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The War Room Book Recommendation Thread

Discussion in 'History & Military Discussion' started by Cetashwayo, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. Cetashwayo

    Cetashwayo Lord of Ten Thousand Years Magistrate On Leave Commission Artist

    Across the Horizon
    Book Recommendations
    Post book recommendations for interested people who want to get things not on the internet here. Same format as the online stuff, but mention the author and if possible an amazon link.


    Daily Life in Medieval Europe, by Jeffrey L. Singman. It has everything from architectural plans of houses to how to play medieval games to daily wages to the price of commodities (like cheese and ale), to agricultural yields and output. It's both fascinating and immensely useful.

    Life in a Medieval City by Joseph and Frances Gies. Much the same as above, but focused on city-specific life, including such things as the number of shoemakers per capita and whatnot, how to say medieval wedding vows...

    The Influence of Seapower Upon History, 1660-1783, by A.T. Mahan. The seminal work on Renaissance naval combat.

    Principles of Naval Weapons Systems, by Craig Payne. Recommended to me by @Apocal many years ago, still an unmatched basic resource on everything you need to know about modern naval combat systems.

    On Soviet War Planning in the 1980s:

    The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan, Lester Grau (ed.). Vignettes of small-unit actions (no more than battalion-size) from the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, written by the Soviet field officers involved.

    The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujaheddin Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War, Ali Ahmad Jalali and Lester Grau (eds.): companion volume to The Bear Went Over the Mountain, with vignettes of small-unit actions from the Mujaheddin perspective.

    Russian Civil War/Russian Revolution:

    The White Army by Anton I. Denikin, - Denikin's memiors/recollections/thoughts on the Russian Civil War. Obscenely interesting and helpful for understanding the White Russian perspective and actions.

    The Republic of the Usakovka: Admiral Kolchak and the Allied Intervention in Siberia 1918-1920 by Richard Connaughton, London: Routledge, 1990. - An good book on Kolchak and the White Russians based out of Siberia. Style is a little weird but once you get going its quite interesting.

    The Volunteer Army and the Allied Intervention in South Russia 1917-1921: A Study in the Politics and Diplomacy of the Russian Civil Warby George A. Brinkley, - It may be rather dated but it places the White Russians operating in South Russia in a international picture, also deals with Entente intervention forces.

    Civil War in South Russia, 1918 by Peter Kenez - Good overview of the opening Civil War in South Russia, given the title I never would have guessed.
    From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada’s Siberian Expedition, 1917-19 by Benjamin Isitt, - Covers the CEF(S) in extreme detail. While Isitt isn't a military historian but a labour one his book is probably the single best in covering the topic and framing it in a domestic Canadian context.

    Red Army/ Soviet Army
    The Military Strategy of the Soviet Union: A History by David M. Glantz,

    “The Soviet German War 1941-1945: Myths and Realities: A Survey Essay” by David M. Glantz,

    Colossus Reborn: The Red Army At War, 1941-1943. by David M.Glantz,

    Belorussia 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study. by David M. Glantz,

    The Soviet Strategic Offensive in Marchuria, 1945: The August Storm. by David M. Glantz,

    When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. by David M. Glantz,

    --I have an academic man-crush on Glantz, I'll admit. He's probably the leading English-Language expert on the Soviet Army. When Titans Clashedis an excellent overview of the Nazi-Soviet War. The Military Strategy Book is quite heavy but beyond the large section on the Nazi-Soviet War the sections on the Pre-War Red Army and the Post-War Soviet Army are good overviews of the issues, thoughts, and decisions made in those periods.

    “The Creation of Soviet Reserves and the Campaign of 1941”Military Affairs 50(1986) 21-28 by Louis Rotundo, - An article which covers the massive expansion of the Red Army in 1941, the sheer scale and difficulty of such a massive mustering.

    “Red Army Professionalism and the Communist Party,”The Journal of Military History 66 (2002): 71-102. by Roger R Reese, - Reese sheds light on the issues plaguing the Soviet officer corps even before Stalin's purges. Covers the political push against a professional officer corps and then the desperate attempt to foster one as the Red Army expanded to a massive size in 1938-41

    Second World War:

    Albert Speer and the Nazi Ministry of Arms: Economic Institutions and Industrial Production in the German War Economy. by E. R. Zilbert, - Great book on the Nazi War economy based on Speer's writings and comments itself.

    The Myth of the Eastern Front: The Nazi-Soviet War in American Popular Culture. by Edward J. Davies II and Ronald Smelser - Focuses on the white-washing of the Nazi-Soviet War, the Wehrmacht in particular, in American popular culture during the Cold War. Covers the rehabilitation of the Wehrmacht during the 1950-70s.

