The best books about commandos

10 authors have picked their favorite books about commandos and why they recommend each book.

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Rangers at War

By Shelby L. Stanton,

Book cover of Rangers at War: LRRPs in Vietnam

Stanton, one of the earliest and most prolific writers on the Vietnam War, details LRRP/Ranger operations primarily through unit Quarterly After Action Reports from the National Archives. Although mostly numbers and places with few actual combat stories, the book nonetheless offers an accurate assessment of the actions of LRRPs/Rangers in the war.

Rangers at War

By Shelby L. Stanton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Shelby Stanton has emerged as the leading military historian on the war in Southest Asia."
COL. CHARLES B. MacDONALD
Author of COMPANY COMMANDER and A TIME FOR TRUMPETS
One of the toughest and most challenging jobs in Vietnam was to be a U.S. Army Ranger running Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols. The LRRPs took volunteers only, and training was designed to weed out all but the best. What emerged was an elite outfit of warriors in the finest sense of the word. Now Shelby Stanton, renowned military authority on the war in Southeast Asia, presents the first and only definitive history…


Who am I?

I served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. I was an instructor in the Florida Phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School for two years.


I wrote...

Inside the LRRPs: Rangers in Vietnam

By Michael Lee Lanning,

Book cover of Inside the LRRPs: Rangers in Vietnam

What is my book about?

Vietnam was a different kind of war, calling for a different kind of soldier. The LRRPs--Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols--were that new breed of fighting man. They operated in six-man teams deep within enemy territory, and were the eyes and ears of the units they served. This is their story--of perseverence under extreme hardship and uncommon bravery--and how they carried out the war's most hazardous missions.

Marine Sniper

By Charles Henderson,

Book cover of Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills

This isn’t actually a memoir, but it reads like one. In the Vietnam War, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock hunts and is hunted. With him, the reader stalks a Viet Cong general, a sniper, and others through the jungles and mountains of Southeast Asia. The North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam put a bounty on Hathcock, calling him the “White Feather.” It’s difficult to imagine today’s American snipers or black ops without the influence of this man. His story is legendary.

Marine Sniper

By Charles Henderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The explosive true story of Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, a legendary Marine sniper in the Vietnam War.

There have been many Marines. There have been many marksmen. But there has only been one Sergeant Carlos Hathcock.

He stalked the Viet Cong behind enemy lines-on their own ground. And each time, he emerged from the jungle having done his duty. His record is one of the finest in military history, with ninety-three confirmed kills.

This is the story of a simple man who endured incredible dangers and hardships for his country and his Corps. These are the missions that have made Carlos…


Who am I?

I’m a NYT and international bestselling author, with the movie rights to one of my books purchased by Vin Diesel. My books have been translated into 13 languages, and I’ve published with three of the Big Five publishers: Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette UK. My writing has been called “action packed…harrowing…adrenaline laced” by The New York Times. I wasn’t a SEAL, but I completed Hell Week, qualified as a pistol and rifle expert, blew up stuff, and practiced small-unit tactics during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. Secretly, I’m a dark chocolate thief.


I wrote...

Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper

By Stephen Templin, Howard E. Wasdin,

Book cover of Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper

What is my book about?

When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six—a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency.

In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes listeners deep inside the world of Navy SEALs and Special Forces snipers, beginning with the grueling selection process of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL - the toughest and longest military training in the world.

Shadow Warriors

By Paul O’Brien, Wayne Fitzgerald,

Book cover of Shadow Warriors

Ireland is known as the land of a thousand welcomes, but most people aren’t aware of its sixty unbroken years of Peacekeeping duty with the UN and even less know of its elite special forces unit known as the Army Ranger Wing (ARW).

The ARW is seen by many as one of the most effective special forces in operation. Shadow Warriors gives an in depth look into the history of the ARW, set up against the backdrop of rising instances of international terrorism and its deployment in a variety of roles across dozens of countries. This is an easy and straightforward read for anyone interested in military related books.

