic violence services for over 15 years, and am extremely passionate about this topic. After having worked in the domestic violence field, I then pursued my PhD to study this problem, which I now continue to research and teach about as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Moravian University. In our ever-globalizing world, I believe it's especially important for us to consider domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective, and having studied this issue in Latin America and among Latina women in the U.S., I hope to spread that knowledge even further. More than ever, it is important for everyone to gain knowledge on this worldwide problem.

Allison's book list on domestic violence from a cross-cultural perspective

Allison Bloom Why did Allison love this book?

Hearing about domestic violence from a survivor’s first-hand perspective is one of the most important ways to learn about this widespread issue.

This book was one of the first that I ever read about this topic many years ago, and even though the book is nearly three decades old, it still remains one of the most powerful first-hand accounts of a survivor’s experience.

When I teach with this book, my students are blown away by Beth’s strength and what she overcomes. Through this book, they come to understand how someone can end up in such a dangerous situation, and the many barriers they often face to finding justice and safety.

By Beth M. Sipe, Evelyn J. Hall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Not Your Victim as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I Am Not Your Victim vividly details the evolution of domestic violence during the 16-year marriage of author Beth Sipe. Encouraged to publish her story by her therapist and co-author, Evelyn J. Hall, Beth relates the background and events leading up to and immediately following the tragic act of desperation that ended the life of her sadistic perpetrator. Beth's subsequent mishandling by the police, the military, a mental health professional, and the welfare system illustrates how women like Beth face further revictimization and neglect by the very systems that should provide support and assistance. Insightful commentaries written by experts in…


Book cover of Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940

David Livingstone Smith Author Of On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It

From my list on inhumanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been studying dehumanization, and its relationship to racism, genocide, slavery, and other atrocities, for more than a decade. I am the author of three books on dehumanization, one of which was awarded the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for non-fiction, an award that is reserved for books that make an outstanding contribution to understanding racism and human diversity. My work on dehumanization is widely covered in the national and international media, and I often give presentations at academic and non-academic venues, including one at the 2012 G20 economic summit where I spoke on dehumanization and mass violence.

David's book list on inhumanity

David Livingstone Smith Why did David love this book?

Most people’s idea of lynching is the sanitized version that they have picked up from movies and TV. However, the practice of lynching, as it was carried out in the United States from the late 19th to well into the 20th century, was far more hideous than a few people hanging a man from a tree. This classic contribution concentrates on spectacle lynchings. These were public lynchings attended by hundreds or even thousands of spectators. They involved hours of torture and bodily mutilation, often culminating in the victim being burned alive. Lynching and Spectacle is a vital read for anyone wishing to understand the full horror of American Racism.

By Amy Louise Wood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This title presents public reinforcement of white supremacy. Lynch mobs in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America often exacted horrifying public torture and mutilation on their victims. In ""Lynching and Spectacle"", Amy Wood explains what it meant for white Americans to perform and witness these sadistic spectacles and what they derived from them. Lynching, Wood argues, overlapped with a wide range of cultural practices and performances, both traditional and modern, including public executions, religious rituals, photography, and cinema. The connections between lynching and these practices encouraged the horrific violence committed and gave it social acceptability.Wood expounds on the critical role…


Book cover of Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Rebecca Langston-George Author Of The Booth Brothers: Drama, Fame, and the Death of President Lincoln

From my list on little-known US history for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I taught for more than 26 years in classes ranging from first grade through college. No matter the age of the students, I used children’s books to introduce topics in history. I never shied away from using a picture book with older students and often found they were more engaged in a picture book than in an article. I also used historical fiction as a hook to lure students into picking up a related non-fiction book. In fact, historical fiction was the gateway that taught this writer of 13 nonfiction children’s books to love non-fiction history. 

Rebecca's book list on little-known US history for children

Rebecca Langston-George Why did Rebecca love this book?

Weatherford depicts a vibrant and thriving Black Wall Street in Tulsa until one elevator ride brings it all crashing down.

Unspeakable has received numerous starred reviews and awards—all richly deserved for shining a light on this horrifying history and reminding us at the book’s conclusion that it is the responsibility of us all to reject hatred and choose hope. It’s a stunning work from a powerhouse author and illustrator team.

Don’t let its picture book format keep you from sharing this important book with teens and adults. The format makes the difficult subject both more accessible and more relatable.  

