Posted on March 15, 2015

Here is my answer to the War Council’s call for WarBooks.

“WarBooks centers on the personal relationship between students of war and their books.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see someone else’s bookshelf (not everyone is on goodreads.com)?  To know, for example, what books mattered most to a particular soldier, general, admiral, academic, or theorist?”

The original post is here.

Top Five Books

Louis L’Amour, (1984). The Walking Drum. The power of L’Amour’s narrative is found in the reader’s sense of being part of the world and the characters he’s created. You can taste the grit in the air and feel sweat bead down your back as protagonist Mathurin Kerbouchard journeys across the Byzantine Empire and Abbasid Caliphate.

Mark Bowden (1999). Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. A chronicle of courage and sacrifice in the midst of the savage 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

Wesley Clark (2001). Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat. I first read General Clark’s memoir while a graduate student in the National Security Studies program at Cal-State. Unbeknownst to me, I would deploy a year later as a peacekeeper in Kosovo.

Chris Hedges (2002). War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. A war correspondent reflects on the seductive and shamefully addictive nature of war.

David Bellavia (2007). House to House: An Epic Memoir of War. A vivid first person account of the Second Battle of Fallujah from a Silver Star recipient of the 1st Infantry Division.

The One That Shaped Me The Most

I was counseled as a young lieutenant to ground my study of war in the accounts of hard-fought battles of those who served before us. Sir Michael Howard went a step further suggesting we ought to explore the depth of military history, “…not simply from official histories but from memoirs, letters, diaries, and even imaginative literature.”[1] As we contemplate witness accounts of human conflict we should touch, taste, and see, if only in our mind, the brutality of warfare. Hence it is quite appropriate that the most influential book shaping my study of war and human conflict is an epic narrative from one of America’s greatest storytellers.

[1] Michael Howard (1962). “The Use and Abuse of Military History.” Royal United Service Institute Journalreprinted in Parameters, XI: 1, page 14.