Shadow Warriors

By Paul O’Brien, Wayne Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1980, the Irish Department of Defence sanctioned the establishment of a new unit within the Irish Defence Forces and the Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW) came into being. In the decades that followed, its soldiers have been deployed on active service at home and abroad, generally without the knowledge of the wider public. The ARW is made up of seasoned men from across the island, who are selected through tough competition. Only the best of the best make it through and are trained in an extraordinary range of specialist skills. Being one of these elite operators…


Who am I?

I served for seven years in the Irish Reserve Defence Forces, finishing as a weapons specialist in the infantry. I’m very grateful for the time I served in uniform and the lifelong lessons I learned that have helped me in my personal and professional life. Being a lifelong fan of military science fiction, I wrote Big Red from the point of view of a young Irish soldier thrown into a genocidal war on Mars. I’m a co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community and our online magazine Bard of the Isles.


I wrote...

Big Red

By Damien Larkin,

Book cover of Big Red

What is my book about?

Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, Irish soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth’s Martian colonies. With his Battalion decimated, his fractured memory holds the only clues to the colony-wide communications blackout.

With time running out, Darren pieces together his year-long tour of duty with the Mars Occupation Force. Stationed in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony, ruled by the brutal MARSCORP, he recounts his part in the vicious, genocidal war against the hostile alien natives and all who question Terran supremacy. But as his memories return, Darren suspects he is at the centre of a plot spanning forty years. He has one last mission to carry out. And his alien enemies may be more human than he is…

The Red, 1

By Linda Nagata,

Book cover of The Red, 1: First Light

First Light is another interesting exploration of artificial intelligence and brain/body modification. The story focuses on a soldier and has a good amount of techno-thriller type action. It keeps the pace nice and quick, and I found the main character and his squad to be full of fun, sympathetic characters. Nagata has written some excellent far-future worlds (e.g. The Bohr Maker), but in this novel, she sticks to the upcoming decades, and along the way, she raises some great questions about morality and humanity.

The Red, 1

By Linda Nagata,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015

Reality TV and advanced technology make for high drama in this political thriller that combines the military action of Zero Dark Thirty with the classic science fiction of The Forever War.

Lieutenant James Shelley, who has an uncanny knack for premeditating danger, leads a squad of advanced US Army military tasked with enforcing the peace around a conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. The squad members are linked wirelessly 24/7 to themselves and a central intelligence that guides them via drone relay—and unbeknownst to Shelley and his team, they are being recorded for a reality…


Who am I?

Back in college, I switched from being an astrophysics major to computational neuroscience. The reasons are complicated, but suffice it to say that I found the human brain to be as big of a mystery as black holes. I’ve worked as an engineer for two decades on applications ranging from medical devices, to digital music recognition, to high speed chip design. Writing science fiction is the second act of my life, and I love drawing on my science background to inform my stories. I especially love taking cutting-edge technology and thinking about how it could impact future society, from the global to the individual.


I wrote...

Machinehood

By S.B. Divya,

Book cover of Machinehood

What is my book about?

It’s 2095, and humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in a ubiquitous gig economy. Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed by the Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group. Their operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week. 

Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood, and what do they really want? A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?

Bravo Two Zero

By Andy McNab,

Book cover of Bravo Two Zero: The Harrowing True Story of a Special Forces Patrol Behind the Lines in Iraq

This is a detailed account of a secret military mission behind enemy lines during the first Gulf War and how a series of minor setbacks can quickly escalate into a full-blown disaster. I first read it years before I'd had any knowledge of a battlefield. I read it again after I'd been caught up in my own terrifying experience of combat and took away a new appreciation of the realities of war – how stress on the battlefield narrows the field of vision to minute details which distort what is really going on. It's a lesson about war, but also about life – even with all the planning and the training, it's almost impossible to control what happens in the heat of battle. 

Bravo Two Zero

By Andy McNab,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sergeant Andy McNab recounts the story of the top secret mission that would reveal the secrets of the SAS to the world for the first time.

