The most recommended books about veterans

Who picked these books? Meet our 113 experts.

113 authors created a book list connected to veterans, and here are their favorite veteran books.
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Book cover of Gods Go Begging

Doug Bradley Author Of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

From my list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note.

Who am I?

Until today’s multiple catastrophes, the Vietnam War was the most harrowing moment in the lives of my fellow baby boomers and me. Drafted into the U.S. Army in early 1970, I spent 365 days in Vietnam as a combat correspondent. That experience changed my life, because as the Argentinian writer Jose Narosky has pointed out, “in war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” I have spent the past five decades trying to heal those wounds, writing three books grounded in my Vietnam experience, and have devoted my life to listening to the voices of our veterans, distilling their memories (often music-based), and sharing their words. 

Doug's book list on the Vietnam War that strike a different note

Doug Bradley Why did Doug love this book?

Vea’s novel is as ambitious, complex, and surreal a story about the horrors of Vietnam (and post-Vietnam) ever written. A Vietnam vet himself, Vea traces the efforts of several men and women who try to purge their Vietnam ghosts while finding a way to curtail the violence convulsing contemporary America. Jesse Pasadoble, the protagonist, is a defense attorney in San Francisco, hardened and embittered by his Vietnam experience. While his journey toward redemption, as well as that of an Army chaplain who goes AWOL in Vietnam, may require a “willing suspension of disbelief,” Vea skillfully pulls it off, helped in no small way by the many allusions to jazz, specifically the inimitable works of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. 

By Alfredo Vea,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Luminous... a beautiful book." - Carolyn See

For Vietnam veteran Jesse Pasadoble, now a defense attorney living in San Francisco, the battle still rages: in his memories, in the gang wars erupting on Potrero Hill, and in the recent slaying of two women: one black, one Vietnamese. While seeking justice for the young man accused of this brutal double murder, Jesse must walk with the ghosts of men who died on another hill... men who were his comrades and friends in a war that crossed racial divides.

Gods Go Begging is a new classic of Latino literature, a literary detective…


Book cover of Mudbound

Toni Morgan Author Of Queenie's Place

From my list on cultural opposites, southern politics and families.

Who am I?

I was a military spouse for 26 years. My husband was stationed at MCAS Cherry Point NC and MCB Camp Lejeune NC, both for two years. We (he and I and our four children) lived on the base. He also served two tours in Vietnam, just like Doreen’s husband, and also at Headquarters, Marine Corps later. The fictional Marine base and town where this takes place is modeled after Camp Lejeune and the adjacent town. I did see the same sign welcoming us to Klan country, on Easter Sunday morning 1972 and have never forgotten it. I also knew Queenie’s counterpart. This novel is in no way autobiographical—I was never as brave as Doreen. 

Toni's book list on cultural opposites, southern politics and families

Toni Morgan Why did Toni love this book?

Mudbound is about post-WWII in the Jim Crow south. It tells the stories of two returning soldiers in a muddy farm setting. I was raised on a dairy farm with plenty of mud, so I easily identified with the setting. The situation of the two men, one White, one Black, and their families' struggles, physically with the constant mud, and emotionally with the politics of both the era and the place, were graphic. It was a book that was difficult to put down and also difficult to read. In ways I was reminded of 12 Years A Slave.

By Hillary Jordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mudbound as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING CAREY MULLIGAN, GARRETT HEDLUND & MARY J. BLIGE

When Henry McAllan moves his city-bred wife, Laura, to a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta in 1946, she finds herself in a place both foreign and frightening. Henry's love of rural life is not shared by Laura, who struggles to raise their two young children in an isolated shotgun shack under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.

As the Second World War shudders…


Book cover of One Was a Soldier

Alicia Dill Author Of Beyond Sacrifice

From my list on thrillers on veterans beyond “thank you for your service".

Who am I?

Before I’m a writer, I’m a reader and I need the realness when it comes to military service. I started as an Army journalist so the details matter to me. When I pick up a book to relax and the main character draws me with a story I can get all the five senses of it, I’m in! On the other hand, I'm usually turned off by books that use veterans as props or either heroes or villains with nothing in between. That’s not who I served with. Where was the gray of the human existence in veteran characters? Gimme books that bring more depth to characters that round out personal experience. 

