The most recommended Gulf War books

Who picked these books? Meet our 38 experts.

38 authors created a book list connected to the Gulf War, and here are their favorite Gulf War books.
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What type of Gulf War book?


Book cover of Rescue Pilot: Life-Saving At-Sea Navy Helicopter Missions

Richard E. Diller Author Of Firefly: A Skyraider's Story About America's Secret War Over Laos

From my list on or by pilots in Vietnam who experienced combat.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am well qualified to speak of the Vietnam aviation experience because these things happened during my formative years as a pilot, and I was on the “front lines” of seeing and experiencing much of it. In addition, I keep up-to-date with it via reunions and reading stories told by other pilots, and I have met Kenny Fields, George Marrett, and Leo Thorsness.

Richard's book list on or by pilots in Vietnam who experienced combat

Richard E. Diller Why did Richard love this book?

Dan McKinnon was a navy helicopter pilot who was airborne near an aircraft carrier during flight operations so pilots who had mishaps could be quickly and safely recovered. This is a story about an unusual type of flying, one that provides another layer of safety for naval operations at sea.

By Dan McKinnon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Dan McKinnon, extraordinary helicopter pilot, brings alive the excitement and occasional terror of rescue at sea. An exciting hair raising and reverting tale of the largely untold story of helicopter resuces at sea' - Neil Armstrong, Astronaut. 'Just Great. It's going to be of tremendous interest to all naval helicopter pilots present and future and to the people who want to know more about this aspect of military flight. Boy, you've unleashed a flood of memories' - Bill Stuyvesant, legendary navy helo pilot. A daring Cold-War warrior recounts the thrills of high-sea helicopter rescue missions. Within the pages of "Rescue…

Book cover of The Last Death of Jack Harbin

Linda Howe-Steiger Author Of Terroir: A Morgan Kendall Wine Country Mystery

From my list on cozy mysteries that have a secondary ethical theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born in Ohio, transplanted to Northern California, I’ve played many roles in life, including college teacher, environmental writer, urban planner, political activist, and mom. In the evening, when my body aches with tiredness, but my brain won’t stop churning on whatever subject I wrestled with that day, I love a good but “meaty” little cozy—one with a clever puzzle, something to make me smile, and a secondary theme that goes a bit into an important, really engaging topic. Then I snuggle down and enjoy my kind of decompression reading. After retirement, I started to write my own “cozies plus.” I hope you enjoy my picks.  

Linda's book list on cozy mysteries that have a secondary ethical theme

Linda Howe-Steiger Why did Linda love this book?

Shames’s fiction should be better known.

This book wasn’t what I expected, given its set-up in a small west Texas town filled with testosterone-laced popular imagery of today—a fundamentalist cult smelling of illicit sex, anti-feminism, and gun show economics; bored adults insanely consumed by high-school football rivalries; a chain-rattling motorcycle crowd; and far too many sour, flag-waving vets.

Take your pick about important themes to follow in this well-crafted cozy featuring Sam Craddock. Sam is asked to stand in as policeman while the one local cop dries out. He’s cranky, flawed but likable, persistent, competent.

The puzzle mysteries are tricky enough to be interesting, no overwhelming thriller-type fight scenes or chases. I thoroughly enjoyed this surprisingly gentle read. 

By Terry Shames,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Small town mystery and veteran's issues collide as retired police chief Samuel Craddock investigates a murder. Right before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek signed up for the army. Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven't spoken since. Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock steps in--again. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and…

Book cover of Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed

Jean-Philippe Aumasson Author Of Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption

From Jean-Philippe's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Hacker Cryptographer Entrepreneur Nonfiction autho Avid reader

Jean-Philippe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Jean-Philippe Aumasson Why did Jean-Philippe love this book?

I first read Rich's book ten years ago, and it forever changed my engineering approach.

Skunk Works was Lockheed Martin's advanced aircraft development program. It achieved unprecedented efficiency and innovation due to its selective staffing, minimal bureaucracy, and strong leadership.

Can you believe the U-2 spy plane was constructed in only 9 months? This was in 1955, without computers or any digital tools. Nowadays, 9 months is just about the time required for a medium-sized software development project. 