Their location: Iraq
Their mission: to sever a vital enemy underground communication link, to find and destroy mobile Scud launchers
Their call sign: Bravo Two Zero

When eight members of the elite SAS regiment embark on a highly covert operation, they are each laden with 15 stones of equipment, needing to tab 20km across the desert to reach their objective. But within days, their location is compromised. They engage in a fierce battle. They…


Who am I?

In 2003 I was travelling through Baghdad with US forces to report on the Iraq war. Suddenly an ear-shattering explosion cracked through our Humvee and a rush of hot debris swept past my face. The heavily armoured door warped inwards, and the vehicle lifted off the ground. Soldiers were screaming in terror and anger, clutching at bloody faces, arms, and legs. We’d been attacked by unknown members of the Iraqi resistance. The sheer terror of that moment gave me a new understanding of war  the sight, smells, sounds, and touch of combat – and a desire to tell the stories of the young soldiers who get caught up in it.  


I wrote...

Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

By Tim Pritchard,

Book cover of Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War

What is my book about?

U.S. Marines from Task Force Tarawa are caught up in one of the most unexpected battles of the Iraq War. What started off as a routine maneuver to secure two key bridges in the town of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq degenerated into a nightmarish twenty-four-hour urban clash in which eighteen young Marines lost their lives and more than thirty-five others were wounded. It was the single heaviest loss suffered by the U.S. military during the initial combat phase of the war.

Ambush Alley tells the story of the deadliest battle of the Iraq war and how a routine military operation descends into a nightmarish 24-hour urban clash that leaves 18 young marines dead and 35 others wounded.  

Killer Elite

By Michael Smith,

Book cover of Killer Elite: Completely Revised and Updated: The Inside Story of America's Most Secret Special Operations Team

Although they once hoped to remain as eternally clandestine and unknown units, the famed Delta Force and Seal Team 6 had their covers blown and have now been memorialized in various books, movies, and television shows. There are still units within the Special Operations and Clandestine Services worlds that remain shrouded in mystery, though, which is exactly how they like it.

This book walks you through the history, jobs, and some of the high-profile missions of one of these such units, once known simply as “The Activity.” A unit so secret that they changed their official unit name every 30 days, their soldiers do not wear uniforms, and who performs the types of missions that everyone hopes are being conducted but nobody knows who has the capabilities to do so. 

This book is the perfect representation of the pinnacle of intelligence, strength, and bravery that exists within the US Special…

Killer Elite

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

America's most secret Special Forces unit does not even have a name. Formed as the 'Intelligence Support Activity', it has had a succession of innocuous titles to hide its ferocious purpose. It exists to 'undertake activities only when other intelligence or operational support elements are unavailable or inappropriate'. Translated from Pentagon-speak, this means operating undercover in the world's most dangerous places, penetrating enemy organizations including Al Qa'eda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 'The Activity' combines the spy work of the CIA with the commando/SAS role of the Green Berets. It not only provides the intelligence on the ground - it translates…


Who am I?

I’m a former Green Beret and combat veteran of OIF (Iraq), OEF (Afghanistan), and OEF-TS (North Africa). My first unit within Special Forces is the oldest within SF, and as such, I had the opportunity to work alongside some legends amongst men, people who were there in the early days of Special Operations. After leaving Special Forces I have written three published Special Operations-focused books, both fiction and non-fiction, which has led to a life of studying everything there is to know about Special Operations, the intelligence behind wars, and the history of both.


I wrote...

Love Me When I'm Gone: The True Story of Life, Love, and Loss for a Green Beret in Post-9/11 War.

By Robert Patrick Lewis,

Book cover of Love Me When I'm Gone: The True Story of Life, Love, and Loss for a Green Beret in Post-9/11 War.

What is my book about?

The life story of a troublesome youth who grows up and finds his way into the US Army Special Forces to join the fight against terrorism post-9/11. Love Me When I’m Gone follows one Green Beret as he serves his nation in Iraq, Afghanistan (where he earns the Purple Heart & Bronze Star), and North Africa, all while trying to maintain a working relationship with his high school sweetheart and the love of his life.

