Authors of the best military books come from various backgrounds that provide them with expertise in the exploits of the armed forces. Some have served in war while others have experienced action reporting on conflicts. Military historians also play vital roles in authoring informative publications for millions of readers.
These books mainly focus on the events of World War II to the current hostilities throughout the Middle East. Some authors have also written on battles of the ancient past for a better understanding of the lessons of war, comparing them with today’s strategies for warfare.
The authors listed here are living and write nonfiction books, although some have written fiction as well. What separates them from other authors are their abilities to provide entertaining prose along with well-researched accounts of the crucial events of war.
Alert: 'Cast of Characters' Plot Against Trump, Famed Author Names Names
Here, questsin presents the top 25 nonfiction military authors that really bring the war home to those who remain stateside.
1. James Bradley — “Flags of Our Fathers,” which Bradley wrote with Ron Powers, is his most successful and personal work. The book depicts events surrounding the flag raising at Iwo Jima, where Bradley’s father fought and, at one time, was thought to be pictured in the famous photograph. “Flags” spent nearly a year on The New York Times’ nonfiction best-seller list and became an Oscar-nominated film directed by Clint Eastwood. “Flyboys,” another New York Times best-seller, documented the deaths of airmen on the Japanese island of Chichi Jima. “The Imperial Cruise” researched President Theodore Roosevelt’s policy with Japan at the turn of the 20th century.
2. Mark Bowden — The author of several military books, Bowden was a 1999 National Book Award finalist for “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War,” about the failed 1993 battle in Mogadishu, Somalia. In its Sunday Book Review of Bowden’s book, “The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden,” The New York Times noted that the Obama administration frequently discussed “Black Hawk Down” in preparation for the raid of the Islamic leader’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound. Bowden’s newest book, “Hue 1968,” captures the intensity of the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War.
3. Robert M. Citino — A professor of history at the University of North Texas, Citino has written eight books delving into World War II and modern warfare. His “Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm: The Evolution of Operational Warfare” won the Society for Military History’s Distinguished Book Award and the American Historical Association’s Paul Birdsall Prize.
4. Dexter Filkins — The American journalist covered assignments during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. His book “The Forever War” won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction and was also selected as best book of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Time.
5. James G. Burton — The former Air Force colonel worked as a Pentagon specialist for 14 years in weapons acquisition and testing. “The Pentagon Wars” details the attempt to fix the problems of Pentagon procurement. It was named among the 14 best military nonfiction books of all time by the We Are the Mighty military site.
6. Nathaniel Fick — Fick saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq as an elite Recon Marine. His “One Bullet Away” followed his training for clandestine work behind enemy lines just before the Iraq War. We Are the Mighty also selected it among the best military books of all time.
7. Dave Grossman — The retired Army lieutenant colonel has written novels and six nonfiction books, including the best-seller “On Killing,” a study of the reality of killing other people in combat and how military training prepares soldiers for it.
8. David Finkel — A Pulitzer-Prize winner for a 2006 reporting series on democracy efforts in Yemen, Finkel authored “The Good Soldiers,” named a best book of 2009 by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Chicago Tribune.
9. Marcus Luttrell — Winner of the Navy Cross and a SEAL team member during special operations in Afghanistan, Luttrell wrote about his experiences and the loss of his brothers in “Lone Survivor,” a popular nonfiction military book. He also authored the follow-up book “Service.”
10. Mark Owen — In “No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy SEAL,” the former leader of SEAL Team Six that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 wrote a firsthand account of the mission that brought down al-Qaeda. Owen followed up the best-seller with another in “No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL,” a recollection of deeply personal stories from his 13-year career in the SEALs.
11. Neal Bascomb — A specialist on the subject of World War II, Bascomb’s books include “The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler’s Atomic Bomb” and “Hunting Eichmann,” both of which were developed into young adult nonfiction books. Bascomb has won several national awards for his writing, which has been translated into more than 15 languages.
12. Colby Buzzell — His memoir, “My War: Killing Time in Iraq,” was based on blogs he wrote from the front lines as an Army infantryman in Iraq in 2003 to 2004, which won the second annual Lulu Blooker Prize given to the best books that began as blogs. “Thank You for Being Expendable” is a collection of essays on a veteran adjusting to civilian life. Buzzell’s writing has been praised as being visceral and often profane at the grunt’s eye level.
13. Brian Castner — As an Air Force officer, Castner was deployed to Iraq to command bomb disposal units in 2005 to 2006. He wrote about his struggles in “The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows,” named an Amazon best book for 2012. His latest, “All the Ways We Kill and Die: A Portrait of Modern War,” was named a “Best of March” by Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
14. Steve Coll — Known for his reports on national security for magazines and newspapers, Coll won a Pulitzer Prize for his book “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001.” He also authored “The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century,” which won the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction.
15. J. Kael Weston — A former State Department official, Weston earned the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism because of his work with Marines in Fallujah. He is the author of “The Mirror Test: America at War in Iraq and Afghanistan,” a Military Times best book of the year and a New York Times Editor’s Choice.
16. Clinton Romesha — The Medal of Honor recipient served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. His book “Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor” details the courageous battles against a Taliban surprise offensive in 2009. It was also a Military Times best book of the year.
17. Sebastian Junger — In “War,” author Junger follows the experiences of a platoon through a 15-month tour of duty through Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. His New York Times best-seller “Fire” is a collection of nonfiction accounts that include guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan. As a companion to his war writing, Junger is also an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, with several films shot from the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Vote Here Now: Do You Approve of President Trump's Job Performance?
18. Charles Henderson — Serving in Vietnam and the Gulf War during his 23 years with the Marines, Henderson has written the critically acclaimed “Marine Sniper” and “Silent Warrior,” which followed the exploits of USMC sniper Carlos Hathcock. He also authored “Goodnight Saigon” and “Marshalling the Faithful: The Marines’ First Year in Vietnam.”
19. Caleb Carr — The military historian has written fiction, but his nonfiction books have been celebrated, including “The Devil Soldier: The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China” and the highly acclaimed but controversial “The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians,” which came out shortly after 9/11.
20. Don Brown — The best-selling author of military fiction and nonfiction, Brown has written more than a dozen books. Titles by this former U.S. Navy JAG officer include “Call Sign Extortion 17: The Shoot-Down of SEAL Team Six” and “The Last Fighter Pilot: The Story of the Final Combat Mission of World War II.”
21. Bing West — A former combat veteran and assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, West has written acclaimed books that have included “No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah” and “The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan.”
22. Alex Kershaw — The author of books on World War II, Kershaw has written The New York Times best-sellers “The Longest Winter” and “The Bedford Boys.” His “Avenue of Spies” chronicles an American family’s resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.
23. Edward N. Luttwak — He has written books on military history and international relations, and is a consultant to various branches of the U.S. government. His books include “Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace” and “The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire.”
24. David McCullough — Historian McCullough documented the crucial battles that helped lead a young nation to victory in his “1776,” which is considered a classic. He also wrote the praised biography “John Adams” among his many historical accounts.
25. Don Bendell — The former Green Beret is unique with his military books in that they are autobiographical accounts of his time in Vietnam. They include “Crossbow,” his first book about fighting with the Montagnards tribespeople in the mountainous central highlands, “Snake-Eater,” and “Valley of Tears.”
Special: Who is Really Behind the Effort to Destroy President Trump?