Here's an excerpt from the book that I often revisit where Kelly Johnson (Skunk Works' first director) imparts wisdom to Ben Rich (the book's author and its second director) regarding leadership:

"I'll teach you all you need to know about running a company in one afternoon, and we'll both go home early to boot. You don't need Harvard to teach you that. It's more important to listen than to talk.…

By Ben R. Rich, Leo Janos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SKUNK WORKS is the true story, told for the first time, of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the story of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a high-stakes drama of Cold War confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds.
SKUNK WORKS is dramatic and immediate. Direct from the cockpits of these astonishing aircraft - U-2 spy-plane, SR-71 Blackbird and F-117 Stealth Fighter. It is a tribute to genius in the unrelenting contest for mastery of the…

Book cover of Diary of a Human Shield

Jacqueline Jeynes Author Of Before Hiroshima: A history of the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore and the aftermath during World War II

From my list on futility of War since Helen of Troy.

Why am I passionate about this?

The greatest influence on my interest in the theme of war is, of course, my father. Only later, when I became involved with the FEPOW groups, I heard the real stories of what happened to them as individuals, as well as the poor treatment of families back home in Britain. My book is based on their stories. However, this interest also spread to other areas as I read about the history of war while studying literature and, later, the work of various official War Artists. In all of it, the despair and hopelessness comes through, definitely not any sense of the ‘glory’.

Jacqueline's book list on futility of War since Helen of Troy

Jacqueline Jeynes Why did Jacqueline love this book?

I am sure many will remember seeing the news footage on TV showing the little boy standing next to Saddam Hussain during the first Gulf War. He was, of course, not there by choice, as he was actually one of the hostages being held at the time. It was an interesting propaganda exercise, especially as Saddam tried to encourage Stuart to get closer but he was clearly not having it! From a PR perspective, it was unsuccessful and was not accepted as a positive image by those in the West. 

This book is written by his mother and describes just how traumatic the experience was for all the family as well as all the other families held hostage at the time. As the final book in my selection, it completes the theme of the futility of war and its impact on the individuals closest to the action. 

By Glenda Lockwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diary of a Human Shield as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On 23 August 1990, the world was outraged when five-year-old Stuart Lockwood was used in a publicity stunt by Saddam Hussein. This work is based on his mother's diary of their imprisonment in Baghdad during the Gulf War, and their treatment during Iraq's human shield policy.

Book cover of Perilous Glory: The Rise of Western Military Power

Beatrice Heuser Author Of War: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices

From my list on war in general.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have studied aspects of war and strategy – mainly on the political-military interface level – for the past forty years of my life. My interest originated from my parents’ stories about their childhood and early youth in the Second World Wars, its horrors and hardships, and from myself living in South-East Asia during the time of the Vietnam War. Moreover, I became obsessed with the fear of nuclear war through reading and hearing about it. So I have studied aspects of war, much as an oncologist studies cancer, in the hope that a better understanding may eventually help us ban it in practice (and not just in theory as it has been since the Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1928).

Beatrice's book list on war in general

Beatrice Heuser Why did Beatrice love this book?

John France has a knack for making the history of war interesting and readable, without taking away its gore and horror, without making you think it in any way romantic or desirable. The title already captures it: the book is largely about the rise of Europe (or later: the West) on the back of military prowess, but at what perilous price! The book aptly traces military traditions and continuity of ideas and concepts, but also profound changes, from Antiquity to the present, giving us a grasp of the essence of warfare during different periods. This book can be said to replace Sir Charles Oman’s old classic.

By John France,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A major new history of war that challenges our understanding of military dominance and how it is achieved

This expansive book surveys the history of warfare from ancient Mesopotamia to the Gulf War in search of a deeper understanding of the origins of Western warfare and the reasons for its eminence today. Historian John France explores the experience of war around the globe, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. His bold conclusions cast doubt on well-entrenched attitudes about the development of military strength, the impact of culture on warfare, the future of Western dominance, and much more.

Taking into account…

Book cover of The President's Gardens

Alan Weisman Author Of The World Without Us

From my list on fiction on the real challenges our world now faces.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nonfiction author whose success owes enormously to fiction. It challenges me to portray real people as vividly as characters in novels, and to use narrative and dialogue to keep readers turning the pages. Reading great novelists has taught me to obsessively seek exactly the right words, to fine-tune the cadence of each sentence, and to heed overall structural rhythm; continually, I return to the fount of fiction for language and inspiration. The astonishing novels I’ve shared here are among the most important books I’ve recently read to help grasp the critical times we’re living in. I’m confident you’ll feel the same.