The Perfect Horse

By Elizabeth Letts,

Book cover of The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis

This is quite possibly the best nonfiction book I’ve read. I loved it so much that I traveled to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna to see the Lipizzaner horses in person, and listened to the audiobook for a second time while traveling. This one has it all: History, suspense, people who care about horses, horses. As a plus, if you’re into audiobooks, the narrator of The Perfect Horse, Paul Boehmer, is the perfect voice. I would listen to this guy read a laundry list all day long. Put him to the task of reading a truly important story like this one and you will be educated and entertained. I can’t say enough good things about this book.

The Perfect Horse

By Elizabeth Letts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion, the remarkable story of the heroic rescue of priceless horses in the closing days of World War II

WINNER OF THE PEN AWARD FOR RESEARCH NONFICTION

In the chaotic last days of the war, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find—his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine—an…


Who am I?

In addition to being the author of lots of books, I am a wrangler of lots of pets. I live with a dog, two cats, a Belgian warmblood horse who I rode in dressage for many years, and his pasture pal who is a miniature horse. I’m known for writing books with animals in which the animal is a character, not a caricature. So many authors don’t seem to know animals deeply, and so just insert them in a scene like a placeholder. But every animal is an individual, and I try to reflect that in my work.


I wrote...

Seven Perfect Things

By Catherine Ryan Hyde,

Book cover of Seven Perfect Things

What is my book about?

Thirteen-year-old Abby Hubble lives in an unhappy home in the Sierra Nevada foothills where her father makes life miserable for her and her mother, Mary. One day Abby witnesses a man dump a litter of puppies into the nearby river. Diving in to rescue all seven, she knows she can't bring them home. She takes them to an abandoned cabin, where all she can offer is a promise that she’ll be back.

To grieving widower Elliot Colvin, life has lost meaning. Looking for solace, he retreats to the hunting cabin he last visited years ago. What he discovers is seven puppies and one determined girl with an indomitable heart. As Abby and Elliot’s friendship deepens, Abby imagines how much better her life would be if her mother was married to Elliot instead. 

Fearless

By Eric Blehm,

Book cover of Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown

Fearless is the true story of Seal Team Six Operator Adam Brown. Brown had no business becoming a Seal. Drug addict and a rap sheet? The guy even stole from his parents, and his dad had him locked up for it. It’s a miracle the service took him at all. This guy’s story is stranger than fiction and true to life. Read it and get inspired. Brown’s story shows us how to human.  

Fearless

By Eric Blehm,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ECPA BESTSELLER, GOLD AWARD—Over 500,000 copies sold! Fearless takes you deep into SEAL Team SIX, straight to the heart of one of its most legendary operators.
 
When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn’t know he would die that night in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—but he was ready: In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my…


Who am I?

I sell books for a living, raise three boys on my own, serve in my local church, and write on the side. I love stories about people doing hard things. If it’s not hard, why bother? People who serve do hard things for a career, and that inspires me. I also love the stars. So. Many. Stars. As author Jack McDevitt once said, and I’ll paraphrase him here, the canvas is just too big to have been made just for us [humans]. There’s more out there. I know it. So, put hard things like military service and vast things like space together and you end up with a love for military fiction and war stories.


I wrote...

Unbreakable

By W.C. Bauers,

Book cover of Unbreakable

What is my book about?

Unbreakable follows the career of Republic of Alligned Worlds Marine Corps officer Promise Paen - a blend of Katee Sackhoff's Starbuck meets Starship Troopers, with a dash of Summer Glau from Firefly. Mechsuits, multiworld battles, and mayhem? That and more will wreck your boring weekend. (It was also an Amazon and B&N, Science Fiction & Fantasy Best Book-of-the-Month pick, which floored me, so…) 

