Military memoirs and histories are some of the most treasured possessions for veterans, their families, and book collectors alike. The tradition of chronicling conflicts goes back at least to the 1st century, when the Jewish historian Josephus documented the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70.

Books on military strategy go back even further, most famously to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” which dates to the 6th century BCE. Despite being more than 2,500 years old, the document is still studied by military scholars and personnel. For example, it is required reading for staff sergeants in the U.S. Marine Corps.

In the 19th century, the Civil War produced untold volumes documenting that storied struggle. During the war, “Harper’s Weekly,” a magazine based in New York City, published accounts of the fighting from the battlefield, complete with maps and engravings.

After the war, in 1875, D. Appleton & Co. first published “Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. By Himself.” For almost the next 40 years, numerous editions of Sherman’s memoirs would be reissued. Some of these editions were published by Charles L. Webster & Co., which was co-owned by author Mark Twain. In 1885, Webster would also release a two-volume set of memoirs by former U.S. President and Civil War hero Ulysses S. Grant.

Also notable at the end of the 19th century are the histories written by Elizabeth B. Custer, the widow of General George Armstrong Custer, who met his maker in 1876 at the Battle of Little Big Horn. After his death, Mrs. Custer made it her mission to bring her husband’s successes in what were then called the Indian Wars to light. Her three works were “Boots and Saddles” (Harper & Brothers, 1885), “Tenting on the Plains” (Webster, 1887), and “Following the Guidon” (Harper & Brothers, 1890).

In the second decade of the 20th century, the Great War, as it was known before people were forced to refer to it as World War I, proved the source of countless works of literature. Numerous books were published during the war, from “Nothing of Importance” by Bernard Adams to Roy Bridges’s “The Immortal Dawn,” which was based on diaries written by two Australian soldiers during the battle at Gallipoli. One title often associated with World War I, but not a war book per se, is “The Good Soldier” by Ford Madox Ford, which is sought for its extremely rare cover.

Many more titles were published in the 1920s and ’30s, including Ernest Hemingway's novel "A Farewell To Arms" and Erich Maria Remarques’s “All Quiet On the Western Front,” both from 1929. The conflict also spurred poets, from Rupert Brooke (“1914 and Other Poems,” 1915) to Wilfred Owens (“Poems,” 1920)...

Similarly, World War II produced chroniclers on the ground as well as historians and novelists. Bill Mauldin’s three years with the 45th Division of the U.S. Army produced the “dogfaces” Willie and Joe, who appeared in the Army’s publication “Stars and Stripes” before they were collected for Mauldin’s debut book, “Up Front” from 1945. After the war, between 1948 and 1953, the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, wrote his six-volume opus, "The Second World War," which earned him a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

Around the same time, in 1951, novelist Herman Wouk penned “The Caine Mutiny,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into both a play and film, the latter starring Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg. Joseph Heller “Catch-22,” 1961, was also made into a memorable movie, while Wouk’s subsequent World War II novels—“The Winds of War” in 1971 and its sequel, “War and Remembrance,” 1978—were made into TV mini-series.

Other postwar writers looked back to the Civil War. Shelby Foote's 1952 historical novel, "Shiloh," devoted itself entirely to the Battle of Shiloh that took place one year into the conflict in Tennessee. Foote followed up his novel with a three-part history called "The Civil War: A Narrative," which was published between 1958 and 1974.

More recently, conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East have produced informative and moving works of literature, from James Webb’s “Fields of Fire,” 1979, to Denis Johnson’s “Tree of Smoke,” 2007.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Great War Dust Jackets

Great War Dust Jackets

Alan Hewer's comprehensive site is devoted to World War I books and dust jackets from 1914 to 1939. Most of the boo… [read review or visit site]

Google Book Search

Google Book Search

Want to do one quick search and pull up the mother lode of vintage books? Try Google Book Search, a database filled… [read review or visit site]

myArmoury.com

myArmoury.com

This resource for historic arms and armour collectors provides exhaustive information on modern reproductions (cust… [read review or visit site]

The Civil War

The Civil War

Paul McWhorter’s amazing reference site tells the story of the Civil War through high resolution scans of Harpers… [read review or visit site]

Bookscans.com

Bookscans.com

Bruce Black's gallery of paperback book covers from the 1940s and 50s. With help from numerous contributors, he's a… [read review or visit site]

Mikes Tanks

Mikes Tanks

Mike Seeber’s extensive collection of over 500 diecast tanks and military vehicles, dating back to WWII. Browse b… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1887 Native American Antique Book Indian War Red Man Scalp Dance Chiefs 1st Vtg1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin Negro Slavery 1st Year Civil War 3rd Edition Antique RareMilitary Antiquities Of The Romans In Scotland 1793, Huge Volume With 51 Plates.1863 Civil War History Southern Rebellion Confederate C.s.a. Military AntiqueFreemasonry Civil War Illuminati Occult Knights Templar Free Mason Antique Frat1749 Roman Emperor Theodosius The Great Gothic War Nicene Creed Armorial Binding1888 General Sheridan Civil War Memoirs U S Cavalry Union Army 1st Edition MapsCirca 1864-1869 Handwritten Ledger Uss Steamboat Gunboat Argosy Civil War President Richard M Nixon Signed 1999 Victory Without War Autograph Book The Great Courses - Cd Audio - War And World History - 48 Lectures!1887 Antique General Mcclellan Civil War Memoirs Potomac Army Union Lincoln 1stMammy Southern Cookbook Antique Civil War Plantation Cookery Recipes Dixie SouthRepublican Ticket Abraham Lincoln Gop President National Convention Us Civil WarCommando War Comic Number 27!!,1962 Issue,good For Age,52 Years Old,rare.1858 Anique History Of Slavery Negro Slave Trade South Plantation Civil War VtgEaston Press,military Editions:the Art Of War.vietnam,rommel 16 Vols~leather1812 Memoirs Of The War, American Revolution, 2 Volume SetCommando War Comic Number 28!!!,1962!! Issue,good For Age,52 Years Old,rare.Commando War Comic Number 32!!!,1962!! Issue,just Ok For Age,52 Years Old,rare.1866 Samuel Colt Armsmear Americana Far West Civil War Guns Weapons Hartford NrCommando War Comic Number 13!!,1961 Issue,good For Age,53 Years Old,rare.1760 Gentleman's Magazine French & Indian War Maps New England Montreal Quebec1698 Antique Bible Church Of England King James Ii English Civil War RevolutionCommando War Comic Number 35!!!,1962!!! Issue,not Bad For Age,52 Years Old,rare.Easton Press, Military Editions: Lee And Grand,patton,nimitz~leather Lot Of 14The Civil War Time Life Book Set 28 Volumes W Master Index - Very Good ConditionCommando War Comic Number 61!!!,1963!! Issue,good For Age,51 Years Old,rare.Civil War Field Journal Of 1st Sgt. 60th Ny Infantry - Soldier, Equipment Roster1891 General Sherman Antique U.s. Civil War Union Army Confederate Campaigns CsaCivil War Era Blacksmith Ledger Long Island New York Sayville Suffolk County1723 Illustrated German Military Bavaria Bayern 214 Stunning Engravings BilderPresident Richard M Nixon Signed The Real War Autograph Signature Press EastonAlbatros D V / D V A At War Vol 1 - Albatros Windsock Datafile 151 - Wwi Germany1892 Seneca Iroquois Native American Indian History War Captives Legends MissionRobert Greene Book Bundle - 48 Laws, 33 Strategies Of War, Art Of SeductionMacdonald - Fighters Volume Four - J M Bruce - War Planes Of The First World WarThe Raf Be2e At War - Albatros Windsock Datafile 165 - Paul Hare - Wwi RafRare 1921 Turkey Franco-turkish War 1919-20 Cilicia Cilician War Turkish ArmeniaAvro Shackleton - Warpaint No 6 - Alan Hall - Raf Cold WarHistory Of The Us Naval Operations In World War Ww Ii Navy Morison 15 Volume SetThe Illustrated London News.1870.franco-prussian War.sedan. Metz. Siege Of ParisRoyal Air Force World War 2 Evidence In Camera No 1 Vol 1 1942 Air PhotographyEaston Press. A Bridge Too Far. Cornelius Ryan. Leather. Ww2 Military History.1926 Osman Digna عAntique Book Civil War Era (1865) Leatherbound Holy Bible #287Huge Lot Library History War Men At Arms Military Equipment Battle Strateg Book U S Grant Personal Memoirs Civil War Union Full Leather 1st Ed Maps Vol 1 & 2Masters Of War Histories Greatest Strategic Thinkers Dvd The Teaching Company 1887 Antique Civil War General Mcclellan's Own Story Union Soldiers CivilianAfrican Man Hunts, Lt.-col. Trew 1938 South Africa Police Boer War Baden-powellThe Bleriot Xi At War - Albatros Windsock Datafile 108 - G Alegi - Wwi FranceWm Laird Clowes, The Royal Navy, A History, 7 Volume Set, War, Naval 1st Ed 18971885 Personal Memoirs U.s. Grant 2 Vols. Civil War General & President1878 America Revolutionary Civil War Of 1812 Indians Battles George WashingtonEaston Press. Vietnam. Two Volume Set. S Karnow. Leather. Military History.Signed 1977 Len Deighton 1st Edition Fighter - Battle Of Britain World War TwoRare 1884 Twenty Years Of Congress Events Civil War Lincoln Garfield Slavery 1863 To 1865 Civil War Us Sanitary Commission Bi-monthly Bulletins Soldiers' AidEaston Press 1 Book - War Of 1812 - The British At The Gates - Leather Bound 1978 Set Of 24 Time Life Illustrated World War Ii Encyclopedia Free Shipping