The best books about the Pentagon 📚

Browse the best books on the Pentagon as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11

By Mitchell Zuckoff

Why this book?

As with all of Mitchell Zuckoff’s books, Fall and Rise is thoroughly researched, the writing is clear and concise and the story is compelling. As Zuckoff skillfully tells the story of the September 11th terrorist attacks, he introduces the unique perspectives of everyday Americans who were profoundly affected by our national tragedy. 

From the list:

The best books about man-made disaster and tragedy

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Book cover of All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change

All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change

By Michael T. Klare

Why this book?

Michael Klare mines reports written by each of the U.S. armed services over the last couple of decades to show how the Pentagon identifies a variety of threats that are multiplied by climate change. Klare organizes them in a “threat ladder” ranging from most to least likely but from least to most dangerous, making it a ladder of escalation that diverts military personnel and resources from their main mission of defending the American homeland from foreign adversaries. If you're a committed pacifist, as many climate activists are, this book will be eye-opening. If you want to reduce and then stop…

From the list:

The best books on solving the climate crisis

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Book cover of Devolution: Book One of The Devolution Trilogy

Devolution: Book One of The Devolution Trilogy

By John Casey

Why this book?

What I especially liked about Devolution is that some spy novels portray the protagonist as a larger-than-life superhero who knows more than everyone else and is never beset by personal uncertainty and struggle. John Casey, however, has created a character in Michael Dolan who has been wounded by a past trauma, and shows his humanity. I found myself identifying with him. I have never been able to identify with seemingly invulnerable superheroes. John Wayne or 007, I am not, now will I ever be. Still, in Devolution, Michael Dolan is a man who is committed to the truth and…

From the list:

The best adventure stories which also explore the self

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Book cover of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War

The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War

By Fred Kaplan

Why this book?

Kaplan does a marvelous job describing, as the subtitle indicates, “the secret history of nuclear war.” It is in a sense a sequel to Kaplan’s earlier The Wizards of Armageddon, which examined theorists of nuclear annihilation. In The Bomb, Kaplan takes us on a deep dive into the bowels of actual doomsday planning; an unforgettable and darkly educational trip!

From the list:

The best books about preventing nuclear war

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Book cover of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

By Daniel Ellsberg

Why this book?

Arguably the most famous national security whistleblower in U.S. history, Daniel Ellsberg became a household name for releasing the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret military study of the Vietnam War, in 1971. Secrets is a fascinating account of how a quintessential Washington insider became the archetypal outsider and, as a result, faced the prospect of decades in prison for passing national security information to the press in the public interest. Ellsberg’s story reveals how the decision to “blow the whistle” is often long and fraught, while knowing the wrath of the state that awaits. A series of plot twists gives a…

From the list:

The best books on U.S. national security culture and the exposure of secrets

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Book cover of What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

By Malcolm Gladwell

Why this book?

I downloaded What the Dog Saw as an audiobook because who better to keep you company on a long drive than Malcolm Gladwell. The book is a collection of his essays that were published in The New Yorker, including an essay about famed dog trainer Cesar Millan. As always, Gladwell’s perspective and research are illuminating.

From the list:

The best books with the word “dog” in the title

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