The most recommended books about court-martial cases

Who picked these books? Meet our 7 experts.

7 authors created a book list connected to courts-martial, and here are their favorite court-martial books.
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Sea of Glory

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Book cover of Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery: The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842

Kevin Sites Author Of The Ocean Above Me

From the list on true-life sea adventures that blow you overboard.

Who am I?

You have to appreciate the intrepid nature of those who ventured out to sea in the days before satellite-enabled navigation, modern weather forecasting, and Coast Guard rescue swimmers. The books I’ve listed span a time of great global exploration occurring simultaneously with the engines of novel economic development. Most of that development was based on the exploitation of human and natural resources. A thread of curiosity through all of these picks is how those individuals most directly involved in its physical pursuit and transport were rarely the same who benefitted from it. But instead lived lives of constant hardship and danger – profiting, if at all, only in the adventure itself.

Kevin's book list on true-life sea adventures that blow you overboard

Why did Kevin love this book?

The near-savant brilliance of Charles Wilkes, captain of the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842), is prominently tee’d up here by Philbrick (one of our greatest writers of lesser-known nautical history), as is his jealous, petty, venal and stubborn mindset which ultimately was his undoing.

Also the primary reason you’ve never really heard of this remarkable scientific voyage that set out to map the entire Pacific Ocean and even named the newly discovered Antarctic continent. I was surprised to learn the Exploring Expedition was much more ambitious than the overland Lewis and Clark trek, scooped up infinitely more specimens of natural history and scientific data – but was nearly completely forgotten in our history books.

Philbrick untangles the perils and personalities to help us understand why. 

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Traces the 1838 discovery voyage that resulted in the western world's survey of 87,000 ocean miles, 280 Pacific islands, numerous zoological discoveries, and the finding of Antarctica; a journey that was marked by tragic deaths, the losses of two ships, and controversial court martials. 250,000 first printing.

A Whispered Name

By William Brodrick,

Book cover of A Whispered Name

Emily Mayhew Author Of Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I

From the list on human casualties of World War One.

Who am I?

Dr. Emily Mayhew is the historian in residence in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. Her primary research interest is the infliction, treatment, and long-term outcomes of complex casualty in contemporary warfare. She is the author of the Wounded trilogy. A Heavy Reckoning, The Guinea Pig Club, and Wounded: From Battlefield to Blighty which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize in 2014. She is Imperial College Internal Lead on the Paediatric Blast Injury Partnership and co-edited The Paediatric Blast Injury Field Manual.

Emily's book list on human casualties of World War One

Why did Emily love this book?

A mystery novel, that tells a haunting, captivating story of the cost paid by one individual soldier at the battle of Messines Ridge. Impeccably researched, the reader is given a firm historical grounding of the physical, psychological, and geophysical costs of being at the explosive, bloody cutting edge of warfare on the Western Front.

By William Brodrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To keep quiet about something so important . . . well, it's almost a lie, wouldn't you say?'

When Father Anselm meets Kate Seymour in the cemetery at Larkwood, he is dismayed to hear her allegation. Herbert Moore had been one of the founding fathers of the Priory, revered by all who met him, a man who'd shaped Anselm's own vocation. The idea that someone could look on his grave and speak of a lie is inconceivable. But Anselm soon learns that Herbert did indeed have secrets in his past that he kept hidden all his life. In 1917, during…

Last Watch

By J. S. Dewes,

Book cover of Last Watch

Steven Decker Author Of Time Chain

From the list on sci-fi that generates emotion.

Who am I?

My love of reading was born on the day my 5th-grade teacher handed me a book of poetry; my “punishment” for throwing a spitball. I was to memorize “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and recite it publicly the next day. I was mesmerized by the poem, because it drew a picture in my mind, and filled me with great emotion. As an 8th grader, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, for fun, then moved on to the great classics by Asimov and Heinlein. I wrote my first novel in 1988, but Time Chain is my first Sci-Fi novel, with more on the way. 

Steven's book list on sci-fi that generates emotion

Why did Steven love this book?