Alicia's book list on thrillers on veterans beyond “thank you for your service"

Alicia Dill Why did Alicia love this book?

This book is from a series but I picked this one out because it was perfectly targeting why veterans talking to other veterans can heal. These fictional characters have real backstories that resonated with me. This is set in a small town with the dichotomy of military and law enforcement and is an easy, mystery read. 

By Julia Spencer-Fleming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Was a Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a warm September evening in the Millers Kill community center, five veterans sit down in rickety chairs to try to make sense of their experiences in Iraq. What they will find is murder, conspiracy, and the unbreakable ties that bind them to one another and their small Adirondack town.

The Rev. Clare Fergusson wants to forget the things she saw as a combat helicopter pilot and concentrate on her relationship with Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne. MP Eric McCrea needs to control the explosive anger threatening his job as a police officer. Will Ellis, high school track star,…


Book cover of The Lost Lieutenant

Michelle Griep Author Of Lost in Darkness

From my list on to satisfy Jane Austen and Jane Eyre lovers.

Who am I?

Though I live in the foothills of the Ozarks, I’m an Anglophile at heart, loving all things Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. I spent much of my angsty adolescence tucked away in Regency and Victorian England with my nose stuck in a book. As a result, I now jump at every chance I get to skip across the pond and roam the English countryside, listening hard to hear all the voices from the past—which is why my stories are always tied to British history. So whether you love ballrooms or shadowy tales set in gothic manors, here’s a great list for you.

Michelle's book list on to satisfy Jane Austen and Jane Eyre lovers

Michelle Griep Why did Michelle love this book?

I love me a hero that’s a strong underdog sort of fella, the type that’s misunderstood yet does the right thing despite the consequences. Hero Evan Eldridge is the type of man that makes me wish I could meet him in person instead of on the pages. War is horrific, lasting long after the bloody battles. I liked how Evan managed to overcome his ghosts of the past, which is a great inspiration for us all to do the same. 

More Jane Austen than Jane Eyre.

By Erica Vetsch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He's doing what he can to save the Prince Regent's life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero--he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn't think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust…


Book cover of Battle Scars: A Story of War and All That Follows

Joe Talon Author Of Counting Crows

From my list on spooky minds and old soldiers who never give up.

Who am I?

I’ve written about war for years. To be honest, it all began in school when we studied the terrible events of The Great War. Hearing the hearts shatter of men on the frontline never left me. I wanted to understand. I needed to understand. PTSD is something I’m familiar with, even if I’ve never been on the front line in battle. I’m also obsessed with myths, legends, ghost stories, and mysteries. My Lorne Turner series combines my passions and the books shine a light, in fiction, on what happens to old soldiers when they come home.

Joe's book list on spooky minds and old soldiers who never give up

Joe Talon Why did Joe love this book?

Another story about a mind broken by war. Jason Fox is former Special Forces, and it shows. Exploring the effects of war on the mind of a soldier who is trained to abhor weakness in all its forms is deeply moving. Also, reading about man’s life descending into chaos when it’s been so ordered is tough. The effect on family and friends, work colleagues. Again, not an easy read, because this is real life folks, but well worth the effort. It’s also very interesting to read about the conflicts from a warrior’s point of view.

By Jason Fox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

___________

THE EXTRAORDINARY NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER.

'The most important book you'll ever read... Battle Scars will save lives.' TOM MARCUS, author of SOLDIER SPY

Battle Scars tells the story of Jason Fox's career as an elite operator, from the gunfights, hostage rescues, daring escapes and heroic endeavours that defined his service, to a very different kind of battle that awaited him at home.

After more than two decades of active duty, Foxy was diagnosed with complex PTSD, forcing him to leave the military brotherhood and confront the hard reality of what follows. What happens when you become your own enemy?…


Book cover of The Life We Bury

Victor Cunrui Xiong Author Of Heavenly Empress: The Age of Wu Zetian: A Novel of Tang and Wu Zhou China

From Victor's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Novelist Historian Professor Scholar Health-nut

Victor's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Victor Cunrui Xiong Why did Victor love this book?