Alan's book list on fiction on the real challenges our world now faces

Alan Weisman Why did Alan love this book?

I’ve just returned from a research trip to Iraq (one of many settings for my next book: stay tuned). I took along two Iraqi novels, The President's Gardens and Daughter of the Tigris (they’re really just one; the first literally ends with the words to be continued) and I was as stirred by reading them as by what I saw there. While we protest Russia’s outrageous rape of Ukraine, we forget the hideous mess that America’s unjustifiable invasion left in Iraq. Even under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was considered the flower of Arab culture, a land overflowing with poetry, music, and art. Today much of it is rubble. Masterfully, Al-Ramli describes the latter with all the breathtaking beauty of the former. This ranks among my most moving reading experiences ever.

By Muhsin Al-Ramli, Luke Leafgren (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One Hundred Years of Solitude meets The Kite Runner in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

"A contemporary tragedy of epic proportions. No author is better placed than Muhsin Al-Ramli, already a star in the Arabic literary scene, to tell this story. I read it in one sitting".
Hassan Blasim, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Iraqi Christ.

On the third day of Ramadan, the village wakes to find the severed heads of nine of its sons stacked in banana crates by the bus stop.

One of them belonged to one of the most wanted men in Iraq, known to…

Book cover of Him, Me, Muhammad Ali

Lamya H Author Of Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir

From my list on queer and trans Muslim experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a queer, nonbinary, Muslim, immigrant writer who has been reading their whole life and writing for part of it. I learned to write by reading–by devouring all kinds of books across different genres and paying attention to how words create feelings, worlds, and chronologies. I also learned to live by reading–I didn’t grow up with models of how to live a life that was true to my identities and so I read everything I could find about experiences that were adjacent to my own. The emergence of queer Muslim literature has been exciting to follow, and I try to read everything in the field.  

Lamya's book list on queer and trans Muslim experiences

Lamya H Why did Lamya love this book?

For me, this book of short stories is all about unforgettable characters: queer, Muslim on a spectrum between practicing and not, of various ethnic backgrounds. I love that the characters have complicated lives and make not easily understood decisions.

I love that the characters struggle against, with, and towards their identities. And: it’s really funny!  

By Randa Jarrar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Him, Me, Muhammad Ali as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning novelist Randa Jarrar's new story collection moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present, capturing the lives of Muslim women and men across myriad geographies and circumstances. With acerbic wit, deep tenderness, and boundless imagination, Jarrar brings to life a memorable cast of characters, many of them "accidental transients"—a term for migratory birds who have gone astray—seeking their circuitous routes back home. Fierce and feeling, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali is a testament to survival in the face of love, loss, and displacement.

Randa Jarrar is the author of a highly successful novel, A Map of Home, which…

Book cover of The Past as Future

Peter J. Verovšek Author Of Memory and the Future of Europe: Rupture and Integration in the Wake of Total War

From my list on memory and postwar Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an international political and critical theorist interested in the way that key events and experiences from the past continue to affect politics in the present. I was born in the US but moved back to Slovenia when I was in high school, before returning to the states to attend Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, and Yale University for my doctoral studies in political science. This international, bi-continental background – as well as my own family’s history of migration following World War II – has fueled my interest in twentieth-century European history, collective memory and European integration. 

Peter's book list on memory and postwar Europe

Peter J. Verovšek Why did Peter love this book?

In addition to being postwar Germany’s most important philosopher, Habermas is also its leading public intellectual. In this volume of his “short political writings” Habermas develops his ideas on a number of concrete issues in the memory politics of postwar Europe that emerged in the early 1990s – including conservative attempts to normalize the Holocaust, the effects of German unification, and the implications of the fall of communism for the EU – in an accessible manner through a series of interviews. This format also allows him to open up the question of the status of public intellectuals and their role in the democratic public sphere, which is the subject of my current book project on Habermas as a public intellectual.

By Jurgen Habermas, Max Pensky (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jurgen Habermas is one of the best-known and most influential philosophers in Europe today. Heir to the Frankfurt school, his reputation rests on more than thirty years of groundbreaking works on society knowledge, history, technology; ethics, and many other subjects. He is also a familiar figure in his native Germany where he has often played a prominent role in public de-bates. In recent years, he has spoken out ever more directly on the extraordinary changes taking place in Germany, Europe, and the world.

