The most recommended books about military desertion

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to military desertion, and here are their favorite military desertion books.
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By Katherine Ellison,

Book cover of Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention

Annie Fox Author Of Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century

From the list on helping kids become themselves.

Who am I?

In college, I majored in Human Development and Family Studies and found my calling – to work with kids and create SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) content for them. While still an undergrad, my first book was published (People Are Like Lollipops - a picture book celebrating diversity.) Throughout my career, I’ve continued writing books and creating multimedia content for kids and teens while helping parents support their kids’ character development in the digital age. I read a lot of parenting books, but I don’t always learn something new that opens my heart and mind. Each book I’ve recommended here did that for me. I hope the books on my list will help you on your parenting journey.

Annie's book list on helping kids become themselves

Why did Annie love this book?

Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter. When she and her pre-teen son were both diagnosed with ADHD in the same year it became her personal and professional mission to find out as much as she could about this increasingly common diagnosis. Anyone who knows and loves someone who’s been diagnosed with ADHD would do well to read this book as a guide through the often bewildering landscape of ADHD treatments. As serious and personal as Buzz is, Ellison is a great writer and her memoir is equal parts science, expert interviews and analysis, parenting angst, and humor.

By Katherine Ellison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An absorbing, sharply observed memoir." -- Kirkus Reviews A hilarious and heartrending account of one mother's journey to understand and reconnect with her high-spirited preteen son-a true story sure to beguile parents grappling with a child's bewildering behavior. Popular literature is filled with the stories of self-sacrificing mothers bravely tending to their challenging children. Katherine Ellison offers a different kind of tale. Shortly after Ellison, an award-winning investigative reporter, and her twelve-year-old son, Buzz, were both diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, she found herself making such a hash of parenting that the two of them faced three alternatives: he'd go…

Shielding Sierra

By Susan Stoker,

Book cover of Shielding Sierra

Mignon Mykel Author Of Butterfly Save

From the list on to get lost in a romance series binge.

Who am I?

I hate saying goodbye. Picking up a book and being introduced to an entire group of people—family, friends, teammates—and knowing you get to continue to watch these relationships bloom over a course of books is part of the reason I pick up a book in the first place. I want to see these characters pop in twenty books down the road. I absolutely love cameos of old characters! Because of this, I write in a singular world as well. My Prescotts may be the base of the world at the moment, but it’s also their friends at O’Gallaghers and their teammates with the Enforcers hockey team that keep the world growing—and it’s not ending anytime soon.

Mignon's book list on to get lost in a romance series binge

Why did Mignon love this book?

Stoker is the queen of military/former-military “families.” You pick up a book and instantly fall in love with that team of men. Shielding Sierra is her latest (as of January 2022) and it happens to be at the end of a series. Stoker writes in a single universe, so while we know this team, we also see previous teams she’s written, and the family unit that they all build with one another really shines in Sierra, when one of their own purposely becomes a POW in order to save the heroine.

By Susan Stoker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a civilian contractor, Sierra Clarkson thought she’d found the perfect way to serve her country, short of joining the military…until she was kidnapped from a base in Afghanistan. Turns out terrorists don’t care if you’re a soldier or not; everyone bleeds the same. Even worse, no one knows she’s been taken. Her missing belongings point to desertion—which means no one is looking for her, either

But someone is.

Fred “Grover” Groves never forgot the redheaded spitfire working the chow line on a base in the Afghani desert. He’d felt an instant attraction to the petite woman, a connection deep…

Do Not Become Alarmed

By Maile Meloy,

Book cover of Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel

Kimberly Baer Author Of Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams

From the list on children in peril.

Who am I?

Call me a worrier, but I’ve always viewed the world as a place fraught with danger, especially for the very young. Hidden sinkholes, falling tree branches, kidnappers lurking on street corners—there’s no threat I haven’t imagined. (Full disclosure: I’m a mom.) As a fiction author, I like to put my young characters in harm’s way and then deliver them to safety, an approach that helps me deal with my anxieties by giving me a sense of control. If I had my way, all imperiled-child stories, whether real-life or fiction, would end with a happily ever after. Alas, not all of them do.

Kimberly's book list on children in peril

Why did Kimberly love this book?

This book made me shudder. 

Three families on a cruise go ashore in Central America. Then the unthinkable happens: their children vanish. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced that particular nightmare, but years ago my four-year-old son went AWOL for about five minutes while we were at the airport. I was a quivering blob of panic until kiddo turned up safe and sound. Of course, for the parents in this story, the terror stretches on for much longer than five minutes—and, believe me, you wouldn’t want it any other way. The unrelenting tension is just one of the elements that make this novel such a compelling read.

