Blog on Personal Thoughts
Blog on Flashbacks
Related Links
Return Home
Learning Image
Abigail B. Calkin

A Blog of Flashbacks

Military Books: Selected list of books about war, the people who have fought them, and, sometimes, those who stayed home

December 2019

I don’t remember who first asked me what books about war I recommend. The next question became what aspects interested me—which wars, soldier or family perspective, how immersed do you wish to be. I have put the books on war that I’ve read in a historical list, marked my favorite books and favorite movies. Why are they my favorites? Because they speak to me. They are ones that I remember and think about years later. One example is E. B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed. I have two pages of notes about particulars. During World War II, soldiers in the field were not allowed to keep a diary, but Sledge did. His descriptions of feelings, of fear, are noteworthy because they are absent in most other military autobiographies. The Iliad and The Odyssey give such thoughts and feelings to us by analogy. 

 I was so impressed by Anna Akhmatova’s poems in translation, I learned Russian so I could read them in the original. Salisbury’s 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad had me imagining what eating bread made from linseed oil, sawdust, and dirt tasted like, what it was like to walk by a body collapsed into death on the street, then frozen there in their long winters. It gave me a strange perspective of Leningrad/St. Petersburg in 1987-88 or 2007 when I was there, picturing bombed out and destroyed buildings everywhere. 

 Soft Spots offered that place between being in a warzone and being home with PTSD, yet Van Winkle once home not always knowing where he was. He wrote it so well that I did not know whether he was in a battle in Iraq or at home having a flashback. An uncomfortable and jarring place even for me the reader, it is a powerful way of showing the horror of war and the horrible aftermath of flashbacks. 

 I read The Iliad and The Odyssey when I was eleven. I saw the film, Forbidden Games when I was thirteen. These three works, plus Akhmatova’s poetry, 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad and Soft Spots, and more recently, the writings of the 2015 Nobel Laureate for Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, have lived within me since I “met” them. They have also influenced my thinking, literary life, as well as my work in the field of behavior analysis. 

 My ratings: 

 ***** Changed my life direction, opinions, or the direction of my work. 

 *** Good 

∆ Ones I’m reading but haven’t finished yet

If I gave the books no ratings, I read them, but their story does not continue to return to my thoughts. 

 The movies I listed are my favorites. Of course, there are many more. If you haven’t seen Taking Chance, you must. Watch all its DVD specials too.




ABC rating


The Iliad




The Odyssey




The Art of War

Sun Tzu



Genghis Khan

Jack Weatherford





1812 (Europe)

War and Peace






Civil War

The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane



On War

Carl von Clausewitz

Indian Wars

Life of George Bent

 George E. Hyde







The War Poets

Jarrold Poetry Series



All Quiet on the Western Front

Erich Maria Remarque



Collected Poems

Anna Akhmatova



The Guns of August

Barbara W. Tuchman




Louisa Thomas






With the Old Breed

E. B. Sledge



Flags of Our Fathers

James Bradley




Laura Hillebrand



Abandon Ship!

Richard F. Newcomb




Lynn Vincent & Sara Vladic



Bringing Mulligan Home

Dale Maharidge



Lost Soldiers

James Webb



Abandon Ship!

Richard F. Newcomb



Women Wartime Spies

Ann Kramer



To End All Wars

Ernest Gordon



Articles of War (novel)

Nick Arvon



The Thousand Mile War

Brian Gibson



We Die Alone

David Howarth



Halsey’s Typhoon

Bob Drury & Tom Clavin



Down to the Sea

Bruce Henderson



Frozen in Time

Mitchell Zuckoff



Soldier from the War Returning

Thomas Childers



Twelve Desperate Miles

Tim Brady



Peace (novel)

Richard Bausch



The Pacific

Hugh Ambrose


A Higher Call

Adam Makos



900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad

Harrison E. Salisbury



Soldier’s Heart

Carol Tyler




Art Spiegelman



The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien



What It Is Like to Go to War

Karl Marlantes



Shrapnel in the Heart   

Laura Palmer



Flashes of War

Katey Schultz



We Were Soldiers Once and Young

Harold G. Moore, & Joseph L. Galloway



We Are Soldiers Still

Harold G. Moore, & Joseph L. Galloway



Long Time Passing

Myra MacPherson


Taps on the Walls (POW poems)

John Borling



Sandra’s Hands

Paul Kristian Berg



Michael Herr




Alvin Townley


The Wall







No. Ireland

Belfast Diary

John Conroy


Children of War [many wars]

Roger Rosenblatt







Soft Spots

Clint Van Winkle



Dust to Dust

Benjamin Busch




Paul Klay



American Sniper

Chris Kyle

Poorly written.


The Mirror Test

J. Kael Weston

∆ Iraq & Afghan


The Long Walk

Brian Castner



Flashes of War

Katey Schultz



See Me for Who I Am

David Chrisinger (editor)



Here, Bullet (poetry)

Brian Turner



The Good Soldiers

David Finkel

∆ Pulitzer Prize


The Yellow Birds

Kevin Powers



Final Salute

Jim Sheeler



Joker One

Donovan Campbell







Green on Blue (novel)

Elliot Ackerman



Where Men Win Glory

Jon Krakauer



Zinky Boys

Svetlana Alexievich

won the Nobel Prize for Literature, 2015.



Lone Survivor

Marcus Luttrell



The Blue Cascade

Mike Scotti



The Forever Wars

Dexter Filkins


The Unforgiving Minute

Craig M. Mullaney







Depicting the Invisible

Susan J. Barron







Where War Lives

Paul Watson




Sebastian Junger



Beyond the Green Zone

Dahr Jamail




Sebastian Junger







I Love a Man in Uniform

Lily Burana



The Soul of My Soldier

Abigail B. Calkin



Where the Water Meets the Sand

Tyra Manning



You Know When the Men Are Gone (novel)

Siobhan Fallon



Uniform (novel)

Lisa Stice Houlihan



Eleven Days (novel)

Lea Carpenter



The Longest Night (novel)

Andria Williams



My Life with a Wounded Warrior

Pamela Foster






On War

Dave Grossman



On Combat

Dave Grossman



The Lessons of Terror

Caleb Carr



The Roots of War and Terror

Anthony Stevens


Stories in Uniform

Readers Digest



Battle Dress (novel)

Amy Efaw



Many books—you choose!

Stephen Ambrose


Once a Warrior Always a Warrior

Charles W. Hoge

∆ Army colonel


Post Trauma Stress

Frank Parkinson



War on the Mind

Peter Watson



In Search of the Warrior Spirit

Richard Strozzi-Heckler


The Theater of War

Bryan Doerries






Forbidden Games

French, WWII



Come and See

Russian/Belarussian, WWII



Kolonel Radl

German, WW II




Japanese, feudal







Hurt Locker




Taking Chance




American Sniper

Iraq (better than the book)



Conscientious Objector

WWII (Desmond Doss)



Hacksaw Ridge

WWII (Desmond Doss)


Return to Top

Writing Image