Full of fascinating sci-fi technology and characters, The Last Watch caused me to feel awe. The central concept surrounds the discovery of the edge of the universe. It’s called The Divide, and humans have used alien technology to reach it. And you definitely do not want to cross over The Divide. But what happens when the universe begins to collapse? The Sentinels—a rag-tag group of humans who’ve been banished for committing various crimes against humanity—are the guardians at The Divide. Led by an equally powerful and flawed protagonist, Adequin Rake, they square off against aliens and humans to try and save the universe. Action, love and death, and the emotions inherent in these things, are thoroughly enjoyed when you read this book.

By J. S. Dewes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Expanse meets Game of Thrones in J. S. Dewes's fast-paced, sci-fi adventure The Last Watch, the first book in the Divide series, where a handful of soldiers stand between humanity and annihilation.

Goodreads Most Popular Sci-Fi Novels of the Past 3 Years—Best Sci-fi Books 2022

New York Public Library—Best Science Fiction 2021
Business Insider—Best Science Fiction 2021
Polygon—Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2021
Amazon—Best Science Fiction 2021
FanFiAddict—Lord TBR's Best of 2021
Best SciFi Books—Best of 2021
P. S. Hoffman—Best of 2021
10 Best Books Like Foundation—ScreenRant
20 Must Read Space Fantasy Books for 2021—Bookriot

Most Anticipated Book…

In Harm's Way

By Doug Stanton,

Book cover of In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors

Marsh Myers Author Of My Summer Under A Crescent Moon

From Marsh's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Artist Filmmaker Storyteller Unrepentant nerd Sworn enemy of raisins

Marsh's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Marsh love this book?

Like many people, I heard about the USS Indianapolis in the movie Jaws during Robert Shaw's fantastic monologue. The memory of that scene and that story never left me, and decades later, I stumbled upon this book in a used bookstore. Written in a third-person voice and using all the tools of a fiction writer, the author spins a much stranger tale than a Steven Spielberg movie could ever be.

It is a fascinating and horrifying account of the greatest naval disaster in the U.S. Navy's history, caused by cascading foul-ups, miscommunications, and oversights in the final days of World War II.

It was an engaging read that kept me up dreaming about swarming sharks for several nights in a row.

By Doug Stanton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 30 July 1945 the USS Indianapolis was steaming through the South Pacific, on her way home having delivered the bomb that was to decimate Hiroshima seven days later, when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Of a crew of 1196 men an estimated 300 were killed upon impact; the remaining 900 sailors went into the sea. Undetected for five days, they struggled to stay alive, fighting off sharks, hypothermia and madness. By the time rescue arrived, only 317 men were left alive.

Interweaving the stories of some of these survivors (including the ship's Captain Butler McVay, who would…

Book cover of The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877

Sarah Bird Author Of Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

From the list on Buffalo Soldiers.

Who am I?

Growing up, I dreamed of being Margaret Mead. When I realized that Margaret already had that job, I turned my anthropologist’s eye for the defining details of language, dress, and customs to fiction. I love to tell the untold tales--especially about women--who are thrust into difficult, sometimes impossible, circumstances and triumph with the help of humor, friends, perseverance, and their own inspiring ingenuity. In my eleven bestselling novels, I have been able to do this well enough that I was nominated for the International Dublin Literary Prize and in 2021 was honored with the Paul Re Peace Award for Cultural Advocacy for promoting empathy through my work.

Sarah's book list on Buffalo Soldiers

Why did Sarah love this book?

I based one of the most riveting portions of Daughter on Carlson’s meticulously-researched account of what one newspaper called the “Staked Plains Horror.” And horror it was.  In the middle of a dangerously dry summer, forty Buffalo Soldiers led by white officers set off on a routine scouting expedition. Several days later three Black troopers returned to report that all the men of Troop A were missing and presumed dead.

Eventually, all but four of the party made it back to Fort Concho with tales of having survived by drinking the blood of their dead horses and their own urine. Carlson’s careful examination of the records of the court-martial trials that followed reveal what a large role the officers’ bigotry and ineptitude played in triggering this catastrophe.

By Paul H. Carlson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the middle of the arid summer of 1877, a drought year in West Texas, a troop of some forty buffalo soldiers (African American cavalry led by white officers) struck out into the Llano Estacado from Double Lakes, south of modern Lubbock, pursuing a band of Kwahada Comanches who had been raiding homesteads and hunting parties. A group of twenty-two buffalo hunters accompanied the soldiers as guides and allies.

