The best books about infantry

2 authors have picked their favorite books about infantry and why they recommend each book. Soon, you will be able to filter this list by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books.

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Book cover of Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History

Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History

By Glenna Whitley, B.G. Burkett,

Why this book?

I believe this book is the most important book written about the aftermath of the war, and the impact it had on “those who went.” Author Burkett describes himself as a Vietnam Veteran, but one who served in an administrative capacity and seldom in harm’s way. Upon returning home in 1969, he witnessed, first-hand, the disrespect given to those who went to war by those who stayed home. In 1996, Burkett was enlisted by a group of citizens who were trying to build a Vietnam Veterans Memorial Monument in Fair Park near downtown Dallas to help them raise the necessary…

From the list:

The best books about the Vietnam War from a Marine infantry officer who fought there

Book cover of The Little Men

The Little Men

By K.W. Cooper,

Why this book?

Too many books about war aren’t written by those with any experience of it. This, one of my all-time favorites, was written by a young infantry platoon commander fighting the Japanese in Burma in 1945. It tells of the men usually lost to history – what Cooper describes as the ‘little men’ – and who have no voice in the histories written about their exploits. This isn’t a work of great literature, but Cooper’s focus on the small-scale actions of men fighting men with bayonets, bullets, and grenades brings the reality of arrows on a general’s map to focus. 

From the list:

The best books about the war in Burma, 1941-45

Book cover of If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home

If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home

By Tim O'Brien,

Why this book?

A brilliantly intimate and personal account of a foot soldier’s tour of duty in Vietnam. This was a revelation to me while I was writing my own book showing that the microscopic detail of a soldier’s individual concerns and anxieties was just as compelling as the bird’s eye narrative of a battle. 

From the list:

The best books about battles that go wrong

Book cover of The Defence of Duffer's Drift

The Defence of Duffer's Drift

By Ernest Dunlop Swinton,

Why this book?

Swinton was a British Army Royal Engineer who developed the battle tank. He writes an insightful and often humorous account of the young Subaltern, Lieutenant Backsight-Forethought, who during a series of fitful dreams, repeatedly gets everyone under his command killed. Ultimately, (through multiple failed lives lived) he learns enough about small-unit infantry fighting tactics to successfully defend the fictional Duffer’s Drift during the Boer War. Although Captain (later Major General) Swinton published it as a fictional tale, his aim was to teach tactical lessons and to generate discussion and debate among Subalterns.

From the list:

The best books on military tactical thinking

Book cover of This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive

This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive

By James S Robbins,

Why this book?

The Tet Offensive of 1968 was a massive failure by the NVA, but one American Journalist, Mr. Walter Cronkite, who was in South Vietnam during the early stages of this historic battle, and should have known better, declared to the American people that he did not know who won or who lost, and that our best hope for the outcome of this war would be stalemate. Most Americans, safe at home in their living rooms, believed what he said, which was easy considering the media’s video images of dead American soldiers coming home in body bags in unprecedented numbers. Thus,…

From the list:

The best books about the Vietnam War from a Marine infantry officer who fought there

Book cover of Lee and Jackson's Bloody Twelfth: The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry

Lee and Jackson's Bloody Twelfth: The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry

By Johnnie Perry Pearson (editor),

Why this book?

Over one million men served in the Confederate army between 1861 and 1865. Their letters and diaries offer insight into every aspect of military service, including their views on slavery. Irby Goodwin Scott’s published letters track his movements in the Army of Northern Virginia and include detailed coverage of some of the bloodiest battles of the war. They also offer a window into the relationship between one officer and two body servants that accompanied him at different times during the war. Scott relied on his body servants in camp, on the march, and even on the battlefield, but he also…

From the list:

The best books about slavery and the confederacy

Book cover of Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II

Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II

By Charles B. MacDonald,

Why this book?

An infantry company commander’s first-hand account of his experiences in the European theater. His first command was to be thrust smack dab into the middle of the Battle of The Bulge, and his account is filled with surprisingly raw and honest observations not only about the war but about his reaction to it.

From the list:

The best World War 2 books that I used as research for my horror novel

Book cover of And Where Were You, Adam?

And Where Were You, Adam?

By Heinrich Boll, Leila Vennewitz (translator),

Why this book?

Boll, a Second World War veteran, tells this episodic story from the perspective of a German soldier during the last year of the war. Loosely episodic and propelled by a kind of grim, fatalistic absurdity, it follows the hapless infantryman Feinhals as he lurches from misadventure to misadventure on the Eastern Front. What really stuck with me is the awfulness of the predicaments Feinhals finds himself in, such as the moment when a soldier sets out to surrender a hospital full of wounded men, only to accidentally set off a dud shell beside the hospital’s cesspool. The Soviets, thinking they…

From the list:

The best books on the war within: the mental strain of modern warfare

Book cover of The Men of Company K: The Autobiography of a World War II Rifle Company

The Men of Company K: The Autobiography of a World War II Rifle Company

By Harold P. Leinbaugh, John D. Campbell,

Why this book?

I love reading true stories of WWII told by people who lived through it. I find it difficult to understand how ordinary men could live, fight, and die in a foreign land without questioning in order to protect the United States; they were certainly true patriots. In the fall of 1944, two hundred true patriots of K Company, 333rd Infantry, 84th Division landed in Europe. For the next one hundred days, they were on the edge of the Allied spearhead into Nazi territory. If you ever wanted to be in the infantry, you need to read this book. 

From the list:

The best WWII books you have probably never heard of

Book cover of Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

Alamo in the Ardennes: The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

By John C. McManus,

Why this book?

McManus’ book inspired me to write No Silent Night almost as a sequel to his book. Originally, I wanted to write about the entire eleven-day period from December 16 to December 26, 1944 when Patton’s Third Army lifted the siege of Bastogne. McManus’ work covers the initial period of the battle (December 16 to December 21) when the Germans finished their encirclement of Bastogne. His monograph highlights the engagements between the American 28th Infantry Division and the entire German XXXXVII Panzer Corps. It’s a David-versus-Goliath story as American infantry platoons face off against entire German battalions. Thanks to the sacrifice…

From the list:

The best books on the Battle of the Bulge and the soldiers who fought there

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