X Troop

By Leah Garrett,

Book cover of X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II

While I direct Penn State’s Holocaust Education Initiative and produce and write documentaries, books, and articles that involve the Holocaust, I am not an expert on this topic. I am a student of it. Studying the Holocaust for 30 years, I gaze in awe at the frontiers that remain to be explored. X Troop offers one of the latest examples. Prior to reading it, I’d never heard of the German and Austrian Jews who became British commandos during World War II. One of the lessons I picked up: We should follow these men’s examples of turning weaknesses—in their case, coming from enemy territories and facing suspicion and persecution—into strengths. This is far from a perfect book. As I read it, I found myself time and again wishing it showed more and told less. In several key spots, I wanted to better understand what these commandoes did and how they did.…

X Troop

By Leah Garrett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE UNTOLD STORY OF BRITAIN'S MOST SECRETIVE SPECIAL FORCES UNIT

June 1942. The shadow of the Third Reich falls across Europe. In desperation, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff form an unusual plan - a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees. This top secret unit becomes known as X Troop. Others simply call them a suicide squad.

From British internment camps, to the beaches of Normandy, the battlefields of Italy and Holland, and the hellscape of Terezin concentration camp, Leah Garrett follows this band of brothers who will stop at nothing to defeat the Nazis.

'A thrilling,…


Who am I?

I started conducting primary research about the Holocaust in the 1990s, when I spent a week interviewing my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor and a pious Hasid, about his life. Fascinated with the survival of his faith, I applied for and received a grant from the Religion News Service to explore spiritual aspects of the Holocaust. I also sought to answer my saba’s question: How did Israelis end up fighting their 1948 War of Independence with Nazi weapons such as the Mauser he had received? I answered it in the 2015 PBS documentary I directed and produced, A Wing and a Prayer, and the 2020 nonfiction book I wrote, Saving Israel.


I wrote...

Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence

By Boaz Dvir,

Book cover of Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence

What is my book about?

As it prepared to ward off an invasion by five well-equipped neighboring armies in 1948, newborn Israel lacked the weapons to defend itself. Enter Al Schwimmer, an American World War II veteran who feared a repeat of the Holocaust. He created fictitious airlines, bought decommissioned airplanes from the US War Asset Administration, fixed them in California and New Jersey, and sent his pilots—Jewish and non-Jewish WWII aviators—to pick up rifles, bullets, and fighter planes from the only country willing to break the international arms embargo: communist Czechoslovakia. For the crime of arming Israel with basic war instruments and battle-ready planes, including Messerschmitt fighters and B-17 bombers, Schwimmer and key members of his team paid a heavy price. 

LRRP Company Command

By Kregg P. Jorgenson,

Book cover of LRRP Company Command: The Cav's LRP/Rangers in Vietnam, 1968-1969

How an LRP company commander (1st Cavalry Division) produced one of the most outstanding reconnaissance units of the Vietnam War. Captain George Paccerelli was tough on his men but their Area of Operations composed of triple canopy jungle along the Cambodian border defended by four enemy divisions called for only the best. The book contains nearly unbelievable accounts of reconnaissance, ambushes, and running firefights.

LRRP Company Command

By Kregg P. Jorgenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping account of ordinary men with extraordinary courage and heroism who had one last chance to make good—and one helluva war zone to do it in.
 
The new commander of the Company E, 52d Infantry LRRPs, Capt. George Paccerelli, was tough, but the men’s new AO was brutal. It was bad enough that the provinces of Binh Long, Phuoc Long, and Tay Ninh bordered enemy-friendly Cambodia, but their vast stretches of double- and triple-canopy jungle were also home to four crack enemy divisions, including the Viet Cong’s notorious 95C Regiment.

Only the long-range patrols could deliver the critical strategic…


Who am I?

I served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade. I was an instructor in the Florida Phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School for two years.


I wrote...

Inside the LRRPs: Rangers in Vietnam

By Michael Lee Lanning,

Book cover of Inside the LRRPs: Rangers in Vietnam

What is my book about?

Vietnam was a different kind of war, calling for a different kind of soldier. The LRRPs--Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols--were that new breed of fighting man. They operated in six-man teams deep within enemy territory, and were the eyes and ears of the units they served. This is their story--of perseverence under extreme hardship and uncommon bravery--and how they carried out the war's most hazardous missions.

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