By Maile Meloy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Become Alarmed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives.


By Peter Earle,

Book cover of Sailors: English Merchant Seamen 1650 - 1775

Thomas M. Truxes Author Of Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York

From the list on 18th century mariners.

Who am I?

Since the publication of my first book in 1988, my emphasis has always been on history as “story.” That is, the stories of men and women in past centuries with whom we share a common humanity but who faced challenges very different from our own. My goal is to bring their stories to as wide an audience as possible. Whether they describe Newfoundland fisherman in the 17th-century North Atlantic, expatriate Irish men and women in 18th-century Bordeaux, or colonial New Yorkers defying British authority on the eve of the American Revolution, the common theme is the impact of trade and the sea on the lives of ordinary people.

Thomas' book list on 18th century mariners

Why did Thomas love this book?

Sailors — among my favorite books — is a vivid account of the lives of English merchant seamen in the 17th and 18th centuries. These were the years when England rose to dominance in global commerce and became the greatest naval power in the world. Acclaimed historian Peter Earle explores every aspect of the sailor's life: conditions of service, wealth and possessions, life aboard ship, the perils of the sea, discipline and punishment, sickness, desertion, mutiny and mortality, and the role of the sailor in times of war. Evocative, scholarly, and colorful, this story of England's "bravest and boldest" reveals how life on the waves was not all storms and conflict, tyranny and revolt, but also one of comradeship, adventure, and love of the sea.

By Peter Earle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A social and economic history of the lives of English merchant sailors in the 17th and 18th centuries, when England dominated the world in commerce and power. Drawn from primary documents and diaries, all aspects are examined, including conditions of service, discipline, mortality and war.

The Deserters

By Charles Glass,

Book cover of The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II

Martin Campbell Author Of Sailor's Heart

From the list on true courage in facing danger when afraid.

Who am I?

I am a Scottish writer who has published two books, one about poker and plumbing (Bad Beat Hotel) and the other about the treatment of men who sailed in the WW2 Arctic convoys and were unable to continue fighting (Sailor’s Heart). I’m interested in how people work and how they can be “repaired” when they wear out, malfunction, or break. My professional background is in clinical psychology and the study of human behaviour. I chose “cowards who become heroes” as my book theme because I’m constantly amazed by people’s resilience when faced with the most terrible circumstances.

Martin's book list on true courage in facing danger when afraid

Why did Martin love this book?

Until I read this book, I knew nothing about men who broke down in battle and were unable to fight on or deserted. It is a topic that is seldom covered in hero-driven war literature or films, depicted as cowardice and still having some taint of shame.

Charles Glass uses military records and personal accounts, including detailed descriptions of battlefront incidents, to paint a picture of what it is to face the terror of war and the debilitating unpredictability of not knowing which bullet has your name on it.

Across WWI and WW2, he uses case studies to take the reader to the trenches, or to huddle behind some broken wall. What is remarkable is not how many brave men deserted, but how many did not.

By Charles Glass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"[A]n impressive achievement: a boot-level take on the conflict that is fresh without being cynically revisionist." --The New Republic

A groundbreaking history of ordinary soldiers struggling on the front lines, The Deserters offers a completely new perspective on the Second World War. Charles Glass-renowned journalist and author of the critically acclaimed Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation-delves deep into army archives, personal diaries, court-martial records, and self-published memoirs to produce this dramatic and heartbreaking portrait of men overlooked by their commanders and ignored by history.

Surveying the 150,000 American and British soldiers known to have deserted in…

Going After Cacciato

By Tim O'Brien,

Book cover of Going After Cacciato

Tobey C. Herzog Author Of Writing Vietnam, Writing Life: Caputo, Heinemann, O'Brien, Butler

From the list on Vietnam War literature by authors I've interviewed.

Who am I?

From an early age, I have made a life out of listening to, telling, teaching, and writing about war stories. I am intrigued by their widespread personal and public importance. My changing associations with these stories and their tellers have paralleled evolving stages in my life—son, soldier, father, and college professor. Each stage has spawned different questions and insights about the tales and their narrators. At various moments in my own life, these war stories have also given rise to fantasized adventure, catharsis, emotional highs and lows, insights about human nature tested within the crucible of war, and intriguing relationships with the storytellers—their lives and minds.

