The most recommended books on the British Army

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to the British Army, and here are their favorite British Army books.
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Book cover of Captive in the Dark

Kay Freeman Author Of The Devil You Know: Gothic Romance Suspense

From my list on gothic with obsessed characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had an interest in art, growing up a military brat and constantly moving, left me time to doodle and read. I spent the first part of my life as an art professor and artist. I began writing three years ago when my manuscript was chosen for RWA’s Ramp program in 2021. With my art, my interest leans more towards the bizarre and unexplained. I believe the romance stories I write follow suit, dark and gothic romance my primary interest, but always with spiritual and hopeful undertones. I also write some non-fiction for a local magazine where I live, The Greenville Stroll and on substack a newsletter for romance writers.

Kay's book list on gothic with obsessed characters

Kay Freeman Why did Kay love this book?

Her books are often quite dark. They are usually disturbing, so for me, quite gothic.

In this one, the protagonist is a victim too, but he is also a man who kidnaps a girl to enslave her, so he can get close enough to seek revenge on the man who once victimized him. He didn't count on falling in love with her. A gripping story, but triggers throughout.

You'll either hate the book, hate me, or love it and love me for recommending the book, but you'll feel something guaranteed! Please read the triggers on the book before downloading. This is another book I can't forget. It made me think about the relationship the author created between the couple.

Times have changed, and even putting trigger warnings on your book is not enough to keep individuals from attacking your characters for their choices (or the author.) I hope to be…

By CJ Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Please heed all warnings. ****This is a series about captivity in a FICTIONAL and EROTICIZED setting. It contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.****

OVER 150,000 COPIES SOLD!

This edition of CAPTIVE IN THE DARK features a new cover that when combined with the other books in DARK DUET: Platinum Edition series makes a lovely addition to any bookshelf.

It is NO DIFFERENT in content from previous editions of the series.

CAPTIVE IN THE DARK (BOOK 1):
Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery…


Book cover of Bhowani Junction

Annie Murray Author Of Letter from a Tea Garden

From my list on India under the Raj that are not about princesses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Abi Oliver is a pen name as my real name is Annie Murray—I write under both names. My first book, A New Map of Love, set in the 1960s, featured an older woman who had been born in India. She developed into such a character—a bit of an old trout to be truthful—that I wanted to tell her story. It also tapped into my family’s many connections with India and the fact that I have travelled a lot there. I finally got to travel, with my oldest daughter, and stay in one of the tea gardens in Assam—a wonderful experience.

Annie's book list on India under the Raj that are not about princesses

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

"India will sing like a bird out of its cage when she is free," says one of the characters in this wonderfully engaging book. Times of transition interest me and this book is set during the early part of Indian Independence, when everyone was trying to find a new identity and way of living, especially Victoria, one of the three main characters who is Eurasian, or as we would now say, mixed race. She is torn between the two sides of her heritage. Some of the language is shocking in our times but it is a fascinating story of people caught up in a country’s re-birth. It is also a tender love story. It’s a great way to get a feel of that period of upheaval.

By John Masters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Bhowani Junction is set in the wake of the partition of India, as the British prepare to withdraw from the newly independent country. Evoking the tensions and conflicts that accompanied the birth of modern India, the characters struggle to find their place in the new India that is emerging. In the last hectic days of the British Raj, Victoria has to choose between marrying a British Army officer or a Sikh, Ranjit, as she struggles to find her place in the new, independent India.

One of John Masters' seven novels which followed several generations of the Savage family serving in…


Book cover of The Middle Parts of Fortune

Simon Akam Author Of The Changing of the Guard: the British army since 9/11

From my list on the British Army.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2003-4 I spent a year in the British Army between school and university. Ten years later, having become a journalist, I returned to investigate what a decade of war had done to the institution I knew as an adolescent. In the years I spent researching and writing The Changing of the Guard I read reams of non-fiction. However, novels retain an ability to hit wider – or harder truths – and some of our greatest writers have fictionalised British Army life. Here is a selection of British Army novels, well-known and less so. They take in conflicts ranging from the First and Second World Wars through to Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. 

Simon's book list on the British Army

Simon Akam Why did Simon love this book?

This is the one First World War novel in which the characters actually talk like soldiers – i.e., they swear. It therefore provides a powerful counterpunch to our usual notion of what the trenches sounded like.

The scalding language survived intact due to the book’s complicated publication history. Initial release in an anonymous volume available only for subscribers meant that Manning, an Australian who had served on the Somme, could sidestep the mores of his time.

The result was lines like this: "“Fuckin' slave drivers, that's what they are!” said Minton, flinging himself on the ground.  “What's the cunt want to come down ‘ere buggerin’ us about for, ‘aven't we done enough bloody work in th’ week?”” A bowdlerised version – “Her Privates We” – later followed, but the unexpurgated original is the one to read.

Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and T.E. Lawrence all praised Manning’s work.

By Frederic Manning,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'They can say what they bloody well like, but we're a fuckin' fine mob.'