This debut novel by Eskens, while categorized as a mystery thriller, exhibits the qualities of a sophisticated character study.

Joe Talbert, a college student, stumbles upon an unexpected encounter with Carl, a Vietnam War veteran dying of cancer, during a semester project assignment. Inadvertently, Joe becomes entangled in the pursuit of solving a murder mystery. What captivates me most is Eskens' skillful storytelling, where he adeptly weaves his narrative.

It is clear that he possesses the knack for captivating literary agents and editors by expertly pressing all the right buttons.

By Allen Eskens,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Life We Bury as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A USA Today bestseller and book club favorite!

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in…


Book cover of The Return of the Soldier

Lesley Glaister Author Of Blasted Things

From my list on finding a new normal after World War I.

Who am I?

I am the prize-winning author of sixteen novels, most recently Little Egypt, The Squeeze, and Blasted Things. I teach creative writing at the University of St Andrews. I live in Edinburgh and am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m a novelist and student of human nature. I love to work out what motivates people, how and why they make choices, their coping mechanisms, and how they act under pressure. Before I begin a novel set in the past, I read as much fiction written at the time as I can find, as well as autobiography and history. In this way, I attempt to truffle down into the actions and impulses of individuals, both performative and deeply interior, that characterise the spirit of the era that I’m writing.

Lesley's book list on finding a new normal after World War I

Lesley Glaister Why did Lesley love this book?

Chris, a shell-shocked soldier who suffers from amnesia, returns from the front expecting life to be as he remembered. But he’s lost fifteen years of his memory and doesn’t recognise his wife Kitty, is horrified by how his cousin Jenny has aged, and longs only for Margaret, the girl he loved all those years ago. Despairing for his sanity, Kitty and Jenny summon Margaret, sure he’ll come to his senses when he sees her, only to find that he still adores her, dowdy, careworn, and poor as she is. The war is only glancingly mentioned here but its loss and damage aches between the lines. Told by Jenny, who loves Chris but starts to see Kitty in a new light, the dreadful snobbishness of the times is laid clear. The Return of the Soldier is a brief novel, romantic and witty, moving and bitter – I devoured it in one…

By Rebecca West,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A shell-shocked officer returns from the chaos of World War I to the tranquility of his stately English home — leaving his memory of the preceding 15 years amid the muddy trenches at the front lines. Anxiously awaiting the soldier's return are the three women who love him best: the perceptive cousin who narrates his story, the beautiful wife he fails to recognize, and the tender first love of his youth.
This remarkable war novel, Rebecca West's first work of fiction, depicts neither battles nor battlefields. Originally published in 1918, it takes a searching look at the far-reaching effects of…


Book cover of Don't Back Down

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Author Of At Face Value

From my list on the lessons learned by triumphant heroes.

Who am I?

I’m the daughter of an Army drill sergeant, widow of an Air Force veteran, granddaughter, niece, and cousin to veterans who served during both World Wars, in Vietnam, and beyond. I am a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. One of my grandfathers suffered from PTSD and I’ll never forget a moment in my childhood when during a family picnic to welcome home my cousin from Vietnam, a car backfired in the street, and he dived under a picnic table for cover since days earlier he’d been in a war zone. I’ve visited VA hospitals where bitter veterans taunted each other for being a “cripple” and broke my heart.

Lee's book list on the lessons learned by triumphant heroes

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Why did Lee love this book?

This novel begins with a chance, intimate encounter five years earlier that has lasting importance for both Cameron Pope and Rusty Caldwell.

When they met, they didn’t even exchange names and he was a soldier about to be deployed. Now, she’s a federal agent and he’s returned home to his native Kentucky hoping to lead a simple, healing life. Instead, a kidnapping affects his family and Cam is thrust into the action. When Rusty arrives, the “soldier boy” has found his “angel” again.

It’s a fast-paced, exciting adventure but there’s a developing love between the two main characters. For me, it’s that second shot at love, that hope in the face of hopelessness, and the suspense kept me on the edge of my chair.