Several days later three black soldiers rode into Fort Concho at modern San Angelo and reported that the men and officers of Troop A were missing and presumed dead from thirst.…

Word of Honor

By Nelson DeMille,

Book cover of Word of Honor

H.R. Kemp Author Of Deadly Secrets: What Unspeakable Truths Lurk Beneath The Lies?

From H.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Curious Traveler Explorer Questioner Avid reader

H.R.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did H.R. love this book?

This book is a slow-burn thriller, and I found it both compelling and disturbing. 

I love books that draw on contemporary issues and raise complex and thought-provoking issues. Word of Honor uses the Vietnam War to tackle difficult topics, and with the tagline, The Moral Maze of a Man at War, it’s the kind of book I revel in, one that took me through a multitude of emotions and challenged me to question more.

I’m a sucker for complex stories, novels that tackle politics, personal relationships, and very human dilemmas. This novel had it all.  I became invested in the outcome; I both cheered for and dreaded the consequences for the main character. That uncertainty was compelling and provocative.

This slow-burn, page-turner isn’t an action story, but gripped me and made me think. I like that.

By Nelson DeMille,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Read the gripping story of a Vietnam vet whose secret past threatens his family, career, and honor, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author whose books have sold over 50 million copies worldwide, and is "a true master" (Dan Brown).

He is a good man, a brilliant corporate executive, an honest, handsome family man admired by men and desired by women. But sixteen years ago Ben Tyson was a lieutenant in Vietnam.

There, in 1968, the men under his command committed a murderous atrocity-and together swore never to tell the world what they had done. Not the press, army…

Book cover of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

James G. Stavridis Author Of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision

From the list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure.

Who am I?

I am a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Along the way, I served in and commanded destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in combat, and I have faced many very difficult decisions under extreme pressure. In addition, I’ve been in the Pentagon for many assignments, including as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense – which also created countless high-pressure decisions. What I learned in the Navy has helped me again and again in calculating risk and making the right decisions. 

James' book list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure

Why did James love this book?

A novel about a rusty old destroyer minesweeper, a supremely difficult captain, a mixed bag officers in a dysfunctional wardroom, a horrific typhoon, and a nail-biting court-martial. The seagoing and combat portions of the novel are very realistic, reflecting Wouk’s time in uniform on a similar class of ship in the Pacific during WWII. In my hand as I write this is a battered 1951 first edition of the novel, with a slightly tattered cover, which I treasure above almost any book in the five thousand volumes in my personal library. Over the years of my career, I’ve returned again and again to The Caine Mutiny, and the fundamental lesson of this sea novel is what both leaders and followers owe each other, especially in the demanding crucible of the sea.

By Herman Wouk,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status…

The Wager

By David Grann,

Book cover of The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

Thomas Kies Author Of Whisper Room

From Thomas' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Story teller Raconteur Adventurer

Thomas' 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Thomas love this book?

The book is about an 18th-century British secret mission to South America during the Imperial War with Spain. I love history and the way David Grann makes this an absolutely thrilling bit of narrative non-fiction.

You can feel the terror of the sea voyage and the storms, the anguish as the crew faces unbelievable odds and challenges, the hunger when there’s no food, and the rage as the crew looks for someone to blame for their misfortune.

It was a ripping yarn that wouldn’t let me go, right to the end, even after some managed to get back to England. I felt like I was there. This didn’t have the dusty feel of a tale pulled from an old archive or dredged up out of yellowed letters or from the crumbling pages of library books.  This was a living, breathing story of heroism, cowardice, virtue, and malice. It was a…

By David Grann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The beauty of The Wager unfurls like a great sail... one of the finest nonfiction books I've ever read' Guardian

'The greatest sea story ever told' Spectator

'A cracking yarn... Grann's taste for desperate predicaments finds its fullest expression here' Observer


From the international bestselling author of KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON and THE LOST CITY OF Z, a mesmerising story of shipwreck, mutiny and murder, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth.

On 28th January 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the…