Deep in the mud, stench of the Somme, Bourne is trying his best to stay alive. There he finds the intense fraternity of war and fear unlike anything he has ever known.

Frederic Manning's novel was first published anonymously in 1929. The honesty with which he wrote about the horror, the boredom, and the futility of war inspired Ernest Hemingway to read the novel every year, 'to remember how things really were so that I will never lie to myself nor to anyone else about them.


Book cover of Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front

Spencer Jones Author Of Courage Without Glory: The British Army on the Western Front 1915

From my list on the British Army in World War I.

Why am I passionate about this?

Spencer Jones is an award-winning historian who has written several critically acclaimed books about the British Army in the First World War. He teaches history at the University of Wolverhampton, serves as the Regimental Historian of the Royal Artillery, and is the President of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Spencer's book list on the British Army in World War I

Spencer Jones Why did Spencer love this book?

What was war like for the average British soldier – ‘Tommy’ - taken from civilian life and sent into the inferno of battle? This magisterial study is the best book about British soldiers and their wartime experiences. It explores reasons for enlistment, training, tactics, life in the trenches, and experience of battle. Although vast in scope, it never loses sight of the human side of war. This book presents presents a nuanced, fascinating, and touching study of the common soldier.

By Richard Holmes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first history of World War I to place centre-stage the British soldier who fought in the trenches, this superb and important book tells the story of an epic and terrible war through the letters, diaries and memories of those who fought it.

Of the six million men who served in the British army, nearly one million lost their lives and over two million were wounded. This is the story of these men - epitomised by the character of Sgt Tommy Atkins - and the women they left behind.

Using previously unseen letters, diaries, memoirs and poetry from the years…


Book cover of A Most Unsuitable Man

Dory Codington Author Of Beside Turning Water

From my list on realistic historical fiction that makes you swoon.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started the Edge of Empire series which includes Beside Turning Water when I was a Park Guide at Boston’s National Historical Park. As a guide I gave tours on the Freedom Trail which preserves the buildings and stories from the era of the American Revolution. I wanted to create a book like the ones I love full of romance a bit of sex, and with historical accuracy. Books that would help readers fall in love with the characters and understand the history of the events in the Revolution without that dry history-class feeling.

Dory's book list on realistic historical fiction that makes you swoon

Dory Codington Why did Dory love this book?

I began to write my own series in response to Jo Beverley’s Mallorens. These novels are set in Georgian England with its Barons, Dukes and their gambling, their rakes, and their strict inheritance laws and traditions. I invented those same rakish sons of dukes, but made them the third and fourth sons – the ones barely mentioned in classic British historical romances. I put these adventurous men on merchant vessels, and in the red uniform of the British army. Then I sent them across the Atlantic to fight a war for the King and have their adventures in America. I regret that Ms. Beverley died before I had a chance to talk to her about our connection, but her books have been a great inspiration. 

Many writers use dramatic openings to bring you into a book, and Ms. Beverely gets behind you and kicks you in. It has been very…

By Jo Beverley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Most Unsuitable Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author brings back the most beloved family in romance!

Damaris Myddleton never expected to inherit a vast fortune-but she's ready to use it to buy the most eligible title in England. In comes Mr. Fitzroger, the dashing but penniless adventurer who first saves her from social disaster, and then saves her life. Now, trapped in mystery, danger, and forbidden intimacy, Damaris fights not to surrender her freedom and her heart to a most unsuitable man.

 


Book cover of The Armies of Wellington

Charles J. Esdaile Author Of The Peninsular War: A New History

From my list on the Peninsular War for hardcore history lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

For thirty-one years a member of the History Department of the University of Liverpool prior to his retirement in 2020, Charles J. Esdaile has written a host of books on the Napoleonic era, but is particularly knowledgeable in respect of the Peninsular War of 1808-1814, a subject to whose historiography he has made an extraordinary contribution. Thus, setting aside a host of articles and conference papers, he has published eight books on the subject. 

Charles' book list on the Peninsular War for hardcore history lovers

Charles J. Esdaile Why did Charles love this book?

As has already been made clear, the British army did not fight the Peninsular War single-handed. That said, it cannot be ignored, and this book is very much the place to go for anyone looking to improve their knowledge of the subject. Amongst the topics covered are officers and men, recruitment, the different arms of service, tactics, discipline, foreign regiments, and much else besides, while the author writes in a style that is simple and unaffected. Thoroughly recommended!

By Philip J. Haythornthwaite,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This text provides a study of how Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, structured, equipped, utilized and adapted the forces under his command in his various campaigns. Philip Haythornthwaite has also written "World War I Source Book" and "Napoleonic Source Book".


Book cover of The First Day on the Somme

Nick Lloyd Author Of The Western Front: A History of the Great War, 1914-1918

From my list on the Western Front of WW1 and what it was like.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nick Lloyd is Professor of Modern Warfare at King's College London, based at the Defence Academy UK in Shrivenham, Wiltshire. He is the author of five books, including Passchendaele: A New History, which was a Sunday Times bestseller, and most recently, The Western Front: A History of the First World War. He lives with his family in Cheltenham.