Tobey's book list on Vietnam War literature by authors I've interviewed

Why did Tobey love this book?

A 1979 National Book Award winner for fiction, O’Brien’s first Vietnam War novel is, for me, his best piece of writing, and O’Brien in our 2014 interview concurred. Yes, it’s a timeless but freshly told war story about one soldier’s struggle to overcome fear and act courageously on the battlefield. The book’s attraction for me, however, is the complex, engaging, lyrical manner in which the story is told—multiple time sequences and narrative strands, realism mixed with magical realism, and the central character’s interplay of memory and imagination in recalling and creating events. The book is also a how-to manual on the art of storytelling. And like all great pieces of literature, a reader’s appreciation of O’Brien’s story and art increases with multiple readings. This is a book that engages readers seeking to know more about the Vietnam War, writers studying narrative craft, and general readers wanting to be entertained and…

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Going After Cacciato as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the National Book Award, 'Going After Cacciato' captures the peculiar mixture of horror and hallucination that marked the Vietnam War, this strangest of wars.

In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indochina to the streets of Paris.

In its memorable evocation of men both fleeing from and meeting the demands of battle, 'Going After Cacciato' stands as much more than just a great war novel. Ultimately it's about the forces of…

Book cover of Desertion During the Civil War

Lesley J. Gordon Author Of A Broken Regiment: The 16th Connecticut's Civil War

From the list on the Civil War and the soldiers who fought in it.

Who am I?

I have been reading, researching, writing, and teaching Civil War military history for nearly thirty years. I first became interested in soldiers and their experiences as a teen, and went on to earn a PhD in American History at the University of Georgia. I’ve always been fascinated by the anti-hero, and the ways in which everyday people coped (or failed to cope) with this violent conflict. I am currently writing a book about regiments accused of cowardice and how those searing allegations cast a shadow over their military record. From 2010-2015, I served as editor of the scholarly journal Civil War History, and I was recently elected President of the Society for Civil War Historians (2022-2024).

Lesley's book list on the Civil War and the soldiers who fought in it

Why did Lesley love this book?

Despite this book’s age—almost a century in print—it still stands as a seminal work on an important topic: desertion and its devastating effects on both armies. Lonn was born in 1879 in Indiana, and earned her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the few female historians at the time to do so. She was not immune to the racism of her day nor the cloying ideology of the Lost Cause, yet she told her readers she wanted to understand “the ugly and sordid sides of war.” Her book offers readers a wealth of information and insight to better understand the myriad of reasons why soldiers deserted.

By Dr. Ella Lonn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Desertion During the Civil War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Desertion during the Civil War, originally published in 1928, remains the only book-length treatment of its subject. Ella Lonn examines the causes and consequences of desertion from both the Northern and Southern armies. Drawing on official war records, she notes that one in seven enlisted Union soldiers and one in nine Confederate soldiers deserted.

Lonn discusses many reasons for desertion common to both armies, among them lack of such necessities as food, clothing, and equipment; weariness and discouragement; noncommitment and resentment of coercion; and worry about loved ones at home. Some Confederate deserters turned outlaw, joining ruffian bands in the…

Road Trip

By David Keener,

Book cover of Road Trip

S.C. Megale Author Of This Is Not a Love Scene: A Novel

From the list on with some serious ass-kicking.

Who am I?

I am an author who believes stories must first entertain and thrill if they are ever to instill something powerful and unforgettable. While I would love to sit here and compile books that laud the values I believe in, that’s just not how it works. Action is the best way to convey theme – and these examples celebrate the storytelling techniques I stand by. I love ass-kickers, in literature and in life. And I hope one day to be remembered as one of them. 

S.C.'s book list on with some serious ass-kicking

Why did S.C. love this book?

I love how Road Trip hooks you right away with its concept: a road for sale? What kind of road? How much? And what could be on that road? You might not be ready for it. I can assure you there is ample action on this highway, however, that could give new meaning to "road rage." Like all of Keener’s work, this book is original and well-written. You could even say it’s ass-kicking.

By David Keener,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He Bought a Magic Road

Rocco Fitch had a grand plan for his life…but it went up in smoke the day he was disabled in Afghanistan. Now he’s unemployed, his wife has left him, and the bank is about to take his house. But he can still spare some change when he encounters a fellow vet begging in the street. Except the strange man won’t accept the money unless Rocco agrees he’s buying a road.

The next morning, the beggar is AWOL, there’s a magic highway crossing Rocco’s backyard that nobody else can see, and demonic-looking riders are traveling his…