Best Military Books of the Decade

The Best Military Books of the Decade, Navy Times, 18 January 2010, p 4

The Navy Times has published its list of the best military books of the decade. I can’t say I disagree with too many of them and am surprised by some. For example, The Fourth Star made the list, which I think is appropriate, but it was not released until late 2009.

The list.

  1. Shane Comes Home
    by Rinker Buck, 2005
  2. Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood
    by Donovan Campbell, 2009.
  3. The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army
    by David Cloud and Greg Jaffe, 2009.
  4. The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq
    by John Crawford, 2005.
  5. One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
    by Nathaniel Fick, 2005.
  6. The Forever War
    by Dexter Filkins, 2008.
  7. The Good Soldiers
    by David Finkel, 2009
  8. Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America
    by Nathaniel Frank, 2009.
  9. The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War
    by Brandon Friedman, 2007.
  10. Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
    by Michael R, Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, 2006.
  11. Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq
    by Jason Christopher Hartley, 2005.
  12. The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education
    by Craig Mullaney, 2009.
  13. The Long Road Home; A Story of War and Family
    by Martha Raddatz, 2007.
  14. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
    by Thomas E. Ricks, 2006.
  15. Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
    by Anthony Swafford, 2003.
  16. Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War
    by Evan Wright, 2004.

That’s five published in 2009, one in 2008, two in ’07, two in ’06, four in 2005, and one each in 2004 and 2003. Fully eighty-eight percent of the best books of the decade were written in the last half of the decade with thirty-one percent coming in the last year. All of these books deal with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. So, did the books most recently published make the list because they were fresh on our minds or was it because it takes some time to put things into perspective before you can write a good book about a war. I lean towards the latter.

There are other books that made the reading lists of some officers mentioned in the article but did not make the list. For example, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden published in 2000 would have been a good choice. I also think there should have been room for The Sling and The Stone: On War in the 21st Century by Thomas X. Hammes published in 2004 should have made the list. I would have also included Inside CentCom: The Unvarnished Truth About the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Michael DeLong in 2004 and Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq by Linda Robinson published in 2008. But, it is not my list.


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