    The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West by Karl-Hienz Frieser, - A revisionist account of the German invasion of France.

    Why the Allies Won. by Richard Overy, - An overview of the variety of factors which led to Axis defeat in the Second World War. Chapters on the Nazi-Soviet War, Soviet and American War Economies, the Combined Bomber Offensive, Morale, and others.

    The Italian Navy in World War II by James J. Sadkovich, - Great book which seeks to rehabilitate the Regina Marina. Shows that the Italian Navy displayed a much stronger competence throughout the 1940-43 than is commonly portrayed.

    1939 Triple Alliance Negotiations/ Munich Crisis:

    “Molotov's Apprenticeship in Foreign Policy: The Triple Alliance Negotiation in 1939,”Europe-Asia Studies 52(2000) 695-722 by Derek Watson,

    "The Alliance that Failed: Moscow and the Triple Alliance Negotiations, 1939"European History Quarterly 26 (1996) 383-414. by Roberts, Geoffrey.

    -- These two articles cover the failed Triple Alliance Negotiations in 1939. They cover the reasons for their failure, on both the Soviet side, the Anglo-French, and the Polish sides. Good reads if you're interested in that sort of thing.

    The Soviets, the Munich Crisis, and the Coming of World War II. by Hugh Ragsdale, - Covers the Soviet response to the Munich Crisis. The diplomatic responses, including their cajoling of transit rights through Romania. Also covers the military response and the planed Soviet defence of Czechoslovakia. Good counter-point to the standard Munich Narrative.

    Chechen Wars:

    The Russian Conquest of the Caucasus. by John Baddeley - Written in 1908 its almost a primary document. Useful for covering the Tsarist pacification campaigns against Shamil's forces in the North Caucasus in the 1800's. Also a serious lens into British thinking at the time.

    The North Caucasus Barrier: the Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World. by Marie Broxup, and Abdurakham Avtorkhanov [eds]. - Great series of articles covering the history of the North Caucasus from the Middle Ages through to the Soviet Collapse. In depth articles on Shamil's resistance and the Muslim opposition to the Soviets during the Russian Civil War and the Stalinist period.

    Negotiating Hostage Crises with New Terrorists. by Adam Dolnik, and Keith Fitzgerald. - Excellent book which covers the Moscow Theatre Crisis and the Beslan School Crisis in some depth. Includes narratives of the events and critiques of the Russian performance.

    Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power. by Anatol Lieven, - Great source on the evolution and conduct of the First Chechen War. Just remember the author was there and be prepared to take into account his biases.

    "Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks?”Journal of Conflict Resolution 53 (2009) 331-362 by Jason Lyall, - An extremely interesting article which suggests that indiscriminate violence may suppress insurgent groups in some circumstances. The case study come from the Second Chechen War.

    Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad. by James Hughes, - An overview of the Chechen conflicts in the 1990s and 2000s. Covers the shift from a secular nationalist opposition to Russia to an extreme religious one.

    Schlieffen Plan:

    The Schlieffen Plan, Critique of a Myth. by Gerhard Ritter, - This book is excellent, though the English translation is a bit wonky at times. Covers the development of the Schlieffen Plan from its break with Molke the Elder's thinking through Schlieffen's obsession, and to Molke the Younger's execution. Ritter clearly lays out the various issues with the plan in a convincing manner. Highly recommended.
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  2. FBH

    FBH Write drunk. Edit Hungover

    Robert Leonhard's Art of Maneuver, Fighting the Minutes and Principles of Information Age Warfare, just for basic maneuver stuff.
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  3. Mad Man with a Box

    Mad Man with a Box Fan of the Viper II

    WAR by Sebastian Junger

    From the guy who wrote The Prefect Storm this is about his time spent with a paratrooper unit in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. It's a really good look at the war from the guys on the ground perspective. It also gets into a lot of what they guys feel and how they carried out their missions. Not as heavily focused on the battles but more personal in focus. A really good read IMHO.

    Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad by David Zucchino

    If your a mechanized/armored warfare buff you've got to check this one. It's basically the armored version of Black Hawk Down. Details the 3rd ID's push into Baghdad with two armored thrusts. Lots of focus among different levels from individual tank crews to the commanders and even Iraqis. One amusing bit I like is an Iraqi Colonel who accidentally drove into the side of the Bradley getting on the highway. It's a very good read and gives you more background on the fall of the city.
  4. The Most Dangerous Enemy by Stephen Bungay is a v. good account of the Battle of Britain, covering the excellence of the RAF's response system, the superiority of German air tactics, and why the Luftwaffe was likely doomed from the start rather than threw the match by switching targets to London.
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  5. @Cetashwayo

    Two other excellent books on the same subject are Struggle for the Middle Sea by Vincent O'Hara and Dark Navy by the same author and Enrico Cernuschi.