This volume of interviews reveals Habermas's passionate engagement with contemporary issues. Wide-ranging and informal, the interviews focus…

Book cover of A History of the Arab Peoples

Wayne H. Bowen Author Of Undoing Saddam: From Occupation to Sovereignty in Northern Iraq

From my list on the history of the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

My primary field in history is Spain, over which I have published six books. However, I became interested in the Middle East when the US Army deployed me to Iraq in 2004. Although I had taught the history of the region, experiencing war and reconstruction for myself, and spending time in Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar made the Middle East come alive to me. I wrote Undoing Saddam, my war diary, during my Iraq tour. I followed up that work with a textbook on Arabia, articles on the Ottoman Empire, and plans for future projects on the region, both on its own and in relation to early modern and modern Spain.  

Wayne's book list on the history of the Middle East

Wayne H. Bowen Why did Wayne love this book?

The Arabs, as the most widespread and influential ethnic group in the Middle East, challenge historians to tell their stories in a way that is coherent, consistent, and engaging. This book accomplishes this task well, weaving together a disparate history, that reaches from the Atlantic to South Asia, across multiple kingdoms, dynasties, nations, republics, and political movements. At times rulers, and at times subjects of foreign empires, the Arabs nonetheless maintained a consistency of culture and civilization, in the midst of wildly divergent political systems and geographic locations.  Hourani manages to tell a single story, but while still doing justice to this dispersed people. 

By Albert Hourani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A History of the Arab Peoples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Upon its publication in 1991, Albert Hourani's masterwork was hailed as the definitive story of Arab civilization, and became both a bestseller and an instant classic. In a panoramic view encompassing twelve centuries of Arab history and culture, Hourani brilliantly illuminated the people and events that have fundamentally shaped the Arab world. Now this seminal book is available in an expanded second edition. Noted Islamic scholar Malise Ruthven brings the story up to date from the mid-1980s, including such events as the Gulf War; civil unrest in Algeria; the change of leadership in Syria, Morocco, and Jordan; and the aftermath…

Book cover of Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War

Jeff Davidson Author Of 60 Second Self-Starter: Sixty Solid Techniques to get motivated, get organized, and get going in the workplace.

From my list on to become a self-starter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the internationally recognized expert on work-life balance, harmony, and integrative issues, and since 2009, hold the registered trademark from the USPTO as the “Work-Life Balance Expert®." I'm the author of several popular books including Breathing Space; Everyday Project Management; Simpler Living; and 60 Second Organizer. Delivered with passion, I offer his cutting edge, hands-on strategies for a balanced career and life to audiences from Singapore to San Diego, with clients as diverse as Novo Nordisk, Worthington Steel, Lufthansa, American Law Institute, and the National Association of Realtors. I've been a guest on Late Night with Charlie Rose, CNBC, America in the Morning, the Australian Broadcasting Company, and USA Today Sky Radio.

Jeff's book list on to become a self-starter

Jeff Davidson Why did Jeff love this book?

I think that General Pagonis wrote an instant classic. On the battlefield in Iraq, Pagonis began and ended every day by asking, what do we do if Saddam attacks today? I held large classes, he recalls, open to anyone, but especially to our talented reserve forces, to discuss scenarios and potential solutions.

He would ask questions like, "A ship docked at Ad Dammam this morning. It's ready to be unloaded, but the onboard crane breaks. What do you do?" Or, "We suddenly find out we're receiving 15,000 troops today instead of the usual 5,000. How do we adjust to the increase?"

He constantly told people that we all needed to do our Monday-morning quarterbacking on Saturday night, before problems arose. I and everyone I know could benefit from such a policy. The added benefit of this approach was that it promoted collaborative talks about problems and responsibilities across ranks and…

By William G Pagonis, Jeffrey L. Cruikshank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Business Week" described the Gulf War as "the largest military logistics operation in history", entailing an unprecedented deployment of troops and supplies halfway around the world. Here is a firsthand account of the supply effort that led to the dramatic Allied victory in the Gulf, written by the general who spearheaded the remarkable undertaking. General Pagonis recounts the Gulf War from the first fateful telephone call, to the mobilization of 550,000 troops and the shipment of 7,000,000 tons of supplies, to the enormously complex challenge of bringing home a half million soldiers and their equipment. Numerous leadership and logistics lessons…