What Three books would your Subordinates Read?

Mark Conley

Active member
If you were the commander of a military group..and wanted your men to learn military tactics, history, or organization..and were limited by your budget to providing only three books for them to read...what would they be?

Give not only the books title, but what makes the book important in the training of your group. Any book, with the exception of two, and those that would be considered obscene because of sex ( hey it could happen: Love is a battlefield) is welcomed here. The two books off limits right up front are: Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, and The Prince, By Machiavelli. PM me if you want my reasons.

The three books Id get for my troops are:

1. The Art of War, By Sun Tzu Yep the classic. How can you argue with a piece of information such as this?

The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline

2. Principles of War by Carl von Clausewitz just as good as Sun Tzu, but a little dated.

3. The Blue Jackets Manual by US Navy You aren't going to find a smaller book that covers everything from hygiene to artillery like a bluejackets manual.

There my three..let see what you can come up with. :D
Hmmm....This is a good question....But I dont think there isa good ansawer. The right books for a General are not the right books for a Major, let alone a Sargent. Let me explain what I mean: I dont think that Company commanders should think in stratigic manner. Its not their job. Now, on the other hand, there is no point of giving a General a book about Company level tactics... See my point?
Art of War - Sun Tzu
We Were Soldiers Once...and Young - Hal Moore and Joe Galloway
Enders Game - Orson Scott Card
I concur about choosing Sun Tzu as #1 and offer the following choices for #2 and # 3. However, I point out that the ones you chose depend on the the level of the unit and its soldiers. The leaders (Officers and NCOs) of a battalion or brigade/regiment need to read different works than those of a company:

2. Steel Wind - Colonel Georg Bruchmuller and the Birth of Modern Artillery by David Zabecki. This details the birth of combined arms doctrine and modern fire support during WWI. I also includes a lot of WWI history and how fire support and tactics changed during and after WWI up to today.

3. This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach. The "Classic" history of the Korean War. A fine piece of history (if a bit outdated on some of the political details - the Communist Chinese government was not involved in the original planning for the start of the Korean War and was not even consulted - not that Stalin ever would have). It also clearly illustrates why armies need to train all the time, why modern weapons and equipment (or at least ones that work!) are critical to survival and the price the US Army paid for not being prepared :(

Lots of other good choices out there too.