13 books directly related to infantry 📚

All 13 infantry books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

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

By Glenna Whitley, B.G. Burkett,

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

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 funds. He first went directly to business decision-makers and asked for their support, only to be soundly rejected because of the extremely negative reputation placed on returning veterans by the media and others. Knowing that that terrible reputation (murderers, rapists, baby-killers, etc.) was not earned by most, he set about doing the research with the assistance of author Whitley. What he found and documented was a much different story, so he took his research and revisited those decision-makers; the result was the funds needed to build the memorial were realized and the monument was built. The second half of this book was one I did not want to read. It exposes those who did not go to war but claimed to be combat veterans. This book is used by law enforcement to expose those frauds.


The Little Men

By K.W. Cooper,

Book cover of The Little Men

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. 


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

By Tim O'Brien,

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

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. 


The Defence of Duffer's Drift

By Ernest Dunlop Swinton,

Book cover of The Defence of Duffer's Drift

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.


This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive

By James S Robbins,

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

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, the terrible outcome of that war became inevitable. Through exhaustive research, historian James Robbins proves that Cronkite was dead wrong. This is my favorite book about the Vietnam War because I was there, on the “tip of the spear” leading U. S. Marines in the Battle for Hue City, the ancient Imperial Capital of Vietnam, and the primary target in the enemy’s onslaught. I was an eye-witness to the carnage that resulted in the deaths of too many of my Marines, and the terrible wounds many others sustained. Even though our chain of command and civilian leaders forced us to fight with our hands tied behind our backs in that battle for political reasons., we ultimately overcame tremendous adversity and soundly defeated our enemy.


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),

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

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 acknowledged a shared experience brought on by the exigency of war. Together master and slave experienced being away from family, suffered through inclement weather, and bouts of sickness. The relationship between master and slave evolved over the course of the war, based on a wide range of factors. Violence was never completely absent as a means of control. While historians have had to rely almost exclusively on the letters of Confederate officers for insight into how body servants experienced the war, this collection includes a few letters from enslaved men themselves. 


Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II

By Charles B. MacDonald,

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

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.


And Where Were You, Adam?

By Heinrich Boll, Leila Vennewitz (translator),

Book cover of And Where Were You, Adam?

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 have been attacked, respond by levelling the place. "This war’s a load of shit," says one cynical character, and with a magnificent kaboom, that statement becomes literal. 


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

By Harold P. Leinbaugh, John D. Campbell,

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

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. 


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

By John C. McManus,

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

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 of units like the 110th Infantry Regiment, which ceased to exist after the first 48-hours of the campaign, the 101st Airborne won the race to Bastogne, and the rest is history.


Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph

By Richard Botkin,

Book cover of Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph

Why this book?

Author Richard Botkin was a U. S. Marine Captain, who served during a time of peace, but who, like many Marines, became fascinated with Marine Corps history during the Vietnam War. This book is about the U. S. Marine officers who served as military advisors to the Vietnamese Marine Corps, and who helped the Vietnamese Marines defend their country during the so-called Easter Offensive of 1972. The North Vietnamese launched this unprecedented offensive with the intent of conquering our ally, the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) or South Vietnam as we came to know them. This was an all-out, go-for broke offensive during which the NVA launched over 1,000 Soviet tanks and massive artillery bombardments, backed by tens of thousands of NVA infantry soldiers. The intent of this offensive was “total victory.” History and this book document the fact that this juggernaut was ultimately stopped cold by the ARVN and the Vietnamese Marine Corps, assisted by this small band of brothers who advised the Vietnamese Marine Corps leaders from within their midst.


Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir

By Bud Willis,

Book cover of Marble Mountain: A Vietnam Memoir

Why this book?

Bud Willis does a wonderful job with this well-told story and offers the reader an in-depth look at the everyday life of these helicopter flying Marine warriors, which isn’t, by the way, a nine to five job. The book follows “BOO” through training and then during his tour as a chopper pilot in Vietnam; his tour lasting 13 months from March, 1966 through April, 1967. The author also has a fantastic sense of humor and wit that sometimes catches me off-guard, making me laugh out loud. When I thought about the antics and games these officers orchestrated – I had to remind myself that even as officers, many of them were only 19 – 21 years old and still kids themselves. However, war steals that naivety and innocence, leaving in its place deep scars, both physically and mentally.


History of the Twelfth Regiment: New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion

By Asa W. Bartlett,

Book cover of History of the Twelfth Regiment: New Hampshire Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion

Why this book?

The bonds of comradeship formed by volunteer soldiers during the Civil War lasted a lifetime for those who survived its bloody campaigns. Most regiments held annual reunions, during which the veterans rekindled friendships and remembered their service. Many collected reminiscences in book form, and these regimental histories are treasure troves of personal accounts. One of the most outstanding of this genre is the History of the Twelfth Regiment, a narrative of the men and officers who served in the 12th New Hampshire Infantry. Author Asa Bartlett, a beloved officer, humanizes the service of these Granite State volunteers.