Nick's book list on the Western Front of WW1 and what it was like

Nick Lloyd Why did Nick love this book?

There is little that has not been said about this readable, engaging, and deeply moving account of the disaster on 1 July 1916 – the worst day in the history of the British Army. Middlebrook’s book was a revelation when it first appeared; utilising recollections and stories from veterans, whom Middlebrook met and interviewed, giving it an immediacy and power that captivated readers. The book charts the birth and development of Britain’s New Armies and their subsequent destruction on the Somme. Piece-by-piece Middlebrook examines how the battle was planned and prepared, before going on to detail the progress of the fighting at set-times, allowing us to grasp the ebb and flow of the battle. This remains a much-loved classic. 

By Martin Middlebrook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The First Day on the Somme as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The soldiers receive the best service a historian can provide: their story is told in their own words - Guardian

'For some reason nothing seemed to happen to us at first; we strolled along as though walking in a park. Then, suddenly, we were in the midst of a storm of machine-gun bullets and I saw men beginning to twirl round and fall in all kinds of curious ways'

On 1 July 1916, a continous line of British soldiers climbed out from the trenches of the Somme into No Man's Land and began to walk towards dug-in German troops armed…


Book cover of Rain

Simon Akam Author Of The Changing of the Guard: the British army since 9/11

From my list on the British Army.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2003-4 I spent a year in the British Army between school and university. Ten years later, having become a journalist, I returned to investigate what a decade of war had done to the institution I knew as an adolescent. In the years I spent researching and writing The Changing of the Guard I read reams of non-fiction. However, novels retain an ability to hit wider – or harder truths – and some of our greatest writers have fictionalised British Army life. Here is a selection of British Army novels, well-known and less so. They take in conflicts ranging from the First and Second World Wars through to Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. 

Simon's book list on the British Army

Simon Akam Why did Simon love this book?

In the interests of full disclosure, I knew Campbell at university so my judgment on this novel of the Afghan war cannot be fully impartial.

I found it powerful though. There are obvious overlays between the experience of Campbell himself and his central protagonist Tom Chamberlain – both serve in high-period Afghanistan as officers with cavalry units. (Campbell was in the Blues and Royals). That overlap grants the novel its authenticity – from its dissection of 'ally,’ British army slang for cool, to “rock star” bomb disposal officers capable of “squaring up to colonels” and coffins of blast victims reduced to a few scraps of ruined flesh subsequently weighed down with sandbags.

Campbell’s next novel, The Fires of Gallipoli, set in the First World War, will be out next year.  

By Barney Campbell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE EVENING STANDARD'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2015
Barney Campbell's Rain is a searingly powerful debut that reads like a British Matterhorn
********

'A wonderfully achieved, enthralling and moving novel of war. Its authenticity is as telling as it is terrifying' William Boyd

'No better on-the-ground description of Britain's war will ever be written. Rain is what Chickenhawk or, more recently, Matterhorn was to Vietnam. It's unputdownable, except for when the reader needs to draw breath or battle a lump in the throat' Evening Strandard

Corporal Thomas (my acting sergeant since Adams died) and I have to go…


Book cover of A Rifleman Went to War

Bruce Canfield Author Of U. S. Infantry Weapons of the First World War

From my list on America's crusade in the Great War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written 13 books and over 200 national magazine articles on U.S. Military weapons and am Field Editor for the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. The story of the World War II weapons and campaigns have been widely covered but the First World War is sometimes all but forgotten. Those who are not familiar with America’s rather brief, but important, role in the conflict often do not realize how the First World War helped make the United States one of the world’s “superpowers.”

Bruce's book list on America's crusade in the Great War

Bruce Canfield Why did Bruce love this book?

An excellent narrative of the experiences of a Canadian infantry officer who served in France and Belgium from Sept. 1915 to April 1917. There is a lot of emphasis on the sniping weapons utilized by the Allied forces during the early part of the war.

By Herbert Wes McBride,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a new release of the original 1935 edition.


Book cover of Morale: A Study of Men and Courage

Spencer Jones Author Of Courage Without Glory: The British Army on the Western Front 1915

From my list on the British Army in World War I.

Why am I passionate about this?

Spencer Jones is an award-winning historian who has written several critically acclaimed books about the British Army in the First World War. He teaches history at the University of Wolverhampton, serves as the Regimental Historian of the Royal Artillery, and is the President of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Spencer's book list on the British Army in World War I

Spencer Jones Why did Spencer love this book?

What enabled soldiers to maintain their morale in the inferno of the Western Front? This unique book explores the question by studying the soldiers of the elite 2nd Scottish Rifles at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915. It presents a fascinating micro-history of how a British battalion functioned in peace and in war. What type of men served in an elite unit? Where had they come from? What rules did they follow? Where did their loyalties lie? How did they maintain their spirit in the face of dreadful conditions and severe casualties? This book answers these questions and many more.

By John Christopher Malcolm Baynes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mark from price in front inner cover. Front cover is bent at top right corner, but is in overall acceptable shape.