By Sharon Sala,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Back Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

He barely has time to catch his breath...

Army veteran Cameron Pope arrives back in Jubilee, Kentucky, for the first time in years. He barely has time to catch his breath when he becomes embroiled in a race of life or death for his little niece and a deadly hunt for the human traffickers who are destroying the peace of his mountain town. When he's reunited with Rusty Caldwell—a woman from his past he's never stopped thinking about—he wants to believe they can finally be together. But Rusty belongs to one of the rich families in Jubilee—the same rich folks…


Book cover of Texas Destiny

Kara O'Neal Author Of The Inventor's Heart

From my list on romances with loveable, quirky families.

Who am I?

I love my family. I can’t do without them. I have three siblings, and I’m the oldest. My father is a hard-working Texas man who I like to compare to Gus from Lonesome Dove. My mother is a lady. Like Jackie. She’s a classic. This made for interesting suppers. We were expected to behave like royalty while our father wanted us to “pull his finger”. I can’t tell you the mischief that went on in my house. And the fanciness. Oh, my heavens, the fanciness. My mother has so many teapots. My family is the reason I can tell stories, and I applaud any author who makes family come alive.

Kara's book list on romances with loveable, quirky families

Kara O'Neal Why did Kara love this book?

Texas Destiny is a historical romance that showcases a family of three brothers trying to start a ranch. Each brother has his own personality, his own way to contribute to the development of their family which enthralled me. Dallas holds it all together, a Type A personality to be sure. Austin, the youngest, does everything he can to help but still makes impulsive decisions. And Houston, the middle brother…scarred in battle, he has to fight feelings of worthlessness. It’s a beautiful story about how three brothers learned to be a family. My heart almost couldn’t take it.

By Lorraine Heath,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He's fallen for a woman...

Anxious to meet her soon-to-be-husband, Dallas Leigh for the first time, mail-order bride Amelia Carson is en route to Fort Worth, Texas. When she steps off the train and locks eyes with her betrothed, she immediately feels drawn to him. But the cowboy standing before her isn't Dallas. Instead, Dallas' brother Houston has been sent to accompany her on the three-week journey to the ranch where she'll begin her new life.

Who belongs to another...

The war Houston Leigh fought has left him with visible scars, a daily reminder of his cowardice on the battlefield.…


Book cover of The Great Stink

Sharon Levy Author Of The Marsh Builders: The Fight for Clean Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

From my list on how humanity fouled water and why we need wetlands.

Who am I?

I fell in love with the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary thirty years ago, when I first moved to town. At the time, I was working as a field biologist, and I loved to hang out at the marsh and birdwatch—I’d see everything from pelicans to peregrine falcons. Later I shifted from field biology to science writing, and some of my first articles were about how the Arcata Marsh serves both as a wildlife habitat and a means of treating the city’s sewage. I learned about the grassroots movement that created the marsh, and the global history of wetlands loss. I’ve been hooked on wetlands ever since.

Sharon's book list on how humanity fouled water and why we need wetlands

Sharon Levy Why did Sharon love this book?

While researching my book, I learned about the sewers of Victorian London. The hideous load of pollution they carried stank unbearably, caused epidemics, and later inspired the invention of modern sewage treatment. This mystery novel takes us into the dank hell of those sewers. A fictional war veteran named William May roams this subterranean world as a surveyor for engineer Joseph Bazalgette, a real-life figure responsible for redesigning London’s sewer system and saving thousands of lives. Reading this novel is as close as one can get to that time and place.

By Clare Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A mystery that offers “a gripping and richly atmospheric glimpse into the literal underworld of Victorian England—the labyrinthine London sewer system” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 
Clare Clark’s critically acclaimed The Great Stink “reeks of talent” as it vividly brings to life the dark and mysterious underworld of Victorian London (The Washington Post Book World). Set in 1855, it tells the story of William May, an engineer who has returned home to London from the horrors of the Crimean War. When he secures a job trans­forming the city’s sewer system, he believes that he will be able to find salvation in…