    The first is an incredibly detailed analysis of the war in the Mediterranean, with special attention given to the two most overlooked navies of WWII, the Marine Nationale and the Regia Marina. The second is a much smaller, but no less interesting book about the events surrounding the Italian Armistice of 1943 and the so called "surrender" of the Italian Navy. Both books make extensive use of non-English sources, give detailed accounts of all major surface actions, and received glowing reviews both on the press and online.

    Can't comment on the quality of the paper as I only have the kindle version of the books, but I can vouch for the quality of the content.
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  6. Two omnibus duologies on WWII.

    The first Clay Blair's Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942, and Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942-1945. You will not find a more complete history of the Battle of the Atlantic. Blair covers everything from the tactics up to the strategy, from the men to the technology they used. And then he intersperses his book with a record of every U-boat patrol of the war, along with the fates of all the boats and their crews. By 1944 this becomes very depressing reading, as by then - almost without exception - any U-boat that met the enemy was sunk, usually with all hands. Blair succeeds in showing that the Allies decisively won the Battle of the Atlantic by mid-1944, and the new Electroboats would not have sufficed to turn the tide.

    The Second is John B. Lundstrom's The First Team: Pacific Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway, and The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign: Naval Fighter Combat from August to November 1942. These books do for the early Pacific Naval air war what Blair did for the U-boat war. They cover the actions of both sides in those critical early battles from the overall operations down to the individual pilots, and who hit with which bomb when and where. Like the best histories, Lundstrom draws on accounts from both sides, including the names and fates of both American and Japanese pilots, and dispelling several myths, such as that the Wildcat was completely outclassed by the Zero (his extensive research shows a near 1:1 kill ratio, only slightly tilted in the Zero's favour), and that the Japanese were all individualistic glory hounds with no notion of team tactics (his annex describes their tactics, which were excellent, but better suited to a different aircraft than the Zero, like. . . the Hellcat). All following books on the Pacific air war (such as "Shattered Sword") use Lundstrom as a source.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
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  7. Don't ever mention Agincourt without having read Agincourt: The King, The Campaign, The Battle by Juliet Barker, or I will soon arrive and beat you to death with it.

    Unless you're a big dude, in which case I'll throw it at you and run.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. Notorious L

    Notorious L DCQCDCA

    Speer's writings on the German economy are self-serving and have in general been discredited. See Tooze, The Wages of Destruction.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. horngeek

    horngeek Australian Dragon Moderator

    I'm going to rec The Second World War by Antony Beevor. Looks at the entire war.

    He very much focuses on the human element, why certain decisions were made. Kinda brings home how... well, petty some of the decisions made in WWII were.
  10. neolives

    neolives Lt. CIC

    As the one who recc'd the Zilbert book, which is what I assume you're talking about in this quote I'll post a mild defence. Firstly you're generally right Speer's writings and comments must be taken with the same sort of critical lens that should be applied to any primary document. However from my reading Zilbert's work actually does mesh decently well with the current revisionist histories of the CBO, something which Tooze's work falls into. So while one must take into account both the age of the work as well the advances that have been made in field since I find that Zilbert's work, specifically the portions touching on the effects of the CBO, to still be relevant and help in understanding the current revisionist push regarding the strategic bombing campaign.

    TL;DR: Once accounting for the shifts in the historical field Zilbert's work is still a useful source for understanding the Nazi war economy, and the Combined Bomber Offensive (What I, myself used it for).

    But I won't clutter this thread with an argument on it, so in that vein I'll add another to the list of books I've suggested.

    War Without Battles: Canada’s NATO Brigade in Germany 1951-1993 By Sean M. Maloney. - Any and everything you ever wanted to know about 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. Maloney through extensive interviews, rifling though various documents, and consultations with other historians created the most complete account of the 4CMBG to date, and likely for the foreseeable future. If you ever wanted to know anything about Canada's contribution to NATO and Germany this is a great book. Warning, it is pretty dense.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Churchill and Empire: A Portrait of an Imperialist
    By Lawrence James
    Lawrence James has written a new biography of Winston Churchill, one focusing solely on his relationship with the British Empire. As a young army officer in the late nineteenth century serving in conflicts in India, South Africa, and the Sudan, his attitude toward the Empire was the Victorian paternalistic approach.