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Unspeakable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator

A Caldecott Honor Book

A Sibert Honor Book

Longlisted for the National Book Award

A Kirkus Prize Finalist

A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

"A must-have"―Booklist (starred review)

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of…


Book cover of The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History

Hannibal B. Johnson Author Of Black Wall Street 100: An American City Grapples With Its Historical Racial Trauma

From my list on the Black experience in Oklahoma.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Black Experience is my experience. Through living that experience, and with the benefit of education, my passion for storytelling—for sharing oft-neglected Black history from a Black perspective—evolved. Professionally, I am a Harvard-educated attorney who writes, lectures, teaches, and coaches in the general area of the Black experience and in the broader realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion. My ten books focus on aspects of the Black experience in America. I have received many honors and accolades for my professional and community work, including induction into both the Tulsa Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Hannibal's book list on the Black experience in Oklahoma

Hannibal B. Johnson Why did Hannibal love this book?

This photographic history of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre recounts a compelling event with an equally compelling pictorial narrative. Dr. Hill, who leads the African and African American studies program at the University of Oklahoma, shares this curated look at a catastrophic moment in time with a view toward acknowledging our full history and shaping our collective vision for an inclusive future.

By Karlos K. Hill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the evening of May 31, 1921, and in the early morning hours of June 1, several thousand white citizens and authorities violently attacked the African American Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the course of some twelve hours of mob violence, white Tulsans reduced one of the nation's most prosperous black communities to rubble and killed an estimated 300 people, mostly African Americans. This richly illustrated volume, featuring more than 175 photographs, along with oral testimonies, shines a new spotlight on the race massacre from the vantage point of its victims and survivors.

Historian and Black Studies professor Karlos…


Book cover of The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

Danu Morrigan Author Of You're Not Crazy - It's Your Mother

From my list on daughters of narcissistic mothers flourish and thrive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Danu Morrigan and I run the website Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers. Ever since realising in 2008 that my mother was most likely narcissistic (although she was never diagnosed as such and this is just my best guess), I have been absorbed in this topic, both for my own sake, and to share what I learn with other daughters of narcissistic mothers. I’m especially dedicated to finding ways we can heal from this and live our own best lives regardless of her impact.

Danu's book list on daughters of narcissistic mothers flourish and thrive

Danu Morrigan Why did Danu love this book?

On its face, this book has nothing to do with daughters of narcissistic mothers, but it has messages for everyone, especially women, and even more especially, daughters of narcissistic mothers who were taught to ignore our own boundaries and our own intuition. This book does the opposite: it gives us overt permission, and even encouragement, to trust our intuition which in turn will keep us safe.

By Gavin de Becker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this empowering book, Gavin de Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey calls the US' leading expert on violent behaviour, shows you how to spot even subtle signs of danger - before it's too late. Shattering the myth that most violent acts are unpredictable, de Becker, whose clients include top Hollywood stars and government agencies, offers specific ways to protect yourself and those you love, including: how to act when approached by a stranger; when you should fear someone close to you; what to do if you are being stalked; how to uncover the source of anonymous threats or phone calls;…


Book cover of I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her

Rebecca McKanna Author Of Don't Forget the Girl

From my list on true crime that still honor the victims.

Why am I passionate about this?

After writing a novel about the toll true crime can take on victims’ loved ones and the risk it runs of glamourizing killers while overshadowing victims, I’ve been on the hunt for true crime books that don’t fall into these traps. The titles on this list showcase beautiful writing and tell compelling stories without dehumanizing the victims or glamourizing the perpetrators. 

Rebecca's book list on true crime that still honor the victims

Rebecca McKanna Why did Rebecca love this book?

While on assignment for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Connors was raped by a man recently released from prison. Before, he lets her go, he tells her not to contact the police, warning her, “[…] I will find you.”

The phrase becomes the through line of Connors’ book, which is both about her quest to find a way forward after the assault and about her journey to uncover her assailant’s past and the reasons he might have committed this crime. The result is a poignant look at both the trauma left in crime’s wake as well as the societal influences that cause crime to occur in the first place.

By Joanna Connors,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Will Find You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hard-hitting memoir about a woman's search to understand the man who raped her

Joanna Connors was thirty years old when she was raped at knifepoint by a stranger.

Many years later she realised she had to confront the fear that had ruled her life ever since that day. She needed, finally, to understand. So she went in search of her rapist's story, determined to find out who he was, where he came from, what his life was like - and what leads a person to do something as destructive as what he did to her.

'More chilling than a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in violence, therapy, and veterans?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about violence, therapy, and veterans.

Violence Explore 88 books about violence
Therapy Explore 16 books about therapy
Veterans Explore 79 books about veterans