Thursday, January 02, 2014

Books to Read in 2014

Recommended books and things to add to your saddle bag for a starting reading list for 2014:
  1. Corbett: Some Principles of Maritime Strategy. This link and the next two are to free electronic versions at Project Gutenberg. Formats include Kindle. The on-going naval discussion over the "dispersed force" concepts of Corbett and the theories of Mahan color our world today.
  2. The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 by A. T. Mahan. I would couple this with B.J. Armstrong's 21st Century Mahan: Sound Conclusions for the Modern Era because Mahan can be tough sledding and BJ has done a nice job dishing up the best bits. But you should still read the original.
  3. On War — Volume 1 by Carl von Clausewitz
  4. Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century by Peter W. Singer. If drones are the next RMA, this is a good book to start looking at it.
  5. The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. If you ever want to study how back into a war, this is a great read.
  6. The Zimmermann Telegram, Barbara Tuchman's other great book about WWI, as the Amazon blurb puts it,"The Zimmermann telegram was a top-secret message to the president of Mexico, inviting him to join Germany and Japan in an invasion of the United States."
  7. "The Liberation Triology" by Rick Atkinson which consists of An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle and The Guns at Last Light. WWII war in Europe.
  8. This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach. Korean War. Has the great line, "Americans in 1950 rediscovered something that since Hiroshima they had forgotten: you may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life—but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men in the mud. ” We seem to have trouble remembering this "rediscovery."
  9. Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour by James Hornfischer. Excellent books about epic sea battles and some very brave men.
  10. Once an Eagle by Anton Myer. Yes, it's a fictional Army book, but it's about leadership and character. It's a really thick paperback, but now there is a Kindle edition. Yes, it is a little black and white in its depiction of a warrior versus a bureaucratic staff weasel. Well, sometimes life in the military is like that.
  11. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. In great war machines, people get caught in the gears. There is no more cynical and realistic look at that situation than this book. I am biased - on one of my ships, my ball cap had "Yossarian" embroidered across the back. But, hey, everyone owns a share.
  12. Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High Performance Teams:. Character, leadership and courage. This time in real life by real heroes. The only book I gave as gifts for Christmas.
I could on and on, but that's a start. Add your suggestions to the comments.


  1. "The General" by C.S. Forester. We had it as required reading in NWC. A not-unsympathetic look at WWI General Officers in a fictional (barely) setting.

    1. Anonymous7:30 PM

      Anything by C. S. Forrester is worth reading: The Ship, Hornblower Series, The Good Shepard (USN destroyer skipper)--lots more all good.