I had a really hard time putting this list together. Each book that I read has shaped me in a different way. I’m sure there was a title or two that I forgot, so I will keep coming back to this page to review and edit.
War and Warfare
These are books that helped me gain a better understanding of how and why wars start and how they end. On the Origins of War and The Causes of War both shaped my thinking on why nations go to war in the first place. The Landmark Thucydides is about the Peloponnesian War and covers everything from war’s origins to strategic leadership during war. On War and War from the Ground Up helped to shape my understanding of the nature vs. the character of war and the timelessness of these concepts. On War also informed my understanding of what is required to be a brilliant leader on the battlefield. Carnage and Connectivity highlighted the effect of a connected world on warfare today and into the future.
Strategy (Coming Soon)
These are my two favorite books for jump starting self study. The Patton Mind follows the professional development of George Patton throughout his life. It’s interesting because Patton used to take great notes while reading, and most of it has survived today. Roger Nye uses those notes to write this book. The Past as Prologue has honestly been the most influential book to my professional development. I’ve talked about this one a lot over the years. Must read!
Science and Tech (Coming Soon)
Military History (Coming Soon)
Leadership and Personal Growth
Nelson: Britannia’s God of War and 21st Century Sims goes in-depth on leadership traits and practices necessary to make mission command work in an organization. George Washington And the American Military Tradition covers the experiences and education that shaped General Washington. Washington’s Crossing is a great case study on winning a conflict when everything is stacked against you. The Army Officer’s Guide to Mentoring breaks down the differences between teaching, coaching, and mentoring and provides some great examples of mentor-protege relationships. Patton: A Genius for War is a dense biography, but there are a lot of great leadership take-aways from the book. The Enlightened Soldier centers on Scharnhorst (Clausewitz’s mentor), whose initiatives helped to turn-around the Prussian military. Grey Eminence: Fox Conner and the Art of Mentorship, tells the story of Fox Conner and the important legacy he left behind (Marshall, Patton, and Eisenhower).
As General Martin Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, writes in his forward to War Stories from the Future, a science-fiction anthology published by the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare project:
By provoking us to free our minds of constraint and convention, worthy science fiction allows us to create a mental laboratory of sorts. In this place, we can consider new problems we might soon face or contemplate novel ways to address old problems. It sparks the imagination, engenders flexible thinking, and invites us to explore challenges and opportunities we might otherwise overlook.
Other tools that I love:
If you’re feeling nostalgic for your own green notebook, and are no longer in the military or you’ve never served, but want to see what the hype is about, there’s one available for purchase at Amazon. I carry this 3X5 moleskin with me everywhere. It helps me capture thoughts before I lose them.