  12. The Virus House by David Irving
    Published in 1967, this book is a very detailed and technical exploration of the Nazi's nuclear power/weapons program. The book was the result of the author's interviews with German and American members of the respective nuclear programs. The author also located many primary source documents from the Nazi program and used his research of them in writing this book.

    Unfortunately, the author later became a Holocaust denier, but The Virus House was still praised by the likes of Heisenberg and Gen. Groves.

    Free download (PDF) can be found here.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Shrike

    Shrike Eightfold Being

    The Megastructure
    Why isn't Shattered Sword listed anywhere? Is it just because it's so good everyone already has a copy?
  14. horngeek

    horngeek Australian Dragon Moderator

    I certainly don't, although I don't have many WWII books. Describe it for us?
  15. MobiusOneDT

    MobiusOneDT Red Tail Leader

    Columbus, Georgia
    I've got my copy right next to me!

    Shattered Sword: The Untold Battle of Midway by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully
    Arguably one of the best books ever written on Battle of Midway, and there have been quite a few. What makes it so groundbreaking is the extensive use of Japanese sources to tell the story, including the Nagumo Report and most importantly the official Japanese war history series (the official Japanese name is rather long but it's referred to as the Senshi Sosho). Parshall and Tully narrow the focus of the battle down to the operations and the subsequent fights for survival of the four carriers in Kido Butai. They make the point of saying their story IS the story of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective. Parshall and Tully deconstruct a whole lot "myths" during the battle. I'd wager two of the most important ones are 1) Torpedo Squadron 8 alone drew the CAP away allowing the Dive-bombers to hit their targets unimpeded and 2) Kido Butai was only 5 minutes away from launching a devastating against the American carriers as told by Cdr Mitsuo Fuschida (they are not the biggest fans of the man, just warning you now. Or Yamamoto for that matter).

    If there is a downside to the book, I'd wager Parshall and Tully get a little too. . snarky at times if that makes any sense. But it may just be me. Overall I'd more than recommend the book to any collection on the Pacific War.
    • Like Like x 7
  16. Stormwalker628

    Stormwalker628 100% More Japanese

    Yokosuka, Japan
    I have four to reccomend:

    Intelligence in War by John Keegan. An interesting set of case studies in how intelligence can change a battle, either by being followed or not.
    The Korean War by General Matthew Ridgeway. Well written synopsis of the Korean War from the US perspective.
    Sea of Thunder by Evan Thomas. Nice detailed look at the individual skirmishes that made up the Battle of Leyte Gulf in WWII.
    Six Frigates by Ian W. Toll. Good look at the early United States Navy.
  17. Charles Omans Art of War in the Middle Ages is an excellent examination of the various ways war was waged in the medieval era, particularly his focus on the Byzantines which was one of the first post-gibbons looks at them.. The only lacking part is his failure to examine eastern european, Arabic or Turkish styles and documents, which he seems to spring from Victorian era racism.
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  18. Sniper 1 by dan mills

    1st battalion pwrr sniper platoon stuck in a platoon house in iraq

    written by the plt sgt lots of actions and squaddie behaviour
  19. Strypgia

    Strypgia Shadow Cabal Token Adult Moderator

    Redeployed CONUS
    Seconding the recommendation of
    The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan, Lester Grau (ed.). Vignettes of small-unit actions (no more than battalion-size) from the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, written by the Soviet field officers involved.
    Speaking as someone on the same ground and who's seen the tactics and such used here, it's an excellent analysis of the Russian experience in Afghanistan.

    For my own part, I recommend Max Boot's "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power" for a good survey of the many 'small wars' the US was involved in across the world, especially in Central and South America, that are hardly even remembered by American schooling.
    • Like Like x 5
  20. neolives

    neolives Lt. CIC

    The Brusilov Offensive by Timothy Dowling. - An excellent book which makes use of recent access to Eastern sources to look at one of the great Entente victories of the Great War. Covers Brusilovs career from his joining the Russian military to his final service to the Soviet Union. This is followed by an in depth analysis of situation on the Eastern Front from 1914-1916 on both ends. Shows the clear problems in both the Tsarist military apparatus and the Austro-Hungarian army. It of course covers the 1916 Russian summer offensive in depth. If you have any interest in the Eastern Front of the First World War I highly recommend this book.
  21. MobiusOneDT

    MobiusOneDT Red Tail Leader

    Columbus, Georgia
    Red Sun Setting: The Battle of the Philippine Sea

    by William T. Y'Blood

    Y'Blood's book on the Battle of the Philippine Sea is a short but great read on the battle, clocking in at slightly over 200 pages long. The other well known book on the battle: Clash of the Carriers by Barrett Tillman does not compare for many reason despite being longer. Red Sun Setting is more coherent as a book, not stopping in the middle of describing the first strike against TF-58 to describe the F6F Hellcat, like in the latter, and it actually has maps and charts of the movements of the respective fleets. It's fairly short, but it's cheap on Amazon so give it a read if you're up to it.

    Bomber Command: The Myths and Reality of the Strategic Bombing Offensive 1939-1945
    by Max Hastings

    For the record the focus is mostly devoted to the British efforts from beginning to end. Hastings goes through nearly every aspect of Bomber commands efforts in Western Europe from the desperate attempt to stop the German advance through France to the costly, grinding night time raids against occupied Europe and Germany. Hastings makes a comparison between Bomber Command and the British Army during WWI. The pre-war cadre of pilots is all but gone by around 1942-1943, and new generation takes their places in the slaughter. I think the comparison fits rather well.

    Clashes: Air Combat over North Vietnam 1965-1972

    by Marshall L. Michel III

    Clashes is an in depth look at the air war over Vietnam, describing the various tactics used by both sides during the war. Michel has a personal stake in this study, having flown some 300 plus missions during the Vietnam War. Michel is rather unbiased, not hesitating to point out mistakes made by the Americans. Every major MiG clash is detailed in the book, but it must be noted that Michel explicitely avoids using the names of the pilots, only the callsigns of the aircraft involved. The MiG kill claims are taken at face value (though Michel may not have had a way to compare losses and claims), but other than that, the book is rather well done.

    The Coldest Winter

    by David Halberstam

    The focus of the book is on the American Army during the first year of the Korean war, from the NK invasion, to Pusan, Inchon, the Chinese Winter offensive and into early 1951. There is a great deal of time devoted to the politics between Truman, the Joint Chiefs, and MacArthur. It's interesting to see how the senior officers interacted. But Halberstam manages to devote a great deal of time to the men on the front lines. The most gripping part of the book in my opinion is the 2nd Infantry Division's desperate attempt to escape the Chinese in November 1950, including "The Gauntlet". Definitely worth a read.

    Edited to entry of Red Sun Setting so it makes more sense.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2014
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  22. Kensai

    Kensai He ain't heavy, he's my cub

    • Like Like x 1
  23. Coiler

    Coiler LOVE Bomber F-111

    The Eleven Days of Christmas: America's Last Vietnam Battle
    By Marshall L. Michel III

    A follow-up to the previously mentioned Clashes, this book focuses on Linebacker II and the B-52. An extremely thorough and evenhanded (which is not the same as unwilling to criticize-SAC is rightly slammed) look at the battle, the book also uses many North Vietnamese sources as well to provide for an even more effective true story of the raids, and of aerial warfare in general.

    The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command
    By Andrew Gordon

    While the vastly detailed description of the largest fleet engagement in WWI would be worth it all by itself, what makes the book shine is the huge section depicting the progress of the Royal Navy from the beginning of the steam age to the Great War, in terms of ships and, more importantly, officers. Very interesting both as a military and social history.
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  24. Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs, by Adrienne Mayor.

    It's a look at the early history of chemical and biological weapons (sometimes in a rather literal sense) -- mostly looking at Greece, Rome, and the populations they interacted with. It's divided rather handily into sections: what was used with arrows, what animals were used and how, how plagues and illness were used as weapons, and so on. It's good research, but very much written for people that don't have a lot of background in the subject, so it's a pretty light read (with some 30 pages of end notes, happily).

    Same author wrote a pretty good (albeit slightly biased) biography of Mithradates Eupator called The Poison King. If you're not familiar, he was the "Hannibal of the East" and one of Rome's biggest enemies for quite some time. He also comes up quite a bit in Greek Fire, because he was all about the poisons and such.
  25. Kensai

    Kensai He ain't heavy, he's my cub

    Mastering the Art of Arms, Vol. 1: The Medieval Dagger, by Guy Windsor
    Mastering the Art of Arms, Vol. 2: The Medieval Longsword, by Guy Windsor

    These two books (along with a forthcoming third volume on advanced longsword technique) cover the basics of the art of arms as taught by the Italian master Fiore dei Liberi. Guy writes in a clear, accessible style that takes the reader through the basics of medieval armed combat in a simple and logical progression. Both books are profusely illustrated with many clear and informative photographs.

    If you want to have a peek into the art that I train